Interview with Team Macho
q)Please introduce yourself.
a) Hello! We are Team Macho, an art collective
Christopher Buchan, Jacob Whibley, and Nicholas Aoki.
q)Where do you live and work?
a) For a few of us, that is the same place.
We have a very large semi-underground studio
in a poor area of
and interesting place with lots to see and do,
but it is very Canadian, so everyone works
very hard and is quite nice.
q)How would you describe your work to
someone who has never seen it?
a) How do you describe any art to someone who
hasn’t seen it? Well… We work collectively
on large numbers of
very stylistically diverse paintings and drawings
that may seem very surreal and random on
their own but, when viewed as part of a whole,
reveal themselves to be a part of a much larger
q)How did you start in the arts?
How/when did you realize you were an artist?
a) Four of us met in college while attending a
program in Illustration. While we were there,
we decided that we did not particularly enjoy
the idea of commercial art in terms of how the
industry conducted itself. It was a little bit too much
like chickens pecking for little scraps of food.
We felt that we had a lot to say and didn’t want
to be restrained by art directors and publishers.
When we graduated we got ourselves a big studio
and brought on our fifth member and stayed pretty
much to ourselves for a time. A couple of us had been
self publishing our work for a while and it was seen
by a very different and forward minded gallery,
Magic Pony, who were very encouraging and
interested in what we did as a group. We pitched them
a show idea and they really liked it. We had our
first exhibition “Friends 4 Life” and it sold very quickly.
Interestingly, that show was attended by a few people
from the commercial sector and as a result
we found ourselves to be quite welcome in the
commercial world, but accepted on our own
terms as we were “artists” and not illustrators.
q)What are your favorite art materials and why?
a) We use a hugely diverse array of media in
our work including, watercolor, gouache,
colored pencil, graphite, acrylic, alkyd, oil, airbrush,
silkscreen, block printing, ink, and pretty much
anything we can get our hands on. This seems to
stem from our innate desire to experiment. We consider
every work we do to be some form of experiment.
When we started, none of us really bothered to agree
to any rules other than “Never be bored”.
q)What/who influences you most?
a) It may sound strange but we do. Because we work
as five people, there is an endless amount of
back-and-forth with a lot of joking, discussion, argument,
and compromise. We tend to view our artistic output
as something of a diary or journal of our time together
and all of the interactions that take place.
q)Describe a typical day of art making for you.
a) On any given day we will all be at the studio doing
something. Sometimes it might just be cutting paper
in preparation for something or using our wood shop
to make a panel to paint. Seeing as we work as
illustrators as well, it is important that someone
is always present to take calls and manage the email.
A typical day will find at least three of us painting
at our respective desks or easels, listening to an
astrophysics podcast or a German power metal band,
playing video games and running ideas by one another.
q)Do you have goals, specific things you want
to achieve with your art or in your career as an artist?
a) We recently were brought to
show with a very nice gallery called Sid Lee Collective.
They were very generous to us, bringing us to the
for us as four of us had never been to
It really inspired us and made us realize the potential
for travel as an artistic goal. Traveling to the great art
producing countries and on some level contributing
to their conversation. None of us came from a lot of
money or anything like that so our goals are generally
to work hard enough to allow us access to the
things that we haven’t done yet.
q)What contemporary artists or developments
in art interest you?
of emerging artists. Nicholas DiGenova, Andrew Wilson,
Melinda Josie, Ted Tucker and many more.
It is great to see such dynamic and exciting
art redefining what
known for groundbreaking contemporary art,
can be capable of. There are also amazing things
happening in the squats of South London and in
q)How long does it typically take you to finish a piece?
a) That is a very difficult question! It depends on a
lot of different factors such as: who is working on it,
what size it is, which media, the concept, etc.
A large scale drawing with all five of us could
take anywhere up to four or five months while some s
maller work is done in few hours.
