For student artist Brian McCray, art is the expression of what humans feel and observe, he says. In fact, humans are the basis for McCray’s most famous work on campus.
With his sketchbook in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, McCray was ready to go to work, even though he was about to sit down for an interview. A sophomore graphic design major from Beavercreek, Ohio, his real claim to fame on campus is his ink pen caricatures.
For many Cedarville students, their first encounter with McCray was at the opening night gala for “Tartuffe, or the Imposter,” where he worked as a caricature artist for interested ticketholders.
Recruited by SCAB for the gala through his academic adviser Tim Frame, McCray jumped at the chance. He had never done caricatures for others in this type of setting, but he welcomed the new challenge.
“I thought, ‘Why not?’” he said.
It turned out that his skills were put to good use. McCray’s station was a hugely popular attraction at the gala that was never short on clients.
“There was a line that went past what we had time for,” he said. “Some people had to be kicked out of line.”
In the end, he loved the gig, drawing the portraits of dozens of subjects.
“It was an interesting experience to see people’s responses to their caricatures,” McCray said. “Some people were really into it. I was pleasantly surprised because I had no idea how it would go over.”
“Overall, it was a really good experience,” he said. “I would do it again.”
McCray was first inspired to draw caricatures by watching old movies and perusing through cartoonists’ work in publications such as MAD Magazine and The New Yorker. Some specific artist influences include cartoonists such as Al Hirschfeld, Chuck Jones and Jack Davis.
“Hirschfeld has incredible work,” McCray said. “You should check him out.”
An artist from childhood, McCray credits a household supportive of the arts as the reason he designs and draws today.
“I had crayons when I was little,” he said. “And it just sort of happened. My parents were both very encouraging.”
McCray said time is the biggest challenge he faces with his art.
“I always save way too much inspiration for what I actually put out,” he said. “Oftentimes I get a lot of ideas when I don’t have time, and when I have the time, I don’t know what to do. Perhaps it’s a psychological thing.”
McCray advises other artists that inspiration comes through being busy. Besides his own artistic pursuits, both for classes and personal growth, he stays busy as a member of Cedarville’s own improv-comedy troupe DTR.
“Your brain gets more ideas when you’re involved in more things,” he said.
Though McCray is often overwhelmed with sources of inspiration, he proves to be a source of inspiration himself to other artists. Doug Malcolm, a fellow member of DTR, said McCray inspires him with both his humility and work ethic.
“He sets a good example for me in the arts because it is so easy to become a know-it-all if you know enough,” Malcolm said, “but I’ve never seen him do that, and I hope I can emulate that.”
McCray wants to pursue art for the rest of his life, but his post-graduation plans are still unknown.
“I’m interested in too many things,” he said, “but I guess that’s a good thing.”
Roger Gelwicks is a senior technical & professional communication major and an arts & entertainment writer for Cedars. He believes that honey badgers are vastly overrated and that a Komodo dragon could take one on any day.
More Student Spotlights
Student Witnesses Using the Arts (September 2013)