Interview: Brianna McCarthy

How did you discover artistic ability?

Accidentally. I’m not even sure. I’ve always, for as long as I’ve known myself, been attracted to creating things. I come from a resourceful family; a low income background has a tendency to provoke that! So, I knew that it was possible to alter most things, do without some things and make completely new things. Art was and escape for me too – I daydreamed too much as a child, drew too much, wrote too much – gave me the opportunity to be somewhere else constantly.

How is your ethnicity a source of inspiration or strength in your work?

Or is it just sort of a default setting that has little bearing.

It's both. I just am what I am, the product of many things and that's both mundane and exciting. I’m certainly influenced by my ethnic make-up or cultural influences as I want to know them intimately – it’s all very beautiful. Someone asked me once why all my paintings were of Black women. I had to think about it. I knew the answer, but what was it? I happen to be Black, female and West Indian; it’s what I identify with and influences how I see myself – therefore, it comes out in my expression.

Is being a woman artist different from being a man designer, do you find it liberating or challenging?

Liberating. I love being female and I love that men are different. I think male designers are quite different from female artists. My partner is a male designer and the differences between us, which I can attribute to creative differences, are fascinating. I make things I think are gorgeous to look at and that bring positivity because of that; he seeks to solve a problem through design. It’s quite interesting.

Is that question irrelevant?

Haha! I think it's relevant if you're into that dynamic.

What aspect of your art do you really love?

The reactions my work provokes. When someone really enjoys what I’ve made, it’s a good feeling. When I’m done and I know, from the piece, that it’s done and I’m happy with it, it’s a good feeling.

What's the most challenging part of what you do?

Figuring out exactly what it is that I do! My call card says “Brianna McCarthy – Makes Things”. Seriously though, being self taught is awesome I think but I wonder what I missed out on sometimes. I went with my other loves (Literature, French) for university. I didn’t ever consider studying art. I might change that at some point though.

What's your dream job?

Finding a way to create for a living outside of working at an agency or design company. I actually enjoy, if that's the right word, working in the corporate field -- it provides me a little balance.

Can you discuss any specifics about the process of creating a few of the pieces you sent.

The portraits of the 5 girls were done on a four day family vacation on the south coast of Trinidad. It was beautiful – the weather, the sea, the people – a great vibe. But I was pretty pensive that weekend – these girls were done during and after that time – a period of clarity. They’re honestly some of my favourites.

Any advice for neophytes?

Being a neophyte myself, I’d have to say – keep learning, stay focused, be smart about who you take advice from and trust yourself a little. Risk is good most times, even though I don’t often take my own advice in that regard. Most of all, be honest with yourself about yourself.
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