GET TO KNOW MICHAEL BUSCEMI
Where were you born?
What did you study in school?
I did an independent study with Priscilla Williams during high school. She helped me to channel my art from graffiti into learning how to really draw.
Did you always want to be an artist?
From my earliest memories. But when I was five I wanted to be a baseball player – I still am, I still play, go to the cages.
How has your style changed over time?
I started with graffiti in Oakland as a kid in the tunnels. It was so beautiful out at night, the way the light hit things. I wanted to capture the reflection of night. So I picked up oils, watercolor, pastels, carved marble and worked and worked. At one point I had a bunch of watercolors that weren’t good enough so I took the paddles of life to them, ripped them apart. I made the paper constructs I’m known for now with their pieces, collaging them, experimenting. Then a collector from Texas suggested I do a white on white piece and that’s where I’m at now.
Are you a full time artist?
How have the city or cities you’ve lived in affected your art?
We moved from the East Coast when I was 6. We started this new life in the Bay Area and really watched it transform into what it is today. It’s hard to live here and it’s expensive, but it’s also innovative and the use of technology drives the future into the next chapter of humanity. We are in the heart of the heart here. And it’s given me so many opportunities.
Where do you find inspiration?
In everything around me. All of the time. It’s ongoing. Every morning I get up and work, even on vacation. When you stop – that’s when you miss it. I like to always be working. It can’t be about the money, then it isn’t authentic. And I do every piece like it’s my last.
How will art save the world?
I saw something in the bathroom stall of an art museum: “Life with art is crazy; life without art is crazier.” If you support artists, you support your country. We have a different outlook on the world. We work harder to find deeper connections. We are vital to the social fabric of society. I think if artists were allowed to participate in politics we could change things.