Tara McPherson is an American contemporary artist exploring concepts surrounding the human condition. With a focus on powerful female archetypes, her otherworldly characters hold a compelling tension in their gaze. Inspired by astrophysics, nature, mythology, comics, music, love, loss, and good old life experience. Her portraits delve into the realms of our psychological states, giving us a peek into the complexities of the human psyche.
She has exhibited her paintings and serigraphs internationally in galleries and museums. Named the crown princess of poster art by ELLE Magazine, she has created numerous music posters for bands such as Beck, The Pixies, and Metallica. She has worked with Sony Pictures Animation doing character designs & creative development for an animated feature production. Her array of art also includes a variety of designer toys with KidRobot, painted comic covers for DC Vertigo, advertising illustrations for Wyden+Kennedy, Barton F Graf, Publicis, and Bernstein Andrulli. She taught in the Illustration department at Parsons in NYC, and has done many painting workshops in museums and universities worldwide.
In 2011 Tara co-founded The Cotton Candy Machine gallery and art boutique with her partner Sean Leonard. The gallery ran from 2011 to 2016 in a former fire department in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY where they held a variety of art exhibitions, workshops, and events by a plethora of established and emerging contemporary artists, curated by Tara McPherson. It then transitioned into a thriving online store and print publisher, currently serving as Tara McPherson's official print shop, publishing archival fine art editions.
In 2020 Tara underwent a life-changing surgery to save her spinal cord, which fused her spine from Occiput to T2. She was born with a constellation of congenital spinal and neurological issues like Chiari Malformation, Scoliosis and Klippel-Feil, as well as discovering she also had the connective tissue disorder hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Though she persevered through the majority of these issues during her career, when it was finally time for her spinal fusion surgery she took an extended leave of absence from art making due to ongoing disability. She has since focused on releasing fine art prints published by The Cotton Candy Machine, and licensing artwork to variety of collectibles.
McPherson has four monographs of her art - Wandering Luminations, Bunny In The Moon, Lost Constellations, and Lonely Heart - published by Dark Horse Press. Her art has also been included in books like The Art of Modern Rock, Illustration Now!, 100 Illustrators, Juxtapoz Erotic Art, The Illustrator, and many more. She has lectured at TedxBrooklyn, Semi-Permanent, Offset, Institute of Contemporary Art London, Massey University, OFFF, School of Visual Arts, University of Philippines, AIGA, Akron Art Museum, and Virginia MOCA among others. Her art has been featured in the Oscar winning film Juno, the Emmy winning HBO series Succession, on the cover of the Eisner Award winning anthology Popgun 3, and is in the permanent collection of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has won Toy of The Year, and Best Licensed Figure from the Designer Toy Awards, and has won numerous times in American Illustration, Society of Illustrators NY, Communication Arts, and a Clio Entertainment Silver Award.
Tara McPherson was born in San Francisco in 1976 and raised in Los Angeles. She has also lived in Portland, New York City, and most recently Pittsburgh. She received her BFA with honors from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 2001, with an Illustration major and Fine Art minor. She interned at Rough Draft Studios working on Matt Groening's 'Futurama' during college.
She has been featured in The New York Times, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Bust, Elle, Hi-Fructose, Juxtapoz, Spin, MTV, PBS, Seattle Times, LA Weekly and many more. Some of her illustration clients include HBO, Sony, Microsoft, Bulleit Bourbon, DC Comics, Warner Brothers, Swatch, Rayban, Cirque du Soleil, Kidrobot, SXSW, Pepsi, Fanta, 1800 Tequila, Trust Me Vodka, Gigantic Brewery, Goldenvoice, Penguin, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury, Revolver, Village Voice, Dogfish Head Brewery, and Nike.