‘In the Artist’s Studio’ with Mike Karns


Announcing: The winner of the 2010 Redding Rodeo Logo Competition, Michael Karns. Congratulations! What made you enter a contest for the Rodeo logo?

Well, I work as the Graphic Artist for Shasta Creations and I wanted to see if my style would win over the Rodeo Association. I’ve never been to a rodeo, either, and thought it would be awesome to win some front-row tickets.


How will you feel seeing your design on all of the Rodeo merchandise, worn all over town?

I’ve been designing shirts for 20-some years now and it’s still a rush to see someone wearing your art.


How do your professional graphic design work and your artwork relate to one another? Or do they?

My wife Lisa is the catalyst for my paintings. We decided that I needed to get back to my roots and start creating for me and not for a customer. When you design for print the only texture you can achieve is visual. I wanted to feel the paint. My paintings are everything a computer cannot do. They are one of a kind, non-reproducable, textured, spontaneous, large-format entities. I guess the only relationship is both are created by me.


You have an amazing collection of masks. What started your mask addiction?

I have a mask addiction? That’s just crazy talk, Adam. Actually I have always had a fascination with primitive cultures. Masks are very important to primal societies because they help to celebrate, prepare for war or understand nature. Imagine putting so much faith in a material object. To me, that’s just cool.


When did you start creating your mixed media pieces?

I guess it’s been since ’07. My initial goal was to make 15 paintings and have a show to see what kind of response I would get. It’s turned into many canvasses and lots of shows.


Your materials are unconventional – latex paint, sand, wood shavings. What am I missing? What appeals to you about these materials?

My paintings are large and I needed a reasonable and unique way of painting. Gallons of paint are cheap, durable and come in any color. The sand is from Dog Creek, a local swimming hole, and the sawdust is from the framing borders I cut to finish my presentation. I really enjoy every aspect of abstract art. When I’m working on a piece and I reach the point where I start to engage the canvas with spontaneous action/reaction, the world blurs and the painting comes to life. It’s that pure moment that drives me. I also like the reaction of the viewer when they realize what my tools and techniques are.


You’ve been exhibiting quite a bit lately. What are some of the things you find most challenging when marketing your work?

Your baiting me, Adam. You want all my secrets and insecurities, don’t you? I have been showing a lot lately, though I’m finding that the shows are getting bigger and marketing for places where you don’t have a following is tough. I have been trying some new angles using the Internet and focusing on potential customers. I’ll keep you posted on how things are working out.


Where are your upcoming shows?

I’m currently showing at an Invitational in Weaverville at 5 Windows Gallery. I have a two-artist show going in Sacramento at Artistic Edge. I have an ongoing show at Gold Rush Galleries in Gold Beach, OR. I will be showing at the Old City Hall in May with Tina Casebeer and with any luck I will be in Chico and San Francisco by the end of the year.


The piece, above, of Odin is amazing. When will you bring Odin out of hiding?

Odin will be at City Hall along with some new work.

See Mike’s work at 5 Windows Gallery in Weaverville, in Sacramento at Artistic Edge, at Gold Rush Galleries in Gold Beach, Oregon, and in May at the Old City Hall with conceptual artist Tina Casebeer. For more information about the Redding Rodeo, visit reddingrodeo.com.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State events to adamm.anewscafe@gmail.com.

Adam Mankoski

is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.

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