February 2022: Artist of the month Michael Hughes

In this month’s edition:

  • Artist of the month Michael Hughes
  • New artwork from myself!

Michael’s artwork attracted me from the get-go, as it was completely different from other artists I have interviewed so far. He makes black and white illusions that captivate you. I highly recommend checking Michael’s artwork out its best as moving pictures rather than the static ones you can see here.

Below you will find out a bit about his story, the best advice he ever received as an artist and where his future is going.

Michael has worked in the animation industry for more than fifteen years, specialising in stop-frame animation. He has been involved in all kinds of projects, from TV series, commercials, and music videos to short films and feature films. More recently, he has shifted his focus towards more abstract and experimental animation. A direction he is also pursuing with his NFTs.

1. How did you get into animation and abstract work?

I have always wanted to be an animator since I was a little boy. Initially, I wanted to go to Disney, then drifted towards puppetry and everything Jim Henson, and then discovered stop motion, and that was that.

But growing up in the 80s/early 90s was a little bit challenging in regards to equipment, and information about it all. We never had an old Super 8 camera in the house so it always had been a dream rather than me making home movies in a garage.

I ended up studying Graphic Design but stopped halfway through and moved to Edinburgh to study stop motion animation. My personal work always ended up being very minimal in design and often monochrome so I think I always had the tendency to eventually go full out abstract and experimental.

Another reason to move towards abstract animation was that I could do it without being dependent on funding. Stop motion is awfully expensive. Currently, all my pieces are done in After Fx so a laptop is enough, really. No need to fight through funding schemes.

I get excited about mixed media artwork so I plan to combine my digital work with analogue someday. I also do screen printing which would fit into that picture nicely.

NTRVL CROSS 2 — Michael Hughes

2. How do you stay creative?

I love provoking creativity by doing something creatively. 

I love playing in after fx (or when doing stop motion in front of the camera) by embracing all the little twists and turns and missteps that weren’t planned but lead to some interesting and exciting results. Often I am trying one thing but it leads to a handful of unexpected pieces. I like variations of themes so am fairly shameless in using a lot of those accidental pieces.

I have never been on social media before. This is a funny one for me because one of the main sources of inspiration over the last eight months or so has been seeing all this wonderful art on my Twitter feed. The art I am seeing comes from all different backgrounds and all directions.

3. What’s the best advice you ever received when it comes to art and why?

I think the best advice came from my old animation tutor Donald at the Edinburgh College of Art. It was more about film festivals at the time but I guess it sort of relates to artworks and collectors. 

I had made this little unassuming one-minute plasticine film after my first year which I started to submit to festivals. Initially, I only received rejection after rejection. But Donald said, “there is a film festival for every film, you just need to be patient, not give up and you will find the right one.” Eventually, I got it into a handful of animation festivals.

This totally fits the NFT/collector picture as well. There is a collector for every piece. Sometimes it simply takes a while for that special collector to discover your work.

1000 — Michael Hughes

4. Where do you see your art going over the next few years?

Over the last couple of months, I thoroughly enjoyed doing some collaborations and I am looking forward to doing some more this year. It’s one of the great aspects of being in the NFT community. It allows you to work with inspiring artists from all over the world. 

One of my ambitious plans is to create some new pieces good enough to lure other artists into collaborating with me.

I am currently doing the 3rd cohort of the vertical crypto art residency alongside a group of very inspiring artists, so I am curious what artistic impulses that might trigger and what kind of artistic relationships might come out of it.

Being fairly experimental I expect my direction to change unexpectedly (yet predictably) at some point. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey will take me.

I also hope to create a balance between the digital pieces I have been creating recently and spend more time doing analogue art like screen printing.

5. What book/TV show/ Film would you recommend?

I love animated short films of all kinds of styles and genres. It’s always exciting to go to animation film festivals and discover loads of folk and films you didn’t know before.

However, I will say that one of my favourite films over the last few years must have been ‘I Lost My Body’, an animated feature film by Jérémy Clapin. For me, it is the perfect film.

Twisting and Turning — Michael Hughes

Links for Michael: Teia — NFTs for sale, Foundation — NFTs for sale, Twitter, Instagram

New artwork

Recently I have joined Rarible and added some artwork that has a charcoal theme. This art style is different to my usual but I really enjoy drawing in it and I hope to continue to try new styles.  The theme behind this artwork is self-love where you look in the mirror and you really admire something physical about yourself. I want to spread body positivity and it all starts small.

The hair - design by Melissa Gilbert
The hair
The lips - by Melissa Gilbert
The lips
The legs

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