Mike Egan, Murder
Pittsburger/Pittsburghian Mike Egan, the newest TTP artist, has an unmissable style. Like the piece above, his works are packed with motifs of death, and many have an expressive skeletal figure or figures front and center. Mike was kind enough to take a few minutes last week to talk to us about his time working as an embalmer in a funeral home, his internet friendship with fellow TTPer Colin Johnson, and some of his influences. You can see his TTP collection here.
TTP: Hey Mike
Mike Egan: Hi Ben
TTP: How’s it goin?
TTP: You good to chat for a bit?
Mike: Things are well, sure whenever you are ready
TTP: Cool – so are you done with work for the day? Do you have a “daygig” besides painting?
Mike: Yeah, unfortunately I’m holding down a day job for now. I’m working for a manufacturing company.
TTP: So you’re done with the funeral home?
Mike: Yeah, I stopped working within the funeral industry about four years ago to pursue art.
TTP: How’d you get into it in the first place?
Mike: After art school I didn’t really know what to do, so I needed something full-time while I did my art. I found out that there is a mortuary school here in Pittsburgh so went and checked it out.
TTP: So did you have an interest in “death” as a subject before you started working there, and it sort of helped it along? Or did you work there more because you needed a gig after school, it was interesting, and you got into “death” as a subject as a result of your time there?
Mike: No I always sort of had an interest in the idea of death. I studied printmaking in college and got turned onto Posada, Kollewitz, Beckman, etc. Really dark stuff that kinda snuck its way into my art
TTP: I’m way into it. I spent a bit of time in Dresden and got to see a lot of the Dix and Beckman post war stuff that maybe you reference at times (among other things). Also I read somewhere either on your website or in something written about you that you sometimes view each piece as like a portrait or a testimony to individual persons. Do you think of individuals when you paint now, years after the funeral home?
TTP: And maybe more personally, did you have direct contact with the bodies in the funeral home? Not to be too morbid, but are any of those bodies particularly memorable, or particularly present in any of your pieces?
Mike: I was a full-time embalmer for a funeral home, I really enjoyed the science aspects of the funeral industry. I also did restorative art and cosmetics, more art related. As for my paintings now I don’t think I attach them to anyone, I tend to think about my own life, future, and death. There are people that I remember from the funeral homes, sure. It tends to be the younger ones, people my age, but I don’t put them in my paintings.
TTP: What about other mediums? I’ve seen on your Tumblr some stickers and there’s that paper mache skull in your shop. Have you thought about other mediums?
Mike: Yeah I really want to get back into printmaking. I love doing relief prints and would like to start screen printing my own designs on shirts. I’d like to get into learning computers more so I can do more design stuff for other people as well.
TTP: Cool yeah.
Mike: I don’t know Colin personally, only through social networks. He’s a great artist and I have a lot of respect for him and his work, so it was cool when he wanted to do a trade with me.
TTP: Nice. Any shows or work or collaborations or anything coming up or that you’re excited about?
Mike: I’m working on a solo show in New Orleans in August. Anno Domini’s 10 yr. anniversary show in August. I have a solo show in Albuquerque in Nov. Really excited to just keep painting.
TTP: Great congrats!
TTP: And we’re pumped to have you on board.
Mike: Thank you!