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Have you ever read an interview with a tattooed astrophysicist bass
playing metalhead who draws comics and makes the coolest rock
posters all whilst dancing the cabbage patch? No? Well I'd never
conducted one... Until now that is!
Stand back in awe and wonder.. It's Tara McPherson!
Previous page.
This page.
Next page (left to right).
‘Follow Me’ &
‘Unicorn Girl’.
As a teenager I would roam my home town high on wax and
artificial colouring agents (from eating the crayons I drew with)
trying to interrupt arguing couples. I’ve always wondered
should I have been a therapist or a TV chat show host. Is
making art always been your ambition or have you another
passion that you wrestle/have wrestled with? Do you wrestle?
I like wrestling in the morning but I never watch it on TV. In an
alternate universe I am definitely an Astrophysicist. When I
started community college all the art classes were full so I took
this Astronomy class and simply fell in love with it. It piques
my curiosity so much I wanna scream and shout theories of
relativity and superstring theories to everyone. But seriously,
really, I really was the Vice President of the Astronomy Club on
Campus for over a year, changed my major and was super
duper into being an Astrophysicist. Then once day I had an
epiphany... I didn’t think I’d be happy in the long run with that
as a career... You know, working long hours into the night
observing and analyzing data. So I decided to really focus my
college courses into making art again. You know, it’s a scary
decision to tell yourself, and your friends and family, ‘Hey! I
wanna be an artist!’. Most of them just smirk and think you
can’t do it successfully. But I knew... After taking more art
classes, I knew that this is what I was put on this planet to do.
Make art. So now I sit in my studio working long hours into the
night observing and analyzing my own work.
I had been doing some illustration jobs around town for a while
before I received my big break. Fortunately the illustrator
originally planned for the job had a nervous breakdown and
was hiding under his car. I know, lucky me! Is there a job, event
or person (apart from yourself) you hold responsible for
putting you on the path you are now on?
Well one day after eating this amazing chinese food, I got this
fortune cookie that said ‘Your talents will be recognized and
substantially rewarded’... So that’s when I totally knew I was
going to be a successful artist. But really, I think with my career
it was series of events all leading in the right direction, not just
one particular thing, that helped me get where I am today.
Honestly within the art world I feel genuine success has to do
with talent, hard work, and a little luck.
Does your day have a ritual? A routine, a mind-numbing
repetitious day-dream filled stab in the heart kinda thing! Or, is
it an ever changing, inspirationally challenging and creatively
rewarding ‘slap me I can’t believe im so happy!’ kinda thing?
No ritual in this studio that’s for sure! Sometimes I dream of
having a normal schedule! Coffee at 8.45, board meeting at 10,
lunch at 1, home at 5... Just kidding! Well except for the going
home at 5 part. That would be kinda sweet... But there is no
way I could ever survive in the normal world of regular people
with routines. It’s just not me. There are constantly new and
exciting things that happen everyday that keep me inspired.
And my schedule varies so much that I’m always entertained
with what I’m doing. Or if I get bored with one thing I can
switch to another. It’s great and works with my personality
perfectly, I am an Aries after all.
Original concert posters is a phenomenon we don’t have here
in Ireland. Up until recently they were number 5 on the
church’s list of banned art, number 1 being portraits of Sinead
O’Connor and number 2 the depiction of animal autoeroticism!
Can you shed some light on this art poster world, how it works,
screen printed or digital, is it band or venue commissioned etc?
That’s amazing! Really? Posters are and have been so popular
here in the States. Well the way I do posters is through a few
different avenues. But number one- I get the band’s or the
bands management’s approval before doing the poster.
Sometimes I work through the venue, or the promotion
company, or the tour manager, or directly with a band member.
All of the above, but I always make sure the venue gets posters,
the bands get at least 30 to 50 posters to keep and sell, and
then I keep the rest to sell on my site or at events. I have a
publisher, Diesel Fuel Prints, who take care of all the printing
and shipping for me. They are fantastic to work with and are
very good friends as well.
Do you listen to music while you work? Do you hum along, tap your
toe? When you are concentrating do you stick your tongue out?
I definitely listen to music when I work, and I have been know
to tap a toe or two. Sometimes I whistle, while I work. I’ve
noticed that I hold my breath when I paint delicate parts. I’d
probably be good at snorkeling.
Previous page.
‘Witching 9’.
This page (left to right).
‘High On Fire’ &
‘Lonely Heart’ book cover.
Next page (left to right).
‘Isis’, ‘Blues Explosion’
& Beck poster.
This page (left to right).
‘Diaspora’ various.
Next page (left to right).
‘Hug’, ‘Dullsound’
& Duran Duran poster.
There is a recurring motif of cute Goth girls in your work. Was
this a deliberate attempt to get work for Vertigo Comics, or is it,
as it seems, just a perfect marriage between artist and client?
They’re more like cute strange women from another world. I
was never goth, so I just don’t think of them that way. I never
set out specifically to work for Vertigo, I mean I loved comics,
especially Vertigo, but it wasn’t a conscious intention of mine.
So one day when I got an email from one of the editors it was
kind of like a jump around the house giggling with joy type of
moment. I’ve painted a lot of witches for them, so apparently I
fit good for that! But yes it perfectly makes sense, and I
absolutely love working with them. My editor Shelly Bond is
simply great to work with, and now since I have begun painting
the sequential interior art she has pushed my art to a new level.
I think it was destiny.
Tell us about some of your favourite work and if you could do
anything what would be your favourite project?
My favorite works are always my newest ones. But I have soft
spots for many many of my pieces. They are like little children,
how do you pick favorites? I shape them, give birth to them and
then set them free into the world. As far as a dream project...
Hmmm... I’d like to have a show at The Gagosian or The
Whitney someday. That’s the 10 year plan I’m trying to focus
on. In the end I just want to paint...
Sometimes I can struggle being an illustrator with my passion
for collecting miniature porcelain dolls. EBay is both a blessing
and a curse. How do you divide your time between your many
projects? Do you Struggle To Juggle™?
I just try to correctly estimate how long it will take me to finish
a project. And I work long hours. And I work on multiple things
at once. But the secret we all know is... all work and no play...
So I find time to unwind. I have to play bass, just like I have to
paint. I have always played in bands and the one I’m in now I’m
really happy with. We actually have a show tomorrow night and
I was just taking a break from working to practice before doing
this interview. I close the curtains in my studio so no one on
the street can see me jumping around in here! Bottom line- You
make time for what is important to you. And there are things
that you can do that will inspire you so when you do go back to
the project you were working on, you come at it with artistic
fury. But the main thing for me is that they are all fun projects
to work on and the more skilled you get at time management
the more you accomplish, and the more trust you have with
clients... And yourself.
You are sailing down a stream when you come across a
seriously injured dolphin. You approach this beautiful and
intelligent creature to see if it’s still breathing and if there is
any way to help. As you lean towards its face its whispers
through the pain, “To save me you must never draw pictures
again!” What would you choose as an alternative?
Sorry, but that dolphins goin’ down! I could never not draw! ...
But hypothetically speaking... If I had to choose an alternative,
I’d tour the world in a metal band. Yeah! Maybe I’ll do that anyways...
What is your favourite a. item of clothing, b. ice cream topping,
c. ethnic musical instrument, d. dance move, e. method for
staying awake all night?
a- my slayer shirt
b- smashed oreo cookies
c- sitar
d- the cabbage patch
e- yummy coffee!
This page (left to right).
‘Witching 5’.
Next page.