Michael J. Fabiano Interview
Before we get into this article, I want you to introduce yourself to the readers as well as myself. Who is Michael J. Fabiano?
I always find this to be a difficult question because I don’t really know the answer. I don’t know who I am, I feel like that’s often up to other people to define.
When did you begin to seriously view your art as being something you can pursue as a career?
I don’t know if there was a specific point in time. I grew up around art. My grandfather is a fantastic artist, and so is my mother. So I’ve been drawing forever. But I think it wasn’t until the end of high school that I decided I wanted to go to school for it.
What does your art mean to you and how has it impacted your life?
I have anxiety and panic attacks, and most of the time I find that drawing is a cathartic release. So it obviously helps in that regard. Creativity, in general, is very important to me. I think it’s such a powerful aspect of the human condition that it’s a shame it’s often overlooked.
In terms of creating artwork I am sure internal motivations play a huge role in pushing you to do what you do. I would like to know what is the inner driving force behind your creativity?
My anxiety is a big force behind my art the last couple years. But also just creativity. I try not to get complacent. I want to create things that don’t exist in our world, so I’m constantly trying to change my style to evolve and adapt.
You just mentioned constantly trying to constantly change and adapt your style. I believe in order to have longevity one’s style needs shifts and remain fluid as we grow and mature. If we could label your style, right now; at this moment, what would your be?
I struggle a lot with finding that medium between trying to be a good artist but also a unique one. In the past few years, my style has changed a lot. That’s part of the reason I’m so fickle with the artwork I leave online because sometimes I get embarrassed when seeing some of my old stuff and witnessing how my style has changed. But right now I think my style is heavily influenced by comics books and cartoons. I’m taking some notes from the more detailed defined stylized artwork of comics. On the other hand, I love the minimalist style of comics like Calvin & Hobbes and cartoons like Adventure Time. So I try to learn how to say more with less from them. I think my style right now is kinda hybrid of both of them.
I’m glad you mentioned hybrid because, in art, that word strikes me as meaning combination and/or balance. Now, this question may seem as though we’re backtracking but I feel it ties into the balance of your creativity. Earlier, we discussed the internal drive, now I want to talk about external factors which push you to create. Who are some of the people that have inspired you to pursue the arts?
Well, obviously my Mother and Grandfather as great painters. My girlfriend is a huge inspiration to me too, she’s a cake decorator and a phenomenal one at that. But as for non-family members, I’d have to say Tim Burton is a huge inspiration. I’ve always loved his creativity and the juxtaposition he creates between the macabre and jovial.
Let’s switch topics and talk about some of the tools used while making art. I want to know when drawing, what are some of the applications or programs you prefer to work with?
If I do digital work I have Cintiq tablet, while expensive it’s an amazing piece of equipment. With that, I normally just draw in Photoshop. But other than that I normally just work with Sharpies on paper. I kinda prefer drawing with ink over digital [medium] though, it’s more gratifying.
On a personal note, you’re a fan of professional wrestling and have drawn a number of wrestler caricatures; many of which have garnered attention from the online wrestling community. I would like to know what pulled you to the sport and who are some of your favorite athletes?
I started watching wrestling when I was in middle school. I met a kid at school who liked it and he wasn’t the stereotypical “dumb redneck” type of fan most think of. He showed me that wrestling wasn’t just a “Fake fight” but an actual piece of performance art. Once I started seeing it as art, I fell in love. Right now I’m big on a lot of these cruiserweights they’ve brought in. I love the high flying aspect of wrestling, so guys like Kalisto, Tony Nese, Neville, Finn Balor, are all on my radar. I’m also a big fan of Mil Muertes and Matanza over in Lucha Underground.
Of the wrestlers you have sketched who are your favorites to draw? Have any of them contacted you regarding your drawings?
I’ve never had any of them contact me, but sometimes they retweet me. I usually don’t leave my wrestling drawings up, though, I’m often very fickle about whether or not I want to be seen as a “wrestling artist” because I’m scared it’s gonna limit my future in the industry as an illustrator. But that might also be because it’s still seen as “not cool” to be a wrestling fan. But as far as favorite to draw, I like a lot of the guys that are unique looking with distinct facial features. Guys like Sheamus or Finn Balor.
Of your original concept drawings, what are some of the most recent pieces you have completed and what is the process behind creating them?
Recently I completed a piece called “They Told Us It Was Safe”. Normally I just have a rough idea in my head, but when I start drawing I kinda just let the visuals fill in the gaps. I really like the draw on the fly and kinda adapt and change the drawing as I’m drawing it. I also go through phases where I incorporate the same element into multiple pieces at the time. Like lately I’ve been into sugar skulls and intricate tattoos.
Speaking of tattoos, what intricate designs are you interested in? Secondly, would you ever consider designing tattoos for people? Do you offer custom design work for the public?
I’ve always been fascinated with the world of tattoos, though never had the volition to get one myself. I get a lot of requests to do tattoo designs, and I use to do them. But people almost never went through with it. Though two times people actually did get my design tattooed on them and it’s very strange to see something I drew immortalized on skin. But if someone is serious I’m open to design tattoos.
I’m open to working with anyone, really on anything they want. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m more than willing to see if I can help
Artistically, if you could have any work; any job as a result of your creative skill, what would it be?
My end goal would be to make comic books. That’s always kinda been my dream but I think artistically I’m still far off from that. Plus I’m not sure if people would read comics in my style. My work lacks the complexity and talented of great comic book artist like Greg Capullo or Frank Miller who can build these entire complex and stunning worlds in just one panel. I’m also not pinned down to that. Like I’d love to do character designs for movies or video games. Graphic design is also a big field I’m currently trying to break into, I think my style could be used best there.
Looking ahead to the future, where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
Hopefully still alive! In 5 years I’d like to be kinda laying the groundwork for my career. Hopefully, in 5 years I have found something in Graphic Design (that’s what my degree is in). In 10 years ideally, I’d be making more money and making even better work in Graphic Design, but working on my own art on the side too. Same in 15 years, I’d like to be settled in by then. I’d just be rolling into 40 at that time, and hopefully, I’d been able to set up a decent life for my and girlfriend (hopefully wife by then) in Graphic Design while doing my own art on the side.
Before we go, is there anybody whom you would like to shout-out or acknowledge? Anyone you want to recognize?
I think my biggest shout outs have to go to my girlfriend and mom. While my whole family has been amazingly supportive to a degree which I could never pay them back, there are a lot of days were my self-loathing and anxiety about my art and life become so overwhelming that my mother and girlfriend are the only people keeping me grounded in reality. I don’t know where I would be right now without these two amazing women in my life.