Where are you from?
A little town on the Mississippi River in Illinois called Quincy.
What do you call yourself (writer, rapper, photographer, etc)?
I am a visual artist who makes drawings, animations, paintings and installations.
How do you create (your inspiration)?
A really, really wide range of things inspire me: politics, mythology, books I've read, movies I've seen, music, public and personal events- the list could go on forever. So many different things catch my attention and fire up my passions, my biggest challenge is how to focus all this inspiration into something that makes a little bit of sense.
As to how I do it... Sometimes I just sit down and draw whatever comes to mind. This is the most fun, but it doesn't satisfy when I get a bug about something more specific; whether it's some historical figure I want to explore, a movie clip that has a meaningful resonance, or a couple of ongoing, frustrating wars that just won't end. In these cases, I'll usually have some kind of brain-flare, one in which the subject at hand fits perfectly with some parallel idea that informs both of them in a weird way. I then think about how best to embody this idea: as a video, drawing, painting, or installation. The way it gains form should enhance the original concept, but not be so tied to it that the spontaneity is taken away.
Why do you do it?
I have always been somebody who draws. I think I was drawing pictures before I even learned how to talk. My way of interpreting and dialoguing with the world has always been a visual thing. Art is a voice I use to praise, critique, or simply yell at the world.
Are you currently working on anything?
Yes, I am working on several projects right now: a bestiary of extinct animals (that I'm doing with a collective called Artcodex), a painting of Karl Marx fused with Mark Twain (wandering, on a tour like Dante's, through several circles of hell, and a video installation I'll be finishing in February about Ostriches sticking their heads in the sand while Dodos do not.
Advice you would give a young Artist?
Know that being an artist is a hard road, and be prepared for some bad days. Most of the time, though, have a blast! Don't be afraid to do the boring marketing part of art, it sucks but you need to do it. Definitely have fun, travel, always look, always think, always be amazed, and never, ever take yourself too seriously!
I plan on traveling outside of NYC twice this year. Where would you recommend I travel to in the US?
Portland, Seattle, and the Olympic Rain forest.
All around the south-west.
To view Mike's work click here.