Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Caitlin McCall. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Caitlin, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. What’s been the most meaningful project you’ve worked on?
Most recently my artistic style has had a rather significant shift. I like to think I have a diverse aesthetic, but typically my paintings and sculptures are a combination of bright, sarcastic images mixed with recycled materials. Last winter I was in a real creative rut; there was one painting in particular that I couldn’t seem to finish. It began as a realistic scene of five female figures in a 1950’s office. I painted over the 3′ x 4′ painting at least four times.
This painting kept me from creating other art, as well. I kept thinking, “I’ve got to finish this piece before moving on.” After several months of avoiding art for that reason, I finally decided to just paint – no plan, no thoughts – just put paint to canvas. I started creating random shapes and colors on a 16″ x 20″ canvas. The more I painted, the less frustrated I got. As the work evolved, what came out was pretty shocking to me. I had created a sort of demon-woman. The style is rather dark and scary – a real departure from my typical pieces. The demon-woman, aka “Claire”, proved to be the catalyst for a new art-making adventure.
I decided to aggressively attack the original painting that was haunting me. I listened to a lot of hardcore music like Slipknot, Scowl, and Gulch. I completely covered the canvas in large swaths of brush strokes and random globs of spray paint. Already, I knew I was on a better creative path. I continued working with reckless abandon – no plan, no cares – I just kept adding and changing. Knives, blood, penises, and angry words filled the piece with an obvious frustration. It was the art therapy I desperately needed.
I’m almost done with this never-ending canvas (see images for “Evolution”). I’ve added other media to create a spider web, and cut out the floating head to create a second piece alongside “Evolution”. I see the head as a reflection of myself; I’m leaving behind the anger and chaos to surround myself with better things.
Caitlin, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
FUHAHA is here for the freaks and misfits of the world! I want people who never felt included in the art world to be included in a safe space that allows them to visually tell their story. Art is more than pretty pictures on a wall, it is a process that has the power to connect people from different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. FUHAHA is the middle finger to “the man”, and a smile to “the people”.
I am an art teacher first. I’ve taught preschool through high school art in public schools. I’ve taught art in nonprofit organizations, senior communities, and professional workshops. I have a bleeding heart for communities adversely affected by social injustices. I chose to start FUHAHA as an answer to America’s dysfunctional systems and institutions. In 2019, I decided to leave education in pursuit of something else. I didn’t know what it would be, but I felt I had done everything I could within the world of public education. I couldn’t see how I could make the big changes I want within that space, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.
My long term goal is to create a mobile art studio so we can bring the FUHAHA community to different neighborhoods in the Greater St. Louis Area, focusing on the areas that are art-starved and poverty stricken. Using trash or recycled materials for creating is another pillar of the FUHAHA mission. I particularly love making art with people who don’t consider themselves artists. I believe all art is relevant; I believe that if you’re making art how you want – with good intentions – it can only be good art!
I’ve done the classic artist moves such as Etsy, vending events, and calls for entry. Currently, you can visit fuhaha.co to purchase original art and FUHAHA merchandise that supports our mission.
Any resources you can share with us that might be helpful to other creatives?
There are so many great resources out there to help up-and-coming creatives on their journey; the hard part is figuring out which ones work for your unique process and goals. Here’s a short list of resources that have been helpful to my journey:
*SCORE.org (locations throughout the US): This organization has tons of articles, webinars, and resources for free. You can sign up for a local business mentor.
*VLAA, Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts: Possibly the richest resource for creatives and nonprofits in the St. Louis area. Their newsletter is always worth reading, and they offer a variety of workshops and opportunities.
*Recreative: Rebecca Pate offers mentorships to St. Louis-based creatives. Rebecca has been a great help with goal-setting, branding, and she is well-connected with a variety of organizations.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I feel like I have to pivot every six months! In the last three years I’ve moved four times and held twelve jobs. In July 2022 I changed careers, tore my ACL, and had my house and car severely damaged by flooding. I’m still dealing with the aftermath of all those changes. So yeah, being flexible is absolutely necessary when building a business!
I’ve consumed a lot of information about creatives and business startups. There is one thing that everyone says but I refused to believe: it takes a long time to build a successful business. The statistics don’t lie: most businesses do fail and the ones that succeed require a ton of time, effort, and perseverance. I have finally accepted that and it has greatly helped my perspective about pursuing a creative business.
My two cents: embrace duality. Stay focused on your mission, but be open to change. Work hard, but find time to rest and replenish. Don’t compromise your health and sanity for success; take your time and try to enjoy the process.
- Website: https://www.fuhaha.co/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fuhahastl/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068246834075
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caitlin-mccall-204172172/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDBXvTFTSqrdHevH_N8vNTg