An ongoing series of Q&As with contemporary Los Angeles-based artists. This week we interview Mikael B., a native of Denmark whose love for Wild Style graffiti and the energetic flow of cosmic cubist abstraction combines not only on his murals and canvases but in a pursuit of the American Dream that prompted his move to Los Angeles several years ago. His next show is in New York but you can catch him now on L.A. walls from West Hollywood to DTLA, and in the pages of his gorgeous new monograph, Never Tomorrow.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
MIKAEL B.: I’ve always felt like an artist. I remember I was the only kid staying in the classroom at recess, I was drawing and creating. Filling my notebooks with abstract and figurative sketches. My notebooks soon became tattoo books because some of my classmates asked me to draw (with a pen) my sketches on their arms and legs. Soon the whole class and other classes around the school would line up for my tattoo designs. I’ve kinda been the outsider but it somehow felt right and I’ve always had the urge to express myself.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I create an infinite universe where everything is possible.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would be motivating and inspiring people to follow their passion and dreams.
Did you go to art school? Why/why not?
I skipped school and escaped the safe environment around when I started my first company when I was 22 years old. I never fit in in school and educational programs. I’ve always been doing my own thing. Learning by doing and getting shaped by reality. I love learning and experimenting but I've never been a fan of the school system.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
L.A. had everything I was looking for, an inspirational art scene where only the best survive, which I find very motivating. L.A. has the beaches, the pulsating nightlife of the city, the weather, and people are so positive and welcoming. L.A. makes me think: Everything is possible. So It was a huge dream for me to move to L.A. and follow my passion as an artist. I’m living my dream now.
When was your first show?
My first show was in Denmark in 2013 where I had my first breakthrough with my abstract world-map series that went viral on social media, reaching more than 1 million people.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My most recent solo show was this past October. It was also my most comprehensive show ever, as I took over the 11,000-square-foot space at the Plant in Copenhagen, with more than 40 pieces on view, including my new sculpture series and a Ferrari California with my artwork. At the in-show gift shop, I launched my first merch/apparel line. Right now I’m working on a new body of work for my first show in New York together with Taglialatella Galleries. I'm very excited to show these new paintings that are combining art-historical references from the baroque to cubism with a futuristic fascination.
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Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to music nonstop. My studio is always on party mode! Music is a vital part of my mindful studio practice, and I usually disappear into my paintings for hours not aware what's going on around me. It’s mostly deep house but I also enjoy trance, dance, jazz, pop/rock.