Joe MacGown Bio
I was born in Maine on June 21, 1964 and lived there until the age of ten, at which point my family moved to Mississippi. I spent many of my young days in Maine collecting insects, exploring the woods, and drawing everything I could see, including many things that no one ever sees. When we moved to Mississippi my interest in art and nature continued. After graduating from High School, I attended the Memphis College of Art for a while, but decided it wasn't for me. I worked the night shift at a local grocery and did some free lance artwork on the side for the next few years. Since March of 1988, I have worked at the Mississippi State Entomological Museum as a scientific illustrator/assistant curator.
My interest and emphasis in semi-strange pen and ink drawings has not dissipated since I began drawing as a young child. I have always had the ability to see strange creatures and shapes in other things, much like finding shapes in clouds or bark. However, I see things everywhere, and can even visualize three dimensional animated scenes in space. This ability came in handy in high school study hall! Although I enjoy painting and other types of media, I truly prefer pen and ink because of the fine detail, the close relationship of the mind to the drawing surface, the contrast that can be achieved, and the feeling of caressing the drawing surface with the pen. My themes tend to be many-fold, as I do many types of artwork, but my true love revolves around the interrelationship of the environment and all forms of the animate and inanimate. As I have studied nature over the course of my life, I have come to realize that every little thing we do affects something else, whether it be negative or positive. I try to illustrate this idea in my drawings in a somewhat surrealistic and slightly dark manner. I greatly enjoy playing with positive and negative space, the juxtaposition of seemingly unnatural elements, and filling an area with as much as possible. The reason for filling the space is in part due to my childhood. When was a child, my family had little money, and I strove to get as much out of a piece of paper as possible. Also, I am somewhat hyper and my chaotic assemblage of creatures reflects my chaotic mind that is always flowing in a million different directions. My drawings give me respite from the everyday world and are done for the sake of art alone. Although I am not totally adverse to the sale of my art, I have found it difficult to part with originals because they take so long to do and they contain a part of my soul. However, I am trying to rectify that and will be forcing myself to start selling more artwork. Since the summer of 2004, when I built an art studio, I have had a wonderful place to create my art.