Mike Shultis was on his way to Yale to begin an MFA this autumn when we did this great Q&A (take note, folks!) and I just love the vibrant, refreshingly irreverent take on the differences between being an artist and being a part of the art world. More at the links below!
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Tell me a little bit about you!
Born in Albuquerque, NM in 1987. Been working in NYC for the last four years. Currently moving to New Haven, CT to begin MFA at Yale. Formally educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Have been trying to undo my education ever since...
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
Graffiti. I absolutely loved graffiti as a kid and it was the gateway drug to my current life as an artist. I also grew up in a family who appreciated art and visited tons of museums. This would help me break free from of the limits of street art
What is your process like?
Lately I've been creating megastructures that fill my entire studio. Once the massive thing feels right, I deconstruct the sculpture and it becomes a group of paintings. This started when I became homeless in New York and I had to move into my studio. My studio was frequently walked through by workers in the building, so I had to create a "sculpture" to hide my tent bed in. Consequently, I lived inside this megastructure while also working on it daily. Once I found an apartment (4 months later) I deconstructed the work and had 23 individual pieces. This was highly influential and I've continued the process ever since.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I can't give credit to a specific person for this advice because if has been developed between myself and my best friend/most inspiring colleague Aaron Fowler. But essentially after 10 years of friendship, we discovered that you can't give any fucks. Zero fucks. I mean negative fucks. The second you care is the second you've ruined the work. I give no fucks and my practice is 100% free. This was liberating and something I preach to whoever will listen.
Describe your studio.
Dirty. Dusty. Piggy. Shit everywhere. Probably some bed bugs somewhere. Gross. Paint all over. Nasty. Couple nice things here and there. Mostly a bunch of smelly things there and there.
What do you find most challenging, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
The Art World. Ugh the Art World. Especially in my time in NYC I grew to realize how separate making art and being an "artist" was. In a city where so many artists flock, you would hope to find a thriving creative energy, but it was the opposite. Jealousy, greed, and soooo much shade. The market isn't solely responsible but plays a large role in the dark art world ages we find ourselves in.
If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?
Paul McCarthy. I would talk to him about stupidity and the responsibility of the straight white American male in art.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Zero fucks given
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
I work through it. Creative ruts allow for such great frustration and that usually leads to a breakthrough
What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?
Painting, or how I see painting, is life. It directly reflects my experience and it comes in so many forms. Painting can be anything and can be made out of anything. This is true with life and the possibilities are endless.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
What keeps you creating?
What are you working on right now?
Collaborating with my Grandma on some little paintings that I'll scan and blow up for backgrounds. My Grandma is an avid garage sale goer and buys shitty paintings and paints her own stuff on top of them. So we decided to collaborate under that context. They are hilarious.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes! Don't give any fucks and EVERYTHING will change
Find more are michaelshultis.com and on Instagram @shultismike!
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