Mike Perry is an art entrepreneur who works solo and in collectives he forms and joins with Director of Craft J Bell. “He forms and joins.” “He forms and joins / within the plant that purloins.” “A rejoinder to the nipple, loins, and the groin.” The algorithm now asks: Will you conjoin with Bitcoin?
Mike makes paintings, animation, sculptures, books, public art installations, monographs, exhibitions, drawings, silkscreens, and more. His creative purpose is to conjure that feeling of soul-soaring wonder you have when you stare into distant galaxies on a dark night, when you go on long journeys into the imagination, when you ponder what it is that this life is all about. In so doing, he celebrates form: of the human body, of shapes and lines that coalesce into lyrical masses, of the vastness of the cosmos and the questions it calls us to.
Some of these voyages into the essential existential are recorded in the riot of color, form, and metaphysical messaging in the 2012 book Wondering Around Wandering, where you can find watercolor sunsets at the edge of space-time juxtaposed with houses on doughnuts floating in whitespace, a gouached big bang, ladders leading into the infinite, and collaged portraits of daydream reveries. These abstracted fields of thoughts and patterns are doorways to universes that call to mind your own possibility, that awaken you to the vibrant essence of who you are. Mike also loves to stack bananas and sculptural boobs in cocktails.
In Mike’s patterns, portraits, and dreamscapes, there are layers upon layers of meaning, some erased, some covering, some asking you to look deeper, some no longer there but still vibrating with a story that sought not to be forgotten. His use of color, pattern, and form, at times child-like, expresses a joyful spirit and a reverence for the bliss that is inherent in the human experience. Mike seeks to remind us to delight when witnessing this ecstatic cosmos.
In the year 2016, Mike is beginning new ventures. More animated series and films, music videos, paintings, nude drawing sessions and paintings, silkscreening, sculpture-making, public art installation, comedy and performance, hundreds and thousands of notebook pages filled with sketches for a world we can live in, more collaborations with you. Ever since we started this, our aim is to create worlds together, and we’re figuring out bigger and better ways of doing that, it just takes time even though Mike and J are working way faster now than they ever were before. You should see Mike animate and J build. Let’s get a GIF made of that.
You are essential to Mike. Mike is making animation, drawings, paintings, stories for you, for the you in the cities, the you in the rural places against a backdrop of natural sights and sounds, the you sitting at the edge of things and looking out, looking out so you can look inward as you do, the you when you are sleeping and dreaming, the you when you are making out, the you making out the meaning of what you are, what you are when you’re grappling with, grappling with the you you are when deep in the mists of entering into someone or something, someone or something the you when you are driving, arriving, imbibing, under the influence of your favorite draft, the draft written a year ago and in a file folder somewhere but you can’t remember where, the draft you can only find at that one establishment nearby, the draft that bleeds through the boards of the house, pushing you in this direction and that, the you finding yourself here and then there, here and then there in the faraway places, the you getting off on worlds in the future, the you watching stories streaming in from someplace other than where you are, the you who is always elsewhere other than what is coming in. The you at your job, still elsewhere, the you at home, still elsewhere coming in, the you looking at you still elsewhere, elsewhere still.
Are you there, still, are you? You.
After years of crafting art and events in various media, Mike segued into drawing movement-based performance, i.e., animation. He has created the openers for three seasons of the show Broad City in addition to animated pieces for Coca-Cola, Koodo, and GQ. He’s developing some short-form animated narratives. Broad City’s show openers capture the ongoing adventures of the neon-hued alphabet soup of letters and shapes from which universes and awkward moments are made. The choreography of its fully electrified colors mirror the slapstick happenings our protagonist comediennes find in the urban environment. One in the latest series of Broad City titles alludes to kissing, that dance of lips pushing forward and pulling back as mouths then faces curve around cheeks and noses to find their way to touch. This is to say that there is always a line separating us until we transcend it through art, sex, humor, conversation, or religious experience.
