Travis McCoy

Travis’ mythical paintings captivate us with their gorgeous layers of transparent color and intricate design.

How would you describe your style

I want to challenge the world with my style, using folklore and fantasy. I emphasize that through small details and hidden messages in each piece, not words but symbols. My style needs to breathe emotion, because I want people to feel what I feel when painting. My subject matter changes every go around, because of this. Expression to me is about evolving, not staying stagnant. 

What subjects do you enjoy working on?

I use people a lot because I love contemporary dance, so when I paint I use dance as a way to communicate movement. This involves some anatomy work as well, because I think the human body is beautiful. The twisting and turning of muscles helps the paintings feel more real to me. The motion brings the art to life for me and hopefully my audience.

Sometimes I‘ll study animals because we as people aren’t so different from nature. I remember one time studying a dead tiger  and crying because the imagery was so graphic.

What medium(s) do you work in?

I always work in graphite, which helps curate the foundation for every piece. Next I utilize watercolor and then acrylic for textures. They’re very free flowing, which helps me see where I should apply my lighting and shadows. For that particular detail, I always go charcoal, white, or black. 

How has your process evolved?

To be honest, I was afraid of painting. I hated the idea of messing up, especially when the piece was almost done… eventually I swallowed my fears. When I first started taking my art seriously, I always would draw the piece, then scan it to color in photoshop. You can see these examples in the Columbus Book Project, which featured me. Eventually I stopped, because I felt like I was cheating my own natural creative genius. I wanted to flow with my art, so I became more hands on. When I started painting, it felt like I was on the computer, and well, I just had to trust the process. No one’s work is perfect, but a dear friend of mine once said, “Every imperfection in an art piece gives it it’s own uniqueness.” I’ve valued that ever since, and my art has exploded because of it.

What got you started creating art?

My family, and cartoons. Everyone in my family can draw to a degree. My mother was good at trees, my half-brother with animals, and my cousin with comic book illustrations. To them, art was just a hobby, and that nothing could come from it. My stubbornness wanted to prove them wrong, so that’s how I got started. At first I wasn’t any good at one particular subject, but being alone for so long gave me time to work on my craft. I had imaginary friends (lol), and by myself I would make up characters and stories in my head. 

When I discovered anime, I fell in love, especially any film done by studio Ghibli. The action scenes, character development, and scenery just took me to the other worlds. I wanted to curate my own representation of that, but since I was following in the footsteps of surreal painters I decided to toss aside my dream as an animator and just pursue the more political side of art.

What artists influence your work?

Man there’s a million!! There’s van Gogh, Frieda, and current artists and illustrators like Marco Mozzoni, and Yoshitaka Amano. I’m influenced by fashion designers too, namely Alexander McQueen, and Gianni Versace. Hayao Miyazaki is the best illustrative director and screenwriter, I just love everything he does. Music helps a lot, too, when it comes to creativity, not modern day but more classical, ’80s jams, ’90s hip hop and RnB. It’s like poetry to me, a ballad of notes painting pictures in my head.

"Expression to me is about evolving, not staying stagnant."

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