A Wash of Warm Light

An Interview with David McKie.

I was born in North Carolina, grew up in Michigan and I currently reside in Chesterton, IN with my wife and our four animals (two cats, two dogs). If you were to visit my place at the moment, you’d find lots of things pertaining to art (supplies, books, posters, famed works), music (instruments, vinyl, record players, posters) books (philosophy, brewing, distilling, graphic novels) the beverage industry (cans and bottles I have designed or that my wife has crafted, signage, bar cart or cellared beer/wine) and other unique or handmade decor.

I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. My earliest memories were when I was in kindergarten. I was obsessed with drawing the Simpsons, dinosaurs, and coloring or painting anything I could get my hands on. Models, matchbox cars, etc. I didn't really get passionate about art until highschool. I had a fantastic art teacher, Mrs.Johnson. She challenged and pushed me regularly in my creativity. From there, I got really into surreal and abstract painting through my good friend Matt Maniscalco, but due to my passion for music, I moved around a lot and art fell by the wayside. In fact, I actually didn't do anything art-related for about 5 years until I moved back to Michigan and made a couple friends, Devon Buck and Ryan Sommerhoff, who pushed me to get back at it.

At that point I was starting fresh, it felt new and exciting again, and having a group of people I could get together and create with was a huge catalyst in me trying my hand at pencil portraits and ink illustrations. I really enjoyed the challenge and I really haven't looked back since.

Life right now is extremely busy! I’m balancing my 9-5, art workload, marriage, being a father and getting back into playing music. It can be overwhelming as it’s go go go; I’m constantly transitioning from one task to the next with no real down time. You’ll frequently hear me state "There's just not enough time".

I wake up at 2:30am, leave for work by 3:30, drive 45 mins. Work 10 hours, drive 45 mins home, feed our animals, set up my art supplies, sketch or ink a piece for about 2 hours, then it's on to figuring out dinner, cooking, eating and then right back to Drawing until 9 or 10pm. I'm generally operating on 4-5 hours of sleep. That's my Monday through Thursday. 

Friday to Sunday is usually a lot more easygoing. I wake up when my wife gets up for work on Fridays, getting that morning time with her is honestly the best, sharing some coffee and just decompressing. It can be lonely at 2:30am! I will set up and jump into my art around 9-10am (unless there’s some cleaning needed around the house) and draw all day, breaking for food around noon and trying to wrap up for the day around 5-6 when my wife gets home. We’ll cook a meal together and share some beers, maybe some wine or a couple cocktails. I'm spoiled as she’s a distiller at 18th Street and makes literally the best cocktails. 

My 9-5: I work in Materials at a Nuclear Power plant which is pretty exciting and demanding. A high level of attention and detail must go into the work performed there for obvious reasons. Which is fitting if you've seen my illustrations,  it's much the same when it comes to attention to detail!.

I find inspiration just about everywhere. In friendships, nature, photography, movies, music, books, sometimes even just a word I don't know. Looking up a definition and then applying the meaning or visual it creates in my head to my everyday life or other knowledge I have in a creative way is extremely satisfying.

My taste is music ranges all across the board, but when it comes to creating art I lean more towards instrumental, slow or droney type stuff. Things that allow me to get in a flow state without too much abrasion to steal my attention away. I'll give some examples for your listening pleasure!



Treha Sektori

Brave young


Brian eno




Russian circles



Cult of luna

Daniel menchov




Library tapes



Kowloon walled city

And a million other artists I can't think of at the moment!

When I get stuck in creativity, I generally like to step away or completely shift my focus to something else. I find that learning something new can help me get a different perspective on things and make a connection that I might not have come to see otherwise. I’ll sometimes start an entirely different project or illustration to help pull myself back from what I'm struggling on. I can then come back to it with fresh eyes. 

A little cheat I've used in the past when I'm struggling to piece an illustration together or find the right balance I'm looking for: I’ll take a photo of what I'm drawing or scan what I currently have and look at it on a different medium. Having that different perspective has helped me find what I'm missing or may need to complete what I'm trying to achieve.

All in all, I think just getting a different perspective is key. Whether that's trying the above methods or asking people outside of your project for their opinions, regardless if it’s knowledgeable or agreeable, can help snap you out of that block/funk.

Being a realist, I think this is something that reflects in my work. I'm not as whimsical as some artists. I like crisp, clean and realistic imagery. That's why I respect and love artists who can do the opposite of me, such as Dave Kloc or Aaron Horkey

Speaking of people I’m inspired by: first and foremost, my wife Raven. She’s my rock! She is absolutely always 100% honest with me about the things I create. But more than just being someone who just gives a ‘No’, or a ‘that's not working’, she breaks down why and suggests ways to change, improve or expand upon my ideas. She’s even responsible for some of the ideas/subject matter I've illustrated. Outside of that, she is absolutely inspiring in her work ethic, creativity, and fearlessness to try new things or push existing boundaries. She's an absolute boss-lady and keeps me on my toes always.

My buddy Matt Helt from K-zoo Michigan is a constant inspiration. He's the front man and brains behind Bonehawk, a killer stoner rock band you definitely don't want to sleep on. He's also a graphic designer, builds his own guitars, is a fellow father and someone you can just break down daily life-stuff to. We've collaborated on a few arts projects together, and he’s helped me more than he could ever know. Cheers brother!

I would also like to shout out a bunch of people you can follow on the gram who inspire me artistically on a daily basis...















I saw the power of my own creativity most recently with being able to design beer labels for Brekeriet, a brewery in Sweden whom I highly respect. The experience was pretty unbelievable and the fact that they are in a different country on a different continent is absolutely wild! Also working for Speciation Artisan Ales who distro and travel overseas. Having that kind of exposure doesn't even feel like real life! I’m humbled by all of the opportunities they and others have provided me.

Every time I get approached from people in the brewing Industry, it is absolutely mind blowing. The fact that someone wants something I've drawn to represent their brand and all of their hard work is just wild! 

I have to give a shout out to Chris Betts at Transient Artisan Ales, Mitch, Whitney and crew at Speciation Artisan ales, Drew Fox and the 18th Street Brewery team, and Aaron and Rami over at Boneflower Mead for putting trust in me. Cheers guys!

At the end of my days, I want to be known for creating images and sounds that were inspiring, loved and enjoyed by others. That feeling you get when you hear new music that vibrates your soul, makes your hair stand up. When you see an image that just resonates with every bit of your being, it's like a wash of warm light all over your body! I hope I can do that for someone else and inspire them to create something themselves that might do the same for others!

My name is David McKie. I create highly detailed hand drawn organic and dark ink illustrations. #neverdigital

©Alchemy & Elegy 2020