“Mikey, my big butt brotha, an authentic individual with a rotund rumpus. A man with the weight of a moon on his back. Posterior monthly’s rear of the year. Yes it’s true that Mike can do really cool doodles, but it’s unfortunate that his raw talent should be so overshadowed by his bell shaped buttocks! Such is the luck of the draw (get it…draw?) in the birth lottery that his undeniable gift as an artist barely gets a look in because of his undeniably god given curves. But he doesn’t believe in God, because he thinks he’s a bit of a berk, not just Christian God either..all of them! What sort of God would gift Mike with a trouser-bursting hump like his and deny the same privilege to his two identical triplet brothers! A God of war! Or a God of phwooaar! Zing!
Anyway, enough butt jokes, Mikey is a breath of fresh air in a sea of pretentious try-hards, he has an in-built default setting for always calling things as he seems them (whether you like it or not) and I believe his authentic approach to life really shines through in his art. Plus it looks fun, like Mike, a fun dude who has a mean bs 360 to boot. I feel honored to have him as a friend and to be able to piggy back on his talent..and he can croon like you wouldn’t believe…plus he can dance. MIKE IS ART! Mike is his butt! Like Totally! Yeah buddy!” – Phil Evans
Our cartoon correspondent and all round dope doodle cheese Jon Horner talks wonga with this week’s guest…Mike O’Shea.
Let’s start with Lightbox. A lot of how you made the animations is covered in the behind the scenes video, but I was wondering whether you had ideas for scenes you wanted to do before you started working on it, or whether you were reacting to the footage once you saw it?
There were no set plans beforehand, I just knew I wanted to do some sections where one frame animated into the next frame. Other than that I just made it up as I went along. Phil would send me rough edits and ask if I could add stuff in certain parts and I’d just try stuff and send it back to him and go from there. I was getting bits sent to me all the time and we would talk about ideas for it and stuff, but most of the time I didn’t know what it was going to turn out like until I had finished that section. Long story short, it was all about reacting to the footage when I got it.
When did you know what the music was going to be? Everything fit together so perfectly, it’s pretty impressive that there wasn’t some massively elaborate master plan beforehand.
Haha, Maybe Phil had a plan all along and didn’t tell us! It just kind of grew organically I think. Me and Phil are on a similar wavelength so it just kind of worked. It was so easy working with him, he pretty much liked everything I gave him and we seemed to have a very similar view of what we thought worked and what didn’t. I didn’t know what music he was using until he sent me a rough edit for me to work from. Like I said before I couldn’t really do much until I saw the rough edit, I responded to the footage and the music at the same time. I really like Gibbo’s music and I think it fit really well with the whole vibe and that definitely helped when i was drawing my silly pictures. I got super amped on the tunes and it made me want to do some trippy stuff that would work with them smooth beats, ha!
Have you and Phil worked together before?
Yeah, we have worked on getting a dance floor pumping with our sweet moves but we have never worked on a video project before. Phil got me involved with a group exhibition he was apart of a few years ago, so we kind of worked on stuff together before but not really. We both had work up in the same show but that’s about it until now. We clicked pretty quick and I always really liked his video work and he seemed to like my drawings so it was only a matter of time before we did something like this together, I think he was just waiting for the right project to bring me in on. We had talked about doing something like this for a while and this seemed like the right time to give it a go. I hope we get to team up again in the future, just like they do in the Avengers.
Ha! Which one of the Avengers are you? Which one is Phil?
Hhhmm, good question. Which one keeps them all together? I guess that would be Captain America. Phil is that guy, the nerdy dork that no one likes but without him it would fall apart. I think I would be Ironman because I’m super smart, witty as hell and I have loads of money and sex appeal. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Good choice. And you make things that almost destroy the world.
Haha, hell yeah. That’s me. The key word there is ‘almost’, I also save everyone’s asses. People reading this who don’t know the Avengers aren’t gunna follow this, ah well screw em, those jocks.
It is pretty odd that a huge amount of people now do know who the Avengers are. Ten years ago I don’t think anyone would have seen that coming.
Yeah for sure. Anyway Jon, back to me and my drawings. Jeez. it’s not all about you and your dorky comic book heroes. Why did you bring that up? (I know I brought it up but I thought some tension would be good for the readers, ha!)
Hahaha! Did you read comics much growing up?
I read Spider-man a bit for sure but that’s about it for the American stuff I think. I always liked that guy. I read a lot of the Beano and some Dandy also. Can’t remember too much of it now, but I used to have a stack. Me and my brothers would try and come up with new super heroes all the time. We would all draw a bunch and try and out do each other with the coolest heroes.
You make comics yourself, right?
Not too much, I have dabbled. I did a couple for Eyeball Comix and some small ones for Vice. I want to do some more for sure, I think its fun to mix up what I do. I get bored if I just stick to one way of working. I like to paint, illustrate, animate, make comics, clay sculptures and whatever else I can play around with. This week I have been playing with clay. It’s fun to use your hands and experiment a bit with the stuff rather than just drawing all the time. It’s cool to think in a different way sometimes.
Yeah, I totally know what you mean! It seems like a lot of how you work is really tactile, like you keep computer stuff to a minimum. Is that true? And is it a choice or just how you like to work?
I wish I could keep it even more minimal on the computer front. I’d love it if I never had to use a computer again to create anything but that’s not going to happen. It is very useful and of course it is great for a lot of things, I just don’t like staring at the screen all day.
Did you go to art school or anything like that?
Yeah man, did all that jazz. Got into debt and learned a little bit, ha. It was good actually but I’m not sure I would go now with all the rises in fees. It’s way to expensive for what you actually get out of it, you spend most of the year off with half terms and summer holidays.
