Rounding up our 2017 lineup of Random Acts of Art bags is Sydney-based artist & illustrator, Mike Watt. From a freelancing neighbour at our Surry Hills crib to our feature artist for edition no. 11, Mike & his astro-zombie make an outta-this-world addition to our coffee & art project.
We talk space dreams, eyeballs & strange, awkward memories (with a cameo appearance from #08 artist Sindy Sinn) with Mike.
SO AN ASTRONAUT, HEY? INSPO FOR THIS CHARACTER?
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was about 4 until my brothers told me that I’d be out in space, someone would cut my chord and I’d float around forever until I died… Which kind of put me off (it turned out to be a good thing because I’m way too stupid to be an astronaut so crushing that dream early was probably for the best). I guess since then I’ve seen astronauts in a bit of a morbid light.
I’ve tried to keep it open for people to decide what’s going on with astro, but he’s in a bit of a bad situation and coming to terms with things and appreciating where he is. I think you can kind of make your own ideas on how he got there and if he’ll get out.
WHAT’S YOUR COFFEE ORDER?
It changes every 6 months or so but I’m on espressos at the moment.
EVER DRAWN A CHARACTER OFF AN UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER OR STAFF MEMBER AT A CAFE?
Pretty often, it’s normally a loose version of them that I make look a fair bit weirder than they actually are. I hope no one ever recognises themselves in my drawings, they’re not always the most flattering.
OH & WHAT HAPPENED TO EVERYONE’S EYEBALLS?
I think I got that off Batman and other superheroes (I was a massive comic book nerd growing up), so it’s kind of a naive thing but some people react strangely to it and think it’s a devil vibe or something. I’m starting to fill them with colour so I see it as a giant pupil I guess instead of zombie eyes like other people see them.
CONGRATS ON RECENTLY TYING THE KNOT; YOUR PARTNERT EVER BEEN FEATURED IN YOUR WORK?
Cheers heaps! We have a project together called Back to Front where Fe takes the photos of the back and I draw what the front might look like. We’ve been a bit lazy on it but we’ll make some more soon.
WHO OR WHAT’S GOT YOUR EXCITED IN POP CULTURE?
I would definitely recommend Party Legends, that show is amazing. I also watched They Live for the first time the other day, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, that movie is the best…. And Todd Macfarlane’s process videos are very entertaining.
YOU CAME UP AGAINST YOUNG WALKER IN THE SECRET WALLS BATTLE – HOW’D YOU GO?
The battle and the night was so much fun. I painted in Secret Walls years back when it first came to Aus so I was stoked to get back into it. I really hope they make it a semi regular thing again.
STRANGEST SURFACE YOU’VE CREATED ART ON?
I’ve painted on heaps of weird surfaces but the most awkward one was easily people’s faces. Face painting is the worst, if you want to hear the full awkward story ask Sindy Sinn.*
*We asked Sindy & the story is gold!
We drove to Canberra for a weekend of Halloween artwork for Beach Burrito. The main event being live-art. But on the first night we had to do some face-painting for people who were there partying / having a fun night. Over the course of the night I painted about five or six incredibly cute bar-tender ladies. And Mike, the biggest introvert I know, painted the faces of a group of accountants having a pretty dull night. He did them all really quickly. And they all hated having face-paint on… so they washed it off. But it was hard to wash off… so we ended up sitting next to a table of sad looking old men with smeary grey faces.
People would come over and go “Are you guys doing face painting?”. But would then see the grey-faced men and awkwardly disappear. At the end of the night, Mike was so embarrassed and awkward he wouldn’t come out with me.
I ended up partying with six or seven skull-faced ladies at a shitty bar. I came back to the hotel at about 5am. The next day for the live-art, Beach Burrito asked us to do Halloween portraits of each other.
I was still really hungover and couldn’t stop vomiting. So he painted a massive painting of me with the caption MONSTER FROM SPEW LAGOON. One of the cute girls from the bar bought it… and has subsequently hung it above her bed. I think it was about four or five years ago. She still tags me in photos of her bedroom / the painting above her bed.
And THAT … is the weekend Mike is talking about. Hahaha.