Lawrence McGrath The Graphic Teacher

How long have you be involved in art? Did you have some spiritual connection to art which drew you in? All my life. I've been involved all my life. My first memory of art was my parents tell me I was going to go to art collage.

My inspiration for Mr. McGraph's poster, Shepard Fairey's Hope poster

Did you always want to be an art teacher? If not, what would you have done instead? I'm generally creative and I think it's a vocational choice, you don't really have an option. You don't choose to do it. I could have done many things, but when it came to art it was always a concept. I haven't always been an art teacher. Before I started teaching, I was a graphic designer for the best part of ten years, I've worked as an animator for the same company that did SuperTed. I've been a photographer and an illustrator. I've done a lot of things related to art, even sign writing during a summer holiday when I was younger. I never intended to be a teacher though. It just happened, one of my former teachers suggested it so I went for an interview at university on a Thursday and on the following Monday I started training.

Photograph of Lawrence McGrath

Was graphic art your calling? When I was 16, I got a weekend job working for a newspaper and with computers just starting to come in and me being the young kid, I was thrown in desktop publishing. That turned into not only weekend work, but after-school work. During the holidays I would be working for a publisher for advertising. When I went to art collage, I already had an understanding of how to use computers so it seemed natural and I would keep working with them. Computers are part of the creating process, always being there as an adult. And convincing people to buy stuff they don't need, I just liked it. Bit cynical, but then teaching you felt you were doing something, to change peoples' lives. There was more feedback from your client.

Exposure layers of Lawrence McGrath

Who’s your favourite artist and why? I don't think there is just one artist in particular, there's always a number of artists that have had a huge impact on me. I really like Jeremy Deller and Vaughan Oliver. I've always liked the work ethic of David Hockney. When I was younger, I liked the usual artists, Escher and Dali.

My recreation of Shepard Fairey's Hope poster

Around the school there is a stereotype that as an art student, one does not need to work as much as a student in the sciences. What is your thought on this stereotype? Art is the only subject where everything you do is completely personal. It's your interpretation of what's placed in front of you, and it's possibly the only IB subject where you bear your heart and soul because everything you do comes from your interest, your ability, your passion and your artistic creativity. You don't get that with any other subject. As a scientist, I don't see there being any great difference. I think you can be creativity as a scientist, I think maybe some scientists maybe don't feel like they can be creative but it's a state of being. It's basically having a growth mindset. I don't think science and art is knowable, if it was, everyone would get sevens. I think art is a worthwhile subject. If you want to be a designer or an architects, you need to do visual arts. Ask any art student, I don't think anyone will say art is easy. Students are working against their own skill level, and to be successful you need to have a lot of discipline and determination.

WaterColour textures for layering

Any mind-blowing visions for the future? For the future, I would like art to focus on the experience. For students to find that specialness and expertise, and what students are good at and enjoy. We're starting to do that more now, more variety. Not just digital or painting. We have a student working with light, a student hoping to work with glass. I think we should support the traditional mediums and good traditional skills (drawing, painting) but we really should be visual communicators.

Final Piece

The biggest question of all…Da Vinchi or Van Gogh? Two very different people. As an artist, Van Gogh. As a scientist, Da Vinchi. Da Vinchi is a designer, has a great mind, more of an adventurer and inquirer. I admire him for that, being brave to do things in a time where it wasn't acceptable to do things he was doing. Then the sheer energy and passion of Van Gogh. Anyone who has seen his sunflowers painting knows how good of an artist he was.

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