” He told me basically that it had hit something else like a column, and could have easily launched threw my car or could have impaled me. I should have kept that crowbar, but I just tossed it out when I got home. Yeah, it was just one of those weird crazy experiences”
I recently had a chance to throw some questions over to Los Angeles based artist Michael C. Hsiung, for an outcome that was visually detailed, insightful and hilarious. For those of you not familiar, enjoy!
Michael C Hsiung is characterized by: large mustache (one of the few remaining facially hairy Asians surviving today) with all of the species capable of reaching one ton or more in weight; herbivorous diet; and a thin yellow protective skin, 1.5-5 cm thick, formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure; and a relatively small brain for a mammal of his size (400-600g).
Michael is prized for its mustache, sometimes his art. Not a true mustache, it is made of thickly matted hair that grows from the skull without skeletal support. Michael has acute hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight over any distance. Michael C. Hsiung will probably live to be about 50 years old or more.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Michael C. Hsiung and I’m a freelance artist.
Why do you do what you do?
I do it because it’s really the only job I’ve had that I really love
to do. I felt like I’ve spent my life searching around many times
career-wise, and drawing/art, while it doesn’t bring me riches, is
what I really love to do.
What’s your strongest memory of childhood?
I’ve got a lot of strong memories from childhood, and most of them
involve “poo.” When my family would go shopping for clothes and etc.,
I used to fake stomach aches when I was ready to go home, especially
when I had already gotten my toy or whatever. One time we were
heading to K-mart, and I had some real gnarly stomach pains. I told
my mom, who didn’t believe me and was pretty much fed up with my act.
I went to my dad, who could tell by the beads of sweat on my face that
I was probably going to crap my pants. We ran up to an attendant who
pointed us in the wrong direction … and when we figured out where
the bathroom really was… Oh yeah, at this point my dad is carrying
me on his back, and I almost shat on him. Luckily, he put me down and
I ran/slid into the Men’s room. So there I am, shaking, crying, and
covered in my own diarrhea in a stall standing on top of the toliet
seat… my dad takes my soiled shorts and starts washing them. As
luck would have it, another kid and dad were cruising in, but thank
god they were deterred by the carnage. Anyhow, hahah… my mom buys
me a brand new pair of red sweat pants to wear on my way out. Of
course, we still had to pay for them at the cash register, while they
were announcing a “clean up” in the Men’s room over the intercom.
That’s one of my strongest childhood memories. Anybody hungry?
What themes do you pursue in your work?
My work addresses gender roles/gender assignment given to mermen, the
fragility of unicorn/panda dynamics, domestic violence between
centaurs and unitaurs and the underlying threads of violence and
danger that underpin all other-worldly societies.These themes are
often combined with humor commonly used by those in dysfunctional
What’s one of your scariest/sketchiest experiences?
The scariest / sketchiest experiences in my life probably happened
when I was something like 18-19?… I was driving home in some heavy
rain, daydreaming for some reason about what would happen if I was in
some crazy car accident. Some moments later, I noticed a car speeding
towards me from behind, and I immediately sped up so he wouldn’t hit
my car, but he did. I remember the impact chucking my glasses
somewhere and spinning out … all I could hear was the window
wipers going and the Oldies on the radio. I remember just sitting
there thinking “I’m going to die if I don’t do something” and finally
grabbed the wheel and tried to brake while being pretty much blind and
in low visibility. Anyhow, when I stopped, found my glasses and got
out of the car, I was perfectly parked on the right side of the
freeway. Some other folks had stopped – one guy had actually driven
threw all of us as I was spinning in the rain in three lanes of
traffic. He said I had spun out and hit about three cars after the
guy rear ended me. Anyhow, the car who hit me was in the middle of
the street with its headlights on, but immobilized. There was a fellow
getting out who was in shock. He went to turn off his headlights,
which we were trying to tell him not to do… and then all of a
sudden, a pick up truck drives up and basically launches off the guys
wrecked car and goes flying sideways to a halt. The guy in shock had
fallen down, so some of us rushed over to him and others to the guy
who just flipped his truck. The dude was alright just totally
confused and disoriented. He was kind of trapped, so the other folks
lowered me down to unbuckle his seat belt. The cops finally came, but
not without running into the other cars and making a bigger pile up.
After examining my car and realizing it could be driven home, the cop
showed me the crow bar in my trunk that happened to be bent in half.
He told me basically that it had hit something else like a column and
could have easily launched threw my car or could have impaled me. I
should have kept that crowbar, but I just tossed it out when I got
home. Yeah, it was just one of those weird crazy experiences …
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Well, I’ve had quite a few jobs before becoming a freelance artist. Let’s see, I shoveled horse shit for my neighbor, was the Red Robin restaurant mascot, movie theater everything, university cafeteria, refrigerator stocker, proofreader, telemarketer (4 weeks), preschool assistant, museum guide for children’s museum, Special Ed assistant for middle school, summer school councilor, art PA, Grant writer’s assistant, museum services, typist, Baskin Robbins supervisor, and a background investigator.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Nothing much really. I’ve had nothing but good experiences, but I’ve
definitely heard horror stories. I think if anything I’d dislike
about the art world is that it can be intimidating, exclusive, and
stuffy at times.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t over think things too much and just go for it.
What research do you do going into a body of work or an exhibition?
Usually when I’m working on a large body of work, which I had my
experience with for the first time this year, I generally let myself
draw freely first. Then I usually take a step back and evaluate what
types of themes or ideas I might be working out in my mind. I
generally research books and images when I’m drawing in general. For
instance, I’ll do some research about viking armour while I’m drawing
a piece… sometimes it works well with what I’m making and other
times it doesn’t. I guess in that sense it’s sort of organic
What superpower would you have and why?
I’d definitely would have to say telekinesis or super luck. I’m
moving towards “super luck” as a power, so I could like win the
lottery and escape death or the police.
Who are some of your favorite artists or who would you like to be compared to?
Gosh, I’d definitely don’t compare myself to anyone or artist. . .
simply because that would stress me out and probably make me cry. Ha-
ha. I do have so many favorite artists, old and new, and these are
just a few contemporary ones I could think of: Pearl Hsiung, Mike
Stilkey, Travis Millard, Jay Howell, Mel Kadel, Matt Furie, Pacolli &
Mildred, Jon McNair, Jason Hernandez, Ben and Andy Kehoe. I also
really like Durer, Bosch, Edward Gorey, Olaus Magnus, Roman
sculptures, Frank Frazetta, Tim Hildebrandt, and Greek vase art.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Professionally, my goal is just to keep making art, be involved in the
art world, and maybe not have to eat top ramen on rent day.
For more info on Michael C. Hsiung check out his blog & website
NEON FOREST X MICHAEL C. HSIUNG EXCLUSIVE T-SHIRT RELEASE ONLY 24 PRINTED. SIZES SM-XL CLICK TO BUY!