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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

GarconJon meets...Niall Walker - GQ x GAP

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The Arches is a cultural hub for the city of Glasgow. With events ranging from high brow performance art to some of the grittiest club nights in Scotland, it's diverse in the truest sense of the word. I've met some of my best friends at the Arches and danced harder than anywhere else in the world. When selecting Glasgow gents for the GQ x GAP project, Niall Walker was immediately in the shortlist. As the Design and Marketing Manager for the venue, he's been greatly responsible for some of my finest Glasgow memories.

When shooting, it simply made sense to use Niall's workplace on Argyle Street as the backdrop. It's called 'The Arches' for a reason with each segment having it's own personality. I sat down with Niall for a chat between photographs to ask what make's the city unique to him. He's wearing an Ernest Alexander x GAP chambray shirt and backpack, designed in New York City.

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Niall Walker, Design and Marketing Manager at The Arches

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in the Borders but have lived in Glasgow since 1996.

What's your star sign? Pisces

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to work behind a bar.

In a way you achieved this in a far grander scale. You work with one of the most exciting cultural venues in Scotland, how did you get into that line of work?  I studied fine art before becoming a graphic designer back in the 90s. Then in 2000, the job as in house graphic designer came up at the Arches – I applied and got the job. I’m now Design and Marketing Manager.

What music are you listening to right now? John Grant’s ‘Pale Green Ghosts’.

Do you have a record you come back to time and again? Yes, Sinead O’Connor’s debut ‘The Lion & The Cobra’. I must’ve listened to it a thousand times and never tire.

Who's the most exciting new artist for you? I am loving the DJ/Producer Cyril Hahn right now – his version of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ is great.

Who's your favourite Scottish band and why? I think I’ll be old school and say the Eurythmics (only half Scottish, but hey) – ‘Love Is A Stranger’ is one of my favourite ever tracks.

Having been at the hub of activity for 2 decades you must've seen some amazing scenes in Glasgow. Do you have a favourite era? When Death Disco at the Arches was first on the rise and everyone and their Auntie (literally in some cases) was talking about it, dancing at it and partying after it. Our motto was ‘hot beats and good times’, and they were.


I've had some of my best night's out at Death Disco and also Utter Gutter at the Riverside Club with you and the small group of people who made up that motley crew of clubbers. Tell me about your best night out in Glasgow ever? ‘Motley’? How very dare you! I think my best night in Glasgow ever was Utter Gutter at the last night of the Riverside Club. Two of my best friends were DJing and everyone was up on the seats dancing by the end. It was so sad knowing that we’d never be in the Riverside again, which was our monthly home, so we had to make the most of it.

What do you think the city's greatest strengths are? Its people, its pubs and its parks – I have a dog now so the last one is a priority!

Where do you like to hang out? I’m a Southsider so I can be found in The Bungo a lot at the weekends. During the week I’m most likely to be in the Arches - especially during any of our theatre festivals. It’s nice to be able to get up from my desk and yards away is a pint of Estrella and some of the best fish and chips in the city.

What do you like most about your job? The variety – I can be designing a poster for a kids Christmas theatre show one minute and a flyer for an avant-garde club night the next.

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How would you describe your personal style? Simple and clean with a splash of humour.

Do you have a favourite menswear designer or store right now? Well I love Lanvin and Dior, but in the real world I shop in COS, Uniqlo, Topman and GAP. I treat myself to a wee bit of Comme Des Garçons now and then.

What's great about American design? The humour and pop-artiness. It can be seen as brash but I quite like it when American designers create their own history by turning everyday consumer items into designs and works of art.

Why is it important to support new design talent? Because design is all about discovering something new.

What's on the horizon for Mr Walker? Well, eventually I want to work full time for my partner, milliner William Chambers. I’m not sure if he’ll be the best boss though.

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Prioritise humour above all else and you’ll be happy.

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RSVP to our GAP launch event in Glasgow this Thursday to GarconJon@gmail.com