Mike needs you. He is sometimes painting you, painting you who stand naked in front of him, exposed and vulnerable and definitely having second thoughts but you signed up for this slot and you are going to stick with it, by Jove. After those initial upswells of fear, doubt, and shades of shame are scattered away by the luminosity of the space and of your being when it is no longer concealed, you find yourself invigorated by this [moment of] revelation, the light dancing on your skin, the freedom to be in a room with others when it is not an examination or a seduction, more sensual though, the artists’ eyes lingering on you as they take their impression, fingers and hands then working to recreate you, a rendition of you that will last longer than the you of this moment, the people sitting around you taking you in in ways that no one has. Finally you are still where elsewhere you are now scattered, is that elsewhere still coming in?
Satellite telemetry measuring Mother Earth with digits will never know her in her entirety. So, collectively we search and create together. Through conversation and collaboration we find a way that we all last longer. You find yourself trusting this process.
Some things don’t get revealed until their proper time. They remain folds in the fabric of reality that are hidden within a seam. The seam’s stiches come undone, as a marker of that moment, and all of a sudden you are singing a song by your favorite group you’d never known existed, that you don’t recall ever hearing or knowing of. And you are falling into something like love. Mike Perry Studio is unfolding folds, seducing you into that opened seam of what is beyond.
Mike is making drawings for you and our universe, the infinite lexicon of visual imagery that does not fade and never goes away from the collective mindstream even if it is after all impermanent and is fading right at this moment—e.g., that scene in the French film where she can’t recall her lover’s face anymore. This is a constant refrain for filmmakers and artists, reflecting their anxiety about a medium that was supposed to preserve the memory but doesn’t. The images remain but they have no meaning.
Yet everything that was is still known by someone with a pure, unforgotten clarity. We should take comfort in that when we are apart from those people, places, and eras we once loved. The nostalgic impulse in us causes us to fall into chasms of wistful longing. The longing we wondered into, with its prolonged passages of heartbreak. Memory is something more than an arrangement of atoms, for if that were so, we could have a scientist merely set the molecules in a certain pattern and we would have recollections of those disappeared thoughts lost in the ocean of time by someone else.
On a ship, I saw my memories adrift on the froth, then submerged. [I cried out to them.]
Mike’s projects span the spectrum from informal journal sketches to elaborate productions involving a team of collaborators. Our altruism tells us we can’t do anything on our own and more importantly, we want to create spaces where a bunch of artists can share work and take risks. That helps individuals grow and society in tandem. One of these affairs was Wondering Around Wandering, a gallery, performance space, and community center where we showed art, taught classes, had a bunch of soirees, dance performances, and an unforgettable theatrical piece by Andy Byers that was mystifying in its meaning, its layered language of cut paper and puppet worlds. The storyline confounded narrative interpretation yet what lingered once the lights went down, then up, was an image of asteroids that cross each other once in space-time and then move perpetually away from each other, a moviemoji that implores: “Let go of past paramours.” J did an infinity of things for WAW—which meant that he basically didn’t sleep for a couple months—building a house and the walls for a gallery space that had an exquisite flow. Masha produced it like she was mission control for a space launch, Jim + Owen and the Eyeballs flew in from London, Homer performed with his band. The bathrooms were quite a mise-en-scene. Instagram infants back then. The point being that everyone who had something to show could show it.
The Pacific Park mural, for the Brooklyn neighborhood, was another collective enterprise. Mike and J planned out a project spanning 410 feet in length and 10 feet in height and involving a posse of ten artists, including Mike; in ONE DAY beginning at 4:30 a.m. and concluding at 7:30 p.m., this group of artisans made that stretch of Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton into an outdoor art gallery that shows how shapes can radiate joy and other emotions. Check out the documentary about it.
