BLOG*January 21, 2013

All art copyright Tara McPherson

Tara McPherson is a living, breathing, walking brand. She projects an authentic creativity and style that turns heads whether it is viewed in a gallery or via the fashions and tattoos that adorn her body. Driven, determined and greeting the world every day on her own terms, this is a woman who knows the power of living in the art spirit.

I have been following her career for a decade now and when Fleske Publications asked me to write the introduction to Tara’s chapter in the 2013 Spectrum Fantastic Art Live book (Tara is a guest at this years event) I felt it was about time she was featured on the blog. I know Tara mostly via the San Diego Comic Con where she has been a speaker on my Artist As Brand panel discussions. She may join us this year in Kansas City.

We have all seen the many versions of her trademark heart cut into the chest image (Hey, We All Die Sometimes, All Goodness Is In Jeopardy, The Weight Of Water, etc.). The image is about heartache but these women are nude content, passive, even happy. Her art conjures up some serious dialogue.

 Born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles, Tara did not start taking art seriously until enrolled as a student at Santa Monica Community College, where she experimented with various forms of printmaking. An interest in astronomy and astrophysics also sparked her interest initially, but the gravitational pull of art was stronger, and she ended up at the Art Center College of Design, earning a degree in illustration in 2001.

 Checking out the historic Jabber Jaw Cafe in L.A., she was turned on to a lot of metal bands and caught a glimpse of her first rock poster art. While playing bass with The New Detectives Tara was recruited to make fliers and promotional posters for their shows. Her beautiful silk-screened posters caught on, and soon she was being commissioned by bands such as the Melvins, Duran Duran, Green Day, Strokes, Kings of Leon, Mastodon, Torche, Beck and others. Elle magazine called Tara the “crown princess of poster art.”

Tara’s work has been showcased at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in L.A. and published in art magazines such as Juxtapoz, but her popularity continues to grow into other areas. Showing at comic conventions, rock-poster art expos and pop-art culture venues, as well as fine-art galleries and institutions around the world, has increased her number of fans. Embracing an entrepreneurial approach introduces her art to new markets. I asked her when the entrepreneurial spirit sparked her imagination and she said it was when she worked at Banzai Anime in West LA. Bonzai Anime (not around any more) showcased art and toys from creators in Japan. She loved what she saw and decided that is what she wanted to do too!

Tara manufactures a wry sentiment with her editions of soft and hard sculptures as well as vinyl toys. “The Day’s Eye” collection of one one-eyed flowers, “Skull Flower” and “Mr. Wiggles” are whimsical and nostalgic. The materials are varied—including polyester, suede microfiber, bamboo fiber, polyfill, wire, real glass eyeballs, etc.—but the spirit is pure Tara.

“Sweet” and “Creepy” are terms many use to describe her work, but this limits the breadth of her message. Tara speaks of the healing and understanding she hopes much of her imagery can bring to people. Art will resonate with those who are on the same wavelength of its intention and meaning.

 Advocating affordable art for all, Tara with Sean Leonard opened the Cotton Candy Machine art boutique in Brooklyn, N.Y., creating a venue that specializes in art prints, posters, apparel, books, toys and more by a variety of artists. It hosts monthly art shows, events and signings, and is the exclusive shipper of Tara’s merchandise. Talk about building an art empire!

I asked her what percentages she felt she was making from her own personal art as opposed to the commercial work? “It fluctuates, but generally it is 75-85% personal work, 15-25% commercial work. I am happiest creating my own art, but it is hard to turn down a $10,000 advertising job.”

Tara represents the empowered artist entrepreneur. May success continue to shine on her journey.