Mike Perry

Original Artist

Artist In Residence

Don't call Mike Perry a "painter" or an "illustrator," okay? We mean, yes, he's known (and lauded) for his expansive, incredibly detailed 2-D compositions made of paint and canvas. But that's just a slice of his story. "What I do is on the massive scale," he tells us in his sunlit, tool-packed Brooklyn studio. "Really, I'll do anything — illustration just happens to fall into part of what that is."

Perry's oeuvre can't be defined by the art and artifacts he produces. For Perry, how he materializes and distributes his art is at the core of the whole process. Not only does Perry maintain one of the art world's most expansive and electric creator-owned social and online presences, he's worked with Fortune 500 corporations and community boards alike to get his images out there.

“I always have these ideas, and painting always feels too small.”


Perry initially went to school for art, but got the design bug and transferred his major.

The culmination of his efforts thus far is Wandering Around Wondering, a three-month immersive, online-savvy exhibition of his work, created and housed in a pop-up gallery in Crown Heights. It's rare that an acclaimed artist takes it upon himself to bring works into a community so far-flung from industry galleries and buyers, but with the unprecedented, unlikely success of Wandering Around Wondering, you can bet more of his peers will follow. As we said, he's not just an illustrator.

To read the full interview, visit Refinery29.

Interview with Mike Perry
Interview with Mike Perry
Tell me about the inspiration behind Wandering Around Wandering

I’m super-disappointed there’s not more art interacting with the community. So, I thought, ‘Why not do a really big show in my neighborhood?’ The results were just incredible. It’s actually spun out of control to the point where I’m doing the creative direction for the neighborhood, and we’re working with all of the little organizations to create a unified visual language, so we can grow as a community. You don’t get that from a gallery.

How did you get into art in the first place?

Growing up, I was always drawing little doodles in notebooks. Then, around 13 or 14, my grandfather (who was kind of estranged from the family) gave me a tackle box full of oil paints. That gift set the fire. I started just messing around with the oils and became obsessed. I just couldn’t stop. The summer I got those paints I probably did 100 paintings. I just couldn’t stop.

You paint, but don't like to bill yourself as painter. Why not?

Sure, I spend a lot of time making paintings and doing drawings and illustrations. That’s just the beginning. When I think about what my goals are and my path and all the things that I want to do, I want to be able to add my art to buildings, create landscaping projects, and all these things that, in my head, fall under the umbrella of the design process. I always have these ideas, and painting always feels too small.

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Article by Gabriel Bell, Refinery29

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