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Interview in International Tattoo Art
International Tattoo Art
Published on 5/01/2003

A 4 Page interview by Sherri Cullison, author of "Vicious, Delicious, and Ambitious".
Read the interview below!



International Tattoo Art Magazine
"Blurring the Lines: Tara McPherson"
Article by Sherri Cullison
May 2003


Tara McPherson's art casts shadows of mixed emotions. Her oil and acrylic renderings splice together an adult-felt estrangement from youth with the reconnecting sense of remembering a childhood long since lost. Tara's characters combine the look and feel of Japanimation with a tinge of reference to the big eyes made famous by Margaret Keane. But Tara doesn't do it by using Keane's big eyes. There is a sadness hovering in Tara's paintings that is reflective of Keane's innocent cuties. But in Tara's work, her characters also express a morosely joyful glee at knowing life's irony.

She starts each painting by writing things down. Tara puts words, phrases, and ideas to paper, adding to her notes and thereby creating the structure of the painting before ever picking up a brush. She comes up with her titles this way. "It works out better for me if I start with the title of the painting first," Tara said. "I find it difficult to title something after it's been painted. If I title it after, I feel like the title is really superficial and the painting doesn't deserve the name."

Her primary writings for each piece revolve around the clash of youth and adulthood. Her paintings are accessorized with the trappings of both. There are tattoos and stuffed animals; there is makeup along with the act of slurping spaghetti one string at a time. Boldly blooming lilies breathe a contrasting gasp for life into the silent graveyard pallor of her subjects.

At only 26 years old, Tara hasn't been painting long, but stylistically, her art has remained unchanged since she first took to the brush. And she's happy with the direction her career is going. One art class in particular did her wonders for learning how to paint. She had been doing a lot of etchings and prints prior to taking the class, but she always felt the nagging need to paint. This class was her breaking point. "It propelled me to where I wanted to be." she said. "It was this rendering class and the teacher was known for being a hard-ass. I learned so much from him and from that point on, I thought I could paint anything. I knew the techniques. I knew how to realize what I wanted to do."

After taking so quickly to painting, Tara said everything else fell into place. She started getting freelance jobs doing cover art and illustrations for magazines and painting advertisement art for local businesses. The media started paying attention and solo and group gallery shows began to roll in. Last year, Tara quit her job to work as a full time artist.

A couple of her artistic influences are Glenn Barr and Mark Ryden. With an introduction to Ryden at one of her shows, Tara realized her life was on the right track. "I was talking to a friend of mine at the show and she said her friend Mark really liked my paintings," Tara said. " And she introduced me to Mark Ryden. It was great finding that the people I admire are also admiring my work. That's when I felt like this could really happen and that I just needed to keep going with the gallery thing."
Along with doing the gallery thing and painting, Tara plans to continue with her own prints, as well as to expand her merchandise line to include stickers, calendars, and "other cool stuff for people to buy," she said. "Mainly for people who can't afford to buy paintings to still have cool artwork in their houses."

Tara is learning about the business side of art as she goes. She's constantly finding new ways to market herself as an artist and she's knocking on doors to try to align herself with more galleries around Los Angeles. As her career continues to grow in LA, Tara also hopes to branch out to galleries in other cities. Two shows in San Francisco earlier this year are serving as a springboard to doing that.

As she adapts to the artist life, Tara says her imagery will remain the same. She will continue to use paints to blur the line between youthfulness and maturity. "A lot of my characters have this idealized look about them," she said. "Going back to the beginning of portraiture, the intention was to capture this moment in time of a person in an idealized state. I'm really trying to use that in my paintings, but to also combine it with modern themes and play with the ideas of remembering things about childhood that people forget as they grow older. Even if I paint something straightforward, it will have symbolism involved because of the writing that I did to convey certain messages," she said. "So in the instance where someone buys the painting, I hope they'll be able to get a lot more from it than just the cool image factor. They can read into it and even a year later they might get something new from it. "

Tara feels comfortable enough with her art to not have to force her entry into any new artistic styles. "I don't want to change what I'm doing now artistically," she said. " I don't have a plan. Whatever evolution comes about will be natural. I'm just doing it. If I'm not painting, I'm drawing, working on my web site or working out ideas. Everyday I'm creating something to work toward the better goal."