Birmingham-based artist William Rankin McLure IV is an artist, interior designer, and all-around creative who’s known for having an eye for devising different types of spaces. He’s also got a refreshing approach to his work, eschewing the overly-wrought mindset of a lot of contemporary art. “I fly by the seat of my pants,” says Rankin. “At the end of the day, don’t take yourself too seriously.” His genre-busting art defies easy categorization, incorporating everything from paints to cardboard and other mixed media.
See what William had to say about his artistic process and how he lets inspiration guide him. For a limited time, shop an exclusive array of his original artwork, only on Chairish. And be sure to find a favorite in his curation of picks from our site, including ideas for art, furniture, accessories, and more.
How has art played a role in your work developing interiors?
Creating art hasn’t really changed the way that I develop interiors, Designing spaces has changed the way I design spaces. It’s all about change and evolution. If you aren’t practicing and changing, you can’t move to the next phase of your work.
When it comes to creating art and interior spaces together, I normally design the room first and then create a piece to fit the room. I don’t think a painting should dictate the room. Interiors should not be matchy-matchy or look too formulated. You should just put what you love into space. I mean, I think the room should have some sort of a cohesive element in them, but all of my pieces are so neutrality-driven they really fit well anywhere.
How do your personal surroundings impact your art?
I don’t think they do. What does impact my art is basically the imagery that I see on social media, Instagram, or Pinterest. That has more of an influence on my art than my actual surroundings do.
While I don’t feel like my surroundings impact what I create, my surroundings definitely change the way that I create. My studio is full of different mediums. When I create a piece, I pick up the products around me for their color and then I go from there. Really, the only reason I use different mediums together is that they are on the table next to me and I want to try to see if they work. If I need a black, I reach for the closest match and go from there. It’s the color that matters to me, not so much the material.
What are the inspirations behind your pieces that you are selling exclusively on Chairish?
Individually, my art pieces don’t have specific inspirations per se. They are created out of whatever images are in my head or whatever mood I am in at the time.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
I think paint would be my favorite medium to work with. It is great for covering large square footage and it has a quick-drying time — patience is not a virtue that I have. So all the elements I use have quick drying times so that I can move on to the next element.
Other than paint, I sometimes do use cardboard. I fell into using cardboard when I started working with a picture light. The lamp washes light so beautifully over the painting when it is flat, but once you put more texture or surfaces on them, it totally elevates it. So I began adding height using cardboard. The shadows that they create is just another piece of the abstraction.
How do you go about developing your mixed media pieces specifically? How do you choose what to include?
There is no thought to it. I grab whatever is on the table, put the pieces on the canvas that are the most interesting to me, and go along the lines with that. With nothing that I have or create is there too much thought behind it. Outfits, houses, interiors… with all of it, I fly by the seat of my pants. At the end of the day, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s art — if you don’t like it, paint over it.
Have you noticed shifts in the way that your work developed over time?
Yes, my art used to be a lot busier and a lot more chaotic. Over time, some of the shapes have gotten more streamlined, and I think the art has gotten more simplistic. I used to incorporate splatters and stuff like that; now my forms are more intentful.
I think that change is the most important part of growth. It’s part of learning with interiors, art, or life. Figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. As you change things, you learn what you like and don’t like, and you figure out what’s visually compelling to you and what’s not. Shifting into these changes makes your work evolve.
Who are some artists who have inspired your work?
Cy Twombly; [Robert] Motherwell for his scale and graphic nature of the paintings; George Bellows for his color and brushstroke; Agnes Martin for her shapes. I don’t have an extensive art history background — I just know what is compelling to me.
What would your fantasy commission be?
So my fantasy commission wouldn’t be based on the person. The most rewarding part of creating art for other people is seeing my art in a beautiful interior. I don’t care whose house it is in — I care about the space. On that note, Rose Uniacke (who is based in London) has one of my favorite homes and interior styling at the moment. She has a gorgeous home and aesthetic. So that home would be the home I want my art to be featured in.
What are some of your favorite museums in the world? Where do you like to travel?
Honestly, I’m not a big traveler; I am totally content at the farm right now. I don’t even like leaving to go to dinner with friends. But if I had to leave, I would go to Rome. I love the history, architecture, and interiors. I went to London last year. I went to a couple of museums, and that was wonderful.
When do you know that a painting is finished?
You just know. That sounds stupid, but you need to know when to stop. I think with trial and error, and getting older, you know when something is too much. It’s the same as a room: when it looks too full and has too much going on, you need to take something away. It’s the same as paintings: you need to leave room to breathe and think about your positive and negative spaces.
All interior photography by Hector M. Sanchez