New York-based artist Tara McPherson spent some time talking with AM while she got ready for this year’s Baby Tattooville. She is best known for her paintings featuring women in mysterious settings, but is also widely regarded for her screen printing and has even been called “The Crown Princess of Rock Posters” by Elle Magazine. She explains how being a mother has changed her daily schedule, how she has moved on from the fire that destroyed her home and how she beats an artistic funk.
Arrested Motion (AM): Can you give me a day as Tara McPherson? Are you up early, do you paint late, what’s your studio like?
Tara McPherson (TM): I was always a night owl, but since my son Ronan was born, my lifelong dream of becoming a morning person has come true! Now I paint in the natural daylight and it’s really such an amazing way to work. Lately, I’m getting started around 9 am and it feels awesome. We just moved into a brownstone Bed-Stuy, so I have the entire third floor as my art studio now. There are two rooms, and lots of wall space and windows. No bricks though sorry! Some days I work til 2 and spend the rest of the afternoon with my kid, then other days I can work until 7 or 8, but that’s about the latest I go now. Which is hilariously almost opposite from my former pre-baby schedule.
AM: Can you tell me your process? Do the images come to you as complete, or do they develop as you paint them?
TM: I am very process oriented so most everything is planned out before I begin painting. That way, I don’t have to spend time changing or repainting things. I can focus on the beautiful quality of the paint itself and playing with different painting techniques.
AM: If you are in an artistic funk, how do you get out of it?
TM: Hmmm… well oddly enough the way for me to get out of it is to not work… Just to take some time away from a piece, get out, get inspired by something else. That way, when I come back I have a fresh view on something I’m stuck on, or am inspired to start working. I can usually see right away what’s wrong or what I want to fix.
AM: Do you think having a space like Cotton Candy Machine helps you grow as an artist? Are you inspired by the work that is around you?
TM: It’s great to have a physical space to sell my prints and merchandise, where the customers can talk with one of our awesome employees in person instead of only being able to buy something online. I really don’t have much free time outside of my own art career so my involvement in CCM is pretty limited, but I do help curate some of the art shows, and the artists we show are absolutely inspiring to me.
AM:I know that you lost a lot in a fire in 2013, can you tell me about bouncing back from that as an artist? Does the fire ever manifest in your work?
TM: Yeah, that was a pretty horrible experience. I try not to think about it too much I guess. Even though we lost a lot, so much was salvaged! And you know ultimately, it’s just stuff… and most of it was replaceable. It was just a very expensive unfortunate thing to have to go through that we’re still recovering from financially. I don’t think the fire has traumatized me enough to become an aspect of my work, but hopefully if we end up getting a settlement I’ll be able to buy a house and have an even more kick ass studio, and then yes, it will manifest beautiful things into my work!
AM: Is this your first time at Baby Tattoville? What are you most excited about?
TM: I was a guest at the first Baby Tattooville, and an attendee at a couple more, and it’s just so much fun to be in that gorgeous historic hotel and get to hang out with everyone. I am pretty excited to be working with my old printer Andy to do a live screen print at the event.
AM: Projects coming up that you would like to talk about?
TM: I have lots of exhibitions planned for the next couple years and super excited about them all. The next one is a solo show at Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome in June 2015. I am about to start working on my fourth book with Dark Horse/Random House. And, I have some really awesome prints coming out.