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Interview in Long Gone Loser Zine
Long Gone Loser
Published on 9/25/2005

Issue 11 of this Australian rock music magazine features a cool interview with me as well as Million Dollar Marxists, Guitar Wolf, Detroit Cobras, Wendy James and more!  Read the transcript below.

Long Gone Loser
"Tara McPherson"
Article by: Dame
Issue #11

She's an artist from New York who knows her stuff. She's been spreading her art throughout the poster rock world, designing posters for some of the coolest and greatest bands ever to grace a stage from Kraftwerk to Queens of the Stone Age, from Shonen Knife to Duran Duran; it's a mixed bag, but Tara's consistency to not limit herself means not only great art but an exposure to a world who may just have never been lucky enough to grace their eyes upon her work. Now she is here for you, so may I please introduce you to the wonderful world of Ms. McPherson.

Your style is very unique, a lot different to the "Juxtapoz" artists that are featured in the mag every month. Is this the way you've always done art or did you develop your style over time?

I think my style has a lot to do with me specifically trying not to develop a style right away. I took time to experiment and try new things. So what eventually happened was a natural evolution. And it's still evolving all the time as I grow as a person and as an artist.

Some of the bands you've designed posters for are pretty damn cool, like for example, Duran Duran and LGL faves, Kraftwerk... Now that totally rocks. Do you ever get any feedback from the actual bands on what they think of the posters you've done? I'm guessing Kraftwerk would email or send their feedback by technocratic transmitters.

I actually drove up to Seattle to give Kraftwerk their posters. At the time I lived in Portland, so it was only a few hours away. Although I didn't get to meet the band, I handed the posters to the manager and he loved them. I don't always get to do that anymore though because now I design posters for shows all over the U.S. When I first started making posters, it was for local shows in Los Angeles. I got to hang out with the bands and sell my posters at the merch table. But now I'm happy just making sure that a good poster gets done for a good show. Sometimes I get emails from the band afterwards and thats always so great.

Speaking of which, if you could hang out with any member of Kraftwerk, which one of them would you want to talk quantum physics and laptops with?

All of them, I guess!

Are there any bands you'd love to design a gig poster for?

Hmmmm... Well I'd have to say Joy Division would be one if I could travel back in time. As far as current bands, I'd like to do a poster for Mastodon, Sonic Youth, and David Bowie.

On your website, you mention that you were an intern at Rough Draft Studios where they were putting together Futurama, which happens to be one of my favorite shows ever. How much did you get to do with Futurama? Gimme the scoop. Any great memories? Stuff the general public doesn't know?

Well that internship was just the best. I ended up taking off of school just to stay there an extra four months. As far as my job duties went, I assisted the design department with approvals, which meant passing up turnarounds of character sketches and faxing them to Matt Groening over at Fox. I scanned all the drawings for the animatics, I put together the color keys for the colorists, and tons of other cool things. I'd say the best part of that job was getting to be friends with such amazing artists and learning the inside aspects of what goes on in the making of a major animation for television. I learned so much there and it was such an important part of my life. We also had a softball team when I worked there that I was on and we would play other teams around town. I pretty much sucked, but it was real fun to watch! Probably funny to watch me. Also around the studio there were the funny naked comics the artists would make of the Futurama characters. Oh!... there was this one guy that worked there who would never wash his hands after he went to the bathroom and he'd always head straight to the pretzel box in the kitchen. Needless to say, no one would ever eat those pretzels. Gross!

If you could be a character in Futurama, who would you be?


Has Tara ever:
Owned a Wham! styled "Choose Life" shirt?

No but I own Wham! Make It Big on vinyl.
Been to a wrestling event at Madison Square Garden?
Not yet, but I'd like to.
Done a tag on a subway?
No but I've spray painted my stencil on sidewalks.
Been hypnotized while watching a Kraftwerk gig?
Kind of.
Stood on the corner of 53rd & 3rd?
Seen the Mona Lisa?
Ridden a Roller Coaster at Coney Island?
Yes. And it was surprisingly scary.
Compared tattoos with Theo from the Lunachicks?
Not Yet.
Gone on a hiking trip "Stand By Me" style?
Talked headbands with Simon Le Bon?
Not yet.

You've had some pretty good gigs with your art. What's been the biggest amount of cash someone has paid for your art?

5 bucks, and a pack of Oreos.

