Austin-based artist Paul McCreery is constantly inspired by his city’s creative “maker mentality”. After all, this is the city with the motto “Keep Austin Weird”, and McCreery thrives on the independent craftsman mindset that has inspired so many creatives that call the city home. Originally from California, McCreery has been drawing and paintings from an early age, eventually creating designs for skateboard, snowboard, and surfboard companies. His designs are largely inspired by his active lifestyle and love of nostalgia including retro toys, vintage arcade games, music, surfing and Americana. His laid back vibe and fresh illustrations make his work extremely appealing and marketable. We spoke with Paul to learn more about his process and inspiration (see interview below):
MG: What medium do you work with?
PM: I mostly work with pen and ink.
MG: What do you like most about working with this medium?
PM: I like the fact that you just have to go for it. If you make a mistake who cares, incorporate it into the design somehow. And you have to be decisive, I find if I’m kind of nonchalant while I’m drawing it turns out pretty boring. But if I’m thinking about balance, diversity, space, really engaged, then sometimes you get lucky and it turns out pretty cool.
MG: What inspires you most?
PM: I’m inspired by nature, old things, I like to listen to music and podcasts. I love going to museums, The Whitney Museum in New York is my favorite. Every time I go there I discover a new artist to be obsessed with. This year I saw work by Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, she draws with her paintbrush, uses pattern and tells a story, awesome work.
MG: What artists inspire you?
PM: My favorite artist is Wayne Thiebaud, I love Pop Art, and the way he makes single objects just glow with light never gets old. Walton Ford is great too, his work is subtle and overwhelming at the same time, plus who doesn’t love giant watercolor paintings of animals. I have to get one more artist in and it’s Tim Hawkinson. His mechanically engineered sculptures just blow my mind. He tinkers around and creates contraptions that are so unique, he’s like a modern day Da Vinci to me.
MG: What are your hobbies (besides art)?
PM: Skateboarding, Surfing, Snowboarding and Volleyball. Now that I’m landlocked in Austin Texas I don’t get to surf or snowboard much anymore. But I am building a mini ramp in my backyard so I can still skate! I’ll always be a Californian at heart.
MG: Describe your workspace:
PM: I work in my garage. It’s not very glamorous but I don’t have to worry about making a mess. Plus I like being able to open the garage door and feeling like I’m outside, so it’s pretty nice.
MG: How many years have you been an artist?
PM: I graduated from Art Center College of Design in 2007 and got my first freelance assignment from the LA Times around the same time so I consider that to be the beginning of my professional career.
MG: What jobs have you done besides being an artist?
PM: The worst job I’ve had was working in a frozen yogurt shop, but I have also worked in pretty much every facet of the construction industry from General Contractor to Building Inspector.
MG: If you were not an artist what would you do?
PM: I would love to be an Art History Professor.
MG: What is your dream project?
PM: It would be great to be commissioned to do a huge mural, preferably somewhere tropical…
MG: Is there a painting or project that you are especially proud of?
PM: I did a portrait of Edward Abbey that won a Silver Medal Illustration award. I care deeply about the environment and was thrilled to be recognized for a piece that helped shed light on environmental conservation.
MG: What is your favorite color?
PM: Light Blue