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.


Black People Suffer From PTSD said...

You're work is BEAUTIFUL!

Does she have a website where you can purchase any of it? I am VERY interested.

Bri said...

Hey, thank you!

You can email me at
Look forward to hearing from you!

Unknown said...

so happy to see Brianna's work featured here. Been a fan of her work for a while now :-)

jennie said...

wow!!! very impressive and inspiring, as a black,west indian female myself. i'll be looking for more on her. thanks

Unknown said...

Jenna, She's brilliant! Please visit her site, tell her Craig sent you! All the sunshine comes from the islands.

Chrissystina said...

So gorgeous. Self-taught? My, I am envious. Your talent and your pictures make me think how I can be great. So beautiful...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work and very inspirational.