Mo*Con VII will feature one of our largest art galleries to date.  In addition to new work by Michelle Pendergrass, Kristin Fuller, and Steve Gilberts, it will also feature work from local artiste extraordinaire, Mike Altman.   I invited him to talk a bit about his process and how he connects to God through it.

Guest Blog by Mike Altman

I am fond of saying that growing up, “I never wanted to be anything other than an artist. I never said policeman, fireman or male nurse” as many young men do. And then I cap the statement off with a “Well. I did want to be Batman.” Some days I still do.

The creation of art and all the trappings that come with it are something that has always come naturally. Mrs. Buffalino in eighth grade explained that a fine artist would be studied 20 years after their death, and a commercial artist would get to buy lunch. I chose, to no surprise to anyone who has seen my waistline, to be a commercial artist. Since of course the whole Batman gig was already taken.

A few years into the whole commercial thing I became pretty tired of folks, paying folks mind you, telling me what color to make things and where to move one object or another about on my creation. I remember working for a certain Art Director that would, as she was selecting or rejecting my pieces for print, would say we’ll take this one, we’ll take this one, oh this one is baby dorky…

We had a chat.

These creations are my blood and sweat and sometimes tears.

Oh, ok that may be a little dramatic. But they are definitely something that emanates from within me.

Something that has been created, with God’s gift of talent, by me. I value them and the talent to create them. There is a special kind of link with God and the ability to create something from a blank slate. Now before you get out your paper and pencils to write me a chastising letter telling me that I am not God and so forth, let me say relax. I know that I am not.

It is incredible to be able to draw a guy with a mustache and a girl in a red dress and a dog that smiles and can talk, and…well, the list goes on. I understand why God made fish at the bottom of the sea that nary a soul will ever lay eyes on. I understand why God created such a spectacular spectrum of color. (Sometimes that blue will just not work, and this one will.) I know the feeling of rendering a whole world with back-story and history and possible interactions and futures…all on a Macaroni Grill’s paper tablecloth. It is good to sit back and look at the creations and say “it is good”.

So any way I was saying that I was getting a little tired of folks adding their ingredients, right? So I started painting. Just for pleasure at first. Then after I had about 23 pieces in my studio I thought to myself that maybe I should see if a gallery would be interested in exhibiting my work. They were. It sold.

Years later I find myself straddling a very fun line between two disciplines of art that, well you really shouldn’t be able to make a living at either of them. My two worlds very much inform each other. There is definitely some graphic influence and good design in my “fine” art and some painterly expression in my “commercial” work.

I like to say if you write me a check and publish my art in a magazine or book, then I must be a commercial artist. If you write me a check and hang the work over your couch then I must be a fine artist. Basically what it boils down to is that you write me a check. I still want to eat lunch, and Batman never sticks around long enough to pick up the bill.