“Birth, Upstate New York, 1971. Drawing. Cycling. New Mexico, 1979. Heavy Metal. Skateboarding. Punk Rock. Hip-Hop. First Job: McDonald’s.”
Seldom does one boast the kind of resume found under the about section of artist Mike Giant’s fascinating website. Even more seldom does one show the long journey behind the success, the failures that came along for the ride. But this is Mike Giant. This is a man who describes himself as a Renaissance thinker, diving into different interests and connecting them all together into Mike Giant artwork.
And what better way is there to connect random thoughts than through the ever evolving expressive language of street art? Through illustrations and graphic design on the backs of skateboards, fashion design through his internationally renowned clothing line (Rebel8), various inked line drawings, tattoo art, and visually creative mural art, Mike Giant has spread his name globally through his commitment to the unknown. For those who view artwork by Mike Giant the challenge to seek excellence through diversity is commanding.
Mike Giant’s Story
Upstate New York was artist Mike Giant’s first home, but it would not be his last. His story is not unlike fellow artists who rose to fame: his love of graffiti art started young and fierce. The eleven-year-old Giant would not be held back from exploring his young life through the line and color of street art.
Moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mike Giant attended the University of New Mexico as an architecture major, but his studies would not supplement the rush he received from his street art ‘extracurriculars’. The nights found him establishing a presence in the graffiti art scene of New Mexico while he also sought work in the tattoo art and graphic design industry.
Mike Giant's design work began in 1993 when he took a position at Think Skateboards, a job which allowed him to explore the infinite possibilities of graphic design and graffiti art through the boards he painted. It was the transition from a passion to a career, but Giant wasn’t done pushing boundaries. He got involved in computer animation, opened a Mike Giant tattoo art shop in Albuquerque, and cofounded the fashion design line REBEL8 which expresses the voice of skating culture. Not to mention, the artist is well known for his graffiti and street art murals. Mike Giant’s story is a testament of the fact that the road to success is not an overnight trip, but one which takes many years of work.
Mike Giant's Design Styles and Influences
Mike Giant designs are tie perfectly the space between the tattoo, skate and graffiti art worlds. Described as calligraphic and energetic, his lines and inking are expressive, drawing the viewer’s eye deeper within. For those who view artwork by Mike Giant, they see his line quality dominate every aspect of his work. Mike Giant's artwork delves into lines as a means of expression, mostly avoiding shading and color.
The development of Mike Giant's design style can be attributed to his roots in graffiti art and skateboard graphic design. As for the subject of his Mike Giant artwork, it reflects his wide body of interests, including skateboarding, social satire, motorcycles, Dharma, punk rock, tattoo culture, life and on and on.
The Meaning in Mike Giant's Work
Viewers of Mike Giant's mural art quickly undestand it as the embodyment of GIANT's own inner expression. He is an artist who creates for the sake of creating, but he hopes that doesn’t stop people from discovering their own message from within his street art and illustration work. In fact, the artist muses on the reality that people who view his work often interpret his drawings differently than he intended.
“An example would be a show I did in Paris. All text. It was a Buddhist teaching on love. The S’s that I use were abstract, kind of. Pretty unreadable. This woman at the show was completely offended by it. She found hate in something that is about love. That’s radical.”
Giant loves this self-interpretation that his work evokes.
Tattoo Flashing and Artwork
Giant has a profound love of tattoo art, but instead of inking his own work on himself, he instead has covered his whole body in the artwork of various artists he looks up to and appreciates.
“My own work is dated. You can tell based on the style. To have that on your body is kind of a drag. It is to your advantage to find really good artists and have them do their best on you. Then it will look timeless. My education is in my skin. That’s how I learned, watching people do it.”
This openness to inspiration from non-traditional sources (tattoos) as well as tradtional fine art and design in general has helped expand Mike Giant's tattoo and art work to new levels of creativity. It is clear how tattooing and artists within the subculture have had a profound impact on Mike Giant. His work has shown a constant progression from these wide and varied influences that has continued to help him redefine and grow his style.
Murals By Mike Giant
Mike Giant is never satisfied by doing just one thing, and his graffiti and murals, which he began painting in college, have been a staple throughout his creative journey. Over time, Mike Giant has helped establish a category of mural work that is focused purely on lettering, a testament to his graffiti based roots.
Mike Giant's artwork, like his designs and drawings uses a love for varied lines and a reference to tattoo styling to create intriguing black and white walls filled with words relating to the current theme. His mural work continues and can be seen across the globe with one of the most recent being in the Chinatown district of Manhattan.
Mike Giant's Graphic Design
It doesn’t stop there. Beyond tattoos and murals and graffiti, Mike Giant's design work led to the co-creation of one of the largest skate / street wear clothing lines, REBEL8. The brand has grown immensely from its small beginnings.
“REBEL8 humbly began in a small San Francisco studio apartment with five-hundred bucks in 2003.”
Perhaps what describes Mike Giant best is a risk-taker / adventurer not afraid to try something new. Rebel8 clothing has had ups and downs but has continued to grow. Though Mike Giant's design work doesn't play as big a role in the company as they used to, Giant’s risk-taking mentality and graphic design influence is still closely intertwined with the brand's position.
Giant’s Gallery Openings
After years of success in multiple creative disciplines, the one place where Mike Giant has been tying his works toegether is his gallery openings. Giant's gallery openings are a place where he can create the work he wants how he wants utilizing all of his experience and influences for the world to see. Mike Giant has shown in galleries around the world with multiple taking place in Los Angeles, California.
The Future That Is Mike Giant
Mike Giant has continually grown as a creative and entrepreneur. A glance at his site shows that he is continually working on commercial projects, fine art, gallery openings, tattoo art, graffiti art, posters, photography, writing, and videos. The only thing that seems certain in his future is that the art world can expect to see more of Mike Giant, though in what creative form exactly, is uncertain.