Building A Modern Day Art Practice with Mega McGrathFebruary 10, 2022
THE POWER OF ART: PUTTING VISION INTO PRACTICE
Goals, growth, and brand collabs with Mega McGrath.
Step into the studio with Vancouver artist and designer Mega McGrath to discover her journey to growing a sustainable art practice with brand collaborations, client work, and personal expression. Plus – exploring KRINK markers, the power of words in art, and more!
How would you describe yourself and your art practice?
I’m an artist and designer, based in Vancouver, BC. My practice has been a continuous exploration into the human condition and its intersection with nature. I have always found words to be very powerful, they are a large part of my work; but recently I’ve taken up creating abstracted florals, or “floral-scapes” – an abstracted look at a singular floral form in time.
Do you think you’ve found your visual voice? What helped this process? What advice do you have for others still trying to find theirs?
Great question! At times – yes. For me, finding a visual voice is not a linear process; but more of a constant cycle of death and rebirth. In the past, I’ve established solid visual identities, and then got quite bored with the work & what people expected from me and felt called to put them down.
I feel now that I’m 30 and have more of a sense of what I like and what I do not like, I can create more from a place of surety and authenticity. But that has come from trying things on, and figuring out they weren’t for me. I had to discover that I actually wasn’t “cool” or “edgy”, In fact – I’m quite soft, silly, and playful. The more I can embody that the more authentic my work feels to the viewer.
So I guess my only advice is to age, haha. Let life move through you and try on different things to see how they feel. With practice and curiosity you’ll get there. And practicing letting go of old or unreal parts of you. Engaging in the death and rebirth process just as spring proceeds winter.
Do you listen to music while you create? What’s on your playlist?
Yes, of course! I love this radio station on Apple Music called “Soulection”. Other than that it’s Jazz, Samba, Hiphop, Alte, House. I’m all over the place.
What colours or palettes are you drawn to?
Typically bright or pastel palettes, with one or two ugly colours thrown in to surprise you. I usually have one colour a year I’m specifically drawn to. Last year was olive green, this year it is plum. Like a Michelle Obama inauguration suit plum.
If you could collaborate with any other company, who would it be?
This isn’t a company but more a dream project. I’m really inspired by the career trajectory of the French artist, André Saraiva, and how he went from street artist to hotelier. I love seeing artists leverage their places within long-term profit structures. I think it’s genius. So short answer, I would love to be able to work on a boutique hotel one day.
How did you discover KRINK and how do you work with it in fine art?
I first saw an artist I know, Ricardo Gonzales (@It’saliving on Instagram) ; use the pens in a more traditional art sense. KRINK had always seemed to be reserved for graffiti in my mind, but his style used them in a cleaner, calligraphic way that I hadn’t seen before.
I recently worked with Tiffany & Co. to create customized bags for clients, I used Krink to personalize them with names to also pay homage to their New York roots. I also worked with Reigning Champ to design a basketball—Krink is great for that as well. Super multi-surface.
You’ve worked with brands like Reigning Champ, KRINK, Hypebae, Ivanhoe Cambridge Properties, and more. Are there steps you’ve taken to bring in these projects? What advice do you have for artists who are looking to collaborate with companies and get their work out there?
I saw this quote once, “Work begets work.” And that’s it, Just work. In the beginning, I started by saying yes to everything; because I knew it was always going to lead me to the next thing. Eventually you get to a place where you can be selective with what you take on, and you get to take projects on your terms + budgets. But at first, you take what opportunities present themselves to you.
Also – get really good at pitch decks. I’ve hustled hard and had many 5am days to get pitches to companies who have asked for proposals on projects. Even if you’re strictly a painter – if you’re able to compose your ideas or offerings (even simply) in an organized manner for your clients that’s how you go from amateur to professional. It demonstrates to them you are capable of thinking neatly and can operate projects on a larger scale.
Do you have any goals for your art practice/business this year?
I feel I explored so much these past years aesthetically, it’s now time to hone in and play with the concepts and put them all together. So my goal is to explore what that looks and feels like.
February at Opus means our annual Opus Daily Practice Challenge. Do you have any specific approach to practice? Are there any aspects of practice you think are often overlooked?
When I’m working on an idea, I have to often sketch 100 of something in order to get the proper form out. It’s very rarely a one-and-done deal. Practice is just that, practice. Even with my paintings, I’ll make 12. Two are acceptable, four are absolutely terrible, and six are really good. That’s a 50% turn out, so that’s why practice and creating many iterations is so important.
Do you create a moodboard/pinterest/inspiration page for your pieces or collection of artwork?
Almost always. Gathering inspiration is a very important part of the creative process for me.
How do you structure your time between personal work and client work?
I used to think my primary focus was my client work, and my personal work was something that is reserved for after 5pm or when I have the luxury of time to do it. But the truth is that it never gets done that way. My beautiful mentor and dear friend, Zoë Pawlak, helped me structure my time better. 3 client days (client work, meetings) & 2 personal work days. Your personal work days are used as a reward for getting your client work done. You can choose whatever days of the week you like.
You have to give yourself permission to prioritize your ideas, and dedicate real time to creating them. Otherwise they stay up in your head. They need to be brought out into day light – seriously thought about and explored. Interestingly enough, that actually feeds into your client work. The work we make for ourselves when no one is looking is often far more interesting than the work we make for others.
When you create art, is the act of it spontaneous or well thought out? Is it sometimes a combination of both?
Yes of course, it’s a balance of both. I actually started my career as a muralist, so with murals – you have to plan out mostly every inch and have the colours pre-planned. That’s naturally translated to my paintings. I have it mostly pre-planned with some room for spontaneity in the texture. Sometimes I don’t want to do that at all and I’ll wing it. But it’s a balance, 50/50.
Mega McGrath is a Canadian Artist and Designer based in Vancouver, BC.
Mega’s greatest focus lies in making art about the human condition.
Commercially, her process consists of connecting with the intentions of brands to create stories and meaningful messages that resonate authentically with the viewer. Mega works to build the aesthetics and illustrations that best exalt those messages. Her clients include Arc’teryx, Nike, Red Bull, Hypebeast Inc, and many more.