My name is Shane McClatchey, I am an artist in Laguna Beach, California. I make paintings about the time I spend in the ocean, whether it’s a cold tube at my New Jersey home break or hunting a fish in the kelp beds of Orange County. Making art is a way of exploring an experience or feeling.
Between art, design, and music, is there one that you favor? One that occupies more of your time?
I spend the most time on painting, where I feel most comfortable and at home. I like the freedom that comes with being at ease with the medium. Playing music is a good way to unwind but also to keep my brain awake
Do you think that by doing art, illustration, and music, the three strengthen each other within your craft?
Yes, they definitely all influence and inform each other. Design makes me a better painter; music makes me a better designer. It’s all about finding the right balance and harmonies. Some of my favorite projects involve doing artwork for bands and music, and I get to experience them all at once. I think surfing is related as well, reacting to the shape of a wave and feeling the different angles of energy and power.
Are there any other sources where you draw direct inspiration or influence?
I definitely draw a lot of inspiration from the ocean. I grew up surfing in New Jersey which a lot of my work is still grounded in. There’s a lot of beauty in the cold and empty waves of the East Coast. I’ve also been free diving and spearfishing for a few years which has taught me a lot about the ocean and what’s happening out there beneath the surface.
Are there any creative processes that you go through, like brainstorming for designs or working through paintings to get to a certain concept?
Most of my work starts as a small thumbnail drawing, and gets scaled up into larger and larger drawings in a sketchbook. The good ones make it into a small color study with paint, and my favorites will end up a full-size painting. Some paintings go through months of layering and reworking while some happen very quickly. A lot of the time a long and frustrating piece gives way to a quick and successful piece right after. I think working through the struggles of a difficult painting is a great way to grow. Learning from my mistakes keeps me interested and involved.
You’re known for working with a variety of mediums, whether digital, paint, or printmaking. Is there any one that you favor? Any new ones that you want to explore in the future?
I love moving between different mediums. My school focused on traditional drawing and painting, with mostly charcoal and oil paint. I like the freedom in using the computer to figure out compositions of paintings. I also like using my traditional skills in my graphic design work. Everything that ends up on a screen will always start as a drawing and I try to maintain that element as long as possible in design. As for the future, I’m going to do some more experimenting with printmaking. In high school I used to design t-shirts with woodcut prints and I’d like to revisit that.
One of the things that stood out to me in your work was the bleakness of the sky, which is a bit different from the traditional warm sunsets of a lot of surf-related art. I assume that comes from the East Coast Influence. Has being in the West influenced you in any new way?
The clouds of the East Coast have definitely influenced me. When I was in high school my art teacher got me into Wolfgang Bloch whose work really resonated in me. Lifeguarding at the Jersey Shore and having to sit on the stand in the rain has enabled me to watch a lot of storm clouds roll in off of the ocean, and I see those clouds in Wolfgang’s paintings. The west coast has been much sunnier, but I am still drawn to the gloominess of being underwater and the fog in the mornings.
What were some of the biggest issues that you ran into with networking early on? How did you eventually get through them?
The hard part for me about networking in the art world is talking about my work. Social media makes it easier because it’s aimed at people already interested in what you’re doing. I would love to just paint all day and not worry about all of the other work that goes into being an artist, but it’s important to be out in the world ready for an opportunity when it comes.
Are there any things that you did initially to get clients for illustration? Are there any marketing ideas you use to attract clients like the Lonely Biscuits to your work?
I try to stay consistent with keeping my website updated and letting things get passed around. Word of mouth is the best advertising, and it’s easier with visual art rather than video or music because it’s so instant. People can view it and they either like it or they don’t. Instagram has helped me spread my work around (@shanemcclatchey). The Lonely Biscuits are masters of creative self-promotion and have grown quite a following on their own. Although I think that’s mostly because their music is awesome.
Have you had any desire to push your print work for your t-shirts toward going with a full clothing brand or other business?
No plans for that right now. I enjoy designing shirts occasionally when the opportunities come to me. I want to make more block print shirts, each one comes out unique which makes them feel like an actual piece of art rather than a mass-produced printed shirt.
Are there any routines or systems that you stick to in order to keep consistency in your day-to-day Activity?
Keeping a sketchbook is always important and something I should really do more of. Doing lots of fast and fluid drawing keeps my brain fresh. And there’s almost always something to go do outside which keeps me inspired. I just try to stay interested and present in whatever I’m doing.
Are there any tools you use to manage your time?
My time for working is usually built around whatever the water is doing that day. If there’s waves I’ll go surf, if there’s not I’ll go spearfishing. It’s hard to get away from sometimes. The day usually starts with that and I’ll end up in the studio until later that night. I have a hammock in my studio in case there was an extra-long surf and a nap is needed…I also started drinking coffee. Crazy magic stuff!
The internet is a wonderful tool. Between my website, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr there are a lot of ways to get artwork out there. It’s an interesting time to be an artist, anyone can put their art in a place where everyone can see it. It’s inspiring to be able to see all of the great stuff creative people are doing around the world. I guess having a level playing field where the quality of the work can speak for itself is better than galleries deciding what art people get to see.
How do you feel that the work you create contributes to the creative culture of either Coast?
I’m grateful to be able to go back and forth between the East and West coasts. They are both special to me in different ways. I love the weather and waves and general attitude towards the outdoors on the West coast, but I’m always drawn back to the people and culture at home. I feel like I’ve spent more time exploring the creative culture back east in New York City than out here. The perfect weather of Southern California is too tempting and it’s hard to stay inside.
I’ve read your interview on Korduroy for waxing canvas bags a few times. Given that Korduroy focuses so much on sustainability, is that something that you value in your work?
I have a lot of value for sustainability and caring for our environment. Especially when you spend enough time in the water in the same area, you notice the changes it goes through. Right now a lot of the star fish and seals along the coast are dying. I’ve been trying to find what I can do as an artist to help deal with the different issues even in this small area, other than just picking up trash at the beach. Most of the panels I paint on are recycled from scrap piles, along with the wood I frame with. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Not only can we re-use these things, some are really beautiful. This was another influence Wolfgang Bloch’s work had on me, along with Erik Abel’s reclaimed wood frames. I wish there was a less toxic alternative to oil paint. There’s some really interesting things happening with surfboards being made out of algae and other more sustainable materials.
Do you see yourself taking the Shane McClatchey name/work in any new directions in the near future?
I’ve been experimenting with some new elements and tools in my work that I’m excited about. I’m also interested in working with gouache and mixing it into some charcoal drawings.
Any final words?
I’d like to thank everyone for their support; I am so grateful to be an artist and make stuff every day. Thank you for having me!