Hi-Fructose 2/17Graffiti Art Magazine 7/16Clutter Magazine 7/16Beautiful Bizarre 9/15Hi Fructose 6/15Illustrators Magazine 5/15Bedford+Bowery 4/15Huffington Post 3/15Computer Arts Magazine 2/14Stoli TV 8/13Darkroom Army 3/12TEDx Brooklyn 11/11PBS Arts 11/11WARP Tv 8/11MTV 4/11TOR 3/11OFFSET 12/10UNO Magazine 11/10Status Magazine 11/10Babelgum 11/10Indio TV 11/10IPMM / The Citrus Report 10/10The Philippine Star 9/10KCRW 3/10The New York Times 3/10Crows 'n' Bones 3/10Noize Magazine 3/10Conozca Más 2/10Maxim México 2/10Semi-Permanent 1/10Rock Sound 1/10Electric Playground 11/09Bang Art 11/09Remix 10/09ImagineFX 10/09Frankie Magazine 10/09WG News + Arts 9/09Playboy Brazil 9/09Noize Magazine 8/09Revista O Globo 8/09EMPORIO 8/09o2magazine 8/09Sonisphere Festival 7/09Format Magazine 6/09FAZER Online Music Magazine 5/09Bizarre Magazine 5/09WeAr Magazine 4/09Working Class Magazine 4/09Etsy 3/09Streetwear Today 3/09The Vinyl Frontier 12/08SOMA 11/08Hi-Fructose 11/08Clutter Magazine 10/08Marie Claire 9/08KPBS 8/08Los Angeles Times 8/08Sony 7/08Vanity Fair 6/0850% Television 4/08Elle Magazine 4/08Venus Zine 3/08NY Press 3/08NY Observer 3/08Juxtapoz 2/08Supertouch 2/08Inked Magazine 1/08Metal Hammer 8/07Royal Flush 7/07Loop 7/07Box 7/07Stirato 6/07Candy Magazine 5/07Cut Out and Keep 5/07Virgin Mobile 5/07DPI Magazine 4/07Juxtapoz 3/07Fields Edge 3/07Esquire Magazine 3/07Candy Magazine 3/07Bust Magazine 2/07Luminous 2/07Swindle 1/07Juxtapoz 12/06Curve 11/06Ox Fanzine 11/06Silver Bullet Comics 10/06Hamburg:pur 9/06Life in a Bungalow 8/06Kunststoff 7/06Life in a Bungalow 7/06How Magazine 6/06Juxtapoz 6/06Design Week 5/06Coagula Art Journal 5/06Austin Chronicle 3/06Mesh Count 3/06Step Inside Design 12/05Super 7 12/05Empty Mag 11/05Low Magazine 11/05Gothamist 9/05Long Gone Loser 9/05The Seattle Times 8/05Buzzscope 8/05Paste Magazine 8/05Communication Arts 7/05Salt Lake Tribune 6/05The Plain Dealer 6/05CBC Radio 5/05Punk Planet 4/05Cozytone 2/05The News Tribune 2/05Creatie Magazine 1/05Rock FM 96.6 1/05Spin Magazine 1/05Magnet Magazine 1/05Crown Dozen 12/04Fused Magazine 12/04Lemonade Magazine 12/04Entertainment Weekly 11/04Neil Gaiman's Journal 9/04F Magazine 5/04Silver Bullet Comics 3/04Modern Fix Magazine 2/04Skratch 11/03Fahrenheit Weekly 9/03LA Weekly 7/03International Tattoo Art 5/03Classic Posters 4/03Atomica Magazine 1/03Burnout 9/02Destroy All Monthly 8/02Savage Tattoo 7/02
Design Devils
Rock Sound
Published on 1/11/2010

Quick little interview in Rock Sound about my poster art! Read the transcript below!




Design Devils: Tara McPherson
By Hardeep Phull
Rock Sounds
Issue 130

Having worked with some of the biggest names and companies in music, Tara McPherson reveals what's behind her posters...
Worked for: ATP, Mastodon, Neurosis, Today is the Day, Melvins, Green Day and more..

How did you get into designing gig posters?
My intention was always to be a painter and I went to art school for painting and illustration.  I did rock posters by accident really; I was in a band after graduation and when we were playing shows it was my job to do the posters because I was the artist in the band. I figured that rather than doing black and white xerox posters, I'd do color ones and put more time into them. It grew from there because then I started doing them for the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. Eventually, I started doing them for Golden Voice (concert promoters). Initially, I didn't even put them on my website because I didn't want it to conflict with my paintings. 

Is there any kind of formula or key to creating a good gig poster?

For me, a good poster is about striking the right combination between a great illustration and a great band. That's what I would want if I was going to buy a poster. I tend to work on posters for bands that I like. It's always been that way -- I used to look at upcoming shows and ask to do posters for the bands I liked. I've always been able to pick and choose, which has been great. Its hard to pick a favorite, but I've always really liked the Isis posters that I did and the Mastodon / Neurosis ones are good too.

There seems to be a big manga-esque influence in a lot of your work. Is that the case?
Its an unconscious influence, I think. Before college, I used to manage a Japanese toy store and I got exposed to so many amazing Japanese artists like Yoshitoshi, Yoshitomo Nara, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuya Terada, Hokusai... I have some Hokusai tattoos actually.  I don't really read manga, but there's a certain aesthetic to Japanese artwork that really resonates with me.  

Is there a particular source of inspiration for the characters in your work?
The concepts and ideas come from human relationships and interactions. It's either stuff that I observe that happens to me, but they're universal situations. For example, there was one Depeche Mode poster I was working on a few years ago where I knew I wanted a female face up front and center, but I knew I needed something else in the image. I was kind of stuck on it because I couldn't figure out what it should be. In those situations, I usually leave it alone for a little bit and come back to it later.  So that's exactly what I did - I went to meet some friends for a a drink and afterwards they came back to my place. We were just hanging out and one of my friends was texting his girlfriend because they were in a fight. He was pretty much breaking up with her through the text and, as that was happening, I was imagining this girl on the other end holding her phone and crying. I got this image of her with mascara tears running down her face and I knew that was what the poster was missing. It hit me like a ton of bricks, so I sat down, drew that onto her face and it was done. That was at like five in the morning. You never know where inspiration is going to come from. 

How did you end up doing the poster for the ATP curated by The Breeders this year?

I'd done an ATP poster before - when the Mars Volta curated an event a few years ago - and it was super fun, so I was happy to do it again for the Breeders. With that poster, I thought it was kind of funny to use a rabbit as a kind of euphemism for 'breeders'. My balloon characters are also quite sperm-like, so to have the whole troupe flying through space would be funny too. It also just fit The Breeders sound which is pretty upbeat, happy music.

It seems like you haven't done that many gig posters in recent years. Are you trying to move away from it?
I did about three in 2009 and last year I only did one. I've been focusing more on my gallery work. I do them for my friends' bands because they're fun to do more than anything else. They're whimsical - I don't have to put so much concept into them. They're more like eye candy. However, I definitely want to keep doing them. It keeps things interesting for me to do different things, so I can work on a toy design, then do some paintings and then go do some posters to keep me entertained.