The World of Mike Cressy | Imagekind Member Interview
Mike Cressy is bit quirky, but the Seattle-based artist wouldn’t have it any other way. From the basement of his eastside house Cressy sits comfortably in his cozy black leather chair sketching scenes, people and animals with his tongue firmly implanted in his check. While his artwork is hard to pin down, his style is extremely unique and equally recognizable as “Cressy”. His influences range from Norman Rockwell to Robert Crumb and Pablo Picasso to Salvador Dali – in other words, he is all over the place.
Like many artists, the art bug bit Cressy early, “It all start with me at the tender age of 5 years old when my older sister did some drawings of my favorite cartoon characters. She was spot on with the drawing and I thought it was so cool that she could do that. After that my Mom would stack paper in front of me on a dinner tray in front of the TV, where I preceded to copy cartoons from different kid’s animated shows. Shortly after that I started drawing my own little comic books, which I rarely showed to anyone,” said Cressy.
Cressy is, and has been, a full-time artist since the age of 22 but getting to that point would take 12 years of hard work, “I had jobs, starting at age 10 as a newspaper delivery boy, then prepared food at Little Ceaser’s pizzeria, followed by the same thing at a local Greek restaurant, then as a stock boy at Forest City department store and lumber yard”, said Cressy. “Then the real money started coming in when I got a job at the Chrysler Corporation, working on a sheet metal press, cranking out quarter panels for very big cars. Then I found a way to transfer to driving forklifts and trucks, which was much safer. I saved my money and moved to Los Angeles to pursue my art career through the school of hard knocks, which means that I’m totally self taught and didn’t go to Art school.”
A multi-faceted artist, Cressy works in many genres, but his favorite in basic drawing, “If you really had to pin me down I’d have to say that drawing is my all time favorite. It all starts with a drawing. It’s basic, fundamental, pencil, paper, idea and off you go!” said Cressy. “It’s the quickest way to put an idea down and get it ready for something. I don’t carry and iPad with me for drawing. I like them but I don’t like having to constantly plug something in to get it all charged up just so I can jot down an image I have in my head. Even a pen and some line paper is a good quick way to do that.”
According to Cressy, literally everything inspires his art work, “I’ll listen to something on the radio that may stick in my head visually and then I see something on TV, in a movie, on line in a magazine or book and then it evolves. Soon I’ve got my own twisted version of that thing I heard on the radio and I’ll do a very loose version in my sketchbook,” explains Cressy. “When I get an assignment, one of the first things I do is look through the assignment and pick out the most visual elements. Then I need some quick inspiration. I’ll pick up one of my coffee table art books or look on line at all kinds of art until I see a few things here and there that kind of fit what I’m thinking about for an image and then go to my drawing board and sketch out various ideas that came up while taking in all that inspiration. Music also helps with inspiration.”
Cressy is also involved in abstract painting, but the list if influences is a bit smaller, “Not as many as with my basic art influences only because I don’t think there aren’t as many masters at it.” Wassily Kandinsky is his personal favorite but he also looks to the likes of Paul Klee, Kurt Schwitters, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Mark Tobey, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Hans Hoffman, just to name a few.
His computerized work is just as impressive as his sketches or painting. Working with Photoshop he creates Pixel based images while working in Illustrator he creates Vector images, “Each has its limitations but both are fantastic tools that allow for color changes easier then when you paint. I usually draw out something that I’m working on and scan that drawing so that I can use it as a basis for the digital art that I’m going to create,” explained Cressy. “Then I decide either that it has to be done in Vector or Pixel, which usually is determined by what it’s going to be used for and if the client needs a variety of sizes. Vector allows for big and small images easier then Photoshop. Lately I prefer Illustrator for making shapes but Photoshop for detail.”
To date, Cressy has two books – Monito Hermoso and The Book of Doodles – and is working on his third entitled Abstracts For the New Century. As a commercial artist, he has worked with the likes of ARCO, Bank of America, Mattel Toys, TransAmerica and Universal Studios, “Most all of my commercial art is done for large companies or publishers. Right now I’m working on a contract with Microsoft. They hired me based on my style and ask me to come up with original art for various projects. I’ve work on art for Instant messaging games, Xbox games, pc games and other console games.”
Mike Cressy is living proof that being a working artist is possible even in these tough economic times. The key to becoming a successful artist is, you must love what you do and he clearly does.
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