Me & My Money: ‘I am the worst kind of spender’

Kevin Sharkey, Artist


Are you a saver or a spender?

I am without doubt the worst kind of spender. Money burns a hole in my pocket. That said, as long as I am spending on art materials, I feel like that’s good investment for the future. 

  Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, especially when it comes to canvases, paint, etc. It can make a huge difference, especially when you are planning on buying many. I go through them like tissues.

    What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I once bought a jar of Crème De la Mer facial moisturiser for €585. It felt great, although I don’t think passersby would have noticed much of a difference.

    What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

Without a doubt, my three dogs – Happy, Peggy and Babu. They give so much love in return for so little money and, to me at least, they are priceless.

    How do you prefer to shop – online or local?

Local, local, local. I have seen what happens to small Irish towns when they are bypassed; they die. There are a few small towns in Donegal, where I was reared, that are now ghost towns. Showing paintings at Merrion Square Art Fair every Sunday really helps to appreciate the benefits of talking to customers directly. You never get that online.

  Do you haggle over prices?

Never, and I can get fed up with some customers who think they are in a Moroccan market, haggling over spices. Try that in Brown Thomas, and see how long it is before security is called. The implication is that you do not know how to price your work. 

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

Yes and no. Before the recession, I would have bought everything from one supplier at the last minute, but now I find it’s really worth shopping around early to make the most of the special offers and bargains. It can make a huge difference to the overall costs.

  Do you invest in shares?

Shares? Isn’t that like gambling for educated people?

   Cash or card?

I got into so much trouble during the boom with credit cards that I prefer debit cards.

    What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

Eight fans from Argos. They were great value, as the previous fan price was €345 each, but they were only €64 each.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Yes, I have for my first music album, Sharkey, which comes out next year. The first single, The Holy Show, is released in December. I am very excited and happy, as it has been a lifetime dream of mine. Who says you can’t change career at 56? 

Have you ever lost money?

No, but I have lost money from potential clients. I now have a waiting list for my bigger paintings, which is good news, but some people don’t like to wait or be on a waiting list, so I do lose out in these situations. The reality is I can only paint so much, and also live my life doing things that interest me.

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I never gamble, but I did once dream I had won the lottery. I actually remembered the numbers when I woke up the next morning, so I wrote them down and went and bought a ticket. The ticket did not win, and then I lost the numbers.

  Is money important to you?

Not as important as my health, which I think should be the most important thing to everyone. Money is always more important when you don’t have any. 

How much money do you have on you now?

€75 cash.

in conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea

Kevin Sharkey has a new exhibition, Lazarus, in the Basement Gallery, 28 Frederick Street, Dublin 2.