The human form has been a mainstay of art since its beginning. We emerge from and embody it; it is fundamental to our obsessions even though we at times forget it. And so for several years now, Mike has been drawing and painting nudes, in part as part of several marathon nude portrait sessions. His collection of nudes My Mother Caught Me Doodling features fields of women, duos, and solo portraits. There are sections within it like a symphony, denotated by the drawing style and variety of pleasure. Looking through it several times will not exhaust its newness, the images that ask you to look deeper, the narratives you didn’t yet see. The sheer beauty of it.
Appearing in solitude, in gardens, mythical tableaus, and somewhere beyond all, the figures celebrate the exhilarating thrill of the female form and the archetypes that shape us. Note that certain drawings appear more than once, the way they do in our everyday lives, images transmuted from occurrence to reflection and vice-versa, a kind of drawing deja vu. Some drawings are resplendent in their one-color, fine-lined simplicity while others feature layers of imagery and abstract language that ask us to experience desire and simultaneously reflect on it. Throughout the collection, women wander through or are juxtaposed with pattern, and so pattern and form become a backdrop, then an interplay, then a question that asks us what coalesces into what we desire and what distances us from it? You are present but not present, even when you do not have a device that brings elsewhere in. It’s okay, my love, say it, you have a favorite.
Assignment: Send us thoughts on your favorite spread in the book with a five-minute stream-of-consciousness reflection that you record while watching a deer crashing through the woods in Vermont, through a microscope at something botanical, in the mountains, at a window in Teheran, consuming a Chantal Akerman or Stan Brakhage film. If recording while watching a soundless Brakhage film, please play a track you choose randomly from a friend’s Spotify playlist, or rather that you make without any technology and hear as a reverberation and echo in the space after it has faded.
Can you visit the studio? Yes. But contact us beforehand.
Mike’s first book, Hand Job, published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2006, pays homage to the relevance and beauty of hand-drawn type in the digital age. Over and Over: A Catalog of Hand-Drawn Patterns, from 2008, explores the nuanced texture, humor, and elegance of illustrative patterns. A third book, entitled Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing, was released in March 2011, showcasing the silk-screened extravaganza of contemporary artists and designers.
Mike’s aesthetic has certain qualities and signifiers, or so we might think, yet Mike like all of us speaks languages we don’t normally share, that we only articulate in our quiet moments alone, our monologues not in the voice others have assigned to us. This is human, these private conversations we have with ourselves, considering who we might be if not defined as we seem. That intrigue of a language we haven’t heard before is here in this portrait Mike made of his grandfather, Grandpa Perry, the actual size of which is 48 x 64 inches.
On the other side of the family tree, Grandpa Williams, a painter himself, gave Mike a tackle box full of paint when he 13. Mike opened the container and became obsessed with making imagery. From then on, it has been one canvas, silkscreen, notebook page, paper, and poster print after another.
To add some Perry spice to environments, companies have commissioned Mike to make custom art installations, like the extensive wraparound wall mural for Facebook’s New York City offices (finished, December 16, 2015) and an outdoor wall art project for a Chipotle restaurant in La Brea, Los Angeles (2013). Other projects will debut in 2016. On this theme, Mike is eager to send his art into space and would be delighted to do branding and custom art commissions for SpaceX or Blue Origin.
Art always exists in space.
