BLAH BLAH GALLERY - FEBRUARY 2009
Politics ain’t really our bag here at BBG, but we couldn’t resist the biting, in-your-face, ink-stained barbs of Atlanta-based caricature-capture master, Aaron McKinney. Drawing may be the most basic form of art but in these works ‘basic’ is the last word you will think of...hard hitting, beautifully detailed, darkly humorous...sounds closer to the bone...a feast for the peepers....ENJOY!
INTERVIEWED by Richard Mullins
There is a lot of political content in your work.– from local to international. Are these narratives determined by the publications you work for or more your ideas?
I've always had very strong political opinions. It stems from my childhood as an oil brat, my father worked for Halliburton and I spent my youth in oil rich areas of the world. I was able to witness firsthand how American politics was being played out in places like Egypt and Indonesia. My portfolio from the very start reflected this, and the political jobs started rolling in. Most of them are their ideas, but I usually twist them a bit to reflect my opinions.
It says in your bio you moved to Georgia to focus solely on your art.
What other pursuit divided your time in the Peach State?
We moved to Atlanta about three years ago and shortly thereafter my son Jude was born. My wife and I have had our hands full with him the
past two years. We like to visit the mountains, but the people outside of Atlanta itself get a little scary. That's probably why Deliverance was filmed here, we are actually thinking of moving to Seattle or Portland to try something new.
My guess is your medium is pencil, ink and a digital mix? It's really hard to tell now days but with the speed of computer finishing it seems just about everyone (illustrators for sure) are using some form of this approach.
Pretty much everything I do is an ink, watercolor and acrylic combination of some sort. Most everything is hand done, so what you see is how the original looks. I try not to use computers unless the piece absolutely calls for it. Not because I don't appreciate them, I have mad respect for some of the work coming out with the use of computers. It's just I like having something to hold in my hand after a hard day's work, it fills some kind of primitive void in my life.
Your portrait of Joss Stone (right) is pretty amazing. The ink brush technique you have perfected serves you very well. This one has a really solidly modeled face. Do you get a lot of requests for portraits? It seems to be an obvious strength of your vision.
Thanks! I do get a few requests for portraits. They are not my favorite thing to do. The challenge with portraits is that they tend to be boring. That is where techniques like the ink wash background can make them a bit more interesting visually than just a straight up photo-real face.
In your online biography you are described as having a funny, childlike quality to your work. I can see humor but a very adult and often mean-spirited flavor which is what always seems to happen with political art. Is satire a major key in your work?
I spent the first seven years of my life in England and I think that had a definite lasting effect on my personality. The kids there are pretty damn mean, it's a British thing. I do enjoy satire, it can be a powerful tool when you are trying to expose faults or sway opinions. With my personal work I still use it but it's not as literal as with my illustrations.
"Miss America" (right) is a sick and disturbing image but it seems to be personal (not commissioned work.) What it is the story here?
It was a personal piece I did a while back. I was trying to represent the all-knowing all powerful nation we presume to be with the grotesque woman/tank figure. The poor little chicken represents third world nations.
Here at Blah Blah Gallery we most often try to avoid heavy political content or really any art that tends to divide peoples of the earth. Since this (a well-defined political point of view) is so central to your work do you ever worry potential fans of your art may be turned off by the strong views it often portrays?
Some of my biggest influences such as Sue Coe, Ralph Steadman, and Ben Shahn all have very well defined political points of view. With influences like that it was probably inevitable that I was going to be somewhat political with my work. There are always going to be people that dislike your work. I don't worry about offending too much. A lot of what I do is a form of personal therapy, when I get something on paper that has been eating away at me it's therapeutic. I'm basically saying this is how I see it and hopefully it will resonate with certain like-minded people.
"Hitchhiking" stands out for its use of a sort of seductive woman. The face in the mirror is hilarious. What was the article you were illustrating here; because it could be really sinister.
That piece was for Canoe and Kayak magazine, I do a monthly column for them called ask Eddy. It's where people write in and ask some pretty crazy canoe
or kayak related questions. That particular question was what to do if youhead too far downstream from your pick up point. They kind of let me dowhat I want so I went with the girlfriend hitchhiking while the husband hides behind a rock. The guy in the truck was one of those scary backwoods people I was talking about earlier.
An art book of your stuff would be great. (I would buy it for sure) Any future plans for your work we should know about?
I would love to do an art book. I don't have anything in the works right now but definitely in the near future! I'll keep you posted. -END