Mike Meyer, Traditional Sign Painter

Computers are lovely but they have taken over some of the traditional crafts that took time to create to perfection. One such industry is the sign painting industry. Beautiful and decorative signs made by hand are rare to see nowadays. There those of us however who are trying to keep the skill alive.

Mike Meyer is a sign writer who still used the old school methods that were long forgotten by the digital world. Born 1989, the man has been in the letterhead painting business for over thirty years. All that experience under his belt can be seen by how he commands his work.

The Minnesota native is a professional typographer. He is well versed in the how typefaces work and for which function. They understand how to pair the right size of letters together with the right font. That is why you will find different emotions are evoked depending on how the words are written.

Like many great artists, a parent’s influenced is often the case for igniting life passions. Mike Meyer’s father was a barber who dabbled in drawings between attending to his customers. The young Mike wanting to ape his father picked up on the habit.

The obsession with letterheads exploded when he visited the stock car races and marvelled at the details on the cars. From there he went home trying to replicate everything he had seen down to the last detail. He got a part-time job in high school at a sign shop and that was when he realized that, that is what he wanted to do.

He followed his passion and went to sign school for nine months. When these nine months passed and he got certification, he went back to the shop he worked in while in high school. The shop got a new owner and things started to change rapidly.

With people losing their jobs right, left and center, it was finally his turn to be let go. It was a hard blow but still continued making signs. He had never thought of going into business on his own. So with few options left, he joined the army.

His journey has not been smooth as nothing good in life comes easy. Starting his trade took a bit of work. He started from a garage as his first sign shop. He had no customer base when he started his business, he had to go around to other workshops to look for favours.

Since he had nothing else of value to exchange for offers, he traded in his handmade signs. By the time his business was established he had a good customer base. When the vinyl cut out letters emerged in the 70’s, typographers had a problem on their hands.

The cheaper and easily accessible vinyl signs completely disregarded the time and workmanship the old method of sign writing offered. Mike Meyer persevered and until today he is still in the craft.

With the years of experience teaching oneself, Mike Meyer now goes around the world teaching guys how to do sign lettering the old way. The man who started his business in a garage now constantly busy with work.

He says that the art of typography is not dead. He sees a growth in interest especially with the curious millennials in Europe. It seems that countries like Amsterdam still have an appreciation for the art. He doesn’t do it for the money, he teaches in these workshop in order to spread the skill to more people.

His advice for those who want to dabble in the field is to observe their surroundings and decide what makes them happy. He doesn’t in mind blocks when it comes to creativity. He says you can even find inspiration in the grocery market since there are thousands of products with different letterheads and styles.

He encourages students to be open-minded as the field is still expanding with new fonts coming to view. His journey is not over either, he still meets people who teach him a thing or two.

A bigger than life personality and a steady hand, we don’t think that he will stop working or teach anytime soon. The world will always appreciate beautiful things, we thank the lucky stars that we have people like Mike Meyer who understand what it takes to make something beautiful by hand.

 

tavar zawacki

Tavar Zawacki

The dynamic world of graffiti births geniuses every day from every nook and cranny of the world. Tavar Zawacki could not escape the call into the art world. By birth, he was already surrounded by art being born from hipster parents.

Born in the 80’s, there were a lot of influences to be unique and speak your mind. He grew up with an open mind and when he turned thirteen, the world of graffiti and skateboards came knocking.

Born with a free spirit and a strong belief in what he wanted to do, the young man booked a flight to Paris at the age of 19. Armed with art supplies and all the money under his name, he began his journey.

An arrow is a symbol that he uses to represent and sign his work. When asked why he chose the arrow pointing upwards as his symbol, he simply said this “The arrow icon I painted was representational of the powerful mentality to ‘Rise Above’ fears, challenges, and anything holding you back from your goals.”

At first, the arrow is not what he used as his artist signature, he used to go by the alias ABOVE. It was in 2001 that he chose to use the arrow signature and from then it’s almost stapled to his name.

Many believe that you have to lose yourself first before finding yourself. In a new country, you meet different people who show you a varied way to live life. Tavar chose to live a nomadic lifestyle. He traveled from country to country looking for new experiences.

The mix of experiences on his 15-year nomadic culture was pooled into a source of inspiration. When you look at his work you can feel the synchronicity between the different stencil layers and text. When he finally settled in Berlin Germany back in 2014, it was time to reclaim his name.

Because he did not want to live in the shadow of the artwork that he had created in his youth, he started to paint under his real name. Finally, he felt like he had more freedom to be himself and to offer authentic expression from the pool of experiences he had amassed.

Not discrediting all the work that he had done previously, the artist continues to amaze the world. He has participated in many events in the past where people have gotten to see him work. For example, in Sweden, he painted the mural Metamorphosis on an eight-story building.

