There is an interesting grey area that lies between the worlds of fine art and illustration. While illustration must communicate an idea and tell a story, fine art must ask questions and challenge the history that precedes it. The art of Austin McCormick successfully straddles both worlds. His work is sensitive, fresh, and exhibits a massive amount of skill. Austin seamlessly works in painting, printmaking, drawing, and sculpture while maintaining a unique voice, no matter the medium.
When did you start creating, and how did you develop as an artist?
Well I have always been involved in creative processes since I was a kid. I have always drawn for fun, but became interested in ceramics and sculpture in high school. I didn’t actually start to take drawing and painting serious until community college, where I studied all the traditional forms of art. I eventually transferred from Riverside Community College to Art Center College of Design and studied Illustration. I mixed around a bit at art center in classes of design and fine art, I feel like I was always trying out new ways to work, and still am in a way. Recently I have been trying to figure out art in a more personal point of view, doing it to find myself in the work.
Who or what are some of the biggest influences?
They change quite a bit, my list of things I look at and books I collect is ever growing, but some major inspirations I have been looking at recently are Helen Verhoeven, Martin Puryear, Frank Lloyd Wright, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Zaha Hadid, that’s all I can think of right now.
Where do you gather inspiration from to develop concepts?
I have been trying to get my brain away from art recently; if you look at it too much it can start to melt your brain. Lately, I have found a huge release in nature, I grew up in the mountains so going back to something like the forest can really free up my mind, then the ideas can develop…that’s sometimes. I have also been trying to read a little more, and watching documentaries, it is always changing for me.
How would you describe your work?
An ever-lasting pursuance to understanding my creativity.
"Fall In" (above) is one of my favorite pieces. Can you elaborate on the concept and why you decided to solve it in that matter?
Thanks. Basically I was working on that painting towards the end of my final semester, and it became a commentary on the influence of the media on new artists to the world, a storm of collages and paper projections were the influencing driving force, deciding who goes where.
You seamlessly work in painting, print making, drawing, and sculpture while maintaining a unique voice. Explain how you're able to stay true to your voice while working on various crafts/trades?
I try and mix up my approach to a project all the time; I don’t like feeling too much repetitiveness while I work so I change my medium. I try to be honest in what I make, so hopefully the unique voice is an accurate portrayal of me coming out in the work.
Does the way you solve and/or create a sculpture ever affect how you approach a painting or a print?
I feel like it opens possibilities for me, instead of trying to push through a creative block in one medium I will change my approach and the idea becomes a new and fresh challenge. Sculpture and print-making are a slower process for me than painting and drawing, it becomes a bit more relaxing and allows my mind to wander a bit, this can allow for new ideas while working on a project, or a new way to go back to an unsolved work.
One of the attributes that struck me about your work was your distinct color palette. In many cases it can be interpreted as an artist signature. Is this something you are comfortable with? Do you foresee it evolving because you practice other trades/crafts so early on in your career?
I am not totally sure if it's comfort or aesthetics, or both. I have ties to some of my color choices, it can be something I saw where the colors struck me, and I wanted to bring it back to art, or the painting just needs the introduction of another color, or five. It changes to me, even though it looks like there is a common thread. I do use white a lot; this one comes from my child hood growing up in the snow.
You have a 3-person show coming up at Subtext Gallery. Are there any other shows or projects to look out for this year or in the near future?
I do have another group show I am in at about the same time as Subtext, its at Sloan Fine Art in New York, it is going to be a fairly large group so that one will be cool to check out.
Any words of wisdom for someone who's contemplating art as a career?
Wisdom…no, but a lesson I have learned is no matter how much training or schooling you go through, or what people may respond to, you always need to ask yourself what you want.
Come check out Austin McCormick's work in person, this Friday at Subtext Gallery (6-10pm)