We welcome back Mike Giant for our main exhibition this August. Mike has been living and working in Boulder for more than a year now, it’s safe to say he’ll continue to create his art in Colorado which we are very grateful for. His new exhibit “Rocky Mountain High” will feature the same “Modern Hieroglyphics” concept Mike has been exploring for the past couple of years. His bold and precise drawings are composed similarly to tattoo flash sheets, featuring a range of punk, religious, skateboard and pop culture symbolism and iconography. The artist includes hand-written notes around his drawings, which often reveal his personal thoughts during the process. For this showing, Mike created over 20 new pieces including a series of four large drawings featuring classic low rider vehicles. There will also be a new Mike Giant skateboard deck produced in collaboration with 303 Boards. To top it off, there will also be a pair of new prints.
It’s been a year since we last spoke, anything new and interesting going on?
Not much to be honest. I’m still living in Boulder. I’m quite happy and content. The only thing different about my work lately is the scale. I’ve started making things bigger than my usual standard poster size.
What are you working on for the art show?
My usual illustrations in various sizes. Most of the drawings fit within my “Modern Hieroglyphics” series which I’ve been developing for the last few years. I’m also showing some drawings of lowriders, an obsession I picked up during my youth in Albuquerque.
Describe your work environment; the music you listen to, things you drink/smoke, time of day, etc?
My studio is a barn/garage that’s about 900 square feet. It sits on a 3 acre lot with my small rented house and 2 car garage. I keep music playing about 90% of the time I’m in there. My musical tastes are all over the place, but I generally listen to mixes of electronic music on CDs and tapes (jungle, house, downtempo, trance, etc.). I usually have a hot Yogi tea on my desk and a joint full of whatever’s on special at The Green Room (a recreational cannabis dispensary here in Boulder). I tend to arrive in the studio around 10am after breakfast at my favorite diner. I work until lunch, take a break, then get back to work in the studio until around 7pm. I usually stop then and make myself some dinner. Some nights I continue to work in the studio, sometimes I go out, and some nights I stay in and watch a movie.
You do a lot of commercial work, how does that work for and against your fine art?
Usually the commercial work and fine art stuff stays separate, but occasionally I sell my working drawings in galleries. It works vice versa too. Sometimes I get freelance jobs based on my fine art work. As far as how they work for/against each other, I think it depends on the context.
What is currently influencing you that might surprise people?
I just read a book called “The Cosmic Serpent” that’s got me thinking. It’s about the connection between ayahuasca hallucinations and DNA. Ever heard of Apollonia Sinclair? She’s an amazing illustrator that’s been inspiring me lately too. I’m really into Dana DeArmond as well. She’s known as a accomplished pornstar, but that doesn’t reflect her varied talents. I think she’s great.
How long do your pieces generally take to complete?
The smaller drawings (11×14”) usually take a few hours to sketch and design the layout, and another few hours to ink them. The bigger ones take longer as you might expect.
What is more important – content or technique?
I give them equal importance. To develop content, I strive to perfect technique. To develop technique, I strive to work with strong content. Sometimes strong content can save a piece produced with bad technique. As well, sometimes great technique can save a piece lacking real content.
You had a large following before social media. How has social media changed your career?
It’s just increased the number of followers and made them more accessible.
What was your first big break?
Getting offered a full-time position drawing graphics for Think Skateboards in 1993.
If you could go back in time, what would you change?
I’d respect my girlfriends a lot more, that’s for sure. I was a shitty boyfriend.
Are there any drawings you have done that you wish you didn’t?
Of course. I did a drawing recently that made me feel like a total sell-out. I won’t work for that client again.
Where/what do you think you will be doing in 25 years?
I imagine myself in upstate New York owning/operating my own art/meditation school.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur as much as an artist?
No. I think an entrepreneur’s bottom line is profit. An artist’s bottom line should never be profit. I’ve never been in it for the money. I do it because I love drawing and want to do it every day.