Creative Guts

Brendan McCormick

Episode Summary

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman sit down with artist Brendan McCormick! Brendan is a digital artist who lives, works, and creates in New Hampshire. A product of the 90’s and early 2000’s, Brendan draws inspiration from his childhood playing video games, reading comics, making movies, and skateboarding. After graduating college in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Film Production from Keene State College, Brendan worked in television. A few years ago, he rediscovered his love for creating artwork and since then has been selling his work to people all over the country and in stores around New England as a full-time artist. Brendan’s work and style can be described as colorfully dark with a sense of humor and sarcasm. He strives to make that one odd piece in your home that warrants a double-take or a chuckle. Check out Brendan’s work at and on Instagram Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show. If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Notes

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman sit down with artist Brendan McCormick!

Brendan is a digital artist who lives, works, and creates in New Hampshire. A product of the 90’s and early 2000’s, Brendan draws inspiration from his childhood playing video games, reading comics, making movies, and skateboarding. 

After graduating college in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Film Production from Keene State College, Brendan worked in television. A few years ago, he rediscovered his love for creating artwork and since then has been selling his work to people all over the country and in stores around New England as a full-time artist.

Brendan’s work and style can be described as colorfully dark with a sense of humor and sarcasm. He strives to make that one odd piece in your home that warrants a double-take or a chuckle.

Check out Brendan’s work at and on Instagram

Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at

A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Transcription



[0:00:00] LHL: I'm Laura Harper Lake.

[0:00:01] SW: And I'm Sarah Wrightsman. 

[0:00:02] LHL & SW: And you're listening to Creative Guts.

[0:00:18] LHL: Hello, listeners. Thank you for tuning in to Creative Guts. 

[0:00:20] SW: On today's episode, we're talking with Brendan McCormick, a digital artist whose work is colorfully dark with a sense of humor and sarcasm. Brendan was one of the artists in our first-ever Arts Market at Art Up Front Street in September, and two of his pieces are hanging prominently in my kitchen.

[0:00:38] LHL: Let's get right into the guts of this episode of Creative Guts with Brendan McCormick.


[0:00:46] SW: Brendan, thanks so much for being on the podcast. We're really happy to have you.

[0:00:52] BMC: I’m super nervous to be here. Thanks.

[0:00:55] LHL: We're both owners of your artwork.

[0:00:56] SW: Yes, we are.

[0:00:58] LHL: And we met you at our Arts Market in person, that we've been following you online and chatting with you, I think, online for a year or two now. So, it's been a very long time coming to have you here.

[0:01:09] BMC: I'm actually living through one of my bucket list things right now, is to be on this podcast, because I found you guys about two years ago and it was just a podcast dedicated to the New Hampshire art scene. If I can boil it down to that. Then, I started daydreaming, like, “Oh, that'd be so cool if I was an artist they ever had on, because then it would be like a rung in the ladder and it would give me legitimacy, and people never take me seriously.” So, thank you.

[0:01:38] SW: It's so surprising to hear that kind of thing from you, because you are pretty professional. You have a pretty like polished looking –

[0:01:46] LHL: No. You have a very polished –

[0:01:48] BMC: It's trial by error and monkey see, monkey do.

[0:01:51] SW: Your website is pretty polished. Your Etsy is pretty polished. Your Instagram, your socials are pretty polished, but also like your setup at the Arts Market was like super polished.

[0:02:01] BMC: All right, so I have my – it's been a long time coming, my table and my setup is always an evolving monster, because I'm always doing something new, and it's always different sizes. So, I'm always fighting with this finite amount of space that's on the six-foot tables, and trying to figure out like what square footage gets me the most money of this and that. So, I want to make it look professional, because when you hold in your hand, I want it to look and feel like the amount of money that I'm asking for. It's not ever an arm and a leg and it's nice to have something professional looking into your hands too.

So, I look to manufacturers to get some of these little things, these little experiments that I'm doing and they wanted like minimum orders of 250, 500. That's a giant gamble. So, I said screw it. Let's try to figure out how to make this at home. We bought a few pieces of equipment to like fake it, I guess, to make it look professional quality. So, we started like assembling everything at home and we do everything but the stickers an all, and the T-shirts.

[0:02:56] SW: So cool.

[0:02:57] LHL: Wow. That’s awesome.

[0:02:58] BMC: Thank you.

[0:02:59] LHL: As someone else who has to produce for events occasionally. Oh, my gosh, kudos to you because it is such an uphill battle. Especially, getting ready the week right out, collecting it all, making sure you have all the inventory, the signs, the pricing, marketing it.

[0:03:17] SW: Yes. Let's back up a little bit. So, for the listeners who know nothing about you, will you introduce yourself and just tell them a little bit about you as a creative.

[0:03:26] BMC: My name is Brendan McCormick and I own and operate BMcCormickART with my wife, Kathleen. She is the ringleader to this traveling circus and I'm a digital illustrator, designer, artist, I guess. And I make funny colorful sassy things, if I had to describe it.

[0:03:44] SW: Indeed, you do.

[0:03:48] LHL: With sometimes like a bit of a dark edge too, or a dark sense of humor.

[0:03:52] BMC: Yes. I grew up kind of laughing at the things that you shouldn't laugh at. I got my sense of humor from my father, and he's always the one doing the silly stuff, farting and – I shouldn't say that. But just, we always had like a dark sense of humor growing up, and it's probably how I deal with serious things. Because I told my wife on the way here tonight, I was like, “Oh, I'm so nervous.” She's like, “Not everything needs to be a joke, you'll be fine.” So, I would have joked my way through this, but her advice is telling me not to.

[0:04:24] SW: We love jokes here, so don't worry.

[0:04:27] LHL: So, you mentioned your father and your sense of humor in your youth, were you creating art as a kid? What is your evolution been and yes, how did that start?

