Hey guys, I had been planning on interviewing Michael for awhile now finally got it done. We had Jessie, do the talkin I (jon garza) did the filming. Leave us your comments ask him questions the video is all we have right now but we will have a write up in a second. Make sure to come out the Applied Pressure show tonight should be a blast ill be taking some photo and video.
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CP: Who (artist, philosopher, scientist) has had the greatest impact on your artwork?
MG: Paleontologist Robert Bakker, an iconoclast, rapturous public speaker, Talmudic scholar, and jaw-dropping illustrator, who was largely responsible for turning around the public perception of dinosaurs in the 70s and 80s – he was my childhood role model, and an inspirational figure to me in my teens when I did dinosaur quarry fieldwork with him every summer. I still think of myself as a paleontologist – but now, in the lineage of people like Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (who popularized Vernadsky’s idea of the “noosphere“) and Ernst Haeckel (who illustrated all those gorgeous plates of microscopic sea life back in the 1800s, and whose work in evolutionary theory articulated the whole Tree of Life as a single geometric, artistic exploration in the mind and as the body of God). We paleontologists really are a mystic bunch, and it’s that identity as a “natural philosopher” that I think runs most deeply through my work – although in recent years, I’ve been tremendously inspired by artists like Alex Grey, Kris Kuksi, David Hale, and Oliver Vernon, and by musicians like Peter Gabriel, Andreas Kapsalis, Emmett Chapman, and Tim Reynolds.
CP: Any childhood experiences that may have influenced becoming an artist?
MG: The legend has it that I was able to focus my eyes and follow sounds since the day I was born. I’ve always been hawk-eyed, super observant of both micro and macro details beyond the eye-level consensual space we tend to inhabit in city life. I don’t know. My mom was very good about getting me out to museums and into nature. I have a Pisces Moon. Everyone’s an artist, but some people are born with their throat wide open.
CP: What is scientific illustration training and where did you receive it?
MG: I studied at the University of Kansas under Dr. Linda Trueb, the curator of Herpetology (the department that studies reptiles and amphibians). She’s been doing this work for decades, because even now with fancy cameras the best way to capture all of the relevant details of a new species (and leaving everything else out) is with an illustrator. Most of this training was about learning to recognize the necessary traits and make a simple image that emphasizes them realistically while leaving everything else out. I learned a lot about making clean lines with ink, how to paint in Photoshop, and how to stare through a microscope for hours at a time without going insane.
CP: Getting into the business of the art industry and community, what were common barriers as far as making a name for yourself? How did you turn negative situations into a positive?
MG: I’m a fool for trying to succeed as a musician, visual artist, and public speaker all at the same time. It presents a huge obstacle to promoters who don’t know which end is up, as it were, and it’s frequently a challenge to introduce fans of one channel of my work to other channels. In retrospect it might have been easier to leave it as three separate things under different work names, but it was always my hope and my aim to bring it all together in a synesthetic symphony of immersive transmedia…although some people like the “renaissance man” brand, and some people assume it just means I suck at EVERYTHING. 😉
CP: What piece of advice can you offer to growing artists as far as putting their work into business practice? Where do you begin?
MG: Start a mailing list. Introduce people to each other. Help out as many young artists as you can. Collaborate on events and projects. Find synergy everywhere. Give as much as you can because that creates a counterflow that will take you where you need to go.
CP: I like that you responded with ‘find synergy everywhere.’ What are your main means of networking and how often to you try to make new connections?
MG: Networking isn’t something you do; it’s something you are. I’m a living network of quantum, atomic, chemical, biological, informational, social, cultural, physical relationships, and so are you. We’re such social creatures we don’t even realize we’re swimming in it all the time. I’m always putting myself out there in one form or another of social offering so that I can inspire and influence as many perspectives as I can, and that makes meeting people easy, because they come to you. In practical terms, I spend a tremendous amount of time posting articles I read on Facebook, and encouraging conversations about things I consider important. Being a moderator and connector of ideas is a lot like being a matchmaker or human resources executive, or a chef. You know what ingredients compliment one another – or you learn what people are passionate about and what they’re good at, and you connect people whose talents and needs are complimentary. Charles Stross calls this “venture altruism“: you get rich by making other people rich, and you make them rich by giving them good ideas or introducing them to people who can help.
CP: Your work had hit not only the art industry, but also apparel, cellular and computer accessories, postal, skateboard, and sticker industries. What mediums can we look forward to in your next projects?
MG: Graffiti. 🙂 Austin is full of receptive surfaces and proprietors who actively encourage “audience participation” in the public space. I’ve already left tags in Spider House and Ruta Maya and am going to keep looking for places to bomb the unsuspecting with glorious messages.
CP: What other instruments, if any, can you play?
MG: I’m married to the guitar but sleeping with the Chapman Stick, and I’m hoping they’ll agree we can all live together. Once in a while I’ll take the ukulele out on a date. The electric bass is an old flame that sometimes sparks back up again. And let’s not forget the laptop, with whom I have some kind of crazy karmic thing going, and sometimes that totally dominates everything else. I expect that by the end of this spring, the Chapman Stick and the laptop will team up on the guitar and declare independence, and I’ll have two very distinct musical projects depending on whether I’m partnered with singer-songwriters or DJs.
CP: Interesting how you speak in terms of relationships. Any instances where it becomes a love/hate situation?
MG: What reason do any of us have to hate, unless we invest all of our hopes and dreams in a single person or idea and refuse to take responsibility for our own happiness? Every relationship has challenges, but the more connected we realize we are, the more we find ourselves surrounded by sources of guidance and help. I might hate the guitar sometimes if it’s the only tool I had, like Magritte who said that “Every painting starts as a romance and ends as a rape.” Those are the bitter words of someone who has only a hammer to build a house. Obviously, it takes more than one satellite to survey the whole Earth. Nothing exists alone.