“Find what resonates in you. A mistake I made early on was not giving myself enough flexibility in my work – trying so hard to be like the people I admired in the art world and not realizing that what *I* had to offer was something special and unique. We really deprive the world of what we have to offer when we try to copy other artist’s work. That’s not to diminish being inspired by other artists (where would we be without the ones who came before us?) – but finding your own voice is such a treasure.”
Pen and Ink Illustrator, Artist and Textile Designer
Based in Linwood, New Jersey, Jeffry Macpherson is an artist who works mainly with hand drawn illustrations- ink on paper. His art has been featured in galleries in Austin, Texas, coffee shops in North Carolina and boutiques and cafes from New Jersey to California. Jeffry ships his work all over the world and is sought after for portraits and posters. His creative inspiration is utilized for advertising, bands, set directors and writers. Jeffry enjoys spending time with his wife, playing drums, watching documentaries, and cooking for friends. His work has been described as urban, intricate and inspiring and he makes original art that is accessible and fills people with the same love and hope that he has found. Read on to find out more.
Tell us about your original artwork, prints and custom portraits and your journey so far.
Most of the work I do (beyond commissioned work) is pen and ink illustration – I make prints of those and sell them via my web store (Etsy, big cartel etc) – I just started offering custom portraits this Spring and I’m having a blast with them, they’re challenging and really stretching my technique.
Was this always what you wanted to do or did it emerge over time?
This is what has always resonated with me. I’ve had other career paths that I’ve always found unfulfilling for me, I’ve always come back to creativity as a career. I’ve been drawing since before I can remember – my parents got me a drafting table for Christmas one year when I was 10 or something – it’s always been a passion.
Who has helped you in the process of following your dream?
My wife has always encouraged me to do what I love. I’ve been lucky enough to have great parents who encouraged my art and great friends who have helped me along the way.
What inspires you?
Prayer and meditation. A lot of my work is inspired by dreams and visions I’ve had. Obviously my work isn’t always insanely deep and metaphorical – but what really inspires me is the idea that we all, as living beings, are experiencing this world together, at the same time, we all reach for and want truth – communicating to that reality is what inspires me mostly. I think some of my work CAN be a bit cryptic or nebulous but I hope it all kind of vibrates with a certain truth.
What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
The commerce side of art is always a challenge for me. I wish I could say I’ve overcome it but I’m still learning. Luckily my wife is really good at bookkeeping and administrative things.
What message are you trying to share with your work?
Going back to what inspires me- the human experience. I think if there were one solid message it would be that there is hope and truth. I’ve found it in religious, metaphysical/ spiritual experiences in my own life and I would hope that when people look into my work that they would experience some of that love – whether they could articulate it or not I’d hope that they’d be drawn to the peace in my work.
How did you learn to deal with criticism?
Ignore it. There’s an old story about someone who was being ridiculed and the story ended with him saying “if someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept, who does that gift belong to?” – It’s hard for artists because I think we’re generally softer, more emotional people.
What is it that you love about what you do?
I love the permanence of ink. I think that’s why I’m drawn to it as a medium. The care that’s required in each stroke is a process that’s compelling for me.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Find what resonates in you. A mistake I made early on was not giving myself enough flexibility in my work – trying so hard to be like the people I admired in the art world and not realizing that what *I* had to offer was something special and unique. We really deprive the world of what we have to offer when we try to copy other artist’s work. That’s not to diminish being inspired by other artists (where would we be without the ones who came before us?) – but finding your own voice is such a treasure.
What have you learned in the process of following your dreams?
I’m still learning every day. I think confidence is key – I know I can look at art and see confidence or timidity – I think consumers and clients can sense it as well.
What are you most excited for in the future?
In the immediate future – there are a few shows coming up this summer that I’m looking forward to doing with my wife. In the distant future, tho, I’d love to illustrate more books and get involved with doing some album covers again. It’s something I used to do a lot more often than I do now.