11 questions with artist Mike Frick

The 11 Question Interview Series continues with artist Mike Frick sharing his thoughts on painting portraits. Learn more about the artist and visit pivotartgallery to see the featured portfolio.

goodbye, goodbye California by MIke Frick

goodbye, goodbye California by MIke Frick

1. How did you first become interested in painting portraits? 

It’s the hardest thing you can do as a painter. And the only way to get good at it is to paint a thousand of them.

2. Who are your subjects? Do you need a certain type of relationship to someone in order to paint them?

I used to go through magazines and books for an interesting face, but now I can go online, and the internet offers an amazing chunk of reference material for the artist — an enormous family photo album, with every weird uncle’s face right there to appropriate. I prefer not to have a personal connection to the subject, most of my portraits are of people I’d rather not associate with anyway; killers, gangsters, hipsters, etc. I’m just an observer.

3. What is most satisfying to you about the creative process? 

It’s stops time.

4. If you have artistic/creative role models, who are they and how do you relate to them? 

All the usual suspects, Picasso, Modigliani, Soutine, Marlene Dumas, Chantal Joffe, Elizabeth Peyton, Lucien Freud. I’m not sure I relate to them at all, other than I’m a painter also, and I appreciate their work.

5. Can you describe your technical processes? How do you make the images, what materials do you use, etc…?

I’m not too concerned with the techincal process or the longevity of a painting. I just want to get an image down, and it doesn’t matter if I’m using mud on cardboard or oil on linen.

illegal 6

illegal 6 by Mike Frick

6. Your pieces have unique titles that seem to be important to your conception of the work. Can you describe the process of titling the work? 

It’s usually something I was listening to or reading. An afterthought. It helps me remember the pieces while keeping the viewer confused about the meaning of the painting..


7. Your work ranges from quick sketches to more detailed, built-up surfaces. How do you decide when a certain piece is finished? 

I prefer the sketch, I think I have ADHD, so I get bored painting on the same image. I’m trying to say more with less now. I’d love to be more technically adept and devoted to a painting but as soon as it becomes a chore, it’s done.


8. You once conducted an interview over Twitter. Do you see Twitter as a creative tool? What is your relationship to new technology in general? 

Other than being a great place for stealing photos of people’s faces, I could easily live without all the networking sites. I’m a Luddite at heart. Putting paint on hair and sticking it on a surface is about as far from technology as you can get.

9. How do you feel about contemporary art and your contribution to it? 

Of course I love all art — it’s the only thing keeping us out of the muck. The current lowbrow/surrealist scene is amazing, there are painters so technically skilled it’s scary. I can’t compete with that so I’m trying to go the opposite direction–towards children’s scribbles and cave paintings, the opposite of shiny and perfect.

10. What is the most important thing you want viewers to come away from your work with? What do you want them to learn through your work? 

I’m not trying to teach anyone anything. If a portrait connects with someone emotionally that’s great, what else could I hope for as a painter?


wtf by Mike Frick


11. What can you add that would help us understand you and/or your work better? 

I’m not sure I even understand my work yet.


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