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Michael Okey is mainly a digital artist who has attended art schools since he was very young and still continues to study today at the Art Center College of Design in California. Michael’s DeviantART gallery has a wide variety of characters to view and enjoy. The color combinations that he creates and the personalities he is able to interpret through the digital medium are astounding. He also posts some of his art on a personal blog along with a bit of commentary for anyone looking for a little more information behind the mind of the artist and his work.
ToonariPost (TP): Who or what are your inspirations and why?
Michael Okey (MO): I’m inspired by so many people and things! My book collection is getting kind of ridiculous. Some of my biggest inspirations though are animated film, anime/manga artists, fashion and the old masters.
Have you ever actually watched a Disney film (before 3-D) and looked at the backgrounds and asked yourself, “How did they paint that?” That moment, is what inspires me. Every time I watch any kind of animated film I constantly look for how the artists used color, composition and lighting, same goes for anime/manga. I own SO MANY compilation books. Apple vol.1 & 2, Girl Illustrated, and Queen of Arts just to name a few and every single one of them inspires me. Whenever I open any of them I ask myself hundreds of questions from, “How did they draw that?” to “Did they start out with line art?” and with every question I get more and more inspired to create.
The same goes for Fashion imagery and the old masters. I think some of the most creative and innovative people in this world are fashion designers. They constantly blow my mind with how they can take something as simple as chiffon and some thread and transform it into something “elegant” or “whimsical”. To express emotion in a drape or a pleat is something that will always inspire me to create. As for the old masters, need I say much? Their mastery of composition, color, depth, lighting…one can only wish to be that good, hence inspiration to push on.
TP: What artists would you consider working with to do a piece? Why, and what type of work do you think would come from this partnership?
MO: Ippus on DeviantArt, hands down. I’ve admired and loved her work for so long and to work with her would blow my mind. I just can’t wrap my head around how awesome she is at skin tone and color. I find that her style is super unique, it’s a mix of anime and realism, which I think my work also reflects. If we were to do a collaborative piece I think the work that would come from it would be super fresh and exciting. I really feel collaboration is the catalyst to evolving as an artist.
TP: If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
MO: Oil painting. I feel there is nothing more beautiful and mysterious than oil paint and its versatility is unmatched.
TP: What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby or make it a career?
MO: I will definitely be making art my career. As of right now I’m in my third year of design school majoring in Illustration with an emphasis on Entertainment Arts. After school I plan to work for one of the major Animation studios doing backgrounds, prop designs and Visual Development work.
TP: Do you feel that your culture has influenced you in some way that makes you different than other artists?
MO: Being a Cuban mix and growing up in Miami, Florida has really influenced my work and style. My work is bright, has attitude and the women I draw always have curves. I think being in a highly culturally diverse area such as Miami really opens your eyes to so many inspirations and tastes, as well as people! I think having been exposed to so much growing up really does set me apart from other artists. My work tends to be bolder and louder than others, I have a saturation control problem.
Image Courtesy of Michael Okey