Micke Tong, the Cyborg Sneak
Micke Tong lives like a king…or maybe more like James Bond of the Art World, which I am pretty sure he is: a secret agent from San Francisco who is often on covert missions into the Oakland Art Scene where he effortlessly blends and always gets what he is looking for. His apartment near Hunter’s Point is a paradise of clean and stylish design which he shares with only his little dog Rosco and his arsenal of art-objects, again with the spy theme. It helps that Micke is one of nicest guys in the world too. He has a magnetic smile and a disarming way that is damn refreshing. Then of course, there is the meticulous art and the technical craftsmanship that goes into it, blending to create these habitable worlds of glamorous facades and brilliant design. Micke’s drawings will be on display this month at Swee(t)Art Drawing Gallery as part of the THIS INVENTED EARTH show that opens May 29th. I visited Micke in his secret base and we talked about who he really might be.
Obi: When did you decide to become an artist? How did that process manifest?
Micke: Not sure. I’ve been drawing since I was a young, but it took me a long time before I actually felt comfortable with calling myself an “artist”. Even when I was attending art school, I had a hard time with the label because I had it in my head that to be an artist it had to be your career, but as I started actually showing with confidence and making more art the title seemed to find me.
Today I find that I just love creating things, I don’t have to get paid for it. I do it to amuse myself much of time and to see if I can make what’s in my mind a reality. It’s too bad I don’t always have the means to create every insane idea that I come up with. I’m fortunate that people give me the opportunity to display my work.
obi: What is you favorite mode of working? Sculpture? Painting? Drawing? I know you do it all.
Micke: I really don’t have a favorite. Although I like trying new mediums and experimenting. For the past year and a half I’ve been working with a lot of wood sculptural mixed media pieces. I find it challenging, fun learning new processes, working with new tools and materials.
With “This Invented Earth” show I’m drawing, but I’ve added a bit of a twist by adding digital blocks of color as my background from an ink jet and then drawing over the shapes. I’ve also added layered color paper to create some depth and contrast by cutting right into the paper. I don’t like to worry about whether or not if I have a repetitive style. Life is change, I change, my art will change with a natural progression.
Obi: There is almost an industrial/machine quality to your work? Are you part machine? Where did that hyper-consistent, overtly-graphic style come from?
Micke: Ha! I can do the robot pretty well. I don’t think I’ve always been that way. Maybe being in front of the computer for practically all my life, I finally assimilated to it without recognizing it. Let’s just call it the “cyborg sneak”.
In all seriousness though, I guess at some point I started to find it meditative to draw in that manner. The first time I released this style of drawing was in a show called “Non Sequitur”, curated by the talented Sasha Eckes and Alexis Mckenzie. I love sketching and expressions in free form, but when it comes to showing my art to the public, I tend to be a bit more methodical. Like all artists, the work has to come natural in what you do.
For more Micke visit his website: http://www.micketong.com