Michael Mararian cranks out inky, dreadful illustrations that appear to have been outsourced from a Hallmark buried in a Necropolis. Each work is hand drawn in various ink forms, hence the moniker. Being that Michael illustrates children as “the last bastion of innocence” and is fascinated by “the power of children and the reactions they generate from viewers” I wanted to get into his brain and discover where his ideas come from. What advice does he have to give? What are his views on art? Here is Michael Mararian’s take on things…
“How does one understand if he or she is making progress with their art? Or, in contrast, is it even important to actually make progress as an artist?
Some subscribe to the notion that artists create work to help delve into themselves – to “fight their demons” so to speak.
I would agree with that statement but I think ultimately it would be a detriment to the artist if he or she actually achieved those goals. What if an artist fought their demon and won? What would their art look like after that? I would argue that it’s probably best to not progress as an artist in fear that all resolutions will hinder the creative struggle which ultimately delivers the viable and meaningful fruits of labor. One of the few cases of changing the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” to “If it ain’t broke, break it” I have my own issues that I face with my art.
Issue of guilt and inadequacy that I imagine would make little sense to viewers but resonate every time I stand back in my studio to take in a newly rendered piece of work.
I was born an only child to overly protective parents who wanted nothing more in their golden years than to have grandchildren and a son and wife living a normal happy suburban lifestyle. The art I create is partially my rebellion against all of that and the frustrating and unbearable guilt of disappointing them that follows simultaneously. I think if I found myself progressing (as per my definition) as an artist, I probably wouldn’t draw anymore. I’d be happy and content but my art would probably suffer the fate of be uninteresting.
So here I am now. An artist whose career has been built on the disillusionment of perfect American values and time honored tradition of the joy of childhood and the assumptions of the happiness it brings to all . My artwork is a way for me to comically deal with the choices I have made in my life. I was never sure if I could convey my ideas that way, in a comic fashion yet it seems to have worked so far. My sense of humor has always been the most prominent part of my character and I feel as an artist you have to know what your strongest personal traits are and somehow infuse them in your work. I tend to side with the idea that the technical execution of a piece, as much as some believe is everything, is really the second most important part of the artwork. It’s the emotion of the piece I feel makes a work of art stand out. The connection that resonates with the viewer long after they have moved on.
If my story could inspire an artist in any way, I would say it’s that my path into the field has been like most people who tell you how they arrived at what they love doing – by accident. I collected art for years and even though I knew I could hold my own as an artist, I never thought to pursue it seriously until I decided on a whim to sell some hand drawn art cards on EBay. They too examined the humor behind otherwise taboo subjects and I found a small audience that has been willing to follow me till this day. I probably did everything they tell art school graduates not to do — I sent blind emails with links to my work to galleries and asked to be considered for fundraiser events and groups shows. And you know what? More than not, it worked. People were interest and wanted to include me because I didn’t worry about getting an offer to show with them – I just trusted that if I put my heart and soul into the work it would speak for itself. And sure, I also understood that not every piece of work I do will be great, and that’s okay. You just move on to the next and tell yourself “how can I make this piece really really interesting?” How can I as an artist take my life and share my emotions in the most interesting way I can think of?”
Discover more of the fascinating world of Michael Mararian here.
Also, be sure to swing by McCaig Welles in Brooklyn this Friday night for Michael’s solo show, Les Enfants Diabolique!
McCaig Welles Gallery
29 Roebling Street, Suite B
Brooklyn, NY 11211