Over the past wee while I have spent an inordinate amount of time perusing through Mike’s blog and website checking out his incredibly beautiful work. Finally, after being told to just dooo eeet by a certain someone, I decided it would be a good idea to find out a bit more about him and his work. Being the gentleman that he is, Mike kindly consented to be interviewed. I know Mike is incredibly busy so feel stoked that he has taken time to share a few thoughts on being an artist.
* I thought it would be interesting for readers, and me, to find out a bit more about you. You grew up just north of Boston, what was it like?
Boston is a very multicultural and cosmopolitan city, mainly due to the large number of colleges and universities in the area. I, however, did not actually live in Boston but 15 miles north of the city in an area mainly populated by Italian, Jewish, and Irish immigrants. I grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family. Good people, but not the most open-minded and educated. It’s never easy growing up gay in this country and there were times that I contemplated suicide, however I was fortunate enough to have a saving grace: art.
I developed an interest and talent for art at a very early age and quickly realized that as long as people were focusing on my artistic abilities they were not likely to notice my lack of interest in the opposite sex.
When I was old enough, I would escape into Boston and go to the museums and parks. I would hang out with the punks in Harvard Square, envy the gay couples who walked by, lust after the Harvard jocks returning to their dorms after practice, and in general soak up the diversity. I felt like I was waiting for my “real life” to begin.
It sounds all gloomy but I really feel like my childhood made me a stronger adult. After college, my husband and I lived in various locations all over the USA but eventually found ourselves yearning to come back to Boston. After we moved back, I realized that people weren’t as close-minded as I thought they were. My family has welcomed my husband into their bosom. Our neighbors all know were not “brothers” but a proper couple and treat us as such. Everyone from the guys at the gym, to the kid who bags our groceries knows we’re gay and nobody cares. I think that’s great and I’m very proud to have come from this area.
* After reading a little about Rhode Island School of Design (some other incredible people have also come out of there, including one of my favorite singers David Byrne) I wondered what you enjoyed the most about it?
RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) is a great school and is considered one of the premier art and design schools in the world. The facilities are top notch and the staff is comprised of world famous artists of every discipline imaginable.
O.K….now that I’ve gotten my alumni obligation out of the way I can tell you the truth. I went to college in the late eighties under the spectre of AIDS. Not a really fun time. I spent most of my college years trying to find myself artistically, philosophically, and sexually. Don’t get me wrong…I had a ton of fun and I learned a lot about art. If you’re seriously considering a career in art and design and you’ve got talent, good grades, and the money to pay for it (the student loans almost killed me) then I would try to get accepted to RISD. It’s an ivy-league art school, you can’t do much better than that.
However, back to your question… I would have to say that the greatest thing about RISD…was discovering the real Mike.
* Were you into comics as a kid? Any particular favorites?
I loved comics as a kid. In fact I didn’t stop collecting comics until I was 34. My favorites included The Avengers, The Teen Titans, Alpha Flight, and The Fantastic Four, but my passion was for the X-men and anything X-men related. I started reading comics right before the whole “phoenix-saga” (comic geeks will know what I’m referring to) and that story-line created within me a life-long comic fan. I may not purchase books anymore but I will always consider myself a comic geek.
* Many women, (including me!) read m/m novels, gay male erotic comics and Yaoi. (And it is not just perving at big cocks, honest! Although… that is kinda nice) Why is it, do you think, a number of women do enjoy your work and the depiction of men together in particular?
I honestly have no idea why chicks like my work.
Ok. I might just leap in here and share why I like it… because it is beautiful, hot and sometimes just makes my toes curl. Also, check out a quote from Laura Baumbach of MLR Press I have added to this page.
Returning to regular viewing…
* What challenging things have you dealt with as an artist of gay male erotic illustrations and comics?
It’s difficult sometimes doing what I do. First off, there’s not a whole lot of money in this business. So you don’t do it for the money you do it for the love of the genre. I find the most difficult thing is keeping my erotic work separate from my mainstream business. Most of my regular clients would not appreciate my erotic work and so I must keep such work hidden from them. Also, many people don’t view erotic art as real art. It’s not as valid as a painting of a bowl of fruit…so I think all erotic artists must deal with self esteem issues from time to time.
* Are there any particular artists you admire?
I love some of the gay favs like Tom of Finland, and Harry Bush, I admire what they did for all of us that followed in their footsteps. One of my all-time favorite artists is Paul Cadmus. His drawings are stunning, his tempera paintings are wild, and his view on society blows my mind. There are also many contemporary erotic artists that I admire including Benoit Prevot, Luc Latulippe, Gengoroh Tagame, and of course Patrick Fillion.
* Do you have a piece of work you’re particularly proud of or feel emotionally connected to?
There are a couple of recent pieces that I’m particularly proud of the first being my Lost ecstasy piece which is partially featured on the homepage of my website. I feel that this piece really covers how I feel about sex and eroticism in general. The loss of control and invasive pleasure that truly powerful sex evokes are what I tried to capture in this piece.
The other piece I’m really proud of is my depiction of the X-mens’ Nightcrawler. I like the graphic treatment and playful attitude of the character. I had a lot of fun doing this piece and I think that sense of pleasure comes through in the final.
* What are you reading?
I just finished reading “Son of a Witch” by Gregory Maguire, which is the sequel to “Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”. I know that’s about as gay as it gets but I don’t care I love everything that man writes.
* What have you got coming out soon for us to look out for?
I have a whole bunch of illustrations coming out in MEN magazine and I have a very special series of images that I will be starting in a week or two. I will be posting some of these images on my blog as I finish them. Stay tuned for more info about that.
* If there is anything else you’d like to share, please do. (yes, yes, I know you are so over writing for me now!!)
I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to discuss my work. I always love to hear from fans, especially those fans that can articulate beyond just…”dude, that hot!” I especially wanted to thank you for opening my eyes to the female fan-base that I didn’t even know I had. You ladies rock!
Mike, you really are seriously wonderful. Your art is incredible and you have a way with pictures and words also. Thank you, and I am hoping I did not give you carpel tunnel and you are still able to draw the smexin mens. heh.
You can check out Mike in MEN Magazine here. You can also find Mike at his website here or check for news at his blog here. To buy some of Mike’s work you can check out Class Comics, their online shop is opening again on the 22nd of July. Thanks Mike!