Mike Mitchell is 'Just like us'

Mike Mitchell stands at about 6'2” tall, he sports a sun-speckled light-brown beard, with a humble temperament and a proud plaid button-up. Sixty five sets of large, round, cartoon eyes gawked through custom engraved frames, from the walls of Gallery 1988 as a revolving batch of guests came to appreciate some of Mitchell's newest work in Hollywood on Friday, April 6.

The show, entitled “just like us,” presented a whole line of new prints, [produced in the six months prior] in a style, youthful enough to hang in a child's room, but equally appealing for mom and dad.

Born in 1982, Mitchell creates for and caters to a generation that remembers The Ninja Turtles, Viewmasters, and Seinfeld. With an over-riding pop culture theme, boisterous detail, and comic-like design, “just like us” falls nothing short of 'a la mode.'

“I wanted to do something fun and something that wasn't going to be stressful for me,” said Mitchell.

“I am really into pop-culture and sort of putting a spin on that genre.”

The 65 eye-level prints were created on transparent paper with transparent ink, so as to make the colors pop off the page, generating a double layer impression similar to an animation cel.

Texturized backgrounds were composed of cotton rag paper, without the acid- which Mitchell stated would ruin the piece over time.

Cliches aside, Mitchell pointed out the importance of perseverance and hard work, illustrating his own inspirations as an art student . “I emailed James Jean in art school, asking for the key to success.” Mitchell said with a chuckle. “He was like 'you know, bust your ass.'''

Jean's illustrious words have followed Mitchell throughout his own career, and he portrayed that same message to other aspiring artists- a bit more mundanely.

Originally a graphic designer, Mitchell drew guests from vastly different demographics.

Passer-byes, other distinguished artists, tumblr-follwers, celebrities, $1,400 Prada bags, scuffed shell-toes, hoodies, and pretty much anyone else with a smart phone came to support the rising talent- and grab some free beer.

Gallery1988 co-owner and co-curator, Jensen Karp must keep his finger on the art-world's pulse.

“With someone like Mike, we saw where the swell was going, so it was only reasonable to ask if he had an idea for a full show,” Karp explained. “Mike is popular without us; it's not us doing this, he is prevalent on the internet, so it was mutually good business for us to offer him a solo show.”

Almost 6 years ago, Mitchell got his start exhibiting his work in a group show at Gallery 1988- he was one out of about 100 other featured artists.

“We do different shows every three weeks, all very pop-culture themed, we work with artists generally between 20 and 35-years-old,” said Karp, encouraging young artists to pursue their careers.

“We look for submissions all the time, emails of 3-4 jpg. or a website link- and we put people in these large group shows.”

Before “just like us,” Mitchell's most acclaimed works were an “I'm with Coco” parody add campaign featuring television host Conan O'Brian, as well as an anti-oil conglomerate propaganda poster depicting SpongeBob submerged in oil, aimed at protesting the BP oil-spill of 2010.

Graphic designer, Allie Baldwin found out about Mitchell's show by following his tumblr; “Mike has a style all of his own, he's been posting about his new showing, so I knew I had to come,” she said. Baldwin took the thirty minute drive down from the San Fernando Valley to display her admiration and purchase a print for her own collection.

A boyish Bob Ross, sobbing, and holding a puny christmas tree, was cuddled under Baldwin's arm as she exited the gallery onto the chilly Hollywood street.

“Parks and Recreation,” and “House of Lies” actor, Ben Schwartz was amongst the melange. While he didn't stay very long, Schwartz offered some insightful words on his friend; “Hilarious, talented...” (there was a ten second pause) “...and plaid shirt.”

Appraising Mitchell in three simple words, while entertaining, was actually very genuine of the Hollywood-star.

Mitchell's art is simple and bold, and beholds a a strong sense of humor, that his fans and colleagues can see.

Gallery1988 will be showcasing Mitchell's work through April 28 at their Melrose location: 7020 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, Ca, 90038.

Original prints are also available to purchase through the gallery's website: www.nineteeneightyeight.com.