Today we’d like to introduce you to Spencer McCarty.
Spencer, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Growing up, I was always doodling and drawing, mostly cartoon figures. My parents always encouraged my art but when I was young I never took it seriously.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2013 after I graduated from college, my parent’s basement back in Denver flooded and while my mom was cleaning it out, she found my old drawing supplies from an art class in high school she had made me take and shipped them to me, encouraging me to get back into drawing.
Since I didn’t know many people out here when I first moved and had a lot of free time while working part-time at a restaurant, I started drawing again and got really into it.
After six months of drawing continuously, my friend convinced me to try painting so I could have something to hang on my barren walls. Because I had spent all my time drawing with pencils, I wasn’t sure how to use color. So, I just used all the colors.
I had a blast painting that first piece, and my friends and family all seemed to like it too, so I kept at it and I fell in love. For the next few years, I was always painting, always improving.
Street art had always been something I was intrigued by. The sheer size of those murals lining the streets of Los Angeles left me in awe. I knew I had to do it too but wasn’t sure how to get started.
During the summer of 2015, a friend put me in touch with a street artist in LA who was looking for help on a huge mural she was going to be doing. She took me under her wing and for the next few months we would paint together and she taught me the basics of using spray paint, which quickly became my favorite medium.
Since then I have been busy doing both murals and traditional paintings, but the murals are the most fun for me.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
The subject matter of my paintings and murals is mostly colorful portraits, with a few animals or abstract pieces thrown in every now and again.
I think the focus on portraits came from when I was young and loved drawing manga/comic/cartoon characters. I was never satisfied with how their faces looked though; I wanted them to be more realistic. So, the face was the area I always strove to improve in my work, and over the years, it’s become what I gravitate towards the most.
While I’m painting, I’m in an almost trance-like state. I saw this infographic once about ‘The Model of Flow’ that pinpoints your mood based on the relationship between a task’s complexity and your perceived skill level. When both are high, you’re in the flow, which is how I ideally feel when I’m working on a project. It’s also meditative for me. While I’m painting, everything else in life fades into the background for a bit and it centers me and grounds my energy. It helps me work through whatever it is I’m feeling or struggling with at the time.
I do have trouble talking about my art at times, so I usually let the pieces speak for themselves and let others take away from it what they will. We all have unique experiences in life and everyone can perceive the same thing differently. I don’t mean that as a cop-out, as long as my work can make you stop and feel something, anything, then I think that’s okay in my book. My work helps me feel better, so ultimately, if it can help someone else feel better too that’s perfect.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
I think there are different types of success. Success can be like happiness; it’s just a matter of looking at things from the right perspective. Sometimes, I’ll feel like I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d hoped or that I’m not where I want to be, but it’s important to remember where you started from and all that’s happened along the way. Looking back over the last almost five years since this journey started for me, I’m very grateful for the successes I’ve had and the milestones I’ve reached up to this point.
It’s easy to correlate success as selling your pieces for thousands of dollars or having thousands of followers, but in the end, we’re always going to want more and more. We’ll never reach a plateau where we feel like it’s enough. So I don’t necessarily think these are the best metrics to define success by.
In any artistic pursuit, It’s important to have thick skin since artists deal with rejection and being told no almost daily. People will always tell you what they think is best or how you should alter your work to fit into whatever box they see you in, but I say just keep making your work how you want to make it, and eventually, those people will come to acknowledge you and your vision. The outside commentary of their work shouldn’t boggle artists down, as long as you’re happy with and feeling inspired in your work then that’s all that matters.
Whether you’re an artist or not, it’s always nice to feel the rewards from all your hard work starting to pay off. However, if you make those extrinsic rewards the carrot that’s hanging in front of you instead of the intrinsic value the comes from the growth and depth of yourself and your skills in your craft during your career, then you’re always going to feel like it’s never enough.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My street art pieces are up and around Los Angeles. There are a few that can be seen on Melrose Avenue; one at Melrose & Fairfax, another at Melrose & Vista. The mural that’s been up the longest is in Little Armenia, at the corner of Fountain Ave & Edgemont Street.
I post all my content on my Instagram, @_spencermccarty so give me a follow to stay up to date on my work! My work can also be found on my website, www.
- Website: spencermccartyart.com
- Instagram: @_spencermccarty
- Facebook: @spencermccartyart