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Proustean Questions for Ted McGrath

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday October 9, 2013

If you’ve been following Ted McGrath’s illustration art on the Op Ed page of the New York Times, or any other of a dozen or so places where editorial issues get a workout, you will want to know that you can meet him [yep, in person] on Friday. There’s an opening reception for his show, Weird Weather, at The Yard, in Brooklyn. For now:

Q: What you like most about being creative.

A: The overwhelming satisfaction, fleeting or lasting, that usually shows up at the end of a late night of work when you at least think you've made something really great. Sometimes it's just the exhaustion talking though. Ya gotta be careful.

Q: Your best quality.

A: I think I'm pretty funny.

Q: Your main fault.

A: I can be a sensitive grump.

Q: The natural talent you wish you had.

A: An intuitive grasp on most matters of math or science.

Q: If not yourself, who you would be.

A: Lindsey Buckingham.

Q: What you would change about your appearance.

A: I miss my hair. Like in the vainest way possible. I had a dream the other night where I caught my reflection and my hair had grown back as an Art Garfunkel-esque blonde curly afro. I felt ok about it.

Q: The qualities you most appreciate in a life partner.

A: A sense of humor and an intuitive psychic ability to tell when I'm in sensitive grump mode.

Q: The qualities you most appreciate in a friend.

A: Same as the above I think.

Q: What makes you happy.

A: Great conversation, food and drink. The beach. Being blown away by art or music I've never before seen or heard. Seeing my friends succeed.

Q: What makes you miserable.

A: Being sick. Being late. Conversations unexpectedly veering into politics. 

Q: What you would do on a midweek day off.

A: Go to some galleries or a museum, then take in a long leisurely meal at a favorite restaurant.

Q: Your most admired living people

A: My parents, Brian Eno, Jasper Johns, Laurie Anderson.

Q: The first art or photo book you bought, and where.

A: The one that first comes to mind was an anthology of original Chester Gould Dick Tracy comic strips at Disney World in 1992. I still look at that thing all the time.

Q: Your favorite writers.

A: Roberto Bolano, Thomas Pynchon, HG Wells, Jonathan Lethem, Jules Verne, Peter Guralnick.

Q: Your favorite New York neighborhood.

A: Still Greenpoint. Hang in there, Greenpoint.

Q: Your favorite food and drink.

A: A well made steak or cheese burger, with a light salad. I'm trying to expand my palette though. I love a good Spanish red wine, a well-made Manhattan, strong dry Belgian beers, a fantastically hot cup of black coffee. Chocolate croissants.

Q: What you are listening to now.

A: James Brown Plays James Brown: Today & Yesterday.

Q: Your greatest regret.

A: Nah, not telling.

Q: Your greatest hope.

A: That MLK was right, and "the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice," really, really.  

Q: How you would prefer to die.

A: Suddenly, standing up, painting, in a big gorgeous studio, at a very old age.

Q: Your favorite motto.

A: "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."— Arthur Ashe.

Ted McGrath is an artist and musician living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He has created drawings, illustrations, murals and music for clients around the world, including but not limited to MTV Networks, The New York Times, New York Magazine, TIME Magazine, WIRED, Glamour, Bloomberg Business Week, and Texas Monthly. He has also taught illustration and design at Pratt Institute and MICA, created the cover art for AI27, and makes music as The Flag. If you can’t get to the show, the art in Weird Weather can be seen here.

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