This is all about you. Mike wants to create and share as much as he can with you for the time that we are lucky enough to be traveling together. How did we all end up here now, at this time, in this place? How do we respond to and resolve the mystery that surrounds us? What do we do when our soul calls us somewhere we do not know the name of or the directions to, but only the feeling of? When we are lost in longing, how can we remember what makes us laugh and allow ourselves to giggle and be tickled? There are many thoughts and stories and celebrations that remain to be told, so many sketches that you have not yet seen. With his animation, drawings, installations, sculptures and everything else he sets his mind into, Mike wants to catch you up in a net of wonder, make you into a butterfly, and then set you free to traverse the universe of your own exquisite magnificence. He is grateful you are here. Through a continual line of invention and collective creation, we move to places where light never fades and there is no elsewhere. Stay with us, let’s follow this and make it together.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, BFA Graphic Design / 2003
Maria Welsh Sharpe Art Foundation, Residency / 1998
Kansas City Art Institute / 1997
NEW YORK, NY USA
Visiting Professor, Parsons at the New School / 2010 - 2012
PHILADELPHIA, PA USA
Visiting Professor, University of the Arts / Winter 2009
Designer, Urban Outfitters / 2004 - 2005
BALTIMORE, MD USA
Adjunct Faculty, MICA / 2008
MINNEAPOLIS, MN USA
Adjunct Faculty, MCAD / 2004
Curios / Blurb 2016
My Mother Caught Me Doodling / Mike Perry Studio 2015
Wondering Around Wandering - Work so far… / author / Rizzoli New york 2012
Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Prints / Author / Princeton Architectural Press 2011
Over & Over: A Catalog of Hand-Drawn Patterns / Author / Princeton Architectural Press 2008
Hand Job: A Catalog of Hand-Drawn Type / Author / Princeton Architectural Press 2007
Off-Set Dublin, 2014
MICA Guest Lecturer 2014
Future of Story Telling NYC 2013
YCN Soho House NYC 2013
Moleskin Salon Brooklyn, November 2012
AIGA/NY Fresh Dialogue 27: Design Dualities 2011
AIGA Chicago, August 2010
Target Corporation Minneapolis MN, August 2010
How Design Conference Denver CO, June 2010
Design Kids: Design a Zine, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum 2010
Yale University, 2010
University of Flordia, Ligature 2008
MICA, Graduate Weekend Workshop, Fall 2008
MICA, Graduate Weekend Workshop, Spring 2008
AIGA Philadelphia, 2008
Published / Featured DIGITAL:
Fastcodesign - The Fluorescent World Of Mike Perry, Artist Behind The Opening Credits Of “Broad City March 9, 2016
Vice: The Creators Project - What Happens When You’re Naked in a Room Full of Artists? Janurary 27, 2016
Huffington Post - Meet Mike Perry, The Artist Behind Those Trippy ‘Broad City’ Graphics, Aug 28, 2015
Wall Paper - Wall space: Brooklyn artists think big with Mike Perry-led mural project Aug 17, 2015
Brooklyn Magazine - Mike Perry about How He and Nine Other Artists Will Transform Dean Street, Aug 10, 2015
The Great Discontent - An Interview with Mike Perry by Tina Essmaker, June 30, 2015
The View Magazine - Interview with Visual Multi- Talent Mike Perry, June 9, 2015
Hopes & Fears - Broad City Illustrator Mike Perry wants to Live Forever, May 28th, 2015
Vice: The Creators Project -Meet the Artist Behind Broad City’s Awesome Animated Intros, March 12, 2015
Its Nice That - We snoop around Mike Perry’s studio for the new Printed Pages, September 17, 2014
DNA Info - ‘Broad City’ Illustrator Paints Huge Yellow Mural Celebrating Crown Heights, July 9, 2014
Its Nice That - Mike Perry’s kaleidoscopic images are popping up all over the place, May 8, 2014
