Ryan McGinness on the Power of Corporate Brands

Ryan McGinnes was born in Virginia Beach, VA. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, PA. He has worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.  He lives and works in New York City. 
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What is the central artistic message?

McGinness:    Well, actually I don’t appropriate logos and symbols but you could say that I appropriate the aesthetic and so I go through a sketch process to develop each individual drawing and so if you look at a painting and extracted one symbol, there is a development process that goes into developing and creating just that one… that one drawing.  And so like I said earlier when I was growing up in Virginia Beach, I realized that… realized the power of icons and logos and symbols and how they could transform otherwise ordinary objects by increasing their perceived value and so I really want to assume that power for myself and so instead of simply appropriating logos or icons that are anonymously created by corporations to stand for and symbolize any number of goods and services.  I really want to take that, again, that kind of power and use it to communicate my own thought, ideas, or concepts and do so with an authorship that is accountable and responsible for that image.  And so it’s a subversion in a kind of way, it’s a subversion of an aesthetic and again whereby I’m using that, those forms which is essentially how I learned to draw by going through a design program, I learned how to create logos and icons and all of the requirements that those entail, for instance, they have to be read quickly, there’s a… all the images are kind of distilled down to their essential forms and there’s a wide range of scales, shifts and details within one drawing because each little icon has to be reproduced a number of different sizes so it really has to draw up at different requirements that go into making these kind of drawings.  And again, I want to kind of see the power for myself to communicate my own, you know, hopeful more poetic ideas than just, you know, whatever, you know, you will see in our environment and iconic symbols and symbolizing something in a very kind of blunt and pedestrian way because that’s the goal.  So hopefully, you know, when you look at a lot of my drawings that again, are kind of embedded in the paintings, you do a double take and they communicate more than they seemed to at first.

Question: Is corporate branding obtrusive?

McGinness:    Maybe I’ve kind of become numb to it and I think it was a hotter topic maybe 5 or 10 years ago and the fact that it’s not so much but it’s very telling and almost scary.  But I think I… you know,     I believe in a kind of fight fire with fire approach so again, that is the world that we experience in our daily lives and as a reaction, I want to create my own world that I want to share with other people almost as an alternative to these other worlds, so you know if you can immerse yourself in my world with, you know, through all the different things that I make, hopefully, it could be more rewarding and in the end, I’m not trying to sell you anything, you know, just share some… share some ideas.

Question: Are you anti-corporate?

McGinness:    Well, I have a corporation.  I have Ryan McGinness Studios Incorporated and I’ve other small businesses maybe since highschool.  I think I started my first corporation.  So I’m not necessarily against corporations, I guess what I… more accurately I think what I would be against or... it’s people’s relationships to corporations and in corporation’s relationships to people even to the extent that whereby corporations have a lot of ways have more rights than individuals and I think it’s scary when a society is set up to give corporations more rights than it gives rights to individuals.  So corporations, in it of themselves, I’m not against.  They’re kind of necessary legal entities too and can do great and wonderful things for humanity but I think it’s how people react to corporations and how corporations react to people on a very kind of human level, that’s something to be worried about I guess.


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