Dan McCarthy is an artist working out of his own warehouse in Pocasset, Massachusetts. He's known for exploring the relationship between nature and technology and the cyclical nature between life and death through his work. Not only does Dan illustrate his posters but he prints every edition, (typically an edition of 400 and up!) and ships every print himself. Needless to say we think he's an animal and an inspiring dude. We recently had the chance to chat with Dan about some themes in his work and his Zion Natinonal Park Poster.
How did you get into poster design?
It began way back when I was a teenager. My friends and I started a band and we would piece together flyers for shows and post them around town. They were all pretty crudely made from National Geographic cut-outs with hand drawn type. After High School, I went to art school in Boston and learned how to screen print. I continued playing music and started printing posters for my bands and my friends bands.
My Dad is a regular at the local swap shop. One time he gave me a book of Ansel Adam's, and that is how I discovered his work. His landscapes appeal to me on many levels. His variety of textures and shadows is something I strive to achieve in my own work.Man and nature is a theme we often see in your work. What is it about nature that is so compelling to you?
I spent a lot of time in nature as a kid and have a lot of fond memories of playing and exploring in the woods. Later on in life, I lived in Boston for many years and was working as an artist. During that time, I think I really felt like I needed to get out of the city and it manifested itself into my art. After living in Boston for 10 years, I moved back to the place where I grew up and felt like I was home. It felt good to be closer to nature and definitely influences my art.
Can you take us through each step of your process from sketch to completion?
I start with a pencil/ink drawing on paper, bring the drawing into photoshop and block out the color separations on different layers... Sometimes the seps are drawn on paper and scanned in. From photoshop, I print out each layer (at 100% black) onto acetate and expose that image onto a coated screen. I load the exposed screen onto my press and the press pushes ink through the screen onto paper. I do this with each layer of the image until it is complete.
Can you talk about the influence Ansel Adams has had on your work?
My Dad is a regular at the local swap shop. Every few months for many years, he brings me a big stack of books that he thinks I can use for drawing references. A lot of the books are science and nature based, but one time he gave me a book of Ansel Adam's, and that is how I discovered his work. His landscapes appeal to me on many levels. I love how they make me feel like I am alone in nature. His variety of textures and shadows is something I strive to achieve in my own work.
Why did you chose Zion National Park? Does Angels Landing hold any significance?
Zion National Park is at the top of my list of places I need to visit. I am drawn to the desert mountains and the nature that grows there. I love the contrast of the dry mountains, twisted trees and big sky. Angel's Landing is a perfect mix of all 3 and I thought it would be a great representation of Zion National Park.
Your variant sees it's lone figure standing on what could be the edge of the world. They're confronted by the epic view of Angels Landing and the expanse of the heavens above. Which of the two (wilderness or space) inspires you more?
It's hard to say if one influences me more than the other... I think with Nature and Wilderness it's about how it feels being in nature and what it is to live on this earth. Outer Space adds another element of time and insignificance. I think both themes often work together creating a mixture of different feelings.
What other projects are on your radar for 2016? Is there anything that you're really stoked on!?
There is going to be a 3 way collaboration with 2 of my most favorite/influential artists. I am also excited to continue my Breadcrumb Trail project. The Breadcrumb Trail is a new print series I am starting up for 2016. Each print will be of a particular geographic location and the exact latitude and longitude coordinates will be in the title. The idea is for me to get out of the studio (and my head) and draw on location and create a breadcrumb trail of prints starting locally and hopefully extending to different parts of the country/world.
Keep up with Dan via his website, instagram, and facebook
You can purchase Dan's Zion Poster in our shop