Psychedelia meets Dada meets Bauhaus. The weird world of Andrew McGranahan
TWS – Hi Andrew, please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
AMG – Hello, my name is Andrew McGranahan and I’m a freelance Graphic Designer and occasional Artist based in San Diego… About 13 years ago I was working as a Production Artist for a Winery (my first job in the industry) which was an excellent learning experience but was wasn’t particularly fulfilling creatively so I started doing posters for friends and local shows as an outlet. That’s also when I started making handcut collages.
TWS – How would you describe your style? Which are the most important elements that define it? How have they changed through your career?
AMG – That’s a tough one because I tend to work in a handful of different styles, depending on what’s needed for the job at hand. In my last interview I came up with the term “Psychedelic DADA Bauhaus” and, though it is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I stand by it.
A lot has changed over the years for sure… I’ve experimented with many different styles, some of which came and went pretty quickly, but even the not so successful exercises had an impact on my style in one way or another and were an important part of my growth. I think most artists would agree that you have to keep pushing yourself to try new things or you’ll just get stuck in a rut.
TWS – Your work seems very related with music in different ways. Can you talk about your relation with music and how it impacts you and your work?
AMG – Music has always been a big part of my life. I come from a very musical family and I grew up going to symphonies and plays/musicals often. I was actually a pretty darn good trumpet player in my younger days. I sometimes regret giving that up but if I hadn’t I suppose there’s a chance I may have never discovered my true calling… Nowadays my musical outlet is DJing (all vinyl) at live music events and bars. It’s a lot of fun and I love introducing people to stuff that they otherwise may have never listened to. Oh, and I also recently started making weekly mixes. Check them out on Spotify 😎
The majority of my work is indeed music-related and I consider myself very lucky to be able to make my mark, such as it is, on the music world. So, in my case, it’s only natural that the music itself informs the process. Having said that, I think it’s important to be a bit unpredictable and present ideas that the client might not expect.
TWS – Your current work is very influenced by psychedelia and the sixties, but at the same time looks really personal and unique. How was the process that led you to that? Which other elements inform your work and allowed you to create your own personal interpretation of psychedelia?
AMG – I’m happy to hear that that comes through in my work, thank you. I guess that sort of goes back to my answer about my style and all of the trial and error that molded it. Sixties poster design is indeed a constant influence on my work but I feel like I’d be doing myself and my clients a disservice by just sort of copying that style so finding my own brand of psychedelia, so to speak, seemed like the natural thing to do. Other influences on my work are Ancient History and Mythology, Sci-Fi book covers and films, vintage Swiss design, DADA (as I mentioned earlier… I’m particularly fond of Max Ernst), the Polish School of Posters, the animation and film work of Terry Gilliam, and so on.
TWS – What’s your definition of collage?
AMG – Harmony out of disparity and endless possibilities.
TWS – If you could make the poster of a gig of any band of any historic time and place… which one that would be?
AMG – The first band that comes to mind would be Pink Floyd in the Syd Barrett days. Hearing their music for the first time was a big moment for me… Some others would be Nick Drake, Jefferson Airplane, CAN, Donovan, pretty much any 60’s/70’s African psych/funk band, I could go on and on…