[0:04:39] BMC: I was always into art classes and drawing, coloring until probably preteen when I got into like skateboarding and video games more, and cartoons, just like a typical nineties kid. Then, I got into skateboarding, and then I got a car, and I got into girls, and then I got into high school, and then ended up in college, not high school. And then I got a job, and then I met my wife, and then I got back into to art, which has only been three or four years ago. But I've always doodled and stuff like that. But it's been a perfect storm of things to make this happen because of I can sell things online, and I could not do any of this what I do the real way. I say it the real way. But I do everything on my iPad. So, I can't roll with mistakes like traditional artists can. The back button is definitely my best friend. Especially, when I – I don't do a lot of planning. I just kind of go for it. And the iPad, and the digital nature of everything allows me to just jump right in, instead of having to do all that planning beforehand, which I do sometimes. But the process is a little bit different for everything.

[0:05:53] SW: Right. So, is your work now exclusively digital?

[0:05:57] BMC: It's kind of always been that way. Because I've always looked at it from a business, not always, but I look at it from a business side. The digital, I can spend 10 hours working on one piece and sell it forever, versus making one and selling it once. But that's just kind of how I see it, and how I'm gamifying it and making money off it, I guess. It is my full-time job now, and it is with my wife, as well. So, we both work the family business.

Being fulfilled is something that led me to where I am now, because I went to school for film. And then I fell into television as more of a steady paycheck. I learned in college, how to make a movie not selling movie, and I'm still upset about that I wasted four years with knowing half of how to do something. Because the other half is how to make money with that and they never taught us any of that in school. It's just like, “Here's your degree. Good luck. See you.” Then, I settled into television and that was more of a steady paycheck. But I did not have any creative outlets. So, I did that for 13 years, and that kind of just grabbed me over time. That's it with that.

[0:07:06] LHL: Yes. Do you make films for fun?

[0:07:08] BMC: No. [inaudible 0:07:10] that fun. The enthusiasm have been – I've been doing it 13 years, the enthusiasm has been gone 12 years and 50 weeks, I think.

[0:07:19] LHL: Wow, that stinks.

[0:07:21] BMC: That literal. But it's been a long time where I've kind of been unhappy and held hostage by the golden handcuffs, I guess. I don't like change. So, I never wanted to try anything different and don't rock the boat if the bills are being paid for and there’s food on the table and stuff like that.

[0:07:39] LHL: But it sounds like you’re very fulfilled and happy with I am visual art.

[0:07:42] BMC: The happiest I've ever been in my life these past few years, and now that I've gone full time, I always tell people, it may be the dumbest thing I ever do. But it's the happiest I'll ever be. So far, I’m right on at least one of those things. That's today. I don't know what tomorrow brings.

[0:07:59] SW: Do you have things that sort of keep you up at night? Thinking about like health care and stuff like that? It's tough being self-employed, so for both of you to be self-employed?

[0:08:06] BMC: Yes. So, I have my business setup in different silos where I've diversified everything. I know nothing about business. Like I said at the beginning –

[0:08:15] SW: Sure. Yes. Us either.

[0:08:14] BMC: – of this, this is kind of all monkey see, monkey do. So, I'm just watching and observing how other people that I am interested in what they do, so I'm kind of picking and choosing little things about their business. All right, so I wanted to diversify. I have I have T-shirts that stand on their own now. I have this sort of sticker silo here. And then I have prints, another silo over here. All these things and kind of – and then I also sell in physical stores throughout New England, and then also online too.

So, all of these, and I also sell in person too. So, if any of these takes a nosedive, I'm at least still good on these other things. What I do is just go around in circles from like, I will spend a month working on like T-shirt design. So, I have T-shirts for a year now, and then I'll go and replace all my 8 by 10s, or I'm getting sick of seeing my old stickers, so I'll go make new stickers.

[0:09:07] LHL: It’s like every day is a new day, a different day.

[0:09:11] SW: I love that kind of freedom. We should consider putting together a support group for self-employed artists. I think we know a lot of them who they just get together and be like, “Oh, so hard.”

[0:09:25] BMC: Can  {Beep} about taxes.

[0:09:25] LHL: Exactly. I'd love to chat about your style and your humor within your style. Your website states, “Brendan's work and style can be described as colorfully dark with a sense of humor and sarcasm. He strives to make that one odd piece in your home that warrants a double take or a chuckle.” I love that because I think that really like is a statement piece. It really stands out and everything. So, where did you get your style? How are you so darn stylish?

[0:09:58] BMC: So, I do notice that I am able to get my ideas out in this children's book-y type of style that I do the majority of my stuff in. Because I cannot do anything in realism. Doing things in realism, not entirely sure. Realism is just really not my thing, because I can't do it well, and I noticed that the things that I don't do well, they really stick out to me like a sore thumb. Someone else might think it's like, great, or blah, blah, blah. But to me, I want to put something out there that I am happy with, that I enjoy. But yes, back to that little sentence, I try to make everything discreet in a sense, where they blend in with whatever scenery that you have. But if you look at something really closely, the details kind of come out and you go, “Oh, wow.”

[0:10:46] LHL: Yes, I think, I don't know. I don't know if I would describe it as I think, what did you say, children's style?

[0:10:53] BMC: Children’s book-y.

[0:10:53] LHL: Children's book-y.

[0:10:54] BMC: Loud colors, like a lot of texture, like a lot of these things here.

[0:10:57] LHL: But I see it as just very, like modern and graphic not necessarily like children's style. But that's my interpretation of it. It feels like you're like, kind of one of those cool, high-end, illustrator, designers.

[0:11:11] BMC: I was on the path to be a graphic designer before I went into this a few years ago, and I thought graphic design is what I wanted to do. I needed an outlet. I needed something new to do. I hated my job. So, I started teaching myself graphic design in the school of YouTube and Google. But I did remember all those things.

[0:11:29] LHL: I see it through your work a lot.

