We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Faers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, how do you think about risk?
I think by simply existing, we’re naturally prone to positions of risking something regardless of personal choice, be it in our relationships, career choices, financial choices, hobbies, so on and so forth.
To me, every moment in our waking lives is another risk taken, whether we are self aware or not. We live in a sublime state of reality filled with complexities beyond our understanding, most of the time. Obligations and events we are not prepared for happen when we least expect them to, and the scenarios we’ve prepared for rarely come to fruition.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we’ve already taken on the biggest risk by simply existing, and the absolute worst thing that can happen to us, will. The inevitable end. That’s what drives me to take risks for the things that I’m truly passionate about. Without risk, we fail to grow.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My art has changed a lot over the years and it continues to change as I get older. I think this is pretty normal for a lot of artists. Styles change, interests change. I started off really interested in Marvel comics as a kid, tracing over X-Men and Spiderman characters trying to figure out the form of the character, even though I really didn’t know what I was looking for or why. I was just really attracted to how awesome the characters were posed, their unique / individualistic costumes, their musculature and powers, etc.
Into my teens I started to develop a taste for anime, specifically dragon ball z, cowboy bebop and tri-gun amongst a few others, which was the cool thing at the time. There was a solid year where I drew nothing but characters adorned in loose fitting pants and spikey hair, I think a lot of other artists around my age can probably relate to this haha. Eventually this led to burnout of the style and I found myself starting to get interested into fantasy illustration, especially by artists like Frank Frazetta and Paul Bonner. Two very different types of artists that share a similar interest in the fantasy world. I built a fascination with Paul Bonner’s painting style and also loved Frazetta’s graphical approach. Overall though, there’s been a lot of different artists that have interested and inspired me over the years, and the list continues to grow everyday with the amount of incredible talent out there.
I’m constantly looking for anything when it comes to inspiration, whether its fashion design, current and upcoming tech, horror movies, history, comedians, and of course as vast amount of art found across sites like Artstation, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I’m a huge fan of both horror and comedy, so I think I naturally tend to gravitate towards that when I’m designing a creature or character. There’s usually a little mix both genres in everything I create.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m usually open for adventure, I love hiking, bicycling, being out in nature, enjoying the beach, learning about history in museums, visiting landmarks and traveling to new places. That being said, I’m naturally an introvert and while I’m always down for the ride, I’m usually not the one steering if that makes sense. My wife, however, is great at finding cool things to do. If it was up to me, I’d probably just sit at home like a caveman drawing all day.
Alright, so let’s jump right in! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc. that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
Ouch, this one hits home a bit. As much as I’d like to take any credit for the small morsels of success I’ve experienced in my short run as a professional artist, I think every moment I’ve experienced not doing this for a living has led me to where I am now and where I will continue to go. I know that’s a bit of a general and overused point of view, but it’s the reality of how things have been laid out for me. I’ve spent most of my working life doing things other than art – from ushering at a movie theater in my mid teens, to working as a waiter at a restaurant, dispatching for law enforcement, working as a fork lift driver for a variety of warehouses and loading docks, working as a security guard at a hospital and ultimately supervising at two different UPS facilities over the course of five years. That’s about twelve years worth of non artistic work in a nutshell.
I’ve bounced around a variety of different jobs to pay the bills, but the work ethic is something that both of my parents instilled in me at a young age. They never had an issue with me pursuing the arts as a career, so long as I showed dedication to the craft by giving it my all. Aside from working a plethora of jobs I really didn’t have an interest in, my parents were a strong driving force in my resilience when faced with adversary. I’m very appreciative of them.
Although the life lessons I’ve learned through the various job responsibilities led me to improving my skills in communication, cooperation and efficiency, It was my many incredible professors at the ArtCenter College of Design that really paved the way for me as a skilled and disciplined artist.
The road to get there wasn’t easy, especially after having a very bland learning experience at a community college post high school. After a year of studying graphic design in 2005, I dropped out and figured school just wasn’t something I was interested in and thus spent the next decade working jobs that would keep me afloat long enough to build up my skills as an artist. I’m surprised that lasted as long as it did before I made a move, but my wife, girlfriend at the time, encouraged me every step of the way. She’s played a huge role in my success as an artist and I wouldn’t be anywhere near progressing into my career goals, let alone pursued art as a career to begin with if it wasn’t for her support.
In my mid to late 20’s, she convinced me to look into going back to school. I knew that if I was going to go through this again, it needed to be something I was really passionate about. My high school had a terrible art program so one thing I really wanted to aim for was finding a school that valued building a strong drawing and painting foundation while also focusing on design. That’s when I took a year off of the day job to focus on building a strong entry portfolio. My cousin at the time was midway through her college education at the ArtCenter College of Design and recommended I apply – a few months later I was accepted into the school with a decent scholarship and the following fall term I’d be entering as part of the illustration department with a focus in the entertainment arts track.
There are so many people that are currently in my life and those that have moved on for me to thank. Although this is all just a small fraction of those people, I’m grateful for everyone and every experience, good and bad, that I’ve had. I continue to grow and learn everyday and I hope I can provide the same level of encouragement to others, that I’ve experienced myself thanks to the wonderful people I’ve been surrounded by throughout my life.