Interviewed in April of 2013
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1.) Tell us a little about where you’re from or where you grew up… and how that influences the type of art you’ve found yourself making?
I grew up in Braintree MA, close to Boston but far enough away that I had a small town feel. I went to the Science Museum, the New England Aquarium and other local museums. I also had a Dad who was a closet nerd, he watched monster movies, Star Trek, and took me to see a Bigfoot movie when I was 6 and we stood in line for 2 hours.
2.) Are there any specific locations here in New England that have had a profound meaning to you and your art? ie; Your schooling? A place of major inspiration or childhood memory?
Green Harbor, Marshfield MA my grandmother had a house and we always spent July there. I read, played with Star Wars figures, and watched Lost in Space reruns on the 13 inch Black and white TV. As for my schooling Braintree has always had great art teachers.
3.) Mike, as a high school art teacher down on the south shore of Massachusettes, what are your biggest challenges and rewards of the job?
I get so much inspiration from my students, I learn from them everyday. It also helps me because I am a little ADD and the constantly changing work keeps me fresh. I find the biggest challenge is that I have to overcome the societial “Starving Artist” complex. Artist can’t be a job. It is very hard to convince my students that it can be a profession, because most of their parents want them to have “real jobs”.
4.) You work in a variety of different genres from childrens book illustration, portraiture, comic books and even some mixed media fine art. If you had to pick just one, which one really drives you as an artist?
Portraiture would be my choice. I love making pictures that are a figural. I am a child of Pop Culture, and I make work that has a pop culture vibe.
5.) You’ve worked the convention circuit for a number of years; first as a retailer, now as a professional artist. Do you think that retail experience gave you a headstart transitioning as an artist? Do you miss the retail side of shows?
I never gave up the retail side of cons, the only change was my product. I just shifted from buying product from someone else to buying from myself. I am able to use my “retail” skills to make adjustments to how and what I sell. I am willing to take chances or think about things from a dealer perspective. I do miss the art of the deal, buying things and selling them to that right person, but I do still have those moments but they are more personal. I do miss the huge piles of cash I used to make.
6.) Do you have any advise to offer artists that are thinking about setting up at a comic book convention for the first time?
Be confident, be yourself, but you must be willing to sell your work. Interact with people, be personable, be friendly, but don’t be fake.( This comes from a very good friend who is also an artist/ former retailer.)
7.) Gimme your best con story. What experience tops them all??
I was at Rock and Shock last October, a horror con in Worcester MA. I talked to Danny Trejo at my booth, he is just the coolest most genuine dude I have ever met, but my favorite stories revolve around my great customers. I also met Raven the professional wrestler, Tyler Mane , Sid Haig , Bill Mosely and Doug Bradley.
8.) Workplace or studio; a disaster or super organized?
Disaster. I just put things down, I am a piler.
9.) What medium is your sweet spot?? Even down to the brand name, color, materials, found or purchased?
I use Copic Sketch Markers, Copic Multiliners, and Golden liquid Acrylics, they are so choice. I love to make a drawing in ink and then use the Golden acrylic to color it like watercolor without the reactivation factor.
10.) Dream client? Go.
Danny Trejo I would love to make art for him.
11.) What’s been the most challenging part of building a career as an artist?? ie; family, $$$, time, inspiration, networking, etc….
The hardest thing for me is time I have so many ideas for stuff that I can’t always get them started, I also have a tendency to lose focus. I get bored easy.
12.) What’s next for you? Any future project or client
I am working on a deal to make work for Raven the wrestler, and a cover for an idie comic.
13.) Most underrated artist out there right now ready to take over the world.
I am currently very into the work of Sage Vaughn. I also have been collecting small Steven Russell Black works, he is ready to be an artistic overlord.
14.) Who wins in a fight to the death? Two men enter; only one leaves alive.
Obi Wan or Spider-man. Anything goes, all bets are off.
Obi-Wan no questions Peter gets force choked before he knows it is even a fight + lightsaber kicks webs ass everytime.
15.) Thin Mints or Carmel Delights?
Thin mints but carmel delights are a super close second.**