[0:11:31] BMC: Okay, so I moved away from graphic design, because I noticed that I was illustrating more for my compositions and my pieces, and I had a lot more fun illustrating these little sidebar things that I needed for my design, than I was actually making the design. Because I was making things for other people, and I just didn't have the heart in it, and I don't do commission work, because I'm very excited in the very beginning. I'll tell somebody, “Yes, yes, yes.” Then, as soon as that interaction goes away, so does all that excitement, and then I'm stuck on the hook having to make something for somebody else that I just don't love, and it's very hard to do that. That's how I felt with the graphic design stuff. But I did retain everything that I learned from that and I brought it over to my pictures, I guess, of like how pictures work leading the eye, grids.

[0:12:18] LHL: Yes, I mean, your typography, your color choices, it all feels like in my head without knowing that I'm like, “He already has like a graphic designer background.” It just feels like you.

[0:12:28] BMC: Very tiny.

[0:12:31] LHL: So, great job. I'm a graphic designer.

[0:12:32] BMC: Cool. Oh, good.

[0:12:34] SW: Do you show your work in exhibitions at all?

[0:12:38] BMC: I have, yes. I've shown a few things at Mosaic in Manchester. I believe I've had something in SeeSaw Art Gallery which is also inside of Mosaic, and I've shown at a solo exhibition at City Hall in Manchester for a month, and maybe a few other small things here and there that I'm not thinking of. But short answer, yes.

[0:13:03] LHL: Yes. The readability is really strong that I see it graphic for instance, stickers and all that. But I also feel, it just feels like a very like strong modern punch. So, that’s why I feel like it would yield well in exhibitions.

[0:13:16] BMC: Yes. I've come to realize in the past year or so that all of my stuff is like one-panel comics. Like, the funny pages where everything you need, the punch line, the story the setup and very little needed context of how the world works to get this little silly joke that I'm trying to make in this one picture. I grew up reading Garfield, Far Side, whatever was else was in like the Sunday funnies. I think that's a lot of my inspiration is the one panel of comics that I read as a kid.

[0:13:51] SW: I can totally see that with your work. I'm picturing, I have on my wall the like pigeon with the upside-down Chinese takeout container on his head. That is a like single-pane comic. It makes me smile every time I see it.

[0:14:02] BMC: I wanted to do more like a hermit crab then a Bud Light can, and a squirrel in a McDonald's fry thing, and just to have like animals and trash. I went through a big trash phase for a while.

[0:14:14] LHL: I mean, raccoon? You got to have a raccoon, right?

[0:14:15] BMC: It was a trash and butthole phase. Everything around the trash has always had their butthole showing.

[0:14:24] LHL: This is such a good like quotable quote. “Oh, yes, I went through a big trash phase.”

[0:14:26] BMC: Trash and butthole and phase.

[0:14:28] SW: Trash and buttholes, you know me. 

[0:14:29] LHL: So, we're covering our next question already, which is your subject matters. I mean, obviously, we've got a lot of awesome animals like cats, video games, random weirdness. The design titled, “Support your local cemetery”, which I love.

[0:14:46] BMC: That little thing has gotten me to this seat that I sit in today. So, when I first started screwing around and making these little stickers a few years ago, I just got the bright idea of like a silly little quote in my head, “support your local cemetery”. I made a little design. I put it on a sticker. I put it up on Etsy and it blew up. So, it gave me the confidence that I can sell my stuff and that it is possible. I've been selling it every day. Now, I have it on T-shirts and magnets and pins and blah, blah. I also just found out a few days ago that it is all over other websites too. People have stolen my design and they've uploaded to like Temu, other places on Etsy.

So, my wife sent them all like scorched earth emails like, “Take that down.” And everybody did. Everybody actually did, especially Temu, of all places. That's excellent.

[0:15:37] SW: Wow. That’s excellent. It's very flattering, though, to have your work stolen — 

[0:15:41] BMC: Absolutely. I got a cease and desist from Philip Morris too. I designed this cigarette package that was a Crayola package and the cigarettes were all crayons. So, I used to sell that as a sticker on Etsy, it was doing really well. And then it just caught –

[0:15:57] LHL: Someone's attention.

[0:15:57] BMC: It’s caught somebody's attention, which is very flattering. But I guess they have a certain copyright on the way that the top of the box is designed and nothing about – I wish I could show it to you. But it was just this very small part that they got me on. Lucky son of a –

[0:16:13] LHL: So, could you alter that –

[0:16:15] BMC: I've moved on now.

[0:16:16] LHL: I’m not going down that road.

[0:16:17] BMC: I have other ideas to make a Capri Sun can that is actually in the style, like a Budweiser can, sort of these dual opposites, wacky things, I guess. Sure.

[0:16:30] LHL: Where do think that inspiration comes from?

[0:16:32] BMC: I knew this damn question was coming. I hate it. I hate it.

[0:16:35] LHL: I apologize, but where does it come from?

[0:16:39] BMC: I don’t know.

[0:16:39] LHL: It’s a wonderful thing to think like that. So, do you find that there might be inspiration from conversations? Or is it sort of thinking on your own and just kind of experiencing life?

[0:16:39] BMC: I have ADHD, and I've was finally diagnosed about a year or so ago and in my mind is always on for better or worse. I have notebooks and it's always going and I'm always writing stuff down. I'm always doing little doodles. And if I'm enthusiastic asked about a design or an idea a few days afterwards, then it's good, and I'll go into it. But my inspiration is probably just my lived life experience. It is the lamest answer. I'm not casting spells and doing things. I don't know. I don't have an answer for that. I really don’t.

[0:17:21] LHL: That’s okay. I think all of our minds are really magical and wonderous.

[0:17:26] BMC: It’s just disappointing to give that answer to somebody when they're all like smiling, like they love my stuff. And like, “Where do you get all your ideas?” Not that they fawn over me like that, but I always have to disappoint them. It's like, “I don't know.” Then, it just makes me look like a big phony, because I can't deconstruct my thought process.

[0:17:45] LHL: I think it's okay to not have an answer, though. It's okay for it to be a little mystical and you’re not even sure where it comes from. I mean, if you think about the muses, it's just striking where it strikes.