But the opposite can also be true.
q)Do you enjoy selling your pieces, or are you
emotionally attached to them?
a) We have always enjoyed making the work more
than having it. When we have shows, we often walk
around with our buyers and tell them stories about
what was happening when certain pieces were made.
It’s really fun and it helps people to feel confident that
what they have purchased is more than an exercise
in composition and color theory. We get to have our
time making it and enjoy it immensely when it finds
a home with someone who loves it fiercely.
q)Is music important to you? If so, what are
some things you're listening to now?
a) Music is extremely important to us. It is difficult
to make a playlist that will satisfy and not annoy
five guys with pretty different tastes but there
are some things that we can all agree on: Queen, Iron Maiden,
R.Kelly, Kylie Minogue, a lot of Post Punk or New Wave…
Actually seeing all of that together makes us
realize how bizarre our tastes are…
a)We all are avid readers but often can’t find
the time to read actual books. We usually listen to
audio books meant for visually impaired people.
We actually listen more to books than we do to music.
Lately, we have been listening to: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,
several Star Wars novels, War and Peace by Tolstoy,
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky,
Time Enough for Love by Heinlein, an amazing series
on the great books of literature from the Learning Company,
The History of the Oxford English Dictionary
(way more interesting than it seems!) and some
podcasts about space. We have a vast collection of
reference books and are always with one or two in hand.
We also collect books on our three favorite painters
(Velazquez, Sargent, and Vermeer) and read
and ponder them often.
q)What theories or beliefs do you have regarding
creativity or the creative process?
a)We have a very unstructured way of coming up
with ideas and very few limits either stylistically
or conceptually but one thing that we do believe
in is hard work. It is most likely due to our
schooling which was notorious for being incredibly
disciplined. Drawing and painting are hard to do
and it takes a lot of practice and determination
to be able to create an image the way you want
and in a way that works.
q)What do you do (or what do you enjoy doing)
when you're not creating?
a)We are all avid bicyclists. We try to be good boyfriends
and husbands when we have time off. Probably what most
people do most of the time.
q)Do you have any projects or shows coming up that
you are particularly excited about?
a)This year we haven’t booked anything as three of us
have solo exhibitions. We work extremely hard and
make a lot of work so right now we are taking time
to work on some prints of some of our early work.
It is a great way to revisit some of our past favorites
and allow people who like our work to get a chance
to own something affordable but still handmade.
q)Do you follow contemporary art scenes? If so, how?
What websites, magazines, galleries do you prefer?
a) We do and we don’t. We really like what is going on
these days and it seems that the web has allowed a huge
number of relatively obscure artists the opportunity
to showcase and sell their work. That is an absolutely
incredible and unheard of situation in terms of the history of art.
It’s exciting. However, we generally don’t have the time
to browse around and find new things. We try to go to
as many shows at the
(Magic Pony, Katherine Mulherin, Paul Petro) and
never hesitate to buy something when we can.
q)What is one thing that you would like people to
understand about your art?
a) We would really enjoy it if people could view
our work beyond the cursory sense and see past
what is often perceived to be a veil of sarcasm or irony.
We feel very strongly about what it is that we do and what
we make and want people to be able to allow themselves
to drop the cynical pretensions that people generally mistake
for sophistication when making their tastes in art. It feels
as though for one to be a great appreciator of fine art,
one must cultivate a disdain for enjoying oneself.
We regularly use imagery that people tend to think is
wry or sarcastic but is, in truth, a very important part of the
visual cultural of regular people in North America over
the past century. Things that might seem laughable
and often are do not have to be considered in the same vein
as nut-shot humor or one-off jokes. It seems to us that the
reason that art remains as seemingly inaccessible to
people as it does lies in peoples' inability or lack of desire
to see the possibilities in the mundane or the tasteless.
q)Any advice for aspiring artists?
a) Yes indeed! Learn about what has come before and
what is happening now. Know the landscape of what
you wish to be involved in. Always be able to talk about
what you do but try not to very often. Be a responsible
and articulate artist and always try to add something worthwhile.
q)Where can we see more of your work online?