Brian McCarty is an internationally exhibited artist and toy industry veteran based in West Hollywood, California.
McCarty's postmodern integration of concept and character has earned his photography a prominent position in the Art-Toy and Pop Surrealist movements. However, McCarty’s work is often more akin to reportage than photo-illustration. His approach is grounded in documenting actual – albeit manufactured – moments of time from a uniquely personal perspective.
McCarty is featured in several books including Vinyl Will Kill, Dot Dot Dash, and Toys: New Designs from the Art-Toy Revolution. His first monograph, titled Art-Toys, was released in 2010 by Los Angeles based Baby Tattoo Books.
Prior to the emergence of the Art-Toy movement, McCarty was using toys in his photography to gain distance from reality while referring to it and attempting to explain it. While at Parsons in 1993, he began work on The Dollhouse. For the series McCarty constructed a toy hyperreality and used the simulacra of family to explore modern living. The Dollhouse received notable praise – earning a spot in the traveling exhibition Making It Real, curated by Vik Muniz.
Upon earning his BFA from Parsons School of Design in 1996, McCarty accepted a grant to study at the Benetton-supported, creative research centre Fabrica in Treviso, Italy. There, he worked on several prominent fine-art exhibitions, including Habitus, Abito, Abitare, Progetto Arte at the Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art and KON©EPT, the first major photographic exhibition in Zagreb after the Croatian War of Independence. McCarty used the forum to study so-called “war-toys” as cultural artifacts and tools for gaining perspective on conflict. Over the next fourteen years, McCarty continued to hone his vision and approach through a variety of artistic and commercial collaborations, including a nearly four-year-stint at Mattel Toys.
McCarty's work has earned notable praise from such places as CNN, Wired, The New York Times, L’Uomo Vogue, The Telegraph UK, ABC World News, and The Huffington Post. His commercial photography roster includes pop-culture clients such as Disney, Hasbro, MTV, Kidrobot, Rockstar Games, and Cartoon Network. In 2007, McCarty’s work was featured in the first museum exhibition to focus solely on toys as a purposeful means of artistic expression. The Pasadena Museum of California Art played host to Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier, curated by Maria Kwong.
In 2010, McCarty decided to challenge his established methods and expand his vision in new directions. He began work on an ambitious photo essay that has roots in his “war-toy” study from 1996. The WAR-TOYS project seeks to articulate children’s firsthand accounts of war using principles of play and art therapy. In practice, boys and girls who have been affected by conflict essentially become art directors for McCarty’s unique toy photography.
McCarty is currently splitting his time between WAR-TOYS and commissioned work.