[0:17:58] BMC: My wife is a big muse of mine, and she's sort of my quality control too, where I have a bunch of wacky and like really bad, or like really gross, or like really terrible ideas. She's like, “No, that's not going to work.” “Well. Yes, that's pretty funny.”

[0:18:12] LHL: Because I think that there's something really interesting about producing dark art and dark comedy, because the nature of it being dark is that it makes us uncomfortable, and there can be a point where you may cross the line and be hurtful. So, sometimes people go too far with it, or it just –

[0:18:28] BMC: I thought about that a lot. I never want to punch down, and I rarely ever want to punch up. I guess, I just want to make a punchline commentary on how something actually is, if that makes any sense. But never just take a group of people or something and just make fun of it. Because that's not funny, right? It might have been funny to like 10-year-old me. So, I don't ever want to put something offensive out there where there's a potential for me to have an argument with somebody in person, right? Because that's the last thing that I wanted to do.

[0:18:57] LHL: Oh, yes. Absolutely. And it sounds like this back-and-forth with your wife may help. If she's like, “Oh, that's not getting it.”

[0:19:05] BMC: I'll usually start something and then I'll show it to her. But like, there's a lot of different ways that we go about getting her ideas.

[0:19:12] LHL: That’s really nice.

[0:19:14] SW: It's nice to have somebody to bounce your ideas off of.

[0:19:15] BMC: Yes. I'm sure if she was in – she's like, “No, it’s so annoying.” You try living with him is what she says. Something like that.

[0:19:28] LHL: Your cat series is amazing.

[0:19:30] BMC: Thank you. That is lightning in a bottle and I never intended for it to be what it is today.

[0:19:37] LHL: Just like the tarot cards?

[0:19:38] BMC: Yes. So, a quick background is I'm slowly illustrating my way through my own tarot deck, which is 78 cards, and I'm only done 21 out of 78, and they're all like cat-themed. I've seen other cat-themed tarot decks and they’re okay. No knock to anybody that's made them but it just looks like cats were shoehorned into some of these illustrations or the love wasn't there, or the money was really the thought process through the whole thing. So, I'm slowly going through my tarot deck. But I'm selling them as prints, and people just love those, and it's fantastic. The response I've gotten over that.

[0:20:14] LHL: Oh man, I've got – so I have the fool, which is a cat's face put into a piece of bread, that people used to do all the time, and then the hermit. My husband loved them because I got them at the Arts Market and I brought them home and it's on this big huge – we have this like big long wall about the length of this wall, salon-style, probably like 40 pieces of art, and yours is the dead center.

[0:20:42] BMC: All right. That’s wonderful.

[0:20:42] LHL: It's your two cat pieces here, and there's another cat by another artist here, and then they all kind of move out from that. It's like one of the centerpieces, and he likes to play the fool. He always jokes around and he also has been kind of a hermit lately. So, it really was so perfect in fitting and it was the hardest thing standing at your table, deciding which ones, because like, “Oh, this one.”

[0:21:01] BMC: It’s overwhelming.

[0:21:02] SW: I know.

[0:21:02] LHL: This one. Yes.

[0:21:03] BMC: Little kids will come up and do that and hold that stuff, and like it's colorful, but it's not meant for kids. This [inaudible 0:21:09] on some stuff. The parents usually laugh. They'll rush the kids away, kind of a lot quicker.

[0:21:16] SW: I have some anxiety that you might, like, get bored and not do all 78.

[0:21:20] BMC: Me too. I really do.

[0:21:23] LHL: Well, there's no timeline. So, you could maybe take years if you wanted to and that'd be okay.

[0:21:28] BMC: I usually pump out, one or two, maybe three or four between doing stuff as sort of a palate cleanser. While I'm working on other stuff, I'll just bank the ideas in a notebook somewhere.

[0:21:41] LHL: Do you have a cat or cats?

[0:21:41] BMC: I have two cats. I have two dogs. They're all terrible. It's like, if hell was cute, is what I tell everybody. Everybody’s always in each other's business, but I love it. I really do. I'm more of a dog guy than a cat person. But cats are easier to not illustrate, but put in these scenarios – cats are funnier, I guess. Just to me, at least.

[0:22:06] LHL: Yes. There’s a quality of capturing their mischievous essence, I feel like, that's a little bit easier than dogs are kind of lovable or derpy, maybe. But cats are kind of like sassy little [inaudible 0:22:15] {Beep} that we love. Sure. I think the humor lends it really well.

[0:22:20] BMC: I didn't want to be known as like the cat guy. So, I started making a dog zodiac series in the same style as the cat tarot. I got one into it and I just could not think of anything for the other ones. Or it was just too hard or I wasn't enthused about it. But I let that one go. So now, I'm the cat guy.

[0:22:39] LHL: Love it. That's what we're titling this episode. The cat guy.

[0:22:42] BMC: Fantastic.

[0:22:46] LHL: I had one more question on subject matter that's a very personal one. So, I purchased a piece of your art at the Arts Market of a skeleton with a straw hat digging in a garden with a bunch of bones. Is that referential to anything, pop culture-wise? Gosh. I feel so dumb.

[0:23:07] BMC: I love hearing –

[0:23:08] LHL: I bought it thinking it was something, and my husband –

[0:23:10] BMC: I love hearing what other people see in my stuff. Go ahead. What do you think it is?

[0:23:14] LHL: Well, I’m wrong. I was told and now I have confirmed and I have to go home with a tail between my legs.

[0:23:20] SW: Tell us. We need to know. I actually already know. You told me.

[0:23:24] LHL: Yes. I did. Okay. So, One Piece. Straw Hat Pirates.

[0:23:28] BMC: Nope. That's pretty funny though.

