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Juxtapoz Magazine interview with Mike Shinoda


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Mike Shinoda will be opening his second solo exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum on August 29th, entitled "Glorious Excess (Dies)." If the success of his first solo at that Museum is any indication we are all in for quite a treat. Shinoda was gracious enough to take a few moments out of his busy schedule to talk about his upcoming show, his music career and the exciting things which lay ahead for this gifted artist.



AMF: So let's get this out of the way...you are a member of the band Linkin Park. You are also a very accomplished visual artist, among other things. I recently showed someone images of your artwork and they immediately knew your stuff. When it came out in later conversation that you were a member of Linkin Park they were like, "I had no idea". Is this what you are hoping for in your career as a visual artist? To keep your music and art careers separate? Or are you cool with it all being interconnected?

MS: That's a cool story. The band being what it is, I always try to put extra love into my art--and other, less mainstream projects--just to keep things balanced. I don't mind people associating the two, but there are obviously differences in approach when talking about making a Linkin Park album versus making a show like "Glorious Excess." There are topics I can cover in this gallery show that I don't think would make a very good song. For example, this show is about obsession with celebrity culture, consumer addiction, and fascination with excess.


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AMF: Glorious Excess (Dies) is your second solo exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum. What was the first experience like and how do you think this second show will vary from the first? Is there anything that didn't happen the first time around that you are hoping will be different? I have seen you continue to grow as a visual artist and I am just curious what exceptions you might be placing on yourself or your work as this second solo exhibition draws near?

MS: I had a great time putting the first show together. I don't really have any regrets, I just try to work on the concepts and craft each time, to hopefully improve as an artist with each show. This upcoming show is the culmination of a lot of work.

AMF: One aspect of your work I find interesting is the unique way you combine digital and hand done imagery. What are the motivations behind this and what is it that you are trying to express by mixing these mediums?

MS: I think we all have real-life identities and virtual versions of ourselves. People act differently online, whether on a blog, in email, on Facebook or Twitter. Online, people are more bold; sometimes more honest, sometimes more nasty. In person, you have a human being's feelings to think about--online, it's somewhat removed. People can easily create wholly separate identities for themselves online. I think these things play into the art and methods I use; the interplay between tactile media and virtual media is an inseparable part of our lives.

In the context of this show, the real vs. digital aspect plays a slightly different role. Tabloid culture is a viral gossip culture. Images and stories get simplified, and the resolution of the images and ideas get compressed and condensed. People are drawn in by the smallest, most explosive version of a story; then that version of the story gets copied and pasted, from email to email, blog to blog. That's why I had to use a combination of hi-res and low-res imagery in the pieces; it just seemed to fit. I felt it was a representation of a struggle to decipher between what was "real" and what was not.




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AMF: I would like to ask a similar question about your use of skulls and skeletons. I am wondering what this constant use of Skeletons means to you as it seems to be so prevalent in your work?

MS: There were so many reasons for the skeleton: the rock/punk/metal reference, anorexia, poison, and the anarchic lifestyle I'm talking about in the pieces. It's also like a modern "vanitas." Vanitas paintings were about emptiness, pleasure, and the transience of life. This show is like that, but standing on the red carpet with supermodels and an AK-47.


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AMF: Let's talk a bit about collaborations. You seem to really enjoy doing collaborations and you have ended up collaborating with some pretty incredible artists. If you would, talk a bit about what this style of art means to you and maybe a few highlights from some past collaborations that stand out in your mind.

MS: In my band, collaboration is a huge part of the process, whether writing a song or playing a show. When it comes to painting, I like collaborating because it forces me outside my comfort zone. The toughest collaborations--but ones with great results--were probably with Gary Baseman, Greg Simkins, and Dalek. I did them all in the same month, and everyone's style was so different. It's a lot of fun, though. I think my next show is going to have a lot more collaborations...

AMF: One more collaboration question and then I promise not to say collaboration again during this interview. If you could do a collaboration with any living artist (who you haven't worked with yet) who would it be and why? MS: I would love to do a piece with Ron English. He's awesome.


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AMF: As many people know, you have your fingers in a lot of things. Along with the music and art industry you are also a business person on many other levels. What is it like juggling all these things and how you you find time for friends and family being so busy all the time?

MS: People ask me if I have time to sleep. I actually try to keep things balanced; when I'm at home, I try to see my family regularly and take weekends off. I have a great team of people that I work with, who help to carry the load. I just try to steer the ship in the right direction.

AMF: I have heard that you have a book coming out which will document the entire process of your upcoming exhibition, Glorious Excess (Dies). When will this book be out and what was driving factor behind it's creation?

MS: We just finished the book, and it looks incredible. It's the first time I've been able to explain what Glorious Excess is really about. There are so many complex, overlapping ideas and inspirations behind the show that every time I talk about it, I feel like I've left something out. I think the book sums it up: it covers everything, from the first ideas that started Glorious Excess (Born), to the end of Glorious Excess (Dies).

AMF: This may seem like a strange question, so I apologize ahead of time if it is...but being that you are a musician, painter, designer, writer and so much more...is there one of these things that you could not live without...or are they all equal to you?

MS: I just need to create stuff. Maybe that's a bad thing, since I suppose all these ideas could end up in a landfill someday! But hopefully, if I'm making good art and music, it will enhance people's lives.


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AMF: Judging from your first solo, Glorious Excess (Dies) is bound to be a big success. Although this must be exciting for you I am sure you have many other things planned for the future. What else are you working on for the coming year and what, if anything, do you have planned for yourself and your work for the next 5-10 years?

MS: We have a new Linkin Park album in the works for next year, and I'm already working on my next art show. I 'd like to do my next show in New York; I'm looking for the right gallery space right now. After that, who knows? I just look for the next thing that seems exciting. Posted Image

Edited by Libyanhead
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That was really interesting - thanks for sharing :) I love the interconnection between music and art in general, and it's amazing how Mike is able to accomplish all those things and how he can really express himself as an artist in these different ways. I'm also really interested in the concept behind his two art shows, so I'd definitely be in for buying his book about it.

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