Artist Mike Fudge explains his human-like bears and earthy vibe
"I’m drawn to the magical, spiritual, and other-worldly so these characters let me play that out in my work."
Grabbing complimentary Earth tones is Mike Fudge’s signature move. Browns, blues, gold: he does it so well even a quick glance at one of his pieces is enough to evoke the same warm feeling you get from them everytime. Some call it smart branding. We simply call it a vibe.
As a resident of Colorado, he credits the outdoors as inspiration, sure, but it’s also the “spiritual and other-worldly” realm of his imagination where things get interesting. And like so many of the greats, he often carries his talents over to other mediums — a series of vinyl characters made by Urban Vinyl Toys is what’s cooking hot right now on his socials. So what is it: is he bear, or is he man?
It's 2:00 a.m. on a Friday night, where are you and what are you doing?
Probably drawing or sleeping. I donʼt go out much. I live in a small town, so thereʼs not much happening in that way. In addition to that, I donʼt know what day it is most of the time.
Favorite brand of jeans?
Iʼm simple, I just like Levi’s, but more than that, I love some chinos so the jeans usually lose out to those.
When we die, where do we go!?
I hope thereʼs a heaven. When we truly face our own mortality or the death of people we love the thought of nothingness and absolute void is soul crushing in my experience. I love the idea of heaven, however true it may be it lays a structure for our lives here on earth.
Leaning heavy on the ‘mystic woodland creatures’ vibe provokes certain emotions for sure: Why is it you chose that angle to go with a lot of your work?
I’m drawn to the magical, spiritual, and other-worldly so these characters let me play that out in my work. The figures are usually personified animals that I find simply more interesting than people. I see people everyday and with my art I want to see what doesnʼt exist. I want to show others what I see in imagination much more than what I see in reality. Animals are a bit more pure and almost like a blank slate when adding emotion to them. Theyʼre less tainted with assumption about what they are or should be feeling/thinking. I imagine them being very much alive with souls and life stories just like all of us. Giving the animals gesture and emotion allows us to connect with them and relate but it leaves a bit of mystery since we arenʼt the same.
Some artists cringe at posting ‘in progress’ works to their social media: how come you choose to do it?
Honestly I cringe as well and donʼt post nearly as many as I probably should. I know I enjoy seeing other artists showing their process. Itʼs like a window into their work and even their life.
Does you social media following tend to be supportive of your efforts, or do you get the trolls in there that bring you down?
Totally supportive. I have had no issues like that. My work is hardly confrontational and I think maybe the negative attention is on all the artists that produce political works at the moment. It’s really special to me that people have supported my work in the many ways that they have. Everyone has been purely kind and encouraging. No one has really ever criticized me for making my work except myself of course.
Have you ever had any interest in doing any other professions?
I wanted to be a musician throughout my early teens and twenties. I play guitar and was in a band for a few years, but when that fell apart I promised myself to only do something that I had full control over and that wasnʼt dependent on the attendance or action of others.
What's your favorite part about doing concert posters?
I love the freedom that Iʼm given to create without boundaries or direct influence. It’s an honor to have the trust I’m given. I really like my clients and the other people I work with to make these posters happen. It’s also a kind of fusion of art and music which are the things that have given my life the most meaning outside of relationships.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I appreciate the thoughtful questions. Thank you so much for having me! I will be releasing an exclusive colorway of my recent figure made by Urban Vinyl Toys within the next month so keep an eye out for that! I have a handful of projects laid out for 2020 that I think are going to be really great but canʼt speak of them yet!