30sec film artists Vol.69 – Greg Mccarthy

Bring the past into present

Greg Mccarthy is a multidisciplinary artist working out of Toronto Ontario Canada. Working primarily in collage and photography, his works have dealt with tourism in the Niagara region, circulation of photographs and most recently issues surrounding historic depictions of national identity in Canada.

Greg Mccarthy – Artworks





Greg Mccarthy – 30sec film artists Q&A

What’s your favorite thing to do when you are alone?

Playing guitar, or just music in general. It's really calming to just spend the time learning or composing a song and getting the performance just right. I can spend way to much time doing this, just listening to the subtle changes in textures and performance and doing something creative that I know no one will ever see. Once I got to play with an old synthesizer, I think is was an Arp or whatever Pink Floyd used to use with all the cables and knobs. I spent a good 5-6 hours just moving the cables and dials around and seeing what would happen. I had pissed away all time i should have been sleeping and when I got back to where my friends were I thought it had only been about 15 minutes and I missed some mildly important goings on. It was well worth it though.

How do you usually get inspired again after working on a big project/painting?

Mostly I just make a bunch of bad work between the good, and get frustrated with it until I'm forced to buckle back down and do the research and prep work needed for a good series. When I'm lucky the bad work in the middle turns out to be something worthwhile down the line but mostly it just ends up in a pile on my desk and later just taking up a bunch of space around the studio. I've accepted that about 50 percent of the work I do in the studio ends up being left out of the exhibitions. At least it keeps me busy and gives me a lot more choice when the show or book comes about. It also gives you time to work out some stupid ideas that you can get out of your system before you do anything worth showing people.

Do you collect things?

Far more than I should. Mostly garbage.

What's the last great book you read?

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Do you have a motto or creed that as an artist you live by?

If it doesn't need to happen, it shouldn't.

How do you come up with ideas?

It's never really a straight line. I generally come across an object or a piece of writing that either pisses me off, or makes me think about something a little different. From there it's just a matter of trying to turn that confusion into some kind of coherent statement.

What project/art are you hoping to create but haven’t got chance to do yet?

I've always wanted to do a massive mural. Just a huge wheat pasted wall of a collage that pertains to that area's history in some way. There are a couple of places in Toronto that I have had my eyes on but I haven't really gone to any great lengths to get a wall yet. Working with enormous surfaces can be really liberating and I've done a bunch of work at that scale. Being able to collage with 5-10 foot pieces of paper is such d difference from my usual practice and it is so much more forgiving than than my usual practice, it is the difference from doing surgery to doing landscaping. It really reminds me of when I used to paint.

How do you know or feel when a good idea, is a good idea?

I find more and more over time, that when I try to put my ideas on paper and look really hard at them before I execute them the more cohesive the project or idea becomes. I was told once that you don't have your best ideas before bed or when you're stoned ect... You're just not thinking straight enough to realize they're only half formed. It was a total eye opener for someone to so bluntly call out all of the musicians and artists I had heard in interviews and it cut through any romantic teenage notions of the artist being some inspired or inspiring individual. This may work for some people but for me these ideas never pan out to be anything I can really be proud of. We all have a lot of ideas for projects and other things but if you look hard at them the vast majority of our thoughts are pretty useless. Eating 40 chicken nuggets may seem like an amazing at the end of a night out and it'll certainly make an impression on people, but from experience I can tell you, this will only lead to regret. The same goes for art. Just because it seemed like a great idea at the time and it will intrigue or disgust a couple people is it really accomplishing anything?

What makes you feel satisfied as an artist?

Seeing other peoples' work and seeing the spaces I like thriving could be one of the most satisfying parts of the whole being an artist thing. Meeting small stops in a career are always nice like being in a magazine, getting into a collection, or getting shows but mostly the sense of dialogue in the Toronto art scene between the commercial galleries, artist run centres, project spaces and art collectives gives me the most satisfaction. I think it might just be the sense that there is a support system for the work and knowing that there is a fairly large group of dedicated people in the city making sure that there are outlets for artists and the occasional free beer at openings.

Artist’s bookshelf

We Need New Names: A Novel
We Need New Names: A Novel

Behind the Scenes – Filmmaker’s Experience

Greg had worked with a lot of old magazines, film, and negatives… I like how he spending hours to reconstructing those images into something contemporary.
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