Mark Ryden released a limited print run of his Creatrix piece this year through his website. The prints sold out within half an hour and were then on Ebay moments later at hugely inflated prices. Do you think that kind of ruins what was so special about the piece in the first place? That many just went to money makers rather than people who actually do appreciate art? For the record, I missed out and was pissed to see them on Ebay a day later for over $1,000.

Yes I always hate that. I see that happen with my work sometimes. The thing is, there's really nothing you can do about it aside from limiting the purchase to one per person. I've seen my drawings, posters, paintings and prints resold on Ebay, or other sites. It's kind of lame because it makes me question the integrity of the buyer. And you have to ask yourself: "Are they really a fan of my art or are they a business person looking to make a profit?" But I guess that's all part of the art game, so you can't get too upset over it. It's just hard to see sellers profiting so much instead of the artist.

Every time I look at your work, it always reminds me of, like, children's cartoons. If you got to design a carton series, what would the story of the cartoon be about and what would happen in the pilot episode?

It would probably be about a girl, bunnies, and a monster and the pilot would be about them battling in outer space.

In your opinion, what has been the best movie ever made in New York... besides The Warriors?

Requiem for a Dream.

What's your favorite scene from the movie The Breakfast Club? I ask you this 'cause everyone's seen it and everyone loves it 'cause it's cool.

The whole damn thing.

You've got some wicked ink on your arms there. Do you know if anyone has Tara art done on their body?

Yes, I've gotten a bunch of emails from people saying they got something, or their friend did, or they ask to use my drawings for tattoos and I always say yes. I think it's so cool! I almost became a tattoo artist at one point, but decided on going to art school instead.

I have bought 6 boxes of Cocoa Pops in the hope of getting a Star Wars light saber spoon but unfortunately, I never did get one even though the box says that 1 in every 3 has one. Did you ever find anything cool in a box of breakfast cereal while you were growing up?

My mom didn't let us have sugary cereal when I was growing up and those are the only ones that come with toys, so I totally missed out on that! All the healthy cereals were boring.

If you were to design a cereal box, what cereal would you want to design a box for?

Lucky Charms.

One or the other:
Pencil or pen?

Coop or Almera?
Bikini Kill or Le Tigre?
Bikini Kill
Labyrinth or Dark Crystal?
Dark Crystal
Rock Steady Crew or New York City Breakers?
New York City Breakers
Emo or Screamo?
Gumby or Pokey?
Rambo or Rambo II?
Conan the Barbarian.
Twisted Sister or Manowar?

Motley Crue's book "The Dirt" gives us an insight into just how trashy life on the road is for a band. Do poster artists have the same kind of experiences and get groupies and stuff?

I want to get that book so bad. Well, it's very different, but similar sometimes. I think being a young female adds to the variety of experiences in the world of art and rock music.

One of your clients was/is Nike... what did you design for them and how soon did the local PC punk police start crying "sellout" once you cinched the deal?

I designed a fake record cover that was used to introduce a section of clips in a skate video they produced. I thought it was a cool job and I haven't heard any bad comments about me doing that job. The thing is, I'm a freelance illustrator; I love doing big jobs and find nothing wrong with it. I'm more of an Adidas girl, though...

The yearly subscriptions you do are a fucking great idea and well-worth the bucks! It's also a very brave move. I'm not sure if this is the first time you've done this or not, but has it been successful so far? Do you feel that by doing this you're setting yourself up for high expectations?

It's he second year I've done it and it seems to be going well. When the original posters sell out, I see them go for so much more than the original $25 or $30 I sell them for. Take for instance my Queens of the Stone Age poster. That is sold out now and already going for $200. It makes getting the subscription totally worth it if you are a collector. As far as setting myself up for high expectations, it's good for me because I work better under pressure. So it works as a personal goal, to get a certain amount of things done throughout the year.

Now being from New York... have you ever stalked a Ramone?

No, but I've walked down Joey Ramone Place.

What about Jennifer Connelly? Ever seen her struttin' the streets?

I wish!

Where's the strangest place that you've ever seen one of your stickers stuck?

On a girls boobs.

What's the upcoming scoop for Tara? Ever thought of taking your art to the world, i.e. Australia, for an exhibition?

I just found out I'm going to be painting a book for DC Vertigo Comics for the next year, which I'm so excited about! It's going to be written by Steven T. Seagle (Houses of Secrets, It's a BIrd). So keep a look out for my book to come out sometime in mid 2007. I'm still going to be doing rock posters and art prints, so don't worry! And as far as coming to Australia for an art exhibition...YES!