Student Showcase: James Doyle

April 6, 2020 

James Doyle is a fifth-year student at NU. Though he studies computer engineering, he also is absolutely enamored with art. Minoring in art history and having worked at both the MFA and ICA, James has spent quite a bit of time formally working within the art world. In his free time, James also frequently draws. He has a love for buildings, textures, and black-and-white works.


Photo by Nadia Naeem



Editor’s Note: These responses have been edited for length and clarity.


How have you impacted the arts? How have the arts impacted you?

I honestly don't think I've impacted the arts much; a lot of what I do is small work in my free time, and I am still quite young, afterall. But the arts have definitely impacted the way I look at the world and myself. I love the feeling of having created something beautiful, and I love the idea that my hands can produce beauty. Similarly, I love studying art history, because I can often be left in awe at the ability of others. More recently, as I have worked on more building-focused works, the way I look at architecture and the spaces around us has changed. Through art, I've been given a more critical eye, which tends to look for beauty in the structures and grime around us. 


In what ways does being an engineering major influence your arts? 

In my head I pursued engineering in an artistic way — I didn't necessarily major in it because I already knew everything about it and knew I wanted to be an engineer forever, but more so because I knew nothing about it and wanted to learn more about how technology and computers work. I've done a few pieces centered around computers, such as my Ode to Technology works, some spray paintings of computers, and an ASCII drawing of a computer screen, and I hope to work more with computers in the future. Other than that, I am still working out how I want computer engineering to directly influence my work. I guess you could also make a tie-in with my use of math, since math is heavy with engineering and something I've loved my whole life. Math is also incredibly present in my works, such as in my Fibonacci piece, but also just in the measurements and angles required to work out the nuances of perspective in my building drawings.

Are there any artists that have influenced you? If so, how have they impacted your approach to your creation and reception of art?

I am influenced by too many artists to count, and in too many ways. My first artistic loves were Da Vinci and Duchamp, who are quite different, but both very fun. I even have an "R. Mutt" tattoo on my thigh to match Duchamp's Fountain. They are both so different, however, that it's hard to pinpoint if they've had any impact on the artwork I made myself. I tend to draw more realistically, as did Da Vinci, and he was also an engineer, so there can be a connection there. Also, because of Duchamp, I tend to love absurd and outlandish things in the art of others. I see the ASCII drawing I did as a modern take on a readymade, in a way, because I really didn't do anything beyond just copying the editing an algorithm performed on a photo I took manually. After doing it, I discovered Arno Beck, who also makes really really cool works in the same vein, but a thousand times more amazing. That action in general to me is funny, because it makes me into like a human printer, if that makes sense, rather than an artist. 


Regarding people that are alive, I get a lot of my inspiration from Instagram, and really love the work being done right now involving AI and art. Artists like Sougwen Chung, Robbie Barrat, and Mario Klingemann are doing really amazing things that I hope to someday work toward. I also have recently been following the work of a lot of contemporary/experimental graphic designers, such as the work of the Panama Papers Office Group, and minimal-leaning abstract artists, such as B.D. Graft, and Henrik Delehag. I could go on forever, so I'll leave it there.

Photos Courtesy of James Doyle

How have you utilized the city of Boston and Northeastern to cultivate your love of art?

Specifically in Boston, I've worked as a teaching assistant at the MFA and a visitor assistant at the ICA, which has allowed me to really have some quality time inside of different exhibitions and to look at art in more depth than I normally would have. Both institutions are very fun, and have really cool exhibits. I've also spent some quality time in the Harvard and MIT museums, which both have some amazing works, including MIT's exhibit on Arthur Ganson


Northeastern has helped cultivate my art in a variety of different ways. Beyond the proximity to the MFA, I think one of the best influences I’ve had from the university is my friends. Those of my friends in the arts have definitely impacted me, and have encouraged me to really dive into my art creation. I also did a co-op in Washington DC, which forced me to live alone in a city where I knew nearly no one. That alone time really gave me the time to start taking my art more seriously, to a point where I hadn't before in my life. My degree and engineering classes have also given me a lot of new knowledge and material to expand upon with regard to what my art can explore, which is always welcomed. Right now, I have a plethora of things I want to create, but a shortage of hours in the day to do it all.


Instagram: @jamesdoyle.jpg