I do not, by temperament or inclination, gravitate towards Scandinavian countries. I am intimidated and made uncomfortable by safe, clean, orderly places where everything works and people seem creepily content.
I’m a guy who tends to fall in love with hot, messy, barely functional…
In the movie Argo, there is a great scenein which an American, in accented Farsi, tries to explain to four Iranian security guards that he is producing a sci-fi film. He shows them hand-drawn sketches of aliens with engorged, pulsing brains and spaceships. The guards smile wistfully at those familiar tropes of boyish imagination. Briefly, we forget that we are in the crux of a tense hostage crisis—that is the power of Joe McCarthy’s work. His graphic concept art is both futuristic and nostalgic, because they illustrate a future universe through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy.
That is not to say that his work is simplistic or clichéd. McCarthy borrows objects that we easily recognize in the real world, like shoes or The Vitruvian Man, and infuses it with a videogame-ish drama. His Vitruvian Man carries chemistry bottles in his belt and wears roller skates on each of his four feet; his weaponry is inextricable from his body. It’s cluttered but symmetrical, more or less.
His footwear concepts turn sneakers into stilettos. He has fun with his inventions—fun is what takes his work beyond gender. In the Converse MORCHiBA, he takes a standard jogging shoe and turns it into a boot fit for an athlete who wants to run a marathon on the moon. “I grew up in the 70s on moon boots and KIZZ,” says the Oakland-based artist, “I wanted to take it to the next level.”
Retro and innovative, it is no shock that his work spans a large range. He’s worked for Fisher Price and Puma, and in his fifteen years of professional experience, has designed children’s toys, marine vessels, electronics, and game concepts. He is raising funds to publish a book of his concept art titled, “Don’t Wake Up…You’re About to Start Dreaming.” He wants to donate 30% of the books to low-income schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, for the reading pleasure of prospective art students.