Known for his explosive art that fuses expressionism and mixed media to tell a story is edgy Australian artist, Michael Black. With a street art vibe and flair for murals, he is following his nose and exploring a creative first to collaborate with both Nerida Hansen Fabrics and Future Folk Designs.
Michael delivers his work in many settings from retail stores, galleries, property developers but on this occasion he is entering into a completely new arena and launching a textiles range and limited edition prints.
Learn more about Michael from his conversation with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor. He talks about his slightly unhealthy obsession with shoes, turning cartoon drawing into earning a living and to not be restricted by what others think of your work.Hello Michael, thanks for taking the time to chat with me via email. Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself, where you grew up and where you live now?
I grew up in Western Sydney and moved house a few times but most of my childhood was spent growing up in Rosehill near the racecourse! I am 24 years old, I love cooking, spending time with friends and playing basketball. I currently live now in Old Toongabbie, NSW with my wife where we have our studio in our house that is also full of plants!
Were you always destined for a career in art?
When I was younger I didn’t picture myself being an artist I always loved cartoons and I used to create my own cartoon drawings. I always knew I had a great imagination and was definitely interested in being creative as a kid. I did struggle academically in high school and later found out I have some light sensitivity issues formally known as dyslexia.
But painting became a massive part of my world later on in high school and every spare period I had I was getting into painting my major works for art! From school I went on to study a bachelor of fine arts at UNSW Cofa for three years which was a mix of Design and Fine Arts content. Finishing that up I worked in the design industry in graphic design/fashion for two years straight out of university. Although I enjoyed certain aspects of that industry like working in a team, I was always painting and doing gigs on the side. I eventually made the transition out of the design industry going part time, this gave me more space and energy so I could put into the projects that I was getting. From there I just kept pushing and pushing developing my style creatively and working on the business side of things as well, this has really helped me to get to where I am today. I feel like I have a long ways to go though and I’m still developing as an artist.
Talk to me about your creative process.
I get a lot of my inspiration from the world around me, nature and the Australian bushland is a massive influence to me. I try and take in moments or images of places, collect them either in photo or in a drawing form. From there I jump straight into the canvas, shut out all distractions put music on and get into it!
It has been a challenging 12 months for everyone due to a global pandemic and a lot of uncertainty. What has changed for you due to COVID-19? And how have you adapted your work to manage during this time?
Certainly has been a crazy year for everyone! When COVID started a few commercial jobs I had locked in got rescheduled and as a result people were wanting to redo their residential interiors. I picked up a lot of work in other ways such as the canvas commissions which is a part of my practice that has gone up a lot more than previous years. I definitely got time to re-evaluate my work creatively and the direction I was going.Tell me, when and how did you meet Nerida Hansen?
My wife who is also my business partner came across Nerida online and was familiar with her fabrics in her previous work. We thought it would be a perfect fit so we got in touch to see if it was possible to work together and things went from there.
Tell me about your latest work for Nerida Hansen Fabrics. What were your inspirations for this body of work?
The inspiration from this work comes from my studio practice of getting mixed media marks and expressions, capturing them and bringing them into a digital space for them to be manipulated onto fabrics. I hope when people wear this or experience the fabric they get a sense of energy and joy.
Is this collaboration the first time you have worked with textiles/fabric?
Yes it is!
Some artists struggle with the thought of their work appearing on fashion, how do you think you will feel seeing your art transformed into garments, homewares, etc? Personally I love seeing my work on fabrics and all types of objects. I love the idea of art not just being used on a canvas but translating onto anything and anywhere to give others an experience of it.
What is a typical day for you? What do you do outside of work?
Typical day for me starts with coffee. A strong one made from French press which is my go too. I normally take the first hour of the morning just to relax, settle in and try not to go on my phone or social media and have that time just to reflect and have breakfast. Around 8 am is normally when I get into things at the studio. Timings do change if I am working on site with a mural. But a typical day is normally broken up into two parts first half or the later half of being business/email responding and the other half being creating. But every day is not the same for me working as an artist you’re always doing something different and each week has its own unique variety of challenges and work. Outside of work I love going for long bush walks and playing basketball!
Who has inspired you the most to date and why? Whose careers do you follow?
One big influence on me is the artist, Ben Quilty. To hear him talk about his art and the way he interacts with the world and his work is inspiring!
Do you have a dream collaboration or project?
Dream collaboration would have to be working with my art on shoes as I am a massive basketball head and I love shoes. It’s always been a dream of mine to collaborate and do a limited edition line.
Michael, what is in the pipeline for you for 2021?
This year I’ve got a few exciting projects coming up earlier on with bigger murals and brand collabs. I’m actually having my first solo show which is exciting too, but yeah I’m really looking forward to pushing my work creatively and working with amazing people.
Name three words that best describe your style of art.
Expressive, colourful, story.
What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as an artist?
Learn the rules on how to create but don’t be bound by them. Really go with and follow what you find interesting and don’t be bound what others might think of your work.
Shop Michael’s limited editions prints at www.futurefolk.com.au.