Rich McCoy
Rich McCoy is an artist and creative force who embraces the raw, untamed power of art in a world dominated by minimalism and structure. Inspired by his upbringing in the African desert, Rich's work reflects a profound connection to the untamed terrain and its wildlife. With a foundation in painting, sculpting, and photography, he explores a wide range of mediums and techniques, always striving to maintain depth and richness in the digital realm.

Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer

Rich McCoy is an artist and creative force who embraces the raw, untamed power of art in a world dominated by minimalism and structure. Inspired by his upbringing in the African desert, Rich’s work reflects a profound connection to the untamed terrain and its wildlife. With a foundation in painting, sculpting, and photography, he explores a wide range of mediums and techniques, always striving to maintain depth and richness in the digital realm. For Rich, art is not about breaking boundaries but creating connections and community through shared experiences. Whether through immersive installations or emotive paintings, he aims to inspire viewers to see the world from new perspectives. As a digital pioneer, he remains open to growth and learning in the ever-evolving medium, eager to contribute to the wider community of artists and creatives who push the boundaries of possibility.

Can you share a brief overview of your artistic journey, from when you first started pursuing your creative career to where you are now?

My artistic journey began unexpectedly during my teenage years when I won a drawing competition at school. This ignited my passion for art, leading me to spend countless hours painting Games Workshop figures and creating intricate models. Alongside my artistic pursuits, I also developed a deep love for music and began painting leather jackets for myself and my friends. This newfound interest inspired me to pursue art college, where I focused on sculpture. After graduating from university with a 2:1 degree in Sculpture, specialising in film and installation art, I faced challenges in finding work within the film and TV industry. However, I discovered a new avenue in web design and digital art during the emerging wave of the mid-1990s. This path provided financial stability as I started a family, although my personal artistic endeavours took a backseat to prioritise family responsibilities. However, my creative drive resurfaced when I found myself working as a design lead and creative director for an advertising agency. Feeling a sense of detachment from my true artistic self, I made the decision to reignite my artistic practice. This marked the beginning of my current artistic journey, where I have reconnected with painting and embraced a path that aligns with my soul’s calling.

What inspired you to become an artist, and how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

The captivating record covers of 4AD, the artistic brilliance of Ralph Steadman’s books, and the imaginative graphic novels of Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman introduced me to a world of creative inspiration. It was in these works that I discovered my passion and desire to pursue a similar path. Incredibly fortunate, I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with Ralph, as well as develop a friendship with Vaughan Oliver, both of whom became influential mentors in my artistic journey. Their guidance and wisdom have forever shaped my perspective, reminding me of the profound impact that good advice and mentorship can have on one’s artistic aspirations.

How do you balance your creative pursuits with the practical aspects of being an artist, such as marketing, networking, and financial management?

Although I don’t consider myself an exceptional artist, I remain dedicated to my day job as the creative lead for a product innovation agency in Auckland. Painting becomes my solace in the evenings, when my twins are peacefully asleep, and I navigate the challenges of self-promotion with a casual approach. A while ago, we made the deliberate choice to eliminate television from our lives, and I haven’t regretted it. I find that creating space for productivity brings greater fulfilment, even though some nights are still filled with the temptation of mindless scrolling and occasional early bedtimes.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a creative person?

For me, the most fulfilling part of being a creative individual is when others appreciate and support my artistic expression by investing in it. It’s liberating to have no boss but my own creative spirit, as Ralph once shared with me the day after my 21st birthday, “A piece of work isn’t art until it is signed. Actually, that’s not right; it’s not art until someone has paid for it.” While there may be some discomfort in that notion, it holds a certain truth that resonates.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about your art?

For me, inspiration and drive stem from the exploration of ideas and the continuous development of skills, as I navigate different mediums to express my voice. While I acknowledge that seeking validation, even in the form of Instagram likes, may seem superficial and uncomfortable, I cannot deny that it does provide a certain level of motivation and encouragement in my creative journey.

What advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out and considering a creative career?

My advice to young creatives would be to wholeheartedly pursue their passion, consistently show up, and put in the work at every available opportunity. Believe in your ability to make it work for you, but also have a side gig as a backup plan in case things don’t go as planned or in case your creative pursuits become overwhelmingly successful and you need something to keep you grounded.

How important is it for artists to find their unique style or voice?

I’ve always grappled with my love for various things and styles, constantly wanting to explore and try them all. During a conversation with an Australian artist, we delved into her struggle of balancing different styles, as she believed people prefer consistency and clarity. I can understand her viewpoint, especially from my experience in advertising and marketing. However, restricting oneself to just one style feels like limiting oneself to eating only Indian food for life. While I adore Indian cuisine, I also crave diversity in my creative pursuits. Perhaps creating pseudonyms for different styles could be a way to showcase my versatility. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that over the past few months, I’m naturally gravitating towards a distinct artistic voice. It’s taken me 50 years on this earth to reach this point, but there’s no need to rush the journey of self-discovery.

How did you discover and develop your own artistic identity?

