Ian Funke McKay
I really love Ian Funke McKay's fresh and lighthearted approach to assemblage and painting, in which he uses found materials and objects. The challenging color combinations and rich application of the paint make them exuberant, and in some cases jump off the wall entirely, in turn challenging what a wall-hanging piece or a painting can accomplish. Happy to share some of his ideas about art making here!
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Hi Ian! So, I know you're based in Nova Scotia... Can you tell me a bit more about yourself? What has your art education been like (formally or informally)? What first interested you in making art?
Being 5 or so, I had this great idea. To save all the seeds from my apple cores, I would deposit them up in a cubby at the end of my little arm’s reach. The plan was to hoard away enough that I could grow a forest and build a tower. I think this was one of the first times I settled on a kind of long term goal for creating things; I haven’t planted a whole forest yet but I like to think art can tap into that long-term vision or fantasy. Undergrad at NSCAD was good for me, I was inspired by friends and colleagues. It felt really exciting to see everybody working with old school crafts like textiles, ceramics, and printmaking. It’s a small program and the faculty try to foster an independent approach (less outsourcing).
Your work addresses boundaries between painting and other mediums such as sculpture and collage. Can you tell me more about your process? Do you work intuitively, or plan pieces out in advance at all?
Using multiple mediums does force one to plan to an extent. I try to experiment a lot. I always have a bunch of file folders on the go with various sharpie drawings and notes. Drawing puts ideas into perspective quicker than painting. I tend to maintain a dreamy cloud of projects that I’d like to see or develop. The more fantastical ones normally come with pictures, textures, mediums, architecture, platforms, and a sovereign influence. I’m always learning what it might take to bridge the mediums I use with those things.
What kind of paint do you use? What is your favorite thing about this medium? Do you have any other favorite materials that you find yourself using a lot?
Aerosols, Acrylics, Enamel, Gouache, Watercolour, Oils. I’ve been working on some basic wood construction set design, and foam carving with a layering of plaster and acrylic. I’ve got this beautiful conveyor belt material kicking around, It reminds me of animal hide, I haven't figured out what to do with it yet. I’m on the lookout for any top secret aerospace fabricators who wouldn't mind sending a few cuts my way. Got any contacts?
What is your studio space like?
I’m doing the basement thing right now, we threw up some ply walls and fluorescents along the beams. I love it except for noiselessness past 10:00 PM.
What do you do if you find yourself in a creative rut?
Stories, time alone, shooting hoops. Try to build up speed in the rut to barrel out of it.
What is the best advice you've received so far?
You gotta start somewhere!
Do you find anything particularly tough or difficult about pursuing art seriously?
It’s an interesting time to be an artist, you can take your own direction with things right now, there’s a lot of different avenues to secure resources. I would love to have witnessed how masonry guilds and fresco painters worked together on city-state projects, or how high court society produced some of the most monumental works of art throughout history. We’re seeing loads of exciting things happening right now with the relationship between patron and artist and I don’t just mean crowdfunding. In all of this there’s a challenge to generate a strong call and response with your audience, as someone who’s relatively new to picture-craft I think that’s a tough thing to strategize, you just have to push through the inadequacies and improve.
Why do you do what you do? What is the most rewarding part?
I feel the best when I’m in the zone working on the next piece. The reward is getting to share that energy.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently developing?
I’m putting together a group show called ‘Each Zone, A Mantle’ with Dave LeRue, and Jonah McKay, at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, NS, Canada, running December 19 - March 2 (install shot below).