“Follow Friday” Interview with Tim McFarlane (represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery, PA).
DD: How would you define your style?
TM: I guess I’d say that my work is a kind of organic abstraction, at least at this point.
DD: How long have you been creating art for?
TM: I’ve been painting since high school…about 27 years or so.
DD: Were you formally trained in art or are you self taught? Do you think it has helped you or hindered you?
TM: I was formally trained. I began studying art in high school and later in college. My first two years in college were spent attempting to major in subjects that might lead to jobs to bring in money. Of course, that didn’t work out. I dropped out after those two years, worked and continued painting and drawing on my own. I wanted to get a college degree and found a way to return to school part-time and work. The only thing I was really interested in studying was art, so that’s what I studied when I went back.
DD: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TM: As a child, I didn’t really have any real ideas about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I liked school and my parents encouraged me to study hard, but I wasn’t like other kids around me who wanted to be firemen, cops or whatever. I was something of a dreamer, read a lot of comics, and I think that I was more into imagining and creating other worlds, which I get to do now.
DD: How do you deal with creator’s block?
TM: I usually deal with creator’s block in a couple of ways. The first is to maybe work on projects other than painting, which is my main avenue of creativity. I’ll delve more into photography or maybe do a lot of works on paper. The other way is to just take a break from the studio for a few days and read, go and see some other art, or maybe do something else in the studio that needs attention, like rearranging the space, cleaning up, and so forth. Usually, a little time away will recharge me enough to get back to work again and continue.
DD: Aside from art, what do you do with your time? Is there anything else that you are passionate about?
TM: I mentioned it above, but photography is a big passion of mine. I use photography as a medium unto itself-I don’t use it as a precursor for my paintings or anything. Besides photography, I love riding my bike and take every chance to do so. I love reading and still read comics and graphic novels because I’m a sucker for a good story with pictures. Music (especially deep house, and other types of electronic music), dancing and generally having a good time when I can.
DD: Do you think that the internet is helping or destroying the art world?
TM: I think that there is a little of both, but largely, I think that the internet is helping the art world. The ‘net has made it a lot easier for people to discover artists and art that they might not have done so easily before. From my own experience, it has helped me connect with artists from all over the world. Also, the ‘net has enabled artistic collaborations to happen much easier, and take aritistic collaborations to new levels, like being exclusively virtual. New forms of digital art have come into being because of the internet, as well.
Some of the downsides, as I see them, include the theft and unauthorized use of images for commercial or other purposes and the posting and reposting of images with no attribution or source information. The former issue is pretty serious and annoying but the latter gets under my skin as well, because I come across thousands of images that I might like on sites like Tumblr, but often there is no way to find out what the image might be of or who might have made it, etc… Sometimes, that information might not be necessary, but if I come across an image that looks like a painting, I like having an idea of size and scale and most of the time, that information isn’t readily apparent from just the image itself.
DD: What has been your worst experience with art?
TM: I don’t think that I’ve had a “worst” experience with art. I guess I’ve had a few disappointments here and there but nothing that severe.
DD: What has been your best experience with art?
TM: Being able to do something that I love and having other people love it enough to buy it.
DD: What does your work space look like?
TM: My work space is on the 4th floor of an old warehouse space in the Old City section of Philadelphia, not far from the Delaware River to the east. It’s about 350 square feet and pretty basic. The space is very old and doesn’t have insulation, so it’s really hot in the summer and cold in the winter. There’s heat, but I don’t use it that much because of the expense. I just wear a lot of layers of clothing in the winter.
Photo 1 / Photo 2.
DD: Is there any advice you would like to pass on to other artists?
TM: If you love making art, it’s your life and not just a passing fancy. it’s tough making a living at it and you have to be resourceful. There are what I call the three Ps: Persistence, Patience, and Professionalism:
- Persistence: Your work is the priority. Keep making work, period. If you love what you do, then do it and make no excuses nor apologies.
- Patience: Everything about art takes time-time to make the work, time to develop as a creative person and time for the work to develop. Art is a lifelong endavor and there is always something new to learn, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. A lot of what it takes to ‘make it’ in the art world, whatever that means to you, depends on creating and maintaining relationships with people which can take time. I also believe that it’s important for young artists to develop support networks amongst their peers- go to each other’s shows, do studio visits, collaborate, do whatever it takes to have a support network. Also, develop relationships with people who might not do what you do. If you paint, make friends with people who are writers, photographers, filmakers, dancers, etc… You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from people in other disciplines. Remain open to new experiences and you’ll be surprised at how much good it can do for your creative process.
- Professionalism: I can’t stress enough about how important it is for artists to be professional in how they interact with the rest of the world. A few things to keep in mind:
• Reply to emails and return phone calls in a timely manner. Deadlines and other people’s time do matter. Example: If someone contacts you about an exhibition opportunity, even if it isn’t something that you can do or aren’t interested in, it is better to respond than not. It is never cool to keep people waiting because they will remember and in the future, you might miss out on an opportunity and in the future, you might get passed over for something that you might want to participate in. The art world, whether local, national, or global is small and people have long memories. The same goes for just being tactful. You never know who might know someone else, so watch what you say about other people, online or in the physical world.
• Know how to write well. If writing isn’t your strength, then find someone to help you with writing artist statements, essays for grant applications, proposals for exhibitions, etc… Leave the emoticons and other types of ‘net spak for your personal friends on the web.
• If you are thinking about approaching a gallery to show your work, do your homework. Visit the gallery a few times to see what kind of work they show and to see if what you do might fit into their programming. It’s simple, if you are a realist painter, don’t approach a galley that shows mainly abstract or conceptual art.
• Document your work and have good reproductions to show people. Learn how to photograph your work correctly or have a profesisonal do it for you.
• Always be prepared. Have copies of your art resumé, artist statement, and images of your work at hand on your computer or other drive to send out. You never know when someone might email or call and request some information about you and your work.
• If you are shy, find a way around it and learn to talk to people about your work. Most of the time, people want to know something about the person behind the art and that can help them have a deeper connection with the artwork.
• “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re Welcome” can go a long way
If you are an artist, designer or photographer and you are interested in being interviewed you may contact me through Tumblr or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.