Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave McClinton
Hi Dave, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I have been a designer for more than two decades. My expertise in branding consultations, corporate identity, and web design has been developed by participating in every level of the creative process. As an accomplished senior designer, I want to advance the strategic value of smart design. This knowledge and drive has been earned within the publishing world, tech startups, and design studios. I have creatively directed 50+ projects, with responsibilities ranging from brand development, creating logos, designing for digital platforms, marketing collateral, and project management. I earned a BFA in Visual Communication at Texas State University. Dave has been published for his logo design work in the Print Regional Annual and Logo Lounge publications. Dave is a key collaborator and core team member of African American Graphic Designers (AAGD). He is also a member of the Austin chapter of The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). In addition to continually serving logo and branding clients, I have also created deeply personal art for the last five few years. I began experimenting with making art via digital collage around 2012. East Austin Studio Tour 2015 was the first time I showed my work publicly. Over these last few years I have been in several conversations and presentations about my work that have helped me hone my artistic vision and cultural mission. I’m still learning and developing but my sense of purpose is clear.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
A primary challenge has been to continue my artistic productivity and creative inspiration in my work while also maintaining quality output at my day job as a graphic designer. The art has to take a back seat and that is frustrating. But, what are you gonna do right? Another major obstacle is the perception and recognition of just what my version of digital art means. The notion of digital art has its disadvantages. I feel a constant pressure to explain my process so it’s understood just how much work it requires. I fear that people think I simply add a few things to existing photos. When actually, each face and body is created from several elements and sources. Well, more on that later.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I create images, portraits & bodies, by digitally combining elements from family photos, archival imagery, found images and self portraits. An eye, an ear, a mouth and disparate body parts to create invented faces… people. I also use images of historical documents and several dozen textural photos taken with my phone to build up the details within each piece. The themes are centered around the ramifications of the legacy of racial oppression in the united states. I believe it’s my experience as a designer that helps me create provocative and communicative artwork. I want to illustrate the life-cycle of the inner life of a black person. From innocent to informed. From recklessly defiant to determined. How the weight of American history can either crush you or harden you. And, how either result often has to be hidden from view just to get through the day. The anger of the African-American community is often portrayed as a threat. The anger of “traditional’ communities is depicted as righteous. This paradigm feeds stress and despair back into black lives and thus stokes the fires we try to simultaneously hide and harness. Currently, there is a newly intensified wave of empathetic consciousness in all forms of artistic output. I want the community to seize this moment in history to create work that tells a story and compels them to seek out empathy and activism for the sake of others. My hope is the work I’m creating can help do that. I want to spark conversations that have, historically, been hard to start.
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Out of frustration and feeling disrespected, I quit my job in 2004 to go out on my own as an independent design contractor. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I should have done it so much sooner. When I think about this risk, I now understand the riskiest thing ever would have been to not bet on myself. Confidence can be developed. So, when it came to starting a second career as an artist, I didn’t hesitate. This leap seemed pretty easy, comparatively.