Mike McInnerney is seared to Pop culture consciousness through his visionary sleeve work for The Who's Tommy. His work has always had a seekers perspective, and he continues to paint beautifully and frequently.I believe in the life and teachings of Meher Baba. As a living manifestation of God he made a very abstract concept very real. He was in the world in a beautiful way. The many stories of his encounters with people and the varied ways he would interact with Baba lovers, visitors and the simply curious who attended his Ashram are an inspiration. He has shown me brief moments outside my own ego and brought a tenderness to the way I see the world. His message, at an important moment in my life, was clear on the use of drugs as an entertaining and temporary distraction from the true purpose of experience which was to identify and manage impressions created by the daily business of living through a considered spiritual journey. This leads naturally to a love of content and stories in work that have everything to do with the way we are in the world. Making images that reflect on the opinions, attitudes, behavior and psychology of others.
1. What do you believe in and how has it been manifest in your work?
1. What do you believe in and how has it been manifest in your work?
2. What do you listen to when you work?
When I am out painting trees I listen to wind swishing the leaves, the rustling of undergrowth activity, bird song, flying insects, distant conversations and children playing. I listen to the radio when developing studio projects such as ‘Folk Tales’ with pictorial ideas formed from half thoughts through direct drawn action on paper. I need silence to support the written as well as drawn thoughts for commissioned work. I like talk programmes and the ability to listen to things on demand through IPlayer and UTube. My favorite radio station is BBC Radio 4. I particularly like ‘In Our Time’ a programme presented by Melvyn Bragg that explores the history of ideas. The last three programmes covered subjects as diverse as The Bhagavad Gita, the Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill and Neutrino’s. I also enjoy the Philoctetes channel on Utube Tube, a site for the multidisciplinary study of imagination, nature of reality, limitations of explanation and theory of everything.
3. If you could own any work of art what would it be?
A bit of wall from the Lascaux caves in France.
4. Who is the most interesting person you have met during your career and what was it that they imparted to you?
John Hoppy Hopkins was an Oxford University educated nuclear physicist who worked at Aldermaston and left the British establishment to join CND, picked up a camera and became a photojournalist. As a founder member of the London counterculture scene he promoted alternative life styles and created the publications, clubs and events that supported those ideas. As a situationist and supporter of Fluxus he had a knack for appropriate action when the social and political circumstances were right. His support for individual lifestyle experiments which included the use of various hallucinogenics led to a period in jail. He continued, through the seventies and eighties, with his company Fantasy Factory, to develop social and community based video projects using the latest recording technology at that time. He inspired and enabled young people of his generation to believe in their own ideas for active involvement in the world. Helping people understand that we should always be able to surprise ourselves and that without change we would simply rust away.
5. Were there moments when your career faltered or your muse disappeared, and how did you overcome this?
I had been a freelance illustrator in London for seven years developing time consuming ideas through highly crafted artwork in either gouache or pencil, mostly for the editorial market. My agent, at the time, opened a New York office and brought me over in a bid to expand the agency into the American market. Almost the very first commission offered was a Time magazine cover that had to be produced over a weekend. A prestigious and well paid job which I could not do because my working method was very slow. My work was uneconomical, I was depressed, I had to find a way to speed things up, I had to buy some time to rethink methods of work and ways of thinking about drawing and materials. So I took some part time work teaching illustration at the then Bath Academy of Art. Interestingly, illustration was becoming a distinct discipline on graphic design degree courses in 1974 when I started teaching. There were new and exciting dialogues to be had about self directed working methods and communicating to a media audience with distinct and individual voices. I enjoyed the dialogue between my own practice and teaching and the perspective it gave me. I re-entered the freelance illustration market in 1979 with a new folder of work that was more varied in its use of material and more flexible in its idea of finish. An illustration could be made in half a day or longer if the idea required it.
6. Do you have a motto?
Chance favours the prepared mind.
7. Which piece of your work has had the most longevity and what do you think about that piece now?
The album cover artwork for the rock opera ‘Tommy’ by the Who has had a long shelf life, long enough to see it adapt to the shifting formats of a recording industry evolving from analogue into digital. It has also morphed to fit onto T shirts, book covers, framed wall prints, concert projections etc. Like a song, it is a graphic image that has become a part of peoples lives. I also like the fact that it still holds its meaning for me 43 years after I made it.
8. Describe your daily work routine if you have one.
I am up by 6am. After breakfast I do a workout on my elliptical trainer and some floor exercises then shower and start work in the studio by 09.30am. Sometimes I stop for lunch but usually work through to 6pm. If the weather is OK I will often go out into the local woods or nature reserves at 11am in order to paint a gouache portrait of a tree and return to the studio at around 3pm with a finished painting.
9. Do you keep a sketchbook? if so would you show me?
When working in the studio I mostly sketch ideas on loose leaf sheets and layout paper so I can prep pictures on the lightbox.This helps me organise and refine compositional ideas. I occasionally use a sketchbook when out of the studio. For example I would usually sketch during ‘down time’ at both Heathrow and Zürich airports whilst waiting for regular delayed flights to and from teaching engagements at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, luzern Switzerland. Whatever kind of time you experience it is always quality time with a sketchbook (see attached samples).
10. What has been your most constant source of inspiration?
The drawings of others.