Mike Watt is an Australian artist and illustrator based in Sydney, NSW. VNAussie, Damian Wardle, recently caught up with him and got him to spill the peas about all things Mike…
DW: Who is Mike Watt? How do you describe your style?
MW: I’m an artist and illustrator from Sydney. I’ve been drawing and painting walls for quite a while but I was a bit of a hermit until a year or 2 ago. I’d say my style is kind of gritty and ugly, normally showing characters with lots of characters that have lived an interesting life.
More jump off after the jump off…
DW: Tell us a bit about your early years and how you got into art
MW: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, I loved everything to do with drawing, cartoons, comics, art. One of my older brothers was a writer and he got me into painting walls when I was a teenager, then a few years later, design school got me into creating graphics with a computer, there were a few other bits on the way but they were the main things I think.
DW: What / who are your influences as an artist?
MW: I’m influenced by any skilled creatives that push themselves. I get really inspired by music, movies, stand-up comedians, even basketball. Having creative friends definitely helps as well. I think having different experiences is a really important thing with my work as well, especially with the story-telling part.
DW: You have just collaborated with Houl on a pretty cool flip zine. Do you find your creative process to be significantly different when collaborating?
MW: It was great collaborating with Houl. I really enjoy collaborating in general because it’s always a different experience with every artist. Working by myself is fun too but I like to mix it up so to help keep things interesting, I always try to mix my work up with different ideas and collaborations, I think it definitely helps me push my work.
DW: If you could collaborate with any other artist, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
MW: That’s a really hard question to answer. I have no idea how it would work but I’ll say someone like Spike Jonze. He seems like a really good dude, he’s super creative and I have no idea what we could collaborate on, so I think doing something with him would be really interesting and fun.
DW: You are an illustrator as well. What sort of illustrating do you generally do? Does your process differ when you are illustrating compared to when you are working in the street, or when you are working on something that will end up in a gallery?
MW: I illustrate a fair bit for advertising agencies, it’s very commercial. It is fun because my style has to change from brief to brief and you learn how to draw things you would never normally draw and I think it makes me a better artist. The process is very different from my personal work. It is normally pretty restrictive on the creative side and I have to draw the idea the art director came up with in a style he likes. I think it’s good though as it’s made me appreciate creating my own work so much more.
DW: What makes you laugh / pisses you off?
MW: Cartoons make me laugh, body corporates piss me off.
MW: I like eating frozen peas out of the bag.
DW: We are a third of the way through 2014. What can we expect to see from you for the rest of the year?
MW: I’ve got a few exhibitions and things lined up. I’ll be drawing and painting as much as possible. I’m pretty excited about this year, I’m hoping I’ll be putting out a fair few projects. One I’ve been working on for a while is a collaborative project called Tattoo Me, I draw an outline of a character for an artist and they fill him or her with tattoos or whatever they want. I’m getting a bit of a collection now so hopefully it won’t be long until I can put it out.
DW: Where else can people find you?