DROOL: When do you feel you first found success in the world of art, and how have you grown since then?
Michael Howard: I would not say I’m successful, I mean what does that even mean? I think being able to create things you want to and people enjoying it as much as you do making it, in my eyes is a success. It takes a long while to realise that.. more than it should really. No doubt you’ll end up taking on things you’re not stoked about because success is based on how much you can earn but growth takes time and everything is a process.
DROOL: How did you discover your voice in art?
Michael: By getting my hands dirty. My favourite quote ever to exist is by Chuck Close – “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work” Which is completely true, in every sense and applies to everything else, not just creative work. If you want something bad enough, you need to work at it and be a sponge and never be scared to fail.
DROOL: What compels you to keep driving forward as an artist? How do you aspire to grow as an artist this year?
Michael: Other artists are usually my driving force to keep going. Seeing other work and being absolutely blown away to the point that it makes me want to quit. Which sounds almost defeatist but it’s that constant search of what’s next, is there a new technique that could add to your own voice, maybe a reduction of your current work. It’s sort of like a rubix cube, once you have one side the same colour and you think you’ve got it all figured out, you turn it slightly only to realise the other side is still a mess.
DROOL: What about dogs attracts you to them as subjects for your artwork?
Michael: So far I have a few small pieces, some more developed than others. I’ve drawn human portraits for years and more recently I’ve wanted to diversify subjects into animals. The first thing that came to mind was a dog, mainly because their characteristics are so strong and recognisable, whether that be through what we culturally associate with a certain breed or the individual personalities. My work is heavily influenced by tattoo flash work, so rather than adoring a dog with “tattoos” I try to turn it in a way to communicate personality, make puns and generally set the mood.
"The thing with dogs is that you know exactly where you stand... I think it's the honesty and the fact that when you are taking a walk, or going on a hike, you completely forget about everything else going on and you can just be."
DROOL: Which do you prefer: dogs or people, and why?
Michael: Dogs. Just all the dogs. I have my own little Basset Fauve de Bretagne. He’s short, ginger and terribly but adorably stubborn hence why we called him Gimli. I’ve never really ever been a dog person, until 2 years ago when we brought him home. The thing with dogs is that you know exactly where you stand, and usually with Gimli that means by the fridge to get his attention so he will do as he’s told. I think it’s the honesty and the fact that when you are taking a walk, or going on a hike, you completely forget about everything else going on and you can just be. Just watching them do their thing, play, run.. it’s just pure joy.
DROOL: If you had to choose one dog breed to characterize who you are, what breed would it be and why?
Michael: I would say a basset hound. One of the main reasons having bags under the eyes and their, shall we say “determined” nature. That and any hound howl is just bliss.
DROOL: Anything else you want to share with the dog-loving humans of Earth?
Michael: As a puppy to keep Gimli occupied, we used to put bananas in a frozen Kong in the fridge. Then on occasion let him have it, so for him it was a treat, along with the mental stimulation of trying to get at the food. Ever since then he’s loved bananas. However.. his breed has a notoriously bad recall. I think it may have been one of his first weeks out in the park after his vaccinations. He spots a toddler, low and behold.. with a banana. He bolts (as much as he could bolt) and without missing a beat, takes the banana from the kid and eats the whole thing. Like taking bananas from a baby.
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