[0:23:31] LHL: Okay. He has a straw hat with a red band, but I don’t know – well, now I know more about One Piece because I watched the live-action, and I've watched one episode of the anime, but my husband loves the manga, and he loves the anime, and I got it for him. And I'm like, “Look.” He's like, “Oh, that's great. Thanks.” He just thought it was a cool piece of art. So, he loved it. It was like a week went by and I was like, “It ain’t pretty cool for getting you One Piece art??” He's like, “When?” “What?” It kind of unravels. So, yes. But he still loved it. He thought it was just really cool art. But to me, I had this like, “Oh, this is your interest.”

[0:24:06] BMC: And that was my intention. Whatever you see. That’s cool.

[0:24:11] SW: Yes. Is Geoff going to listen to this episode? Because you could just lie.

[0:24:12] LHL: Oh, yes. Maybe he'll never know. I'll come and be like, “Yes, I was right. It is.”

[0:24:18] SW: “I was right, actually.”

[0:24:19] BMC: A lot of people will look at the full tarot card and say that it's an inbred cat, and that was never my intention. But it's funny.

[0:24:25] LHL: Oh, my gosh.

[0:24:26] SW: Oh, my gosh. Because it’s in bread.

[0:24:29] BMC: Yes. It’s all these little silly things that people pick out of my art, and they translate it back to me what they’re seeing and it’s fun.

[0:24:37] SW: This is actually a really good segue to the question I wanted to ask. But I’m going to start with an interaction with my mother. So, hanging prominently in my kitchen is a big print of a crab wielding a knife. To me –

[0:24:51] BMC: That’s right. You got the big one.

[0:24:53] SW: To me, I’m like, “That's hilarious.” Is he a chef? He's in my kitchen. He's like, going to cook me something?

[0:25:00] LHL: Or battling a chef.

[0:25:00] SW: Or is he going to stab me? Yes, I guess, it could be battling.

[0:25:02] LHL: Like, I don’t want to be eaten.

[0:25:04] SW: Yes. He’s trying to save himself. So, my mom sees it and she's like, asked me a couple questions along the lines of like, “Why did you pick that one? What do you like about it? What is it?” Basically, she didn't get it. I was like, “I don't know if there's anything to get. I just liked it.” So, I'm dying to hear about reactions to your art from people. And then how do you feel? Or can you talk about when people don't get your art?

[0:25:29] BMC: They often don't tell me when they don't get it, which is totally fine.

[0:25:35] SW: That's fair.

[0:25:36] BMC: Not the very first, but the second, maybe third market that I ever did, and this guy came over, and he's walking through, and he's looking at all my stuff. Then, he just goes, “I didn't see anything I liked.” And they just walked away. All right. But for the most part, everybody usually gets a kick out of it, and there's only been two times where someone just didn't get it. Somebody didn't understand. They thought there was more to support your local cemetery. No, everything's very surface-level with me. There's nothing under the hood and it's whatever you wanted to be, and it's just something silly that I thought of. They didn't understand it. They walked away disappointed. And another time, I realized not to go into the political art realm, because I put something out on my table once and I walked away. This was early in the pandemic, when QAnon was at like the height of its thing.

I put something on my table and walked away and this QAnon person comes up and just starts talking at my wife for 20 minutes while in the bathroom. She was stuck. She could not get out of that conversation. So, that was the first and last day that we ever did like political stuff. Because again, it comes back to I don't want to have to get in a fight with somebody or a confrontation, just because I thought something was funny.

[0:26:54] SW: Right. Well, art doesn't always have to be like this big, sort of like, topical, political, emotional, whatever. It can just be like, for our enjoyment and the pleasure of our eyes.

[0:27:06] LHL: And our funny bones, in your case.

[0:27:06] SW: And our funny bones. Yes. I looked at that pigeon with the Chinese food thing every day. I'm like, “Haha. That's so silly.” Because I love pigeons. I have a big thing for pigeons.

[0:27:17] LHL: Oh, I didn't know that.

[0:27:18] SW: I love pigeons.

[0:27:18] LHL: You're getting more art of it now.

[0:27:20] BMC: Pigeons are big. The same way people like raccoons or –

[0:27:24] LHL: Yes. I just painted a pigeon the other day.

[0:27:27] SW: Oh, my God.

[0:27:28] LHL: It's not done. I just did the underpainting of it. But I'm doing a bunch of birds. So, I did an owl and pigeon and the seagull. 

[0:27:37] BMC: Cool.

[0:27:37] SW: I love that.

[0:27:39] LHL: About the weird art I had, or the weird people getting your art or not getting it. I've had a studio here back in the day, and I had someone come in and look at a piece and go, “That's weird.”

[0:27:51] BMC: I would say, like, “Thanks.”

[0:27:53] LHL: She asked what it was and it was a print of a scan of my brain from an MRI. Cool. I have a few people who are into brain stuff. So, they're like, “Oh, I love this.” And she was just like, “That's weird.” I didn't know it was weird and she wanted to let me know. So, I’m like, “Okay, I'm going to take that as a compliment.”

[0:28:10] BMC: Yes, sure. Absolutely. Enough of them. I've never been offended by anybody's reaction. If I can elicit a reaction from you, I guess, that's what the point was.

[0:28:20] SW: Yes. It is.

[0:28:21] LHL: So, I am an interdisciplinary artist, I do lots of different types of art, including digital art. So, I'm dying to know about your process, as far as – I think you already mentioned, you just do digital. Are you ever sketching doodling ahead of time and then importing it? Or is it all on your iPad and computer?

[0:28:40] BMC: The majority of it starts on the iPad, and then a very small portion of it is like on the back of a Post-It note or a napkin or something like that, and those are very few and far between. But I generally just have this like foggy idea, and then I start to sketch it out, or I just jump right in with already inking in, and coloring it. It's a little bit different every time, because if I have the full picture in my head, it's easier to get out. But if I have just a partial picture of it, and the edges are kind of blurry, and nothing's like really rearranged, and I'll put that down on the paper, it doesn't make sense. Then, that's when I'll spend the next week rearranging, and drawing, and erasing, and doing all that. But some things take me a half hour and some things take me two weeks. There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's just, however clear, it pops into my head to begin with.