Art of the Title 2014
Wall Paper Style File Atelier - 2013
Refinery 29 - Meet Crown Heights’ Artist In Residence, Aug 6, 2013
RedBubble Blog - An Interview with Mike Perry, July 26, 2013
CMOG - Glass Lab, July 2012
Zing Magazine / July 2012
Grain Edit - Mike Perry Interview, April 13, 2010
Dwell March 29, 2010
Published / Featured Magazines:
Plus Eighty One / Featured Artist August 2013
FLJ / Freatured Artist September 2011
Grafik / Featured Artist 2011
Hardcore / Featured Artist February 2011
Elle Girl Korea / Featured Artist October 2010
Nylon Korea / Featured Artist Janurary 2010
Page One / Featured Artist February 2010
Print / Freatured Artist August 2010
ReadyMade / Studio Visit 2010
Tokion / Featured Artist May 2010
Elephant / Featured Artist Winter 2009
Illustration Japan / Freatured Artist November 2009
Varoom / Featured Artist 2009
Arkitip / Featured Artist 2008
Block / Featured Artist 2008
Design*Sponge & The New York Public Library / Design by the Book Featured Artist 2008
Feasthetic / Cover and Feature 2008
Grafik / A to Z of Illustration / Cover and Feature 2008
Reload / Featured Artist 2008
Arkitip / Featured Artist 2007
Brooklyn Industry / Featured Artist 2007
IDN / Featured Artist May 2007
Territory, No. 3 / Power Houses of Design
STEP magazine / January–February 2004 / Top 25 young designers under the age of 35
Published / Featured Books:
Art for Obama by Shepard Fairey and Jennifer Gross
Beyond Architecture, Gestalten
Box The Evolution of Charater Design, Gingko Press
Cartoon Network 20th Birthday by Cartoon Network
Combining The Two Best Things In Life Art and Travel, Published by The Jaunt
Custom Kicks, Laurence King Publishing
Drawn In by Julia Rothman, Quarry Books
Fashion Source: Cutting-edge Patterns and Textures, Maomao Publications
For Love and Money by Liz Farrelly and Olivia Triggs, TK
Graphic Design: Now in Production Edited by Andrew Blauvelt, Ellen Lupton. Text by Ian Albinson, Rob Giampietro, Jeremy Leslie, Alexander Ulloa, Armin Vit. Contributions by Steven Heller, Peter Hall.
Graphic Design Solutions by R. Landa,
Graphic Designology 300 Plus, Cite Publishing
Green Patriot Posters by Dmitri Siegal & Edward Morris
Hand Made, Wooden Toy Publishing Co.
How to Hang a Picture by Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa
Illustration Next by Ana Benaroya
Lemon Poppy Seeed, Gestalten
Made & Sold by FL@33
Most Wanted Volume Two, Published by IDN
Muscle Up, Published by Curvy World Media
Nice to Meet You, Victionary
Nuevas Techologias Aplicadas A La Moda by Jose Antonio Guerrero
Pretty Ugly, Published by Gestalten
Stickerbomb Letters, Laurence King Publishing
StRRRike Two, Published by Simple
The Exquisite Book by Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski, and Matt Lamothe
The Indie Rock Poster Book by Andy J. Miller and Yellow Bird Project
Type Addiction, Victionary
Typo Mag by Laura Meseguer
Typographics Play and Work, Published by BNN Inc.
Work / Life 2, Uppercase Publishing
Young Graphic Designers Americas, DAAB
3D Typography by Jeanette Abbink and Emily CM Anderson, Mark Batty Publishers
40 Days of Dating by Timothy Goodman and Jessica Walsh
Curation - Pacific Park Arts / 10 Murals 1 Day / Brooklyn, NY 2015 - Present
Curation - #GetNudeGetDrawn / Nude 5 / Tictail POP-UP / New York, NY / Janurary 2016
Group Exhibition - Graphic Design: Now in Production
Walker Art Center, Cooper- Hewitt, Hammer Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Contemporary Arts
Museum Houston, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, RISD / Ocotober 2011 - August 2014
Solo Exhibition - “My Mother Caught Me Doodling” / KK Outlet / London , England / November 2014
Curation: - #GetNudeGetDrawn / Nude 4 / Its Nice that POP-UP / London, England November 2014
