The latest in our series of profiles of artists involved in our group show “Bailout” kicking off this Saturday. Michael Leon is not only one of my personal favourite artists but also an inspiration to me, a genuine icon of people within this industry of ours who have done incredibly well and have so much to offer, and are humble to match. Read about Michael’s inspirations and more after the jump.

SLAMXHYPE – Please introduce yourself and what is your background?


MICHAEL LEON - Michael Leon. My background is in skateboarding related art and design. Currently working in Portland Oregon as Design Director of Nike SB. Capricorn rising.

SXH – Can you tell us a bit about your artwork for the show?

ML – I’m using a format that I’ve been using for some time, the shape of a skull, sometimes wearing sunglasses. This time I’ve reinterpreted by doing a series of photographic portraits that are contained within that shape and photocopied onto large sheets of paper. The photocopy is a format that I have a connection with from doing zines and I like that it feels disposable. I think of them like pages ripped from a giant zine.

SXH – How did you interperate and execute the title “Bailout”?

ML – Loosely, I wanted to make something really straightforward and plain, stripping away all the parts I usually use with the skulls and focus on the faces, so hopefully when they are all tiled on the wall it will feel kinda confrontational. I guess just the fact that they are multiples of one format is a nod to the theme of the show, but I didn’t take it super literal.

SXH - What is your take on commercial art?

ML – My introduction to commercial art was through skateboard graphics. Doing art for a client (skateboard company) was part of it from the beginning for me. It was something I aspired to do. So I guess my take is that I feel lucky, in addition to my artwork, to be able to create work that serves another purpose.

SXH -How do you plan to celebrate the holidays?

ML – Visit with friends around Portland and my Mom in North Carolina.

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