When did you start Highbrow? What made you make the plunge into small business ownership?
Haha, to be honest I’m not sure when I started it, it kind of happened slowly and is now moving even slower! I just wanted to make a bunch of stuff and put it all in the same world, the world of Highbrow. I was starting to make videos and I wanted to make some board graphics that I didn’t think fit anywhere else so i made them for my own thing instead.
So what’s up with it now, is it on a Roger-style hiatus? Got anything planned?
Haha, yeah kind of I guess. I just moved to London so I’m trying to still find my feet here. Once I am settled I think I’ll start doing some more with it. It’s not going to be a proper board company or anything, it’s more of a fun side project I can work on from time to time, you know, put out limited edition boards and shirts and stuff. I am about halfway through filming a new video. Now I’m in the big smoke I hope to get the ball rolling on that a bit more. I’m sure I’ll have something else to go along with that when the video is done.
Also, starting cool, independent, underground board companies is so last week.
What prompted the move to London? You were in Bristol before, right?
I had enough of the white crusties with dreadlocks and bare feet! I was there for 9 years and one by one a lot of my friends moved to London. I came up to stay with Chris Jones a bunch (yeah I just name dropped, big deal) and he pretty much convinced me it would be a good idea to move here. I don’t think he has many friends, so I have to hang out with him now to make sure he has company, I mean, who likes that guy? Well apart from everyone. Only playing. I luv ya C.J. Now go finish filming your Isle section.
I love London right now, I mean, it’s the honeymoon period so of course I’m loving it. I’m lucky that I have a good crew of friends that live close to me so I don’t have to travel for 2 hours to visit anyone. There’s also really cool stuff happening all the time. It’s hard to stay in and draw when there are exhibitions, book and zine fairs and stuff like that to go to. Also there are loads of new spots for me to skate.
Rad. You’ve done board graphics for the 3 Js (Joe Gavin, Jak Pietryga and Chris Jones), got any more coming soon? Anyone you’d particularly like to work with?
I don’t have anything lined up at the moment. I think it’s time I do one for the double J, Jake Johnson. How cool would that be? Ha. There aren’t too many that I’d like to work with to be honest. It would be cool to do a board for Polar maybe, or Magenta, but I’m not sure if my stuff would fit. Where do you think my vibe would work best? Which company would my drawings fit on?
Yeah, I think I could maybe do something for them if they were down for it. I like Drehobl’s new series that just came out. Oh and a Krooked guest board would be awesome.
Have you got any other projects in the works?
I don’t have any projects lined up at the moment. I’m just about settled into my new life in London and I’m now in a position where I can start thinking and working towards new things. I am pretty much just doing things for myself at the moment. If anyone is interested in working with me give me a holler, I’m well down for doing some cool stuff.
Do you have a day job then?
Yeah, I have a day job which takes up a fair amount of my time at the moment, but you’ve got to work to pay the bills and London ain’t cheap. I work in a coffee shop in Camberwell called Daily Goods. Most peeps who work there draw and skate including the badass boss ‘Carter’, so I’m in good hands. Pop down for a coffee if you’re ever in the area.
Do you collect boards or art or anything like that?
Yeah, I have a few boards that I have kept hold of and not skated. I have a Roger deck that I really like, it’s called the Bowl Troll. I also have the first Skate Wizard Polar deck, which Jakke said was the first graphic he drew for them, so that make it even more special for me. Jacob is my boy.
Oh and I have Chris Jones’ first pro board for Crayon. I don’t really like the graphic if I’m honest but when your mate gets his name and face on a board that’s kinda a big deal. Most of them are sentimental I guess. Oh, and I’ve kept one of each graphic I’ve designed in the past.
I collect art and zines from my friends too. We normally do swaps. I give them something and they give me something in return. It’s good to support friends. I have some stuff from Kyle Platts, a few paintings from Jacob Ovgren, Paul Arsecott, Tim Ryan and a bunch of other friends that make cool shit.
Who else’s stuff are you into at them moment? In skateboarding and outside?
Hhhmmm, well to be honest i have not been looking at much artwork at the moment. I find I get too influenced by other people’s work so I’m making a conscious effort to stay away, ha! I want to focus on developing my own stuff and not get side tracked with what other people are doing. Also, I think I’m more inspired by people’s attitudes towards working then their actual work. Like, somewhere who loves to make things and is honest and pure in what they do and just does it because they have to. People’s positive energy for life and creating get me hyped, I’m hoping some of it will rub off on me. All that aside, I really like that cartoon Rick and Morty. Have you seen it? It’s so interesting and goes to some deep places at times but is still just a funny cartoon. It would be pretty damn cool to work on that show I reckon.
What medium that you’ve never tried would you like to have a go at?
Stand up comedy, that’s an art form right?
Yeah, definitely! How come?
Because I think I’m funny. Ha, well normally when I’m drunk. Oh and I like the attention. A room full of people watching me makes me feel good inside. I’m a bit of an attention seeker sometimes.
No, but I really like stand up comedy and I think it could be an interesting thing to try, or maybe do sketches and weird videos and just put them on YouTube, ha. I mean, I use humour a lot in my artwork and I always wondered if I could translate that to something else other than drawings. But these are just thoughts, I’m in no position to actually try it out. I’m too scared.
Me and Phil Evans send each other little weird videos of us trying to act and stuff from time to time, mostly to make each other laugh. We have talked about trying to make something for the public also, but maybe they are just funny to us. Inside jokes and the like.
Try not to be to self conscious about what others might think. Do what makes you happy and enjoy yourself. You don’t have long on this planet so have some fun. Oh, and go dancing in a club, field, bus stop or whenever it doesn’t matter, as long as you are dancing its all good. GO DANCING RIGHT NOW.
Now get those teas on mate…