This Artist Uses His Artwork to Inform Inspiring Stories of Black Triumph

Paige Simianer | February 15, 2023

Featured Artist Demarcus McGaughey passionately captures the beauty, strength, and vibrancy of people of color.  

Demarcus McGaughey specializes in a mixed-media style that combines painting, photography, and graphic design with paper and fabric collages. This elixir of artistic elements stems from his fruitful stint in corporate advertising and graphic design. 

It was through painting, though, that he discovered an avenue to tell stories—his way. His vibrant portraits capture elements of his world travels, his family, and his community. Each painting is a love statement to the world, declaring, “I see you and I hear you.” 

Behind his art resides a lifelong fascination with human psychology. McGaughey has always been intrigued by the mind, especially the stories people tell themselves. As a result, in his art, he assumes a narrator role—telling heroic stories of his subject’s self-actualization and self-determination.

McGaughey also pays homage to cultural influences with elements of pop art, mass media, comic books, and advertising in his pieces. Inspired by Barkley Hendricks, who famously painted Black people in all their coolness, McGaughey portrays his people in a larger-than-life display. 

Through his captivating lens, Demarcus McGaughey hopes to continue to inform inspiring stories of Black triumph. 

Artwork Archive got the chance to chat with Demarcus McGaughey about his creative process, the inspiration behind his work, and advice he has for emerging artists.

You can see more of his work on Discovery and learn more about his art practice below. 

Demarcus McGaughey, 'The Visionary', 20 x 16 x 1.5 in, 2023

Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression? 

Yes, my art has changed.

I started out creating pop art with comic characters and celebrities.

My current body of work is personal. I create paintings based on friends and family using vintage images from my family scrapbooks and inherited fabrics from my grandmother’s quilt collection.


Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your creative process?

My favorite part of the process is narrating the stories of my subjects and the paintings.

It’s a privilege to tell stories of triumph and resilience in my work.


Early in your freelancing career, you say that you told stories for other people. You then discovered painting as an avenue to tell stories “your way”. Can you speak more about this? When did you realize you wanted to pursue art outside of ad agencies and corporations? 

Great question. As a graphic designer, I would always ask clients about their vision for their brand and how they wanted to be perceived.

My best friend Taufeeq Muhammad was an artist. He passed away in 2015 from congestive heart failure. Losing him activated my desire to paint again. He had so many ambitions in life for his art career. I feel like he is my guardian angel opening the doors for all of my artistic possibilities.

Having international success gave me the confidence to pursue my art full-time.

Demarcus McGaughey, 'The Upright Man', 4 x 4 x 1.5 in, 2022


You mention that you were inspired by your mother as a child. Can you tell us a bit more about that inspiration and how it has lent itself to your work throughout your art career?

I can remember as a child being frustrated using a coloring book.

Back then, my mom was a teacher and I loved the way she would color. I remember my coloring skills were coloring all outside of the lines. She calmed me down by telling me to relax, and she showed me her technique with coloring. I still use it to this day.

She was always very creative, and I know I picked up my creativity from her. She, along with my elementary school teacher Mrs. Anita Elliott, pushed me creatively.


As a certified life coach as well as having a mastery of graphics, product development, branding, and brand coaching, it seems like you wear a lot of hats. How do you balance it all while pursuing your own art practice?

It’s all about balance and self-care. I make sure to properly balance my schedule as well as give myself time and permission to self-care.

Demarcus McGaughey, 'Thanks for my Child', 10 x 8 x 0.75 in, 2022

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

For years, my friends encouraged me to sign up with Artwork Archive. I thought I could manage without it. However, once I took the time to learn it, I realized it's AMAZING! 

It makes running an art practice so easy!


How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

I use it to organize my exhibitions, create collection "lookbooks" to send to my collectors, create labels for my solo exhibitions, and create the provenance for all of my art.

It keeps me organized.

Additionally, when I think about the future and my estate as an artist, I know Artwork Archive will make it easy so my family will have all of my information in one place. That makes me happy and relaxed.


What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

You are uniquely designed. There is no other person on this planet that can do what you can do.

You have a gift and it's your responsibility to use this artistic gift to impact the world.

I dare you to use it. I dare you to create your life. And, I dare you to use your gift!

Demarcus McGaughey, 'Un Noche de Brugal', 36 x 48 x 1.5 in, 2022

Demarcus McGaughey uses Artwork Archive to track his artwork, build provenance, and create artwork labels.

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

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