I was born and raised in New Orleans and began painting
at an early age. After graduating from the Colorado Institute
of Art with a degree in graphic design, I returned to New Orleans and spent a decade in the advertising business. I
then switched to murals and decorative painting while
continuing to produce posters, flyers and CD covers for the
music industry. My own paintings over the years have
covered many subjects from portraits to landscapes, but
lately it’s been about masks. New Orleans’s love of masking is
something we share with other unique cultures around the
world. But while places such as Mali, Haiti and Venice have
their own distinct styles, in New Orleans you get to see a
little bit of it all. Whatever genre of work comes next for me, there will
never be a shortage of inspiration here.
Mike Williamson is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Uptown neighborhood.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Local, Worldly, Resonant.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, or in your neighborhood, specifically influences your work?
I love the wealth of inspiration that has been brought here to New Orleans from so many places, and the way it inspires the many artists who live here. Art seems to be everywhere in New Orleans, and we literally wear it on our faces. In my immediate neighborhood I have all the essentials just steps away: friends, food, paint, and live music. But visually speaking, most of my influence, with the exception of that which comes from the seventh ward, comes more from the “gumbo” rather than the individual ingredients.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I seem to get my best ideas when I am out and about observing the interesting things people say and do. Back in the studio I sketch them out on paper, but they are always subject to change at this point. When I finally face the white canvas, the music comes on and I brew my coffee to a rich burnt umber.
Where do you draw inspiration?
The forms, patterns and rhythms found in nature; sometimes directly, but most often through the way it has influenced so many things from ancient to modern art and design.
Who are your artistic influences, or gurus?
Vincent Van Gogh, Robert Henri, Tootie Montana, Rick Griffin and Todd Schorr.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
The Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra, a diverse group of artist with the spirit of Tootie leading the way.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
The last light of Friday afternoon in the summertime.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I like the painting of dogs playing poker.
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
My studio by appointment. 904-476-4853