Words by OutInThe956’s Ram Jam
Note from the Editor: This article is republished with slight edits with full permission of the founder/owner of Out In The 956, Ram Jam. All photos were obtained with permission from Ram Jam.
For Artist of the Month this June, we have Marc McCrea @pink.bunny.marc.
Marc (he/him) is an artist putting all that he loves and cherishes onto his canvas. Whether it’s about himself or the cute array of Sanrio characters, and yes, even the pregnant Hello Kitty with its details that you just have to see for yourself. When it comes to his work, Marc adds context and descriptions as you study his pieces—opening up as he expresses his feelings and experiences through art. While he uses his words to explain, his work speaks for itself. This reminds me that I actually had Marc for one of my virtual exhibitions, I want to say 1 to 2 years ago.
Since that moment, the progress he has made with himself has been great to see! I look forward to seeing how Marc experiments in the future.
There’s something about looking through my feed and seeing artwork that, by styles, you can just tell who it is. [Like] Marc’s usage of pastel colors, cute creations, his hoard of slug babies, to now releasing digital work! While I have these few words for Marc, let’s see what he has to say in our interview.
What could you tell us about your art style? If you could give it a name, what would it be?
I’d say my art style is similar to pop surrealism, with a touch of maximalism here and there. I’ve been known for making really vibrant pieces with a great use of the color pink. Most of the time, I like to use up all of the space available to me. While I appreciate minimalism, I find it difficult for me to execute.
Besides your art style, I know you have also recently dabbled in creating clay pieces. What got you interested in this?
These are such great questions!! I could talk about ceramics forever. It’s such a huge topic, and I adore it. First, I took ceramics because I needed it as a studio art credit. For those that aren’t majoring in studio art, you need a whole lot of studio credits and then advanced studio credits. This means your degree plan makes you try out SO many different variations of the arts. I decided on ceramics because I didn’t take it while I was at STC. What really made me interested was the studio and both STC and UTRGV. They were easily the most stunning to me. I knew I’d like to spend my days working in them, which meant I had to learn about clay. Also, I really love the glazes available. Glaze is a glassy coating for ceramics that can be used for decorative aspects and/or enables the pieces to be functional. Layering glazes is so satisfying too. There is no feeling like walking up to your freshly glazed piece after it’s been taken out of the kiln. This is because you never know exactly what it’ll look like. The surprise is so exciting!
Do you feel that there is an importance in experimenting?
Oh man, absolutely! It’s probably the most important thing that can be done. Experimenting is exactly the thing that’s gonna get you to grow. In my case, I don’t feel much pressure when I tell myself I’m trying something new and different. I’ve found myself to be delightfully surprised when I did something differently. It’s led me to believe
that I am much more capable than I give myself credit for. I hope others can discover the same thing if they’re struggling with going out of their comfort zone. This may be by trying a new medium or something you haven’t painted before. I know it can be really tough sometimes, but I’ve also told myself I’ll just try it for 10-30 minutes. I usually end up forgetting about that limit I gave myself, and it works out. Give yourself a space to make mistakes. More than likely, no one is gonna know you made a mistake. They’ll think pretty much most of what you did was intentional unless told otherwise. So, it’s all good!
Is there anything about yourself that you put into your work?
I put everything about myself in there! Especially in my most recent pieces. I try to be as intentional as possible when it comes to every decision I make when I’m creating something. I want just about every part of my piece to have a specific meaning and reason for existing. However, I do not believe anyone has to go about it this way. This is just what feels good to me now!
The series I’ve been putting together now is heavily influenced by the close relationships (platonic and romantic) that I’ve experienced for the last year and a half or so. I actually have very detailed explanations for those if anyone is interested on my art account. It really gets into my experience as a queer person and the things I’m learning along the way. I’d explain it more here, but I would want to go through every detail, and that’s a lot haha!
What is your aim when creating an art piece? Whether it’s for fun or personal.
