Interview with Michel Reeder for “mOMENt”

Thinkspace is proud to present Michael Reeders solo exhibition ‘mOMENt’ in our project room. Last year we presented two sold-out mini-solos from Michael Reeder in Miami and Arizona, and are excited to finally present a full body of work in our Culver City gallery. Reeder’s mixed media contemporary portraits use figurative distortions and symbolic dislocations as a vehicle for the expression and examination of identity that constantly keep us on our toes and pondering. In anticipation of Reeder’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Michael Reeder to discuss his latest body of work, in-studio diet, and MFA of life.

mOMENt’s opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 7th in our project room


SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

MR: My work always begins and ends with the surface. However, for this body of work, I wanted the literal identifiable imagery of the portrait to fall back as a secondary element and let color, surface, shape, and form take on a more dominant role. In doing so, I hoped to give the figures more of an in-between realms sort of vibe; As if they are in a deep state of contemplation, or hypnosis, or even partaking in mind-altering substances, etc. I wanted to depict the point where their everyday world and the world in their minds begin to fuse and blend. Also, in previous works, there was a simplified shape to the figure or portrait bust and the interior elements of the portrait gave the figure a sense of identity, and in these new works, it’s somewhat reversed. The interior of the portrait is abstract and painterly with very little if any information and the silhouette holds more information of who the figure is. But yeah, super excited to be showing in the Project Room! Can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of the new stuff!

SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

MR: I don’t really have any go to websites, but on IG I definitely try to keep up with a range of artists. Right now I’m really feeling @katherynmac, @ineslongevial, and @anjasalonen….. such incredible painters!

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

MR: The journey of creating something from nearly nothing is extremely rewarding, regardless of how successful the final product is. I love building on top of previous concepts or getting to implement new ideas that were discovered from a previous body of work.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

MR: All of it. Haha, no not really, but sometimes it can certainly feel that way. My latest work has of course taken on a more dimensional quality, and implementing the physical layers while trying to maintain an uncontrived and fresh feel is a major challenge. Many of these works require significant preliminary planning due to the amount of bracing, gluing and hardware that is required to attach such heavy pieces together. This stage can easily stagnate a piece, as well as kill the journey for me. The last thing I want to do is spend hours a day, every day, working on something that I already know what the end result is going to be. That’s extremely boring.

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.

MR: I don’t have a particular ritual but I do try to take a few days off. I took a week off after the Scope push, but this round I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that. My schedule is way too packed leading into summer… I’ve got some commissions I’ve been sitting on for nearly forever, and I’d love to get somewhat caught up on those.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

MR: It all starts with a super simple doodle of shapes to establish a general composition that I’ve built in my head. I then transfer that to Photoshop or Procreate on my iPad, and I start pushing colors and shapes around. I’ll begin to bring in some representational elements, ie. hands, arms, faces, and will usually run through a few different versions so I can establish a solid starting point. This allows me to engineer the structural parts of the piece early on like I mentioned earlier. Some of my pieces can have some pretty significant weight to them, so it’s important to make sure I start off with a sound base to build on top of. I’ve certainly had a few pieces go in an unplanned direction, and therefore not all that prepared for the weight of certain pieces. I’ve definitely had to perform some surgery here and there to shore up areas while the piece was nearly done, lol.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts or work and then long periods of not working?

MR: At the moment I typically spend 6 to 7 days a week in the studio. As a show deadline approaches, the days get longer and longer and far more intensely focused on production and the completion of works.

SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

MR: 3 meals a day and I’m pretty locked on what they are too, lol. I don’t have time to spend trying to figure out what to eat. Granola and coffee in the morning and I make my lunch sandwich before I head out to the studio. The sandwich is comprised of hummus, shredded carrots, ¼ avocado, and arugula and spinach on a wheat bun. Essentially a salad on bread, lol. I have coconut milk yogurts and peanut butter and jelly supplies stocked at the studio. However, I do my best to get home to eat dinner with my girlfriend!

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?

MR: Oh man… wow… Collaborating with Black Sabbath in their heyday would’ve been amazing, but I really feel like Uncle Acid and Deadbeats and I could make a really sick music video together!

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

MR: I used to work at Eyecon Studios which is a mural company in Dallas, TX. In a way, the two owners sort of became mentors of mine. Their breadth of knowledge in the arts, especially in the commercial and illustration realm, is immense. I just tried to be a sponge and soak up as much as I could while I was there. I can for sure, without hesitation say that the work I’m making now would not exist if I did not work for them. Many of my undergrad classmates at SVA went on to get their MFA degrees after graduating. I decided to take the advice of Farrell Brickhouse (an instructor of mine), and sought experience from other aspects of life after. So in a way, Eyecon was my MFA program. Instead of taking out another student loan I got paid to learn more.

SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?

MR: I’ve got the standard paints, oil, acrylic, and acrylic latex. I also have a full range of potassium silicate paint which is a mineral based silicate paint. Beautiful stuff, but stupid expensive – and they just went up on their prices too! I’ve got a vinyl cutter, vinyl, vinyl masking, etc. Tons of tools such as different saws, sanders, routers, nearly every hole saw bit you can buy, lol. A bunch of other crap! I just moved into a larger studio space, so I’m hoping to eventually be able to set up a proper table saw. I’d also like to set up a spray booth as well. Spray paint is such a pain in the ass to clean up!! That would also let me get a big air compressor set up with different cup guns and airbrushes and maybe be able to achieve some sweeter gradients in my work. I’m a color nerd and very much prefer to mix my own colors and with spray paint, you’re not able to necessarily do that.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do?

MR: Ahh geez… ummm… let me think on that one for a bit.

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