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Interview with Mike Philbin

q) Something on you ….

a)I live in Oxford, with my French wife and daughter. I’ve been a 3D artist/animator in the games industry for the last ten years. I’m also a writer of subversive literature and editor of the Chimeraworld anthology (published each year through Chimericana Books). Hertzan Chimera, that was all my fault. I’ve been making psycho-erotic imagery for the last twenty years, I had my first one-man exhibition shortly after leaving art college in 1987. It was a total failure, as was the rest of my artistic ‘career’.

q) When did you start to make art?

a)I’ve been ‘making art’ all my life – I used to make and paint papier maché landscapes for the toy soldiers I collected and painted, mostly Franco-Prussian wars and such, I was eight or ten, something like that. I think I enjoyed the depiction of war rather than the presentation of a pretty scene.

q) Explain your inspiration?


a)What is inspiration? Death, and its imminent arrival. Actually, I’ve nearly died a couple of times and I have had experience of death (watched someone die while I held their hand). In fact most of what I do is motivated by man’s mortality, or love – yeah love, that’s the inspiration. Or lust. Or science – I became obsessed that physics worked BACKWARDS – light travels towards the source of e.m. radiation in the form of the whole universe loss-adjusting to settle a debt. I created a spinning hypothetical particle called The Hertzan Chimera Unit. But then got bored with arguing the toss on New Theories forums and used the name instead to write fourteen years of extreme/surrealistic mindfuck fiction – books include Szmonhfu, BoyFistGirlSuck, Animal Instincts and others...


q) In what way does your inspiration transform into ideas?


a)Through the medium of pain. I wrote a book called RED HEDZ... let me start again, I never wanted to be a figurative artist. Too anal, too technical, all those layers and priming and treatment, all the technique a figurative artist has to be concerned about. I like to use the human form to express emotion, if I can. I’m not too fussed about the minutiae of the topological depiction just that it supports some form of pain, or pleasure. I wrote my first novel RED HEDZ based on a painting I did of the same name because I wanted to get my art onto the covers of books.


q) Could your ideas be portrayed in any other medium? If so which?


a)Film – I think my paintings would make a good (if weird) film. I did do some photomontage, in a clean surrealistic style – my favourites being the Eve’s Apples pieces, a series of cut-ups of Eve seducig Adam with fruit other than apples. Other than that, I have to tell you a secret. I’m a destroyer of my own paintings. All the paintings you see featured here in this interview I took an axe to one Summer afternoon in 1995. Haven’t painted since. Why? It’s the burden. No-one wants to live with the crazy shit one creates. Either sell it or slaughter it, that’s my mantra.


q) What does being an artist mean to you?


a)Being an artist means using what ever medium you’re comfortable in to express your view of the disturbing and arbitrary modern world. It’s about expressive liberation and non-censorship. Being an artist, for me, means making people think. Hearing their stories about what MY ART means. I love it to hear these stories, it’s like the viewer adds something of themselves in the telling of the tale. There is no right or wrong in art, just total submersion in the visual.


q) When does your art become successful?


a)Define successful ... I used art like politicians working away from home use whores. It got the job done, it externalised the pain, scratched the itch – and for that I thank it. But you mean when does the world recognise my endeavour for the brilliance it conveys? Gah, I don’t know if an artist should really give a fuck about whether his art is appreciated, now or in the future. It’s all a random throw of the dice game, the future: there’s no way one can even approach it logically, so why worry? If your art sells, fine. If it doesn’t. Shrug.


q) Who prices your work? And how is the price decided upon?


a)I refer the interviewer to the question of THE SLAUGHTERED PAINTINGS – they get harder and harder to sell with each passing year since 1995. Would I repaint them from the photo reference I took prior to their execution in 1995 if the market suddenly resurrected for that sort of art? Who knows, I’ve not had to formally address that question.


q) What is your next; move,project,show etc?


a)Books, I’ve been painting a picture with every thousand words I’ve written since I started typing into a keyboard back in the early 90’s. My writing and my art have always been interlinked, they are after all the same thing seen through a variety of filters. My writing is always controversial, not for shock’s sake but because I refuse to self-censor. Where other publishers (groups of horror writers) have shied away from my material because of its true horror content, Silverthought Press of New York embraced it, offering me a two book deal for 2008 – “Bukkakeworld” is a novel about the corporate suck-ass but this could also be applied to the genre suck-ass – “Planet of the Owls” is about the end of the world. Aren’t all books really about the end of the world? In this case, the angels are leaving planet Earth and they have to decide whether to take us with them or not. And you know what? They’re both scary as fuck.


q) What are the pros and cons of the art market?


a)Who knows.


q) Which pieces would you like to be remembered for?


a)Who cares.


q) Who has been the biggest influence on you?


a)The funny little art games my mum and I played as a kid – they showed me how to extrapolate a line into something tangible.


q) Other visual artists that you like…


a)Francis Bacon, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Balthus, HR Giger, Daniel Ouellette and the guy who wrote THE BOOK OF SICK.


q)How much do you think hype affects the public perception of what good art is?


a)How much do you think hype affects which trainers the public choose to buy? There’s a great quote from dead comedian Bill Hicks, he goes, “Is there anybody here tonight in advertising or marketing? <beat> Kill yourself.” No joke. Nobody knows what good art is. What is art? Nothing more than a con-game, a mug’s game, a deception. When there’s no wars to win, when there’s no need to kill some animal to eat, when there’s nothing to do – art will always be there, like a comfort blanket for the middle classes.


q) Last CD you downloaded ?


a)I don’t.


q) What makes you happy?


a)Very little.


q) What makes you sad?


a)Almost everything.


q) Last book you read?


a)Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin (authorised biography of a great Japanese writer)


q) What else do like other than art?


a)I like foreign or alternative cinema and have had several DVD reviews of hard-to-find titles published here and there. I’m an eclectic magpie when it comes to inspiration, I don’t tend to be inspired by the media I’m creating in. If I’m painting, I’d never be inspired by other artists. If I’m writing I’d never be inspired by other writers. What’s the point? Doing that brings one only to the Law of Diminishing Returns – like dog breeding where peculiarities in the breed are exaggerated by subsequent iteration so that eventually everything parodies everything and (like in Hollywood today) vanilla is the only flavour of creative entertainment. All colour and personality is lost. Dull and grey produce is extrusion moulded into our psyches until we’re unconscious with boredom.


q) Final thoughts...


a)You can do it – don’t comply to the arbitrary ruleset – live your dream!


q)Your contacts…


a)Mike Philbin



Silverthought Press



Chimericana Books