Creating art, for me is always about having a great time and impressing myself. I want to keep making work that surprises me. Furthermore, I am making something to mark where I’ve been and what I’ve been through. While I love to show it to my friends, family, and peers, my work is truly about trying to understand my complex feelings and transferring that to whatever medium I’m using. It’s like I’m sealing my essence into the piece based on who I am at that moment. However, I want to connect more with the queer community as a gay man. While I’ve had a mostly pleasant experience as a queer person, I understand that many have not. Or many do not feel comfortable showing that. I really want to push myself to tell more of my story so that I may connect with people looking for support.
What was your introduction to art? Who introduced you to clay making?
My earliest introduction to art was probably Yu-Gi-Oh! My older brother showed it to me when I was about 3 years old, and I’ve loved it ever since. I feel like every card is a little masterpiece, so I love collecting them. I felt very inspired every time I thought about the artwork from the show and trading card game. I was introduced to clay making from one of my best friends Claire Tovar! She was taking a ceramics class at STC, so she showed me her work and the studio. I didn’t take ceramics until a couple years later, but I fell in love with it because of my professor Brandi Lee Cooper! She has been nothing but kind, thoughtful, encouraging, and passionate. I admire her for so many reasons and will continue to do so. She answered every question I’ve ever had, never stopped supporting me, and showed me how breathtaking the world of ceramics could be. I think the most important thing she taught me was how sacred clay is. It does quite a lot for us, so it’s important to respect it.
What has been your feedback towards your work? What does your work evoke out of you?
From what I’ve been told, my work can be very illustrative, vibrant, and detailed oriented. If I had to critique myself, I’d like to say I agree with those things. Besides that, I feel like my work can be whimsical and nostalgic. I find myself looking back at elements from my childhood for inspiration. I feel like I’m beginning to really merge my child self and current self together now. All I can really tell myself is to keep creating when I have the time and energy. Keep making little doodles that could turn into something so much bigger.
How have you seen yourself grow with your work?
I like to think about this often. I’ve come a long way from my first painting back in 2016. I didn’t have much direction when I began painting, drawing, etc. I actually quit painting for a while because I didn’t like what I was making. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and confused with forming concepts and sketches.
Over the years, I feel like my workflow comes much easier. It’s not as hard to organize my thoughts and put it accurately on paper. It’s also interesting to see the trends I go through over the years. For example, I went from using graphite and acrylic paint to oil paint, digital art, ceramics, a bit of water color, and some jewelry making.
Furthermore, I used to always want to draw Cherry Blossoms when I started a piece. Later, I got really into fruit and then slugs. Most importantly, I finally am able to see my own identity, and I know what I want to say to the world with my work. It’s a pretty sweet and healing feeling.
What gave you the idea to create all those slugs? They’re pretty cool.
Ahh thank you! I have to agree with you. I believe the first time I painted a slug was for my final oil painting assignment. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I had to work fast since the Summer semester was about to end. My interest really started during my Intermediate Ceramics class. Our assignment was to make five mugs, so I went wild and made about 15! Yup, it was that much fun! I had a predicament, though! I wanted to bring some variety to my pieces. So, I took my favorite mug and sculpted a little slug on the handle because I thought a “slug mug” would sound cute. I was incredibly happy with it, so I knew I had to keep those slugs coming. I did some research about it and learned more about what they represent. From what I’ve read, they symbolize spirituality, gentleness, and protection. These are all things that I really resonate with. Also, I’ve always loved Tsunade’s giant slug named Katsuyu from Naruto!
Your thoughts on the local valley art scene?
I’m happy to see the growth over the years! I’m always excited to check out art markets or local shows. I’ve been able to meet so many really lovely people. Some of my best friends are the beautiful humans that I’ve met within the art community.
Any final comments??
I want to thank OutInThe956 for taking the time to interview me. I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the art and queer community. The arts can be such a life-saving thing, and I hope everyone can experience the joy it brings. I also gotta say it’s wild to be doing this interview during Pride Month. This feels incredibly special to me. I’m more than happy to share my thoughts. So, thank you so much!
My name is Ram Jam. I am the founder/owner of Out In The 956. I enjoy local shows and art,, as that is something that has been shown to me by being the program director for UTRGV Radio when I was a student. Being a part of that showed me what lies within the cracks of the Valley, artistically, musically, and, well, as I’d say, the hidden gems of the Valley. Creating a platform to continue doing what I enjoyed in college has been pretty fun!