I have been watching youtube videos of cherry picker accidents today. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I do something stupid.
Born into a family of artists in Brisbane, Australia, Fintan Magee grew up with brush in hand and paint in his blood. His monstrous murals hold a delicate eeriness that combines both realism and dreamlike surrealism – a powerful cocktail that has seen his work spreading to the corners of the globe in recent years. We caught up with the ex-graffiti artist to chat about life, learning, cherry pickers and scuba diving.
Have you always known you wanted to be an artist?
My parents are both artists. My dad is a sculptor and a teacher and my mum is an architect but she studied art when she was younger. I was screwed from Day 1.
When did you paint your first wall? Have you always painted big?
I started writing graffiti when I was 13, my first works were letter based and done at night so they weren’t huge and were also terrible. I guess it was a slow process but in 2010 I stopped painting traditional graffiti and started to focus on more figurative works, they just slowly got bigger from there.
Do you have an overarching message that you like to portray through your work?
I think my work is distinctly dystopian, a lot of subtle commentary is weaved into my work, Transition, loss, Migration, climate change and the environment are all reoccurring themes that I like to play with.
What are the upsides and downsides to the artist life?
Airports are a downside, leaving the airport is the upside. Also the work load can be overbearing sometimes and artists are often overly self-critical and put themselves under a lot of pressure. Also the paperwork kills me. Grant applications are the worst.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I have had too much fun these last few years to pinpoint an exact moment.
Where is your favourite place that you have painted a piece?
For me one of my favourite spots is still the abandoned Tafe building in Morningside, Brisbane. I love abandonded spaces a lot and unfortunately I don’t get to paint them very often anymore. This year I hope to get back to my roots a little and start painting them again.
You paint massive walls, which can be pretty dangerous! Have you ever had any close calls or injuries from painting at heights?
Nothing major yet, just a couple of small ladder spills. I have been watching youtube videos of cherry picker accidents today. It has got me pretty paranoid now.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I always wanted to be a scuba diver when I was younger.