Interview with an Artist #1
A few days ago, I introduced a new blog post category: Interview with an Artist. I told you all that I'd be interviewing an artist friend of mine about the work that she does. She has an art degree from Washington University, which immediately makes her legit. She is truly amazing and just skips about from one medium to the next without the slightest hesitation and it is my dream to one day be even a fraction as creative as she is. Without further ado, Joyce McCown of Moonshadow Press, everybody!
Allison Dozier: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Joyce McCown: An Abridged List of My Favorite Things in Life:
Crazy socks, iced chai lattes, Earl Grey Tea, Florence/Italy, spiral staircases, clear water beaches and lakes, cookies, ice cream, my birthday, bright neon colors, grey walls, spelling “grey” the British way instead of the American way with an “a”, iPhone photography, patterns, pizza, notebooks, sweaters, scarves, naps, more naps, Boggle, book stores and libraries, nooks and crannies, organizing/arranging, succulents (even though I some how always kill them…), NCIS, fantasy fiction, Disney music, pink hair, the concept of tattoos (but not the reality of needles), remembering my dreams, Renaissance Fairs, having dinner with friends.
Have you always wanted to make art? When did this journey begin?
I have always loved being creative- whether making art, problem solving in science classes, writing poems and stories, taking pictures, or collecting odds and ends that intrigued me. My interest in fine art specifically took a firm hold in high school when I decided I wanted to pursue art in college as a career. Once accepted into the art school at Washington University in St. Louis, I chose to study fine art instead of graphic design/illustration. I ended up majoring in Printmaking, which actually was a mistake at first. You see, I hated printmaking in high school. The perfectionist in me was not a fan of how much time and effort went into preparing an image for printing, only to not have total control over the final product (a lot can happen when you run a block through the press). So yes, printmaking made me super frustrated, but I loved loved loved drawing. When the time came to choose a major at Wash. U., the Drawing and Printmaking major were combined. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but decided I could put up with a little printmaking if it meant I got to major in drawing. Imagine my surprise when I showed up to class the first day of Junior year and found out that over the summer the department had dropped the drawing portion of the major, making me a full time Printmaking Major. Yikes. I hadn’t even taken the basic printmaking electives. Needless to say it was a crazy year. It took me a while but by senior year I’d figured out how to use printmaking to draw and create mixed media artwork. After graduation, I started my own fine art studio, MoonShadow Press, and pursued many new techniques of mixed media as well.
What type of art do you most identify with?
I love Mixed Media because of its honesty- no one is just one thing. I find a lot of freedom in the ability to mix any techniques together, as well as switch around from medium to medium depending on what a certain idea requires. Photography, drawing, hand lettering, embroidery, collage, and printmaking are my mediums of choice.
In terms of art as a whole, Impressionism, Geometric Abstraction, and Minimalism inspire me the most. Van Gogh, Monet, Wolfgang Laib, Idris Khan, Andy Goldsworthy, Donald Judd, and Sean Scully are some of my favorite historical and contemporary artists.
What themes do you pursue?
Modularity, or “pieces that form a whole” as I describe it is a key theme in my work. It is a non-linear approach to storytelling that relates to what I love about mixed media. Our selves, lives, and experiences are all made up of smaller individual pieces that form the larger picture when viewed together.
Other themes that are important to me are minimalism, accumulation, hope, honesty/vulnerability, and whimsy.
Ideally, how do you want people to respond to your work?
When people see my artwork, my main goal is to inspire deep thinking, to cause someone to take the time to ponder something for more than a fleeting second or single glance. I also want the presence of hope, joy, and delight to be present and perceived, even in the darkest times.
What are a few of your favorite places in St. Louis?
Forest Park, Blue Print Coffee, the Botanical Gardens, the ice cream section of any grocery store, and the “Harry Potter” Library on Wash U’s campus are my favorite places in St. Louis.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Take the time to figure out what works best for YOU, not what other people say SHOULD work, or work for them.
This was something my art professors stressed in college, especially around establishing a studio practice, or creative lifestyle.
Name something you couldn't live without.
The Internet. Hands down. Couldn’t do it. Nope nope nope.
Do you have anything new and fun that you're going to be working on?
Well, I’ve spent most of this year (2017) healing and resting from a serious bout of depression, anxiety, and grief. I’ve come a long way so far, but am still trying to figure out my goals for 2018. There are way too many things I’d love to sink loads of time into, so I need to pick one or two from the ever expanding list. Currently, I’m planning on taking an Independent Study Printmaking class at a local community college this Spring! I have a series of collages/mixed media pieces in mind that include etchings and relief prints, so I need access to printmaking facilities. It’s all mostly in my head at this point, but I can’t wait to share the work as it evolves!
Stay tuned for the next artist spotlight! Also, if you'd like a chance to be featured, email me a link to your website at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll check you out! Thanks for reading, guys.