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New Print Alert: Sugar Fueled Debuts "Spooky"

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Sugar Fueled a.k.a. Burbank, Ca-based artist Michael Banks has had a long, complicated but hugely fruitful creative history towards making him the artist he is today. The full-time freelancer, who specializes in pop surrealism, lowbrow oil paintings and comic illustrations filled with cute, big eyed characters has been in the creative game for 22 years-- back when he was selling tattoo flash work around the world.

I started at an early age making noise and what could be called art.

Michael began his journey back in St. Petersburg Florida where he was born. The 38-year-old began his career as an elementary doodler, gradually making sense of his innate artistic urges.

“I started at an early age," he explains, "making noise and what could be called art for a toddler. I loved living here…the beach and Disney nearby. At about age 4-6, I had nothing better to do but wake up early to watch cartoons and Bob Ross, scribble in my coloring books, play with toys and oranges in the backyard while listening to Thriller. My fondest memory of St. Pete was when I accidentally left all of my crayons on the sidewalk in front of my house and they all melted in the crazy Florida heat. I covered the entire sidewalk in pictures from the melted mess. I think this is where I found my love for art. In first grade I was asked to design the cover of our school year book, that’s when I knew I was going to be an artist.”

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When he was 17, Michael got a job at a local screen printing shop and learned how to make his own t-shirts and stickers. In a band at the time, they traveled the southeast playing shows, putting up stickers and selling tattoo flash.

I moved out of my apartment to save money to learn. I slept wherever I could for free…the shop, the playground, friends garages and behind buildings.

“I lived in a small apartment by myself next to work. Life was easy then…I traveled and played shows around Florida and sold the new flash on my days off. Around the same time I finally got offered an apprenticeship to tattoo from a friend at the shop. I moved out of my apartment to save money to learn. I slept wherever I could for free…the shop, the playground, friends garages and behind buildings.

Michael explains this as the toughest time of his life: eating very little, sleeping equally as little and trudging through the rough patch in his life which eventually carried him toward a career in tattooing.  "After starting to tattoo, I finally got enough money to buy my own van. I lived in it on the beach and hotel parking lots. I had access to a hotel pool, hot tub and shower in the gym. I loved the freedom."

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At age twenty, Michael rounded up all of his tattoo money, made a few new sets of flash and lots of merchandise and hit the road all winter, playing shows with his new band and selling flash up and down the east coast. He sold everything and used the funds to start a clothing line, soon after quitting music and focusing on art for good. This was a major turning point for Michael, leading him to experiment with oils altering his creative trajectory forever. He spent the next four years living in his van and traveling, only returning home to re-up on supplies.

At 25, flash sales were getting slow because of the internet, so I stopped traveling.

“I loved to travel. I always had a friend with me to help me drive and hang out. I had a route, over time, of tattoo shops and all the good places to put up stickers. At 25, flash sales were getting slow because of the internet, so I stopped traveling. I changed the name of my company from Sick Kid to Coallus after having trademark issues. Around this time, 9/18/04 to be exact, I met my best friend Sarah in Pensacola Florida. We moved in together and I started using the internet as my main source to sell, Ebay and Myspace to market my new material and was also tattooing and painting a lot. I hopped on Van's Warped Tour with a friend’s band to sell my clothing line as well as making short trips to the cities to sell new flash, have art shows and put up art and stickers.”
Over the next few years,  he executed a few tattoos a month to make ends meet and painted like crazy, booking art shows and exhibiting his work wherever they'd let him hang. Slowly but surely, his creative prominence surged in the art market, creating the Sugar Fueled we know and love today.

Michael, a.k.a. Sugar Fueled has just unveiled his second Prints on Wood installment -- the follow-up to the unbearably adorable "Sprinkle" released earlier this year -- with the adorably creepy "Spooky." The 8 x 11 in. cut-to-shape wood print is available today, October 6 through October 13 at 11:59pm. Secure yours today!