Interview with Dan McCarthy
1. Many critics would say that an art degree/career is a hobby rather than a successful, lucrative, business venture. How would you respond to those critics, and encourage aspiring artists to persevere with their career?
I would say, if you get a degree in art, take it seriously and make creating something an everyday part of your life, it can turn into a successful business venture. A degree will definitely help get your foot in the door in some industries and show people that you are a committed creator. The thing with an art career that I think is hard for some people to understand is that you when you get a degree, there are no guarantees that you will have a career in art. For example, If you get a Law degree, you become a lawyer, that’s not necessarily true with an art degree. it’s really all up to you and show people that you are an artist by continually staying creative.
2. If you could give advice to your college-age self, what would it be, and why?
My first few years of college, I was a little intimidated by some of the process for creating art. I was always interested in printmaking and experimented with a few different techniques (etching, wood block, lithography) but was afraid of screen printing. It seemed too complicated and I was hesitant to try to figure it out. Thankfully, I decided to give it a shot during my last year at school and really loved the process and it really motivated me to be creative. If I could give my younger self advice, I would tell myself to not be intimidated and just go for it. It would have been cool to have a couple more years of screen printing education before finishing school.
3. How do you overcome difficulties such as artist block, stagnancy, or other issues pertaining to productivity in your work? In other words, how do you continue to find inspiration to create from?
Artist block can be tough, I think it is something all artists struggle with from time to time. When I am stuck, I find that it is helpful to create something that doesn’t have a particular meaning or thought, but simply fun to draw. I love drawing power lines, silhouetted trees and houses, creating a simple atmosphere and not worrying about shading or depth. Basically, drawing lines on paper helps me break up the artist block and new ideas come to mind before I know it.
4. How do you find your market/clients/collectors/audience?
It all happened really organically. I was playing in a lot of bands in my teens/20’s and I started making posters for shows we were playing, that led to me making posters for my friends bands and so on. Early in my career, there was a monumental website gigposters.com where you could post your work online and that led to a lot more people seeing my work which led to getting bigger poster jobs and gaining new followers. Now, it is a different world. It is really helpful to have the ability to show your work to the world by simply posting on instagram or other social media sites. The amount of people/clients/collectors who could potentially see your work has grown exponentially.
5. What opportunities for professional development have been most helpful for you?
I think learning how to print my own work has been very helpful. Paying to have your stuff printed can get very expensive and that can be hard if you are not selling a lot of copies. Printing my own stuff, gives me the freedom to experiment with different techniques and it’s nice to know I can print whenever I want without having to pay a lot of money.