Curation: - #GetNudeGetDrawn / Nude 3 / Middle Gallery / Brooklyn, NY /March 2013
Curation: - #GetNudeGetDrawn / Nude 2 / Kinfolk POP-UP / Brooklyn, NY 2012
Curation: - #GetNudeGetDrawn / Nude 1 / Artypes / Brooklyn, NY Janurary 2011
Solo Exhibition - “Wondering around Wandering” / POP-UP Gallery / Brooklyn, NY September - December 2012
Solo Exhibition - “We are the infinity of Each Other” / B Gallery / Tokyo, Japan / June - July 2011
Solo Exhibition - “Color Shapes and Infinity” / Public Image 3D / Tokyo, Japan / June 2011
Solo Exhibition - “If this were a Dream I would be Laying Down” / Teshima Ryokan / Yamaguchi, Japan / January 2011
Solo Exhibition - “Lost in the Discover of What Shapes the Mind,” MACD Gallery / Minneapolis, MN / March 2010
Solo Exhibition - “Giant Zine,” Grass Hut / Portland, OR / June - April 2009
Solo Exhibition - “The Landscape Between Time & Space,” DDB / London, England / September 2008
Solo Exhibition - “The Patterns Found in Space,” Giant Robot / New York, NY / March - April 2009
Collabrative Exhibition - “Eat Me” Human Empire / Hamburg, Germany / November 2010
Collabrative Exhibition - “M&J A Pile of Drawings,” Super Superficial / London, England / July 2008
Group Exhibition - “Strrrike 2 NYC” The Simple Space / New York, NY / December 2010
Group Exhibition - “Blister Blackout” MC. Motors / London, England / December 2010
Group Exhibition - “Simple Lines” The Simple Space / New York, NY / October 2010
Group Exhibition - “Public Works 2,” Andrew Rafacz Gallery Gallery / Chicago, IL / July 2010
Group Exhibition - “Whats the Big Idea,” Double Punch Gallery / San Fransisco, CA / July 2010
Group Exhibition - “This is the Book I have Written for You,” Park Life Gallery / San Fransisco, CA / June 2010
Group Exhibition - “Character Traits,” Trunk / Brooklyn, NY / February 2010
Group Exhibition - “20/10 Vision,” Gallery Hanahou, New York, NY / February 2010
Group Exhibition - “Browsing Copy” Usless Gallery / Suntec, Singapore / November 2009 - February 2010
Group Exhibition - “The Waiting Room,” The Waiting Room / Manchester, England / January 2009
Group Exhibition - “VIPP” DWR Tools for Living / New York, NY / November 2009
Group Exhibition - “Nesting Works” DWR Tools for Living / New York, NY / October 2009
Group Exhibition - “Art & Sole” El Kartel / Vancouver, B.C. Canada / October 2009
Group Exhibition - “A Small Number of Things” Giant Robot SF / San Francisco, CA / September 2009
Group Exhibition - “Contributors” Traveling / Canada / August 2009
Group Exhibition - “Sketchbook Obsessions” New York Times / New York, NY / July 2009
Group Exhibition - “Beneath the Surface” NEMO / Portland, OR / May 2009
Group Exhibition - “Amsterdam Loves New York 400 years,” Amsterdam, Holland / April 2009
Group Exhibition - “Inspired,” TinLark Gallery / Los Angles, CA / Janurary - Feburary 2009
Group Exhibition - “Manifest Hope: DC,” / Washington D.C. / Janurary - Feburary 2009
Group Exhibition - “Printed Matter IV” Giant Robot / San Francisco, CA / Janurary - Feburary 2009
Group Exhibition - “The Joyful Bewilderment,” Rough Trade East / London, England / October 2009
Group Exhibition - “Off-Register,” Traveling Show / July - Janurary 2008 - 2009
Group Exhibition - “Highmath” / Berlin, Germany / January 2008
Group Exhibition - “It’s Nice That” Traveling / London, England / December 2008
Group Exhibition - “Feeling It Out,” / Open Space/ Beacon, NY / July 2008
Group Exhibition - “Failure,” / Lab at Belmar / Denver, CO / May 2008
Group Exhibition - “Love Addict,” / Kubrick / Hong Kong, China / June 2008
Group Exhibition - “Post Wood” / Moster Children Gallery / Sydney, Australia / March 2008
Group Exhibition - “Human Empire,” / Human Empire / Hamberg, Germany / March 2007