The work got attention due to the vibrant colours and arrow positioning. He said “It’s about having fun and experimenting. As an artist it’s important for me to experiment with my work, otherwise one can become stagnant. Making this mural put the arrow into a new context, giving it room for expansion of a new life.”

In 2015 he participated his largest project yet, the Incognito. The 33meter wall mural standstill today. The abstract piece is full of bright colours that are hard to miss. The piece was commissioned to commemorate the city of the Gold festival. The piece got notable mention internationally fueling his passion.

He has had exhibitions of his work and has visited over 60 countries. The transition of names in the art signature was visible in 2017 when he started using his real name in the same year, he unleashed a solo exhibition.

Launched in Berlin at Urban Spree Galerie, the collection ‘metamorphosis’ was unveiled. “Metamorphosis is about the transformation from one state into a newer dynamic one. With a lot of brutal honesty, and conviction for growth I was able to take inner inventory of what no longer served me.” Said Tavar.

He continued to say “I was able to let go of the fears that were stifling my creative progression. I was prepared for feeling uncomfortable during this metamorphosis. I was learning how to unblock my personal censors, and be valiant in painting the styles of works I’ve previously been too reluctant to paint.”

This was his first show using his birth certificate name as his artist signature. A book with the title of Metamorphosis was also unveiled later that year. The book contains Tavar Zawacki new work and also included his 2014 Detroit exhibition. The book is just an eye-opening read into the artist journey for the work presented and the things that inspired him.

The 49- year old is still young at heart and has a lot of things to look forward to. The world looks forward to seeing the artist that they knew as ABOVE transform his artwork to reflect his current perceptions.

With the arrows always pointing up, the sky is the limit for Tavar Zawacki. We can only wish him the best in his endeavours.

Mimi Choi Optical Illusion with Face Art

It is interesting that artist bloom at different stages in their lives. Some discover their gifts at a young age and some at the prime of their lives. Mimi Choi happened to pop in the scene in her 30’s taking makeup artistry to a whole new level.

The Vancouver based native creates optical illusions that would make you question your sanity. At times people are relentless that the image before them was photoshopped. None the least true because she creates all her works by her own hand.

We have seen the kind of transformation that makeup can do but Mimi Choi takes it to a whole new scale. She doesn’t paint conventional pieces on her face, she prefers 3D drawings that give an optical illusion of multiplying or almost surreal-like structures.

mimi choi face art makeup artistry

The girl who only needs mink lashes and lip balm on her downtime were not sure if doing optical illusion with makeup would be a road shed be interested in professionally.

Mimi Choi has an interesting story on how she stumbled into the makeup world. She had a passion for teaching and she enjoyed her work but sometimes life just hands you other playing cards without notice. She needed something new in her life and makeup was it.

With an idea in her head, she enrolled to Blanche McDonald and started getting lessons. She messed around with a few ideas but in reality, she didn’t take it too seriously. One sweet Halloween season she decided to try something just to test the waters. She didn’t know it then but that was how she made a debut to the world.

The picture that so many took notice of was the cracked face. The picture went viral and Mimi Choi found herself with a barrage of questions. Both believers and unbelievers of Photoshop use marvelled at the creations. She says “It was my first-ever creative makeup and, when I posted the image on Instagram, lots of people liked, reposted and shared it. That surprised me and motivated me to keep exploring and improving on this style even though it was uncommon at the time.”

Her mother supported her and encouraged her to make the career change. Finally, she quit being a teacher and dove into the profession both feet in. From then until now, she has acquired a loyal fan base all over the world. Her work gets noteworthy attention in all social media platforms and newspaper houses.

mimi choi face makeup with multiple eyes optical illusion makeup

As millions of people battle with anxiety and sleep paralysis, Mimi Choi has found a way to deal with hers. Her optical illusion pieces are what she uses to express herself. To the world, some of the images may stir difficult emotions due to their bizarreness but to the art world, her pieces are genius. She finds inspiration from everyday life. Whether it is fish in a pond or the pattern on a woman’s jacket, Mimi Choi will use it to create a sensational piece.

All that work was not in vain, as she has gotten opportunities many people dream of. She has worked with makeup giants MAC and also electronic manufacturers Samsung. Her skill doesn’t require the regular brushes people use, she uses paintbrushes so as to define more carefully.

She never stops working on her Instagram and she posts frequently. Since she does not use canvas, you won’t find her work in the gallery. Instagram happens to be her own gallery. She posts both videos and pictures of her complete works.

She insists that she is not one to follow a routine and repeat a piece. She wants to grow and be able to create original pieces daily. She looks at other artists work but she does not make it a habit.

Mimi Choi is certainly not a one-trick-pony. She has many cards up her sleeves that many people won’t see coming.  She is not only known for scary optical illusions but also elegant makeup for brides. Her limits are yet to be defined.

With only a few years in, we can’t wait to see what Mimi Choi pulls out of her magical hat. We will just remain glued to our phones waiting for her next piece of work.