Mike Makatron- The creative all rounder who works with an endless variety of mixed media on walls, canvas and paper as well as anything else he can get his hands on at the time. Although Mike is primarily known for being a painter and illustrator, every time we chat he always seems to have a new artistic adventure on the go.
As an active member of Everfresh Studio since 2006, Mike has exhibited extensively through Australia as well as been apart of group shows in Brazil, Japan, Miami and New York. He has also displayed his artworks within private and public collections locally and abroad, including acquisitions by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
His work is preoccupied with the interface between man, beast and machine. Presenting a visual riot that stimulates the eyes and mind. Mike’s art conveys an imperative message to those confined in the concrete jungle to stay connected to the animal within them that lives in the natural world.
JUDDY – Mike, Maka, Makatron, which is your preferred name?
MAKA – My mum calls me Lord Makatronix, but friends generally call me Mike or Maka.
JUDDY – Street artist, painter, muralist, sculptor, handyman? Who is Mike Makatron? Can we define you?
MAKA – I find it hard to talk about myself, but diversity in skills and lifestyles is a strength and weakness. I also play the piano, not to any amazing level but proficiently. Music, in general, has always been on the peripheral of untapped fun and unachieved but tangible potential.
JUDDY – Are you a Night owl or an early bird?
MAKA – Both, but more a night owl.
JUDDY – What’s your drink of choice?
MAKA – I’ve not drunk alcohol for the month ‘Dry July’, usually my life is hedonistic, I like to enjoy myself, but the dry month has been for a few reasons- to save money for two months travelling and to offset 2 x week long festivals of ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Burning Man’, both in the USA. Also as a social experiment, drinking is so ingrained in our Australian culture. But if you are offering I’ll take a White Russian.
JUDDY – Haha well said. Do you prefer painting indoors or outdoors?
MAKA – I prefer outdoors, especially if I use aerosol, and especially in mild sun, but indoors has advantages.
JUDDY – How long have you been working with Juddy Roller?
MAKA – I’ve known Shaun since he moved to Melbourne when Juddy Roller was a Backpacker’s milk-crate fortress. I actually painted the portrait of Juddy on the side of the building, who was a friend of Shaun’s, who sadly passed away. It’s not my best work and very faded now. Shaun asked me to paint him in a colourful way. I like a challenge but I don’t pursue painting human portraits, there are enough people doing this these days.
JUDDY – Every time we speak you seem to have a new project or idea in the works. Each one is completely different from the last. I guess this seems to keep your spark well and truly alive?
MAKA – For sure, I believe new art forms will be created from the fusions of current styles. I’m interested in creating objects also, some sculptural, some functioning like my Piano terrarium or Pyramid in Mexico. I have a lot of tools and I like problem-solving. I’m currently creating an installation in the zoo of a Melbourne laneway. I’ll paint some animals but it’s mostly an installation project with props etc, more suited to a film set builder but it’s been interesting. Open to the public in November.
JUDDY – Because your work contains so many layers and ideas, does this take long to resolve before you hit the canvas, or is this something that is built while working? What’s your ideal process?
MAKA – I don’t have a set process, I prefer to have some freedom to freestyle, but I usually have a sketch.
JUDDY – Do you have any formal art degree?
MAKA – Yes I have a degree in Visual Communication, which was a combination of studying at 3 Universities; Illustration in Adelaide, Fine Art in New York, and Graphic Design in Melbourne.
JUDDY – That’s impressive. Your work is quite often very stimulating to the eyes, as well as provoking the mind, do you think there should be an important balance between creating something that looks good, as well something that challenges one’s thoughts?
MAKA – Yes it’s a goal to be both thought provoking, or at least not easily understood, and being pretty or well rendered. But sometimes I think I fall into the trap of just creating something that looks good without too much meaning.
JUDDY – Sometimes simple is good. You’ve worked as a bike messenger for about 10 years in 10 cities, how did this help shape your artistic direction?
MAKA – Interesting question as there isn’t that much in the way of obvious skill overlay. It’s an extreme job and the extreme side of art appealed, such as climbing onto roof tops for graffiti missions or exploring abandoned factories etc. But riding around a lot of cities lets you see a lot of urban cultures, sculptures, public art, architecture and of course street art. It’s a tiring job, so you need to be motivated, and work in the rain and cold, and you need to look after your body and your machine (bike) as it is a part of you.
There is also a similarity in a community, where I can go to a lot of places in the world in both communities, and there will be a diverse bunch of welcoming people who you have some connection with. Both have a similar but different type of friendly competition. And both scenes have a cultural diversity unlike most communities, both scenes also have a few party animals and enjoy life in the present moment.
JUDDY – What’s the weirdest commission you’ve ever had?
MAKA – There was the time I had to stand on a ladder above water in a pool to paint someone’s wall (I have a photo somewhere) or when I collaborated with a girlfriends 70-year-old Indonesian grandma in Jakarta. I also painted a giant vagina flower for Mona Foma in Tasmania on International Women’s Day. I probably have a few more stories…
JUDDY – Haha that’s impressive, I’ll leave it at that. Do you have any secret talents or hobbies that we should know about?
MAKA – I’m good at chess for someone who doesn’t play much, but I’m bad if playing against someone who plays in a club or regularly. I also have some basic knowledge of permaculture and plants and systems, and I was in some Australian Lacrosse teams many years ago.
JUDDY – I see a possible match between Kitt Bennett and yourself on the cards as he also considers himself a Chess guy. What are your creative plans for the future?
MAKA – I’m about to go to 2 week long festivals in USA- one related to a Solar Eclipse event, then Burning Man. Then I have some mural projects in Playa Del Carmen and Guatemala. In October I have my project with the Melbourne Zoo, and potentially another Greening Laneway project, then I’m off to Arnhem Land early November. I would like to have a solo exhibition early February, but it’s unconfirmed. Mid next year I also hope to be in Europe, potentially for a mural festival in Greece.
JUDDY – Sounds busy! Final question, what would be your dream project to work on?
MAKA – The following probably isn’t my dream, but I’ll explain a project in the making. I want to travel around the world to paint Ghetto Blaster Murals in Ghettos in maybe 12 countries. I’ve already done about 6, the end goal is to produce a coffee table book, but I would prefer a company that makes portable sound systems to sponsor this project to make the book, and potentially make a signature mini sound system. I’m looking for a project manager and videographer to help make this happen.
JUDDY – That sounds rad, looking forward to seeing where this goes! Thanks for hanging around Maka, it’s always an interesting time chatting with you!
MAKA – Thanks guys, all the best.