What Do You See?

If you are a follower of Mike Marceaux you’re well aware of his artistic interpretations of superheroes and cartoon characters that litter his Instagram feed. What most people aren’t aware of is his more intricate art that stems from his hobby as a self-described abstract artist who transcribes expression and feeling to paper.


A call center worker by day, Mike practices his craft whenever possible. He explained that he typically carries a backpack filled with essentials such as paper, ink wells, pen tips, microns and much more so he is able to get some drawing in during his lunch break. Mike’s inspiration brewed from his upbringing around graffiti artists known as taggers. When asked if he was able to name some of these elusive artists, Mike explained that it’s better if they are left unnamed for various reasons. Mike used real estate such as high walls and bridges to vent his artistic strokes hoping they would be shared with the world. After falling into the routine of tagging, he quickly came to the realization that while tagging felt good in the moment, the high quickly faded as most street art has the potential of being “white walled”, slang for art that was painted over.

Due to his work, Mike found himself in some trouble and landed in a group home in Inglewood, California where he gave up on art for a few years. Since then, the experiences he had with this illegal art form have helped influence his current work, that he describes as a mixture between urban tagging and emotions. Mike was drawn back into the world of art due its positive nature, later expressing, “If someone out there sees your art and is inspired, it can make their day”. Nowadays, Mike has traded a wall for his studio, sometimes spending as many as eight hours at a time locked in his oasis.


Inspired by sharing positive vibes and the joy of life with others via his art, Mike has no interest in profiting from his creations. While Mike wants the world to know that he’s the man behind the paintings, he stated “I don’t feel like I need to make money to share it with the world”. His point of view is that art is a way to articulate emotions to the world, a separate passage over language if you will. He described art as a human gift, a method for people to interpret seeing and feeling without having to describe anything. The only way he could explain his view of what he puts on paper is through a sixth sense. Mike explained, “You see what someone else is feeling; swirls of madness, happiness, and sadness that is laid out in paint to be taken in anyway”.


When asked if there was a deeper meaning to his art or it was simply reflective of his mood on a given day, Mike was able to give an eye opening explanation of abstract art. Mike went on to explain, “It’s both, in each art piece you can what type of day I’ve had. It’s simply another form of talking, it’s emotions and spirits communicating versus our brains and mouths.”. While describing this perspective Mike was referring to one of his most recent pieces of a girl in blue striped shirt sitting alone next to a fence. He imagined her crying due to loneliness and wanted to convey the emotions; represented by bright colors to showcase what he viewed as a beginning and end of a cycle. The artwork was inspired after viewing a picture of a woman close to him as a child and the ability to see her at both ends of her life. While many individuals who gaze upon the artwork may simply see a skull with bright colors, most individuals are missing the underlying narrative. Mike self-described the painting as, “I painted bright pink and yellow colors looking ahead past the eyes; these represent the positive energy and bright future that will come forth; they are painted in swirls to illustrate the confusion of emotions of never knowing what lies ahead of you. While the red and black behind the skull is the dead memories that you leave behind.”. Mike has given this exact description to friends and the like and he mentioned that each and every one of them gave him feedback that unique to their point of view, he believes each person has a different perception of the universe.


Mike’s parting gift as we concluded our conversation was some very wise advice from an artist that has certainly “been there and done that”. A lesson that Mike wanted to share was it is important to never dwell on something or become disappointed with obstacles in your way, something that he personally dealt with when he gave up art for a period of time. Mike went on to say, “Don’t let anything discourage you, if it helps you express yourself, don’t abandon it and stick with it”. The most important takeaway is to never take what is given for granted, keep a positive attitude, and maybe one day you’ll be able to inspire someone as well.


Make sure to check out Mike’s work: https://www.instagram.com/xnerdypicklex

Artist SpotlightMaddie Drew