With Michael Beachy

Some would argue that art should be firstly fun if nothing else. Only secondly should it be profound, enlightening, avant garde or whatever else. Over the years the stories of tortured and starving artists were pretty commonplace, suggesting that in it’s essence, creating art can be torturous. It’s refreshing to see art that reflects an idea of lightheartedness, satire and well, fun. Michael Beachy’s paintings are certainly fun. They appear to be fun to create and they’re definitely fun to look at. His combination of digital media, comic strips, paintings and sketches evoke a certain childhood nostalgia, maybe reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoon classics. His art has recently been featured on the cover of Chinook Book Twin Cities for 2012 which is an annual publication that highlights green and local merchants in the Twin Cities Area. His work is also featured on this years Run, Smelt, Run Puppet Parade poster which will be taking place April 22nd in Duluth.

MJ: How many years have you been painting/drawing?
MB: I remember my first painting. It was done in high-school and it was a painting of a river and trees, and it was terrible. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I definitely wouldn’t call it comparable. They were very different things for me back then. If I were asked for my original influences, for better or worse I would have to say Marvel comics, Ninja Turtles, and He-Man.

MJ: Was there a certain point when you realized that painting was more than just a hobby?
MB: Painting was not a natural transition for me. I don’t think I would have managed as well as I have today had it not been for The Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. School had always been hard for me. My mind doesn’t easily fall into the conventions of public education, on top of which I was lazy. I saw in Perpich, not a step toward a dream but an escape from knee shaking math and science credits. I’m not sure how I got in with that attitude, but I made it. Once there I was given technical drawing and painting skills that felt like keys to a floating city. Shortly after I graduated I dove right into making money off my work, and hooked into small town mural project in Wadena MN. I can’t say it was a conscious decision to make it more than just a hobby, I was still just a cocky teenager. I’m just glad I got by on luck and instinct, it’s the only place I want to be.

MJ: What sort of things do you enjoy painting?
MB: I like doing anything. However I can say that the bottom of the list is certainly landscapes and that still life drawing holds a much higher place on my preferred subject matter list than I like to admit. I actually try to do a lot of academic drawing and painting, that is figure drawing, portraits, and still life, but I think of that more as training. The majority of my drawing and painting lies in more whimsical or fantastical territory. Impossible color and wild patterns are my bread and butter.

MJ: What have you been working on lately?
MB: Lately, since last year I have been working primarily as an illustrator. I have always had a huge place in my heart for cartoons and simple powerful expressive images and it’s a much steadier way to make money. It also gives me the chance to work with people and friends that I respect and admire. The best example being the guys over at The Magic Smelt. I’ve helped design their logo and a poster for their event. They are a great community organization as well as great artists and I’m glad to have some small part in it. I still paint murals, but they are a rare opportunity, there is a chance that I will soon be doing a mural for 3rd street bakery but that’s still up in the air.

MJ: What’s it like being an artist in Duluth?
MB: Duluth is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been but It can feel like a self contained universe some times. I have to be constantly away from Duluth to make the connections I need to find jobs. There is no better place to be inspired, and there is no worse place to get paid to be inspired. At least in my experience. I have friends who can do quite well in the microcosm of Duluth.

MJ: Where can people see more of your work? Are people able to get their hands on prints or originals?
MB: Hmm, I don’t have anything for sale at the moment, and it’s a shame, but I do keep a blog and an internet portfolio. So while you can’t buy anything yet, you can defiantly have a free peak. The blog serves as a sort of open sketch book, and in the average moth is updated roughly every-other day, so there is plenty to look at. www.benchyboy.blogspot.com.