Arist interview: Jonathan McAfee – Painter

artist painterTell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Jonathan McAfee and I am an American painter living and working in Indianapolis, Indiana. I primarily paint portraits of iconic people, living or dead, that inspire me in some way.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I began drawing and painting when I was about 11 years old. I took private lessons during my childhood and was fortunate enough to have a solid art program within my high school. Painting was always a way for me to present my ideas.

painting by Jonathan McAfeepainting by Jonathan McAfee
What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from people and the lives they live. I am also inspired by graffiti, music, and anyone doing something interesting and beautiful.

What is art to you?
Art is expression. It is the ability and opportunity to create something out of nothing. Art can have meaning or can remain meaningless, as long as it evokes an emotion of some kind.

What does your typical day look like?
I work during the week so I don’t get into my studio until the evenings. Once I am home from work, I spend several hours a night working in my home studio.

painting by Jonathan McAfeeHow do you keep motivated?
My motivation comes from anything that inspires me. Also, deadlines are helpful. I typically paint in a series that I know will have a exhibition space in the near future. This allows me to approach the series knowing how they will all be shown together. It is just as important for a series of works to compliment one another as it is to have a successful, single painting.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
My goal is to be a professional artist – working solely on my art and challenging myself to constantly improve within my personal style. I hope to be recognized nationally and internationally some day.

painting by Jonathan McAfeeWhat, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Don’t be an idiot.

What are your thoughts on art school?
Art school helped give me a space and environment to produce. It was useful in the sense that all I really needed to focus on was my work and trying new techniques and approaches. It was harmful in the sense that it forces one to overthink natural inklings that could challenge one to get better.

What art supplies do you use?
I paint with acrylic spray paint, markers and oil sticks on both canvas and paper

painting by Jonathan McAfeepainting by Jonathan McAfee
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
That’s a tough question. The art industry is bittersweet in the sense that there are currently opportunities for artists on a global scale that didn’t exist 20-30 years ago. There are also 100x more of us trying to obtain those opportunities. It’s quite competitive. I realize that doesn’t really offer an idea of how to improve it.

Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?
I am really in love with the work by Andrew Salgado, George Morton Clark and Aaron Smith. Also, Indianapolis has some great artists creating some really cool shit. For instance, Kyle Herrington and Martin Kuntz are a couple of local artists that are doing some pretty interesting things, in my opinion.

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