DA Presents: Inspired is a new article series where we ask talented individuals from various industries to explain the effect that art has had on them professionally. We explore to what extent the language of art influences the practices of graphic designers, fashion professionals, musicians, architects and many more. We believe this cycle of inspiration is the engine that drives the art world, the constant search for creative dynamism. For the second installment, we spoke to Joe Maccarone - an illustrator living and working in Baltimore, with a BFA in illustration from Maryland Institute College of Art. In his own words he's “really into slime, ooze, and goo, and would like to live on top of a mountain one day.” Joe has been commissioned by brands such as Vice, Bleacher Report and The New York Times.
Hi, could you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
"My name is Joe Maccarone, I'm a designer based in Baltimore, US. With a focus on illustration and animation, I've had the chance to collaborate with art directors and creative studios on some really exciting projects. I love to draw cartoony, gooey, slimy things, and when I'm not doing freelance work I love to create comics and zines."
How did you get into design, and what was your path into the industry?
"I've loved to draw for as long as I can remember, but I really became interested in design in college. I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art, where I was introduced to all kinds of weird and experimental design. There I was able to surround myself with other artists from different backgrounds and voices, which was very influential. Upon graduation I tried my hand at being a freelance illustrator. It's taken a while and a million cold emails and attempts at putting myself out there, but my career has begun to take off."
An early sketch before animation.
How large a role did art play in your decision to explore design?
"I've always had an interest in drawing, painting and printmaking, and when I was younger I was introduced to fine artists more than strictly graphic designers. When I see work that blurs the line between "fine art" and "design," it taps into the strong feelings I originally got from great ,classic painters. When I began my education, I wasn't sure what field of art I wanted to pursue, and I'm happy I got to try out so many different mediums that influence my tastes to this day."
'Tundra' by Joe Maccarone.
Were there particular kinds of art that influenced your work?
"I mainly find myself being influenced by contemporary editorial illustrators and alternative comics artists. Sometimes I feel like I overwork illustrations or spend too much time on a piece that doesn't end up having a clear statement, so when I see a designer who can make something really smart, bold, and seemingly effortless, I get really jealous! The artist Tim Lahan is a master at that, and creates work that seems simple and immediate, while finding great, sometimes humorous solutions to editorial concepts. I strive to learn from these artists that I admire."
Nike by Tim Lahan
How do you find new inspiration?
"Honestly, Instagram has been an amazing way to find inspiration. I've discovered many new working artists and feel like I'm constantly bookmarking posts. I'm able to see who my favorite artists are looking at, too, and everything expands from there."
Golf Zine by Joe.
Do galleries and exhibitions play a large part in your life?
"As much as I get from Instagram, there's nothing quite like experiencing a painting or a print in person, at the size and in the setting it was meant to be seen. I'm particularly excited by seeing another artist's sketches or learning about their process, so I am drawn to shows that exhibit those aspects as well. Museums are where I was first introduced to fine art in general, and I'm grateful for my early gallery visits. The most recent piece that hit me really, really hard in the gut is called "Sakuhin (56-12)" by Tōshio Yoshida, at Glenstone Museum in Maryland. Seeing the physical textures and standing in front of the painting gave me a feeling I can't get from anywhere else. I know I've attended a great gallery show when I leave feeling like I need to paint!"
Sakuhin (56-12)" by Tōshio Yoshida
How has social media affected the way you promote your work?
"Social media has been a huge part of how I promote my work. Though I don't have a huge following, I still feel that posting my stuff let's people know I'm still creating and staying relevant. It's such an immediate way to share my work, and I can get feedback from friends and strangers from all over. A lot of my work is made for digital formats, especially gif animation and digital illustration, and I find myself keeping the dimensions of an Instagram post in mind if I am working on a quick doodle that I'll post."
Hot Tub by Joe.
What artists would you encourage people to keep an eye on?
"One designer who is constantly making insane work is Bráulio Amado. He churns out gig posters and prints that are completely wild, and he uses unusual techniques to arrive at his finished products. I once saw him take a photo of a wet bathing suit and somehow manipulate the image into a beautiful design for an event flyer. I'll never stop being a fan of both Michael Deforge and Patrick Kyle, who have both made some of my favorite comics over the years. My friend Daniel Shaffer is a prolific illustrator who's world-building skills are unreal, and his work ethic is inspiring. Cari Vander Yacht has been making a bunch of really fun editorial illustrations recently, and I love every one of them."
Thanks for reading this instalment of Inspired - we hope you found something that sparks your creative interest. If so, let us know and tell us what informs your own process - what inspires you.
The D'Stassi Art team.