I Coeur McPherson

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One of my fellow speakers at the OFFF conference in Paris was Tara McPherson (below top). I didn’t get to meet her, but I was smitten by her presentation. She has a great sounding, slightly lispish voice, dry sense of humor and keen enthusiasm for what she does.

What she does, or as she said, what she is “most well-known for,” are images of women with empty holes in their bodies in the shape of hearts (below bottom). It is not as conceptually simplistic as it sounds. The heart holes are not contrived. Her art has an edge yet daringly edges up to the borderline of kool kitsch. I enjoy the energy, craft, and spirituality (musing on the emptiness of life and all that) of what I’d call an acidly-cute expressionistic style.

McPherson, with a sculpted blonde-banged hairdo that echoes her imagery, works in New York City; Brooklyn to be precise, where she stays in her studio usually til 5 a.m. She creates “artabout people and their odd ways,” noted the OFFF catalog. “Her characters seem to exude anidealized innocence with a glimpse of hard earned wisdom in their eyes.” She is a member of the vinyl toy genre, with a few produced by KidRobot (top). As a gig poster doyen, she was named the “crown princess of poster art” by ELLE Magazine. Her oeuvre includes creating vinyls withcompanies like Kidrobot, Dark Horse, and Toy2R, painted comics andcovers for DC Vertigo, advertising and editorial illustrations forcompanies such as Wieden+Kennedy and Spin Magazine. I’m just sorry we didn’t meet in Paris, and Brooklyn is too far away from Manhattan, of course.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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