A Conversation With American Artist William McLure

A Conversation With American Artist William McLure
American Artist William Rankin McLure
Industry expertise

William McLure, Artist

William McLure moves comfortably between inventive interior designer and talented artist. He works on his own properties and constructs beautifully chic spaces that fit his extroverted personality with taste and sophistication. With his artwork, he operates with the very Renaissance-era concept of being commissioned to create, but you would be mistaken if you thought that this limited his creativity in any way. He achieves inspired imagination within the parameters of what his clients request and accomplishes an unwavering balance of structure, volume, and colour.

Interior Design Influences

Last year, you bought a gorgeous farmhouse in your home state of Alabama, which you are currently decorating. How would you define your own interior design aesthetic?

I appreciate the marriage between antiques and modern styles. I try not to pigeon hole myself in one aesthetic, I buy what I love.

As this is not your first complex interior design project, how does your skill as an interior designer influence how you approach producing your art?

Having a background in interior design gives me a different perspective than most artists. I am especially driven by the space that the painting will be displayed in. One of the important tools that I use in creating art is scale. The size of the piece compared to the proportions of the space is extremely important. There needs to be a marriage between the scale of the painting and the height of the wall/sofa. Another thing that I pull from is the color story of the room. I pay attention to this so the colors of the room come together in my art when creating commissions.

The art studio and gallery of William McLure
Designing The Right Environment For Creativity

Staying in your home state seems to be a testimonial to your connection to where you grew up and your own personal history, not to mention how much you love nature and animals. How does this influence your artistic process and translate into your art?

Nature doesn't particularly influence my painting. Nature helps with my peace of mind but it doesn’t affect my work specifically. I don't bring any work home, nor do I paint at the farm. I create all of my art in a store-front studio downtown that is set up as a New York loft. My studio reflects the interiors that my paintings are created for. I feel that creating in a space that mimics where my work ends up allows for a nice flow.

Large artwork by William McLure
Inside William McLures art studio and gallery.
Commissioning A Piece of Art

You often work with luxury interior design studios and Designed by Woulfe has previously commissioned you to create work for a beautiful Balearic villa. What does a commission proposal have to have for it to be successful?

There are three things that we need to create a successful commission. Naturally, the first thing we need is the size of the piece. Next, the colors that the client would like to be incorporated, as well as fabric swatches, if applicable. Lastly and arguably the most important is a basic understanding of the overall composition. This is the most difficult part for most people. Here in the studio we ask for 2 reference photos of previous works as well as what they like and dislike about the pieces. For example, “I like the bold black shapes, but instead of square shapes, could we make them rounder. I like the almond background, but can we not do as many sketch details.” At the end of the day, the more direction we are given, the better the commission goes for both parties.


A room designed by designer and artist William McLure
Client-Commissioned Art vs Personal Paintings

You state on your website that the bulk of your work comes from commissions, so how do you incorporate your clients’ requests into your process whilst factoring in your own creativity?

That is a struggle that I have at this point in my career. I want to have fun and be creative when painting, but sometimes there can be too much direction given for me to explore my creativity in a commission. I need to follow the lead of my clients on commissions and work on my creativity in other personal paintings. At the end of the day, I just want the client to be happy, so I need to loosen the reins on my side. I am not a world-famous artist, like Picasso or Monet, so I am not at the point of my life where I could paint anything I want and pay my mortgage, so we depend on commissions as our steady income.

As an international luxury design studio, Designed By Woulfe has worked in a variety of settings, from tropical to urban to rural. Now that you are doing this yourself, do you think that this will change your perspective on how you will work with interior designers in the future?

As a business, we approach each project in the same way. Having a systematic approach to each commission allows for a direct and complete path. No matter where the work is ending up, whether it be a jungle, a penthouse in New York, or a townhome in Hoover, we approach each project in the same way.

You have a strong presence on Instagram and are wonderfully open about your life, your art, and your home. How do you think social media has changed your exposure to other artists as well as clients? (And, by the way, you are so much fun to follow!)

I am where I am because of Instagram. Four or five years ago, I worked solely as a designer. At that time, I was living paycheck to paycheck, then Instagram came around. As I began to post photos of my own home and apartment, I gained a following. I had my own work in my home, and people began to ask where the art was from. Soon I created a commission list, and in 5 months I was making more than my annual salary. Eventually, I quit my job and the rest is history. I am here 100% because of Instagram.

Inside William McLures bathroom refurbishment.
The Role Of Social Media In The Art World

Do you see social media as the future of promoting artists?

Social media is shifting the traditional art world. Social media gives artists control. Instagram is such a visual tool. It allows clients to easily find artists, and it gives artists a platform to list their contact information and pricing and website. All the information is there for everyone to see. It's at millions or fingertips. There is no longer a need for artists to get representation galleries in return for 60% of their profit. Artists can post their art on Instagram and sell it themselves.

Inside William Mclure artist studio and gallery.
Richard Shapiro, Art Collector

Who is your ideal collector?

Richard Shapiro has a book out, Past Perfect by Rizzoli. It's a book about his houses, one in L.A. and one in Malibu. It is a great book, and he has a great eye. His mix of sculpture and modern art paired with 18th-century paintings is wonderful. A lot of the things I do in my own home take inspiration from him.

Tova Ossad of Ossad Art Management
Guest Interviewer

Tova Ossad

Designed By Woulfe has invited Tova Ossad of Ossad Art Management to interview a range of art world personalities. Her fifteen years' experience working in this sphere has exposed her to many artists, auction specialists, art advisors, conservators, and gallerists, thereby giving the Design Journal fresh insight into the fundamentals of art. This series will explore buying, selling, appreciating, and everything in between.

Interview Categories