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Chopping Block: Michael Cook "Cookie"

With a nickname that works up an appetite and a playful, refreshing style, Michael Cook AKA "Cookie"  gave us something we could really sink our teeth into for an article. First and only pun, I couldn't  resist. But really, this guy marches to the beat of his own drum and has been since his days watching Saturday morning cartoons. Intrigued by the the inspiration he draws from these cartoons, we sat down with the Southern California native and found out much more than we expected to.

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POW: Though many may describe your work as high-energy and nostalgic, how would you describe your style?

COOK: I would describe my work as pop surrealism.  My work to me has been a reflection of my personality, hopes and desires as an artist. I try to imagine what it would be like to be the Dr. Seuss of Street Art and I go from there.

GstoneFeeling G by Aka Cookie

POW: Someone viewing your work for the very first time might say you have a serious penchant for pandas. Does the panda represent someone or some concept perhaps?

COOK: I think that is a great response to my work. I want my audience to feel the panda’s overwhelming the room as if they were my little panda minions. I don’t know why I came to start drawing and painting panda’s and not some other animal but it was about 7 years and I just ran with it. I believe the characters I illustrate are a reflection of the different aspects of my personality. Therefore, as time goes on and I continue to paint these characters, the more I am learning about myself.

Picture 5No Exit by Aka Cookie

POW: Almost as recurrent in your compositions are robots and mechanics. Is there a message you aim to convey with the mechanical contraptions?

COOK: I have always loved the combination of man-made objects alongside nature.  I have just been searching for something different. I started experimenting with many different industrial contraptions over the years, trying to find the right balance of what would compliment the panda characters I have been developing.  It wasn’t until I created the urban robot painting I call “Joy Ride”, that I noticed the face had a gutter like appearance, which is now what I call “ Gutter Mouth”.  So I decided to focus on that and spent 6 months seeing where that would take me.  Gutter Mouth since then has become a symbol for my love of Street Art.  A symbol for all the art that emerges from places we would never expect to look.  Gutter Mouth is going to be a symbol that will inspire people with his hypnotic black stare and the different colorful ooze’s that emerges from his grille.

guttermouthGutter Mouth by Aka Cookie

POW: Your simple yet vivid use of color is just captivating, in all respects of the word. What materials do you reach for first to create the vibrant pieces?

COOK: I reach for a few cans of Montana Black Spray Paint and a combination of acrylic paints.  I usually do brush work or spray on my paintings.

POW: Having engaged in an apprenticeship with Justin Bua, what was one of, if not, the best piece of advice you learned from him? How about from your experiences? What advice would you give to someone hoping to penetrate the art scene like you have?

COOK: I don’t think there was one piece of advice I can remember over any other since he was such a giving mentor.  He was always teaching me something, from how to properly clean my brushes, to designing and developing concepts.  My best experience and best lesson were the same, it was to just hang out and paint together, watching him just dance at his easel to the music and feeling his energy I realized how fun this could really be and from that point on painting became a place where I really could let loose and have fun.

I would say if someone wants to penetrate the art scene it can be very intimidating but you have to push yourself and create more work than anyone you know and keep pushing it out there, whether it’s on social media or at art shows. Your work will improve and people will notice how serious you are and that you will never stop.

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POW: How did your interest in street art come about?

COOK: I have always been a huge admirer of city culture but I would say it was actually during the same time I worked under Bua in his studio in the Arts District of Down Town Los Angeles.  I would drive around there every day and see amazing legendary artists laying down so many amazing murals.  I was hooked instantly and became obsessed with the scene ever since.

POW: If you could create a collaborative piece with any artist in the world, who would they be and why?

COOK: Out of all of the artists I love and follow I believe DABS MYLA collaboration would be the most rewarding right now. They have a style that I think would parallel well with my own.  I think if we could collaborate on an installation for an event it would be wild!

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For more information on Mike Cook AKA "Cookie", please visit: http://www.akacookie.com/