[0:29:28] LHL: What kind of software are you using?

[0:29:29] BMC: I use Adobe Fresco on the iPad, and then I also use Adobe Illustrator, Premiere when I do video stuff and Photoshop too. I'm not a pro in any of those. I just know enough to do what I need to do. But Adobe Fresco, it's a real stripped-back version of Procreate which the majority of people use on the iPad.

[0:29:51] LHL: Right. That’s what I use.

[0:29:51] BMC: When I use when I first got back into art, I jumped into Procreate because that's what everybody was using and I was immediately scared away from it, because of all the bells and whistles, and like all the menus –

[0:30:01] LHL: Really?

[0:30:01] BMC: I couldn't wrap my mind around where things were in that app at the time. And I've gone back to it to try it out again, and it's like, “I kind of know how to do everything I need to Fresco.” So, I've done everything over in Fresco ever since.

[0:30:16] SW: There's a name for that. I was just reading about it today, when you get, like, so overwhelmed by the number of choices, that you're like, “No, can’t do it.” You make no choice. 

[0:30:24] LHL: What is it?

[0:30:25] SW: I don't remember.

[0:30:25] LHL: Oh, Sarah.

[0:30:27] SW: Hold on. Let me Google it.

[0:30:28] BMC: It’s the infinite choices where this happens to me all the time too, with ADHD stuff, where I'll have infinite choices, and picking one of those is extremely hard. That’s why I end up doing nothing, because it's so overwhelming. The overwhelming freedom of choice.

[0:30:44] SW: The Paradox of Choice.

[0:30:46] BMC: Yes. Or like the blank page syndrome or something like that.

[0:30:51] SW: I always used to call it the cereal aisle issue where, like, you go into a cereal aisle in the grocery store, and there are just so many options. But I can't remember where I got that from. I don't know.

[0:31:03] LHL: Interesting.

[0:31:02] SW: Econ class in grad school or something. I’m not sure. But now, I'm going to call it the paradox of choice.

[0:31:09] LHL: There you go.

[0:31:10] SW: Because that's what it’s called. Let's talk a little bit more about collaborating with your wife, because I love that. The whole idea of collaboration is fun in art anyway, but also like doing it with somebody that you're married with is –

[0:31:24] BMC: She is not artistic by any stretch, and she'll be the first to admit that. She's very business-minded. She supports me from the back end, and behind the scenes stuff, where she handles all the shipping, a lot of the production stuff that we usually do in the house. Then, she came from a decade of field sales, industrial experience, where she's working with big companies, and she has all this business experience that she's now bringing down to us and focusing it on me, I guess. So, artists are never like business people and that's always a hindrance. She's, like, the business side of this little freak show.

[0:32:01] SW: You're so lucky.

[0:32:03] BMC: I am. Something's going to screw up.

[0:32:07] SW: You guys are like the perfect pair, like the perfect business partners. That’s great.

[0:32:13] LHL: This may be getting too personal, so you don't have to answer.

[0:32:14] BMC: No. We’re cool.

[0:32:15] LHL: I don't even know how to phrase it. But what are some of the challenges of working with your partner?

[0:32:20] BMC: So, far? None.

[0:32:21] SW: Wow, really? Stop that.

[0:32:22] BMC: I know there's a big train headed for some sort of – it’s a numbers game. We're going to disagree on stuff, at some point.

[0:32:30] LHL: But you’ve been on the same page, so far?

[0:32:32] BMC: Compromises. An example is we move to doing our own shipping, instead of going to the post office every day to send out a package. So, she had to talk me into that, and me, I don't like new stuff. If you want to handle it, blah, blah, blah. She ended up doing it and it saved us a ton of money and time. She knows me and she knows what needs to be done. So, she only ever brings things to the table that would benefit us, I guess.

[0:32:54] LHL: It sounds like a really amazing partnership.

[0:32:56] SW: It really does. It really does.

[0:32:58] LHL: And you like your coworker. That’s nice.

[0:33:01] BMC: She’s fine.

[0:33:02] LHL: She’s all right. Some are not so lucky, in the office, you get to deal with other personnel.

[0:33:07] BMC: I always tease her that the printer is employee of the month and she hates it. He’s always up late. He's up early in the morning.

[0:33:16] SW: Wait, have you not turned that into a digital piece? Because that sounds amazing. An employee of the month, framed, and is the printer.

[0:33:21] LHL: Give it to her on your anniversary.

[0:33:23] BMC: Yes. She’ll give me a slap back. 

[0:33:29] SW: I feel like we talked about this at the very beginning. But will you circle back to some of, like, your own imposter syndrome?

[0:33:35] BMC: Every day. I have impostor syndrome as soon as I go and start a new piece. Because I'm coming off the high of knowing exactly what I'm doing, and I see this finished piece, which I still can't fully appreciate, because I know how the sausage was made. I can never fully enjoy something of mine, because I knew all the compromises, all of the things that I had to scrap to get to this point. I forget what director ever said it, but like, I can never enjoy my movies the way that audiences can. So, it's kind of like that for me.

But back to the imposter syndrome stuff, every single day. Seriously. Always nervous, always walking into situations of someone's going to call me out. They're going to say my stuff is stupid. But I do have to remind myself that everybody does have those feelings, and we all tell each other, we all remind each other like, “Hey, I have those feelings, too, and I have those thoughts.”

[0:34:29] LHL: We have about 100 episodes of all the people on here mentioning, yes, I feel that way too.

[0:34:35] SW: Do you feel a modicum of it getting easier as time goes by? Is that voice maybe speaking?

[0:34:42] BMC: No. Because I'm always looking at art that I consider to be way better than mine. So, where is my place in this world? It's a kind of self-confidence thing, too. I don't know.

