Artist Interview: Tessa McSorley

I'm a huge dork. I'm interviewing myself to kick off my artist interview series! I figured you would like to know a little bit more about the person behind the blog, and I also thought it would be fun to answer my own questions... Stay tuned for many more artist interviews to come, starting with some of my closest artist friends.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. What kind of art do you make?

I’m Tessa McSorley, and I live in Gainesville, Florida with my puppy, Ruby Roo. I spend half of my week making art, and the other half is spent at my day job, working for an online t-shirt retailer. I've been drawing and painting since I was a little girl, and the obsession has never ended. I also became obsessed with screen printing in high school, and I have a screen printing studio in my garage. I love making all kinds of art and am always looking for new techniques. I carry my sketchbook everywhere I go. I love drawing people, especially women, and I often draw from my collection of vintage photographs. My portraits often tell stories about the women they depict, creating histories for my subjects that are both real and fabricated.

How do you personally go about making art? (Tell us a bit about your process, your creative routines, your inspirations, etc.)

I am recently getting out of an art “dry spell,” and I’m in the middle of romancing myself back into drawing and painting again. It can be a challenge for sure, especially because when you have taken a few months off from drawing and painting, you know you will have to make a lot of bad drawings first before you start to hit your stride again… To get myself inspired while living in a town without a good art scene, I am reading a lot of art blogs and heading to the bookstore a lot to look at art magazines and books. Music is a huge part of my art process too; I always have something playing while I work on making art. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Edith Piaf, Amanda Palmer, and Mumford & Sons.

What are some of your creative aspirations for the future?

I want to turn into a huge creative resource for artists and art lovers! I want to be able to pay my bills just by making art and blogging. I have some lofty ideas for a fun performance art piece I’ve been thinking about since high school. I have so many ideas and plans, sometimes it’s hard to keep up!

In your opinion, what is the difference between art and craft?

I think art is something made to express something that the artist is feeling and needs to let out. I think craft is something that is made while following specific directions and is mostly about execution and end product. But my definitions of the two are always changing, so check back in a few months!

To you, what is bad art? What is good art?

I don’t think there’s such a thing as bad art if it comes from an honest place and is an expression of the artist. Good art is art that communicates a message well and in a novel way. We are all judges of what is good and what is bad based on our own personal aesthetic. What I think is good art, you might end up hating!

What is your current favorite piece of art that you have made?

I love my book “How to Make Art,” my self-published journal/diary/comic/sketchbook thing. It was seriously so much fun to make and holds so much of myself in it. It’s not perfect, and there are a million things I would do to change it if I were to do it over, but it’s an accurate expression of where I was and who I was a year ago when I made it. It also has my favorite mixed media piece I’ve made on the cover, “Piecing and Placing.”

Piecing and Placing,
Mixed media
9 1/2" x 11"

What are some of your current art obsessions? (artists of types of art, etc.)

Molly Crabapple, Brandi Milne, encaustic painting, antique French postcards, Scott Radke, Tina Berning, and always Sabrina Ward Harrison – she’s my favorite!

What do you collect?

Art, books, old photographs, vingtage scrapbooks, and antique diaries. Also, I love knick knacks that look like my 5 year old Bichon Frise dog.

Recommend some inspiring books/websites/music/movies to us...

*James Jean’s sketchbooks: I love his Process Recess series.
*Dover clip art series books: These are great references to draw from! I love Jim Harter’s Animals and Dan X. Solo’s Victorian Display Alphabets. Those are on my desk right now.
*Pop Ink’s Pop Culture Artifacts series: I’ve got Happy Kitty Bunny Pony (love the title!) and Goth-icky sitting next to me now...
*Arrested Motion: I love this blog to death and check it every day.
*Pinterest: I just joined, and so far, it seems wonderful and full of inspiration. I’ll play on there some more very soon, but for now, here are my pinboards.
*Kelly Rae Roberts’ Blog: She is so positive and inspiring.
*Edith Piaf is my current studio BFF as far as music goes. I love that I don’t know French so I don’t get distracted by the words she sings; the lyrics kind of fade into the background for me…
*Handmade Nation: Such an inspiration for anyone who crafts or makes things!
*In the Realms of the Unreal - The Mystery of Henry Darger: I love Henry Darger’s art, and this movie is a masterpiece.

Do you have any advice you could offer to someone who wants to start making art but doesn't know where to begin?

It’s tough to find inspiration, especially when you live somewhere that doesn’t have much good live art to look at. That’s why I am so thrilled that there are so many wonderful things to look at on the Internet that can provide us with inspiration. Motivation is another hard thing to struggle with… Sometimes you just have to kick yourself in the butt, get out there and buy some paints, and go for it! Don’t think, just make – that’s my advice. And don’t fear making “bad art” or art that doesn’t satisfy you at first – you have to get though a million bad drawings to get to a good one, right? Put in the time, and the talent will follow.


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