Mike Stilkey doesn’t usually have time to read the books he uses for his pieces, but it doesn’t really matter. He is making up a narrative all his own. He tells stories about boxing giraffes and brooding pigeons. His human characters are stretched so thin by the weight of their routines they are rail thin, their faces elongated and if they look sad, it’s because they are.
Stilkey grew up in Los Angeles, and spent a wild childhood skateboarding and running with graffiti writers. Trained as a photographer, he didn’t begin drawing or painting in earnest until his twenties. Stilkey has always had a fascination with used books, though. Sometimes it is the title that draws his attention. Other times it is the wear and tear of it, or maybe the notes some other reader left behind. Stilkey followed his natural inclination to begin drawing in them but it wasn’t until he began stacking the books and painting on their spines that something clicked. The work transformed into something that was both painting and sculpture and entirely original. Stilkey’s work has appeared in numerous group shows in Los Angeles and has recently been featured in Exit Strategy Magazine as well as the catalogs BLK/MRKT ONE and Paper Pushers.
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