[0:34:52] LHL: How do you define better? Like they're achieving a level of communication differently or they're just visually –

[0:34:58] BMC: That's a good question that I don't have an answer for and that’s a good thinker. Why? Why do I think that's better?

[0:35:07] LHL: Yes, that really is like –

[0:35:07] BMC: I’ll just do that for a while. That could help.

[0:35:09] LHL: It’s a lot of a deeper philosophical question. But I guess another question we asked that ties into it is how do you define success as an artist? So, that could tie into it as far as they're monetizing more efficiently. They're communicating better. They're diving into subject matter, I don't feel vulnerable to do.

[0:35:28] BMC: I don’t know. I've never actually thought of that, what I consider success. I've always considered success, sort of, like from a monetary standpoint, at least right now. But from a self-realized actual feeling of fulfillment and success, I don't know what that is. I've heard somebody talk about it once. It's like a series of little wins. There's never a big one. So, you always have to remind yourself of like, the little things that you've accomplished, because that is, I'm 10 miles ahead of where I was one year ago.

[0:35:58] LHL: Yes. And you mentioned that you are coming down from a high when you go into your next project, which means that you've had a lot of highs as far as feeling, right?

[0:36:08] BMC: Yes. Because my vision is finally coming together and I can just like present this to the world as a done piece. But then, the freedom of choice of what I do next, because I don't really have a schedule. I just kind of bop around from what holds my attention in the moment.

[0:36:23] LHL: That feels like a success to me, when you can feel that fulfillment, I think that adds a huge success. That, in my book, is a big one. If I'm producing work that makes me personally happy. But then, you have like the social media curtain, and then the monetary success, and like all these layers, so I think it shifts a lot for artists, probably.

[0:36:42] BMC: One thing that I do consider a success, or a measure of success, is when I see my stuff out in the wild. It's super fun. On the way here, I stopped at a random gas station, and the person behind the counter was wearing one of my pins. I said, “Hey, that's my pin.” And the kid thought like, they stole it from me or something like that. I said, “No. I made that. Didn't you buy it off me?” I had to like lick my hand off and, “Oh, yes. Hey.”

[0:37:07] SW: That’s so cool.

[0:37:09] LHL: That’s amazing. Gosh.

[0:37:11] BMC: Or I see my stickers on cars on the highway of people I don't know, which is super fun.

[0:37:19] SW: Yes. That’s going to be a good – I have that feeling at work. Sometimes we're like, “I'm amazing. I'm the best employee ever. I'm so good at my job.” And then it comes like crashing down and I'm like, “Oh, I'm a moron and I'm going to get fired.” So, I can relate to that anxiety.

[0:37:34] LHL: They keep giving you awards. There's no way you're getting fired.

[0:37:38] SW: Anywho, it's time for rapid fire. All right, rapid-fire questions.

[0:37:44] BMC: Shoot.

[0:37:46] SW: Quick questions, quick answers. They do not have to be one word. So, no pressure. What other artist has influenced you the most?

[0:37:52] BMC: Right now, on Instagram, It is Wizard of Barge and Crocodile Jackson. I think they're both two guys out – you're smiling like you know.

[0:38:01] SW: Wizard of Barge is just a great name.

[0:38:04] BMC: Okay.

[0:38:06] LHL: But we will be looking.

[0:38:07] BMC: I guess, look at Wizard of Barge. It's just like silly, colorful stuff that I do. But the guy is really successful, and he's taken a lot of the same roads that I have, where he just starts selling stuff at shows and you smile at people and you'd be nice, and it takes you to success. 

[0:38:22] SW: Oh, I love it already.

[0:38:27] BMC: Those are my big influences right now. That is a level of success that I want to achieve for myself, too.

[0:38:33] LHL: Yes. Nice. Do you have completed art that you've made that you'll never share and/or sell?

[0:38:43] BMC: Probably. I can't think of anything off the top of my head. But there's got to be stuff that I've completed. It's just fun, silly, sassy dark stuff.

[0:38:56] LHL: Sarah is still laughing over – the artist reference in the last answer. So, ignore her laugh.

[0:39:05] SW: Wizard of Barge is funny.

[0:39:11] SW: Does your own artwork make you laugh out loud?

[0:39:12] BMC: No, no. When I first get the idea, yes. I go. It is like this big long pause of silence and then I go, “Haha.” Then, that’s it. 

[0:39:22] LHL: So, that’s the catalyst moment, kind of?

[0:39:25] BMC: It's always, if it makes me laugh in the beginning, and it's not always funny. I noticed that I'm always doing I guess what is considered funny things. I don't consider myself a funny person and goofy, I guess. Yes. What was the question?

[0:39:38] SW: Do you have your own art hanging in your own house?

[0:39:41] BMC: Yes. Only because my wife has requested it. It goes back to me not being completely satisfied with something because I know all the trials and tribulations that went into making it. So, I can never see it for what it is. I can see it for what it was.

[0:39:55] LHL: It's tough.

[0:39:57] SW: What's your favorite color?

[0:39:58] BMC: I think blue. No. Purple. I don’t know. All of them.

[0:40:07] LHL: It's a very tough question for artists.

[0:40:08] BMC: It was navy blue for years and years, and then I've come around to like purple and pink. Always loved Donatello, the ninja turtle, because he was purple, the only reason. Yes, blue or purple, I guess.

[0:40:20] SW: What's your favorite scent?

[0:40:21] BMC: Scent?

[0:40:26] LHL: Brendan doesn’t like any smells, apparently.

[0:40:27] BMC: Yes, I'm not a smelly person.

[0:40:32] LHL: It could be a nice one.

[0:40:32] BMC: Sure. Flowers, yes.

[0:40:37] SW: What's your favorite sound?

[0:40:38] BMC: Favorite sound. Oh, God. I don't know. These are tough. These are really tough.

[0:40:45] LHL: These are supposed to be the easy ones.

[0:40:46] BMC: I’m kidding. My favorite sound. Fridge opening. I don’t know.

[0:40:51] LHL: That's a good one, and we haven't heard it yet.

