Leighton McIntosh had a choice when he signed for Cove Rangers: get a part-time job or allow his passion to take hold.
When it came to it, the latter appealed more. Throwing himself into his artwork, McIntosh has started to build his own brand.
Under the name Geckor Designs, McIntosh produces pop art-inspired cartoon paintings with several exhibitions under his belt.
“I was full-time at Wrexham last season and came back thinking ‘do I get a job?’ said McIntosh. “I used to do personal training but I was more interested in focusing on my artwork and making that more of a steady job.
“I’d done quite a lot of paintings for people during lockdown and sold quite a bit through galleries. I thought I may as well properly pursue it with the time I’ve got now.”
His football career has taken him to Dundee, Arbroath, Peterhead, Airdrie and Wrexham, before arriving at Cove this summer.
The painting had been on the back-burner for a while but he was able to rediscover a talent he had from his school days.
“When I left school I was a YTS at Dundee so for two years, it was just focusing on football,” said McIntosh. “I gradually got back into painting when I saw some similar works I liked on Instagram. It gave me the itch to paint again.
“I made my own Instagram and from that, I wanted to make my own brand and from that I worked in fashion. I’ve done an exhibition at a clothing store in Dundee and I’ve collaborated on merchandise.
“There’s definitely a balance between painting really niche things that only you would like and because it’s so unique to you, it struggles to sell. I’ve never painted really to specifically sell stuff; I’ve painted what I thought would be cool and if it sells, it sells.
“Now I’m starting to do it a bit more, I’m trying to get a medium where I’m painting some quite unique work but maybe more generic, abstract work within my brand.”
McIntosh’s next collaboration is with clothing designer MRLC, entitled ‘Juya Gaze’, at the Generator Projects exhibition space in Dundee later this month, pandemic-permitting.
Football still takes precedence when it has to – on training nights and weekends – but days at home in Dundee allow him chance to use his creative talents.
“Football is very high-tempo, pressure situations, so it’s good to have something you can relax with and switch off for a couple of hours.
“I’ve always been more interested in fashion and these days, fashion and art has become a lot more combined. That’s something I wanted to work with – being something a bit more than just an art exhibition.”
McIntosh was a full-time player at Wrexham last season and moved back to his native Dundee amid lockdown, which did not make finding a place to live easy.
But his move to Cove has allowed him to settle in quickly, with a number of familiar faces from his days at Peterhead in the squad.
“The trickiest bit was trying to find a place when I moved back. When I came back we were in lockdown, so I was staying with my parents for a while. Once the measures eased off I was able to find a place.
“I’m used to the travelling when I was at Peterhead and living in Dundee. Cove is nowhere near as far, so it’s not too bad.
“That was a big thing when it came to settling in, knowing a lot of the boys and having played with a lot of them. It’s always good to join a club with familiar faces but the rest of the boys have been just as welcoming.”