For me, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how my artistic inspiration comes about. It’s an innate feeling that emerges naturally. I have a deep appreciation for the integrity of art, especially when I can witness the visible marks left by the creator. Asian art, particularly Japanese composition and brushwork, holds a special place in my heart. Additionally, I highly value humour and playfulness in my work, something that I admire in the artworks of Oliver Jeffers. In art galleries, I often find myself entertaining mischievous thoughts when confronted with the serious and lofty claims of artists. It’s akin to that biblical moment when Jesus flips tables out of contempt. I aspire to bring humour, play, and a touch of magic back into people’s spaces and galleries.

Can you talk about the role of failure and perseverance in the life of an artist?

Embrace failure as an inevitable part of the creative journey, for fearing it only limits our potential. Perfectionism stifles creativity, so embrace experimentation, make mistakes, and keep playing. Learn from failures and use them as stepping stones or even golden opportunities. While perseverance is essential, be mindful of your motivations. It can propel you forward during challenging times, but it can also blind you to the fact that some ideas are simply not worth pursuing. Strike a balance and know when to set aside ideas that aren’t working.

What are some misconceptions or myths about being an artist that you would like to debunk?

Achieving success in the creative field requires immense dedication and hard work. It can be a challenging and sometimes confusing journey, and it’s crucial to keep your ego in check. There are practical tasks that may seem tedious but are necessary to support your artistic pursuits. Simply creating art isn’t enough; you need to actively put yourself out there and engage with opportunities. Alongside your ambitions, cultivate a sense of humble self-belief. Recognise your talents and strengths while remaining open to learning and growth. Balancing confidence with humility can help you navigate the ups and downs of the creative path.

How do you navigate the art industry and find opportunities to showcase your work or collaborate with others?

After primarily selling my work online, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic, I have recently made the decision to shift my focus back to the gallery system. While the online platform provided convenience and accessibility, I long for the opportunity to collaborate and engage in meaningful artistic partnerships. There is something truly fulfilling about working alongside fellow artists and creatives, as their energy and unique perspectives enrich my own creative process. The collaborative environment not only fuels my inspiration but also allows for the exchange of ideas, pushing the boundaries of my artistic practice. I yearn for the chance to immerse myself in artistic collaborations, to share insights, and to create something truly exceptional together. The gallery system provides the perfect platform to forge these connections and showcase our collective creativity to a wider audience, amplifying the impact of our artistic endeavours.

What are some common challenges artists face in terms of recognition and financial stability, and how can they be addressed?

Navigating the pricing of artwork, gaining visibility, finding a supportive creative community, and dealing with gallery commissions are ongoing challenges that I have encountered in my artistic journey. These aspects can sometimes feel like hurdles that hinder the growth and sustainability of artists. However, these challenges have sparked meaningful conversations and explorations with my partner, who is also an artist and potter.

Together, we have envisioned a different approach—a collaborative and affordable shared studio space coupled with an ethical-run gallery that prioritises the wellbeing of artists. We strongly believe in creating a nurturing environment where artists can thrive and their work can be showcased with integrity.

This vision extends beyond just providing physical space; it encompasses fostering a supportive community that encourages collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and artistic growth. While we are enthusiastic about this endeavour, we understand that it requires resources and careful planning to bring it to fruition. We are actively seeking the necessary space, time, and collateral to establish this creative haven. We envision a place where artists can freely express themselves, connect with like-minded individuals, and showcase their work without compromising their artistic integrity or financial wellbeing.

How do you stay connected with other artists and the larger creative community?

At the moment its all about Instagram for me

Can you share any tips for artists to market and promote their work effectively in today’s digital age?

See above regards Instagram

How do you approach self-criticism and growth as an artist?

Ouch, self criticism is the biggest wolf I resist feeding, its always there though lurking in the shadows.

What strategies do you use to continually improve your craft?

Practice, practice and self criticism.

Have you ever experienced creative blocks or periods of low inspiration? If so, how did you overcome them?

Certainly! I understand the struggle of questioning the purpose and significance of my work amidst the vast sea of content and voices already present in the world. It’s a constant battle that intensifies when creative blocks arise. The internal dialogue of “Why should this piece of work exist?” can be overwhelming and hinder the creative process. It’s important to find a balance between considering the impact and purpose of our creations and not letting it paralyse our creative flow.

While it’s valuable to reflect on the value and meaning our work brings, it’s equally important to allow ourselves the freedom to explore, experiment, and create without constantly seeking profound significance. Sometimes, the joy and playfulness of the creative journey itself can lead to unexpected discoveries and authentic expressions.

Rather than being consumed by the pressure of justifying every piece of work, I choose to embrace the process and find solace in the act of creation. By letting go of the need for earth-shattering impact and embracing experimentation, I can find my artistic voice and create work that resonates with authenticity and fulfilment.

So, when faced with creative blocks or the nagging question of purpose, I step back, free myself from the weight of expectation, and approach my craft with curiosity, allowing the creative energy to flow naturally. It’s in these moments of liberation that I find the space to overcome obstacles and reconnect with the joy of bringing my artistic vision to life.

Do you believe it’s necessary to have a degree in art to succeed?

Nope, not at all, it helped me but its not for everyone, plus they are bloody expensive these days

Is there anything else you would like to share with young artists aspiring to pursue a creative career?

Get amongst it, but give it a rest if you feel the need.

Rich can be found at: