by Michael Edward Miller
as featured in:
My name's Michael Edward Miller and I'm a young artist based in Vancouver, B.C. Canada working on curating and producing my first international show “Punch-Out!!” to be held in Los Angeles, Ca June 10-13, 2013.
My medium is spray paint on panel and currently my work is based on 8-bit imagery from early generation video games.
Having just had a successful first solo show back in October, I’m working on my next big project. The costs are significantly higher and the logistics increasingly more complicated.
I’m reaching out on Indiegogo because I do not qualify for federal or provincial grants as a new artist, especially since I have taken on the role of both curator and gallery.
Let me give you the details of how it all began, my goals for this next show and where all the money donated to my campaign will be going:
My art was originally a response to the rough times I was going through back in 2011. I found myself wanting to dive into my childhood memories of 8-bit video games by finding comfort in creating art for my room. The imagery brought me right back to all my early childhood memories of bonding with my entire family playing video games.
I realized that there was a universal quality to what I was doing. Others from my generation, even the parents who interacted with us over these games, share the same powerful memories.
Video games deserve to be respected as a form of high art. Through my work, I want to honor and pay homage to the game designers that are truly idols for my generation.
By pulling out the iconic imagery, blowing up the pixels larger than life and rendering it in a new medium, it allows the viewer to live out the fantasy they had as a kid, as if they were Little Mac taking on a very imposing Mike Tyson right in the boxing ring.
I had to start from the roots of my gaming experience, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I was born with an NES already in my house so I was pretty much smashing buttons on the controller before I could read.
My mind kept going back to 6 games in particular… and I just couldn’t stop creating from that point onwards. From spray paint on plexi-glass, to paper, to building my own masonite panels, to cutting out all the stencils by hand on paper, it all began at a really rough state right in my living room. I literally built a spray booth right in my living room and the process took over the entire apartment.
I finally managed to find an external studio to work on the large pieces. It didn't have ventilation but I had no other options and had to make it work.
It took a lot of trial and error and more than a few near-aneurysms to figure out how to achieve the precise pixelation that is so iconic to the 8-bit era of video games, but it finally progressed to the point where I had my first show.
My first show, "The Nintendo Generation"
“The Nintendo Generation” was a 50-piece show, all spray-paint stencil work done on MDF panels. I featured 6 games from the classic NES, Dr. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Mega Man 3, Mother and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!.
I co-curated, produced and financed the show. In one part of the venue I created a 90s living room installation where viewers could immerse themselves in the classic games just like I did back in the 90s on my Mom's old couch set. All the images shown on the old tube TV were projected simultaneously back onto the wall behind the installation.
In the main area I served jumbo freezies and had a giant white table heaped in mounds of nostalgic 5-cent candies, a staple for any young gamer in the 80s-90s. Soundtracks from the games featured in the show played in the background of the main part of the venue.
I wanted to create a fantasy where people could relive all the senses of their memories. Even if the viewer had no previous interaction with video games this show was an opportunity to play, learn, and feel the importance and emotional impact these games had on people’s lives.
(To view the rest of the images, check out my website)
Media and Press
I received significant press attention and caught the eye of some high-profile Vancouver art collectors. And, believe it or not, the spokesperson for Nintendo of Canada and some of his crew came by my studio to view the work and suggested I consider showing at E3 this year. (Who would ignore advice from NINTENDO?!)
I want to give a voice to our digital generation in the fine art world, and to do that I need to make a bigger splash with my next show… right around the corner from E3 in LA this June!
The next show, “Punch-Out!!” June 10-13, 2013
The exhibition in Los Angeles will coincide with E3 and showcase 25 new works, all spray paint on panel. It will be a continuation of the series inspired by the classic NES game “Punch-Out!!” and focus on all levels of iconography from the 8-bit era of video games.
Every iconic villain at the intimidating size of 7.5’ x 6’ and every portrait from the in-game storyline at 34.5” x 36.” From hero Little Mac, to boxing superstar Mike Tyson.
The show will be held at Opulen Studios, 1309 S. Flower St in LA.
The opening reception begins @ 7pm June 10th, and the main run of the show will be from June 11-13 all day for three days to coincide with the run of E3.
Digital mock-up for the show:
Work in progress:
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
For those who do not know, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo held annually in LA. It is where all the big tech companies, suppliers and buyers converge to unveil the latest gaming systems, technology and all things related. My whole demographic is converging at one location for three days. This is the perfect time for me to reach out to them. It’s super important that I get there.
Goals for this show
The goal is to cement my relationship with the tech industry that created the foundation for my fondest childhood memories. I want to be a voice for the industry in the art world.
The second major goal of the “Punch-Out!!” show is to gain the attention of gallery Blum & Poe in LA. They are heavyweights in Japanese-North American contemporary art and recently opened an office in Tokyo. Japanese pop culture has strong roots in my upbringing and I was greatly impacted by Japan when I visited back in 2004. I’m working to become fluent in Japanese and Tokyo is my dream location for future exhibitions.
And thirdly, to sell. I need to recoup my costs and re-invest the money into fabricating my next body of work. I have my eyes set on a dual show between LA and Tokyo using a completely new medium. Production costs for this new medium is much higher than my current work.
As a young artist who has taken on the responsibility of financing, producing and curating I do not qualify for federal or provincial grants. Young artists need more support from the government. But technology (which I’m all about) saves the day with crowdsourcing. Thank you, Indiegogo!
If you can’t donate monetarily, I am just as immensely grateful for anyone who can share this campaign with friends on social media or by word of mouth!
All money raised through Indiegogo goes towards the costs of the show below:
- Upgrading quality/building of the panels
- Renting the venue in LA
- Crating and shipping the work
- Panel paint
- Spray paint
- New studio I need to produce the large works (with actual ventilation this time around!)
- Studio supplies (tape, Kraft paper, mask cartridges, cleaning materials etc)
- PR and sales management during the show
- Flight taxes (I’m using ALL the Air Miles to fly my team to LA. Air Miles does not cover taxes.)
- Accommodations in LA
Since I’m curating, setting up my own gallery and managing it, this is a whole different ballgame than if I were just sending the work to a gallery. A gallery would normally take care of the logistics, taxes, venue, sales, PR and business development. But in my case, the entire cost rests on my shoulders. ANY money invested into my campaign is going to be of indescribable help.
The venue is booked and I’m working on the pieces so the show has to go on even if I don't reach my goal, but if I do, I will be able to rest a little easier by being able to pay back the institutions I’ve borrowed from... I've maxed out my borrowing power to produce this show. Livin’ on the edge! But hey, as I always say “We could all die tomorrow!” I believe in taking risks.
I have meticulously budgeted and planned out every cost and aspect of this show. I’m also investing $5000 of my own money earned from my full-time “pay the bills” job I have outside of my art career. Whatever it takes!
From a signed invite postcard to a personalized self portrait rendered in 8-bit, there is a perk for all level of supporters!
$10 - Signed Postcard
A signed collectable postcard of one of the full figurative pieces from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!" with a personal message of thanks for supporting my work!
- Small Signed Print
A miniature sized signed high quality print of one of the Mega Man pieces from my previous show "The Nintendo Generation". Archival print on fine art paper, 18" x 17"
- Signed Print
A signed high quality print of a portrait from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!". Archival print on fine art paper, 24" x 23"
- Two Signed Prints
Two signed high quality prints of two portraits from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!". Archival print on fine art paper, 24" x 23"
- Full-Size Signed print
A full-size signed high quality print of a portrait from my upcoming show, "Punch-Out!!” Archival print on fine art paper, 36" x 34.5"
- Two Full-Size Signed prints
A set of two full-size signed high quality prints of two portraits from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!” Archival print on fine art paper, 36" x 34.5"
$250 - 12" x 12" Star or Flower
I will spray paint to order the next edition of a Star or Flower of your choice from my previous show "The Nintendo Generation." There are 14 versions. Spray paint on panel, 12" x 12" x 2.5"
- Limited edition "Pills" piece
I will spray paint a limited edition run of 2 new Dr. Mario "Pills" pieces based on the set from my previous show "The Nintendo Generation". There will be 2 versions (white or black) with 5 editions each. The editions will be sent in the order they are claimed. Spray paint on panel, 24" x 24" x 3"
$800 - 1st Edition Smaaaash!!
1st Edition "Smaaaash!!" panel from my previous show "The Nintendo Generation." There are only 5 versions left. Safely crated and shipped directly to you. Spray paint on panel, 11.5" x 84" x 2.5”
$2000 - 1st Edition Portrait
I will privately reserve a 1st edition portrait of your choice from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!" as a sincere thank you for investing in my work. Safely crated and shipped directly to you. Spray paint on panel, 34.5" x 36" x 3"
- 1st Edition Full Figurative
I will privately reserve a 1st edition full figurative panel of your choice from my upcoming show "Punch-Out!!" as a HOLY MOTHER OF GOD thank you for your insane amount of support! Safely crated and shipped directly to you. Spray paint on panel, 90" x 72" x 3" (7.5' x 6' x 1/4')
- Immortalized in 8-bit.
One of a kind personalized portrait of you or a loved one, rendered in 8-bit. Safely crated and shipped directly to you. Donors will also have the first viewings of the next body of work before it is shown. Spray paint on panel, dimensions and image customized for the donor up to 90" max height or 72" max width. Full-figurative or a larger than life portrait!
My creative mentor artist Brian Boulton is on board supporting me throughout this process.
I've hired Michael Harding who helped co-curate "The Nintendo Generation" to be in charge of P.R and business development.
I will bring on board volunteers along the way to help with the logisitics and prep here in Vancouver and over in LA once we arrive.
Let’s make this show happen!
Please consider supporting my first international art show by donating or sharing the campaign with ALL the friends through the social media buttons below, every little bit helps!
Thank you for checking out my campaign,