[0:40:55] SW: Oh, my god. I love the sound of a fridge opening. As soon as you said it, I heard it, that like slight like, “Sshh.” Wow, great answer. What's your favorite texture to touch?

[0:41:06] BMC: I think it's going to be smooth. I do have like sensory – I think I might have like weird sensory things because my ADHD. There's certain like microfiber cloths or like sticky prickly things that like drive me bananas.

[0:41:18] LHL: My husband can't touch the roof of cars.

[0:41:19] BMC: Really?

[0:41:19] LHL: The interior roof. Like that texture. So, he doesn't like certain textures.

[0:41:26] BMC: I don't like stuff –

[0:41:26] SW: I hate microfiber cloths.

[0:41:28] BMC: Yes, because it pulls on like the dead skin of your fingers.

[0:41:30] SW: Yes. They feel gross on your fingertips. I hate them.

[0:41:32] BMC: Yes. All right, that's my answer.

[0:41:37] LHL: You're getting a 50-pack for Christmas, Sarah. What is the most inspiring location you've traveled to?

[0:41:45] BMC: I'm not a big traveler, actually, and shame on me.

[0:41:49] LHL: It could be local, I suppose.

[0:41:50] BMC: The most inspiring place? My little library at home, I guess. Because I go in there and look at my art books if I need some inspiration. It's just a room that we have dedicated in our house. It's just a library. We don't have any kids or anything. We have like extra rooms. Yes, I guess my library. My little goofy art books that I bought over the years.

[0:42:10] SW: I love that. What's the last new thing you've learned?

[0:42:15] BMC: I know there's a joke there somewhere. I don't know. Not to get here too early because you're nervous. I don't have a good enough answer for that. Or a good answer for that.

[0:42:29] SW: It's a really hard one.

[0:42:30] BMC: Can I phone a friend?

[0:42:31] SW: Sure, you can. 

[0:42:33] LHL: Time doesn't really allow. That’s a no.

[0:42:35] BMC: All right. Next.

[0:42:38] LHL: You learned about that thing that you just looked up on Google?

[0:42:42] BMC: Oh yes, Wizard of Barge. Yes.

[0:42:45] SW: No, the paradox of –

[0:42:47] BMC: Oh, that.

[0:42:47] LHL: Where is the furthest your art has been shipped to?

[0:42:54] BMC: Such a pain in the ass. Once in a while, I'll get a message on Etsy like, “Hey, do you send to Germany? Do you send a blah blah, blah?” I’m like, “No, no, no.” Because it's always such a pain in the ass to ship International. So, it was somewhere in Europe that somebody wanted something of mine and I made it happen. And it was just such a pain the whole time. Or actually, the furthest my stuff has gone, if you ask the people who bought my stuff off Teemu, who stole it off Teemu.

[0:43:22] LHL: Yes, who knows?

[0:43:24] BMC: I’m sure there’s plenty in China and Japan, and all over the –

[0:43:28] LHL: Oh, boy. Yes. Okay. This is our clincher question. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

[0:43:35] BMC: Run. No. I actually did think about this one, because I just listened to the last episode you guys had and I think there might be some of the same questions at the end. So, I started thinking about this one. I don't think I would tell myself anything. Because I feel like I'm in such a great spot where if the butterfly effect is true –

[0:43:54] LHL: You’ve watched enough time-travel movies.

[0:43:57] BMC: So, if I had tied my shoes one day, a different way, or something like that. No, I wouldn't want to change a thing.

[0:44:04] LHL: That's great.

[0:44:05] SW: That's super cool.

[0:44:06] BMC: Super happy.

[0:44:06] LHL: And we're super happy that you came on this episode.

[0:44:10] BMC: Thank you. This has been great. I really like this.

[0:44:12] SW: Thank you so much.

[0:44:13] BMC: Of course.

[0:44:13] LHL: It's really fun to meet artists. This is just a selfish thing for us. It's really fun to meet the artists that are hanging up on our walls at home. So, very cool.

[0:44:24] SW: Yes. It’s very, very cool.

[0:44:26] BMC: I've been saying this for years, I'm always honored that somebody would want to take something I made and put it on their walls. It's a very strange feeling.

[0:44:34] LHL: It’s a huge compliment.

[0:44:35] BMC: Thank you.

[0:44:35] LHL: Thank you again for being on the show. 

[0:44:37] BMC: Absolutely. Thank you. I really appreciate this.

[0:44:39] LHL: This has been a wonderful time chatting with you.

[0:44:41] BMC: Thank you.

[0:44:41] LHL: So, with that –

[0:44:43] LHL, SW, & BMC: Show us your Creative Guts.


[0:44:52] LHL: Another huge thank you to Brendan McCormick for joining us on Creative Guts. It's always really fun to dive into the mind of artists that we've been following online for quite a while and each own art of. Brendan was no exception. His answers were very refreshing and unique, much like his artistic voice. Brendan, your drive and your direction for your art business is beyond inspiring to me, personally, and I have a feeling many of our listeners will feel the same.

[0:45:17] SW: I totally knew it would be. But that was a fun interview. It's always so funny to us, to hear that guests are nervous about being on the show, since we're so goofy, but it was especially funny to hear from someone like Brendan, who's so polished. It goes to show that impostor syndrome affects all of us. Check out Brendan's work online,, and on Instagram where his handle is @bmccormick86.

[0:45:42] LHL: As always, you can find those links and more in the episode description and on our website, You'll find us on Facebook and Instagram, @CreativeGutsPodcast.

[0:45:53] SW: This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

[0:45:58] LHL: And a big thank you to Art Up Front Street for providing a space where Creative Guts can record.

[0:46:04] SW: If you love listening and want to support Creative Guts, you can make a donation, leave us a review, interact with our content on social media, purchase some merchandise, whatever you're able to do. We appreciate you.

[0:46:12] LHL: Thank you for tuning in. We'll be back next Wednesday with another episode of Creative Guts.