5×5: Heather McLean

Time again for a little 5×5 action. This round we chatted with Heather McLean, who’s gnarly surrealist works have been garnering some much deserved attention lately over here. Ms. McLean it would appear is a bit of a double threat. When she’s not honing her fine art skills in the studio, Heather also manages to be one of Western Canada’s premier tattoo artists. Here’s Heather to let you in on a few more tidbits about herself.

You seem inspired by science and spirituality – what is it about each that revs your engine? Where does it stem from?

I have always been impressed by nature, wether it’s symbiosis, bioluminescence, changing seasons, quarks, or astrophysics- it’s all very exciting and inspiring. It’s all pieces to a big, beautiful puzzle- limbs of the same tree. The other side of the same coin is spirituality- the energy and ideas behind everything. The more I learn about quantum physics, the more I see that spirituality can be a metaphor for all science. That spirit is the heart and science is the brain but it is the same body.
I’m also interested in translating the human condition with all it’s paradoxes into images. We all go through things- and art can be such a great outlet for growth.


What’s coming up in your world? What are you really excited about doing?

I’m just finishing up a few tattoo projects and then I’m going on indefinite hiatus/ retiring from tattooing at focus on painting. Very excited about that and grateful to have this opportunity.

Who initially inspired you to create?

I was very inspired by the illustrations in kids books when I was young. I saw Frida Kahlo and Edward Byrne-Jones in Phoenix when I was about 8 and it really moved me. I was surrounded by supportive people.


What’s your biggest “Artist Disaster”?

This is more if a close call: I did some murals in a Mexican resteraunt and the owner told me no snakes and no skulls. So I painted a massive Mayan skull about 12 feet across as one of the feature walls overlooking the whole galley. The kitchen staff told me it was great, but that I’d have to paint over it. In the end the owner liked it! Phew.

What’s on your painting playlist?

Depends on what I’m working on, but often Niki and the Dove, Florence and the Machine, Radiohead, Atoms for Peace, Explosions in the sky, Tool, katy perry, Ratatat, and often documentaries on Netflix!


Heather’s fantastic work is available here to cover your things.

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