Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mediums: Mixed Media
Style: Op & Pop Art
“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Andy Warhol
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” Vincent Van Gogh
Bolivian Diary - Ernesto Che Guevara, Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy, East of Eden - John Steinbeck, The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano, White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Favorite Movies: City of God, Goodfellas, Magnolia, Shawshank Redemption
Dusk © David McDonough
Five years ago, I lost my Mother to breast cancer. This piece was based on a photograph I took in her backyard in the days leading up to her passing. It is a commentary on mortality and it was a part of my healing process.
I am a Toronto based mixed-media artist. I didn’t go to school for art and I didn’t discover my passion until my mid-twenties. Since then, I have been completely obsessed with absolutely everything to do with art and I have been actively pursuing venues for my work.
Aesthetically, I produce three-dimensional artworks in a strong graphical style. Philosophically, I produce works of a political nature. Having said that, I love ambiguity.
Please tell us about your first experience creating.
As a child I was always drawn to create and my first creative experiences likely took place before my first memories formed. I do however remember always wanting to stay inside and draw. My parents had to push me outside to gain other experiences.
Darkness © David McDonough
As an artist, I am fascinated with the sky and it figures prominently in many of my pieces. Darkness is based upon a Lord Byron poem of the same name that tells the apocalyptic story of the last man on earth.
Music and art
I listen to just about everything but I especially like:
Radiohead, Beck (specifically Sea Changes), The National, Pink Floyd, The Beatles & Portishead
Do you have a day job other than art?
Like many artists, I am forced to take a day job in order to make ends meet (it is also necessary as I use incredibly expensive materials). I prefer to not do anything overly creative in my day job so that I can invest all of my creative energies in my own work. Nine to Five Monday-Friday, I am a Broadcast Traffic Coordinator.
What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?
Truthfully, this really depends on the individual piece and/or the series in which it is produced. Virtually everything I create has meaning and I am glad to explain my reasons. That said, I respect the intelligence of my viewers and I trust them to draw their own conclusions. Some works are political, some personal. I try not to produce too much of the same.
Look © David McDonough
Whether it by light vs. shadow, dark vs. light or positive vs. negative, I am fascinated by duality. This piece pits the loose chaotic lines of American Abstract Expressionism against the strong graphical stylings of Pop Art.
My working process often starts with my camera. From there I will choose images from multiple shots and collage them together into a rough design. I will often make some subtle stylized changes to that design before settling on a finalized image. With the design stage complete, I then have to figure out how many panels to use (I make three-dimensional shadow boxes) and how each panel will compliment the other. At this stage, I will also experiment with a number of materials before I figure out what works best. I usually complete several studies before I begin the final piece which can take anywhere from 50 to 500 hours to complete.
I find inspiration everywhere. Previously, my work was based in nature. Recently, I have become fascinated with the urban landscape. As for artists, I love all types or art and I am constantly looking at the works of others.
The Likeness of an Artist as Seen Through a Mirror © David McDonough
When looking at the works of the masters, I am particularly interested in their self portraits. This piece was created using mirror paint (my favorite of all materials) and serves as an indirect self portrait of all who view it.
52nd Annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, ON, Canada
ArtPrize, Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
AWOL Gallery Square Foot Show,Twist Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
CNIB Art Auction and Gala, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Take pART – Mystery Art Show, Arta Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
The 9th Annual LOVE SHOW, Gallery 918, Toronto, ON, Canada
Insomnia 2011, A Nuit Blanche Event, The Red Head Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
Altered Reality, The Artists Network Members Show, The Hangman Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
AWOL Gallery Square Foot Show, Twist Gallery, Toronto, ON, Canada
Rejects Show 2011, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, Toronto, ON, Canada
St. Clair Art Walk, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto, ON, Canada
Have you had success with selling art?
Yes. When I started out, I sold to family and friends (not sure if that counts). Then I gave a few pieces to some charity auctions and they sold. Lately, I’ve sold a few pieces at a large outdoor art exhibition.
Online art promotion
Up until 2012 I didn’t. Since then, I’ve built a website and begun blogging. I’ve also set up several social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Behance, Flickr & Linkedin). Youtube is next and eventually, I hope to crowd-fund a project using Indiegoggo.
I am influenced by everything I see and experience but my biggest influence is probably Joseph Cornell. Other major influences include the Group of Seven (specifically AJ Casson and Lawren Harris), Japanese watercolours and Pop & Op art.
Untitled (-) © David McDonough
A lot of my artworks are dark in nature so for my own personal sanity, I created this bright and colorful piece. It’s different in nature but still adheres to the general aesthetic of my other works.
Ai Weiwei. I admire him for both his social activism and his art. He is probably the most important political artist alive today and he is about as accessible as a conceptual artist can get.
I’m pretty well versed in the works of the rich and famous but would love to learn more about the rest of us (the 99.9%).
Please tell us about a memorable experience.
Last year I travelled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to exhibit in ArtPrize. It was my first international exhibition and it was a wonderful experience. I stayed with the president of the local ACLU chapter and I participated in a very political show. The experience changed my artistic vision.
If you could live your life over again, would there be anything you would do differently?
I don’t think I’d change much but I may have gone to art school instead of getting a BA in Sociology.
I have a lot of plans. I am beginning to experiment with some new materials, I am beginning to seek representation and I am likely going to crowd-fund a future project.
Advice for Artists
Being an artist is tough and you face a tremendous amount of rejection – don’t take it personally.
Do what you love. Make what YOU want to make.
Recognize that success takes time and weather the storm.
Never give up.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada