Painting the Town Red with Mike Murdock

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Photos by Adam Dorobiala

Mike Murdock has been one of the hardcore local skateboarders for quite some time now, and most people don’t know that behind the skateboard legend there is also an artist in his persona. Recently married, he paints, draws and makes art on a regular basis, depending on his work schedule at the airport, and is definitely an unrecognized force in the art scene of Salt Lake. Mike took some time out his hectic schedule to oblige SLUG with some details into his inspirations and influences in his life of art.

SLUG: How does such a class act artist, such as yourself, stay under the radar so well in these times of fast paced internet society? Do you have stealth bomber art technology leased out from the guys at the airport or are you just naturally super stealthy about your artwork?
Mike: I don’t know if I’d call it stealth, it’s definitely not intentional. In fact, it positively tickles me pink being able to share my art with others. I guess I’ve always been just a little reluctant (whether it be art, skateboarding, or anything else for that matter) to hype myself up. I’d rather just do my own thing and if someone happens to be stoked on what I am doing, well… then that’s just pure awesome and we can make it from there.

SLUG: Your style on a skateboard and in painting is definitely very original. One must inquire as where your influences are coming from? I’m talkin’ both art forms: painting and skateboarding.
Mike: Skating, I have always looked up to all the dudes in the old Dirty Hessian videos, and growing up I would watch Welcome To Hell about twice a day. Those videos always got me really pumped, but the two people that influenced me the most were Andy Pitts and Shane Justus, hands down. Top-notch rippers right there. And art stuffs, well … I always get really stoked when I see random funny shit like wieners, boobs and cuss words drawn in completely random places. I am also a big fan of “Hobo Streaks” and tattoo art. Oh, and Bob Ross.

SLUG: It seems like you should have board graphics on some major bigwig skateboard company’s wood out there. What’s the deal? Have you ever been approached by anyone about making designs for their company?
Mike: No, but that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Skate graphics were one of the first things I can remember seeing that made me want to start drawing. The ones I am most psyched on right now are the super old, fluorescent pink and green, flaming skulls and guts type boards that were big in the ‘80s. Those were so totally effing rad.

SLUG: What about exhibits in Salt Lake? Any galleries booking you out right now, or are you booked so far in advance that they can’t get you to show your work til 2012?
Mike: I’ve done a couple of group shows here and there, and I had some boards at the UNK Gallery (R.I.P) but that’s about it. I have my first solo show booked for next June at nobrow. It should be rad, I’m pretty excited about it.
SLUG: Obviously your painting is a hobby but have you ever wanted only to pursue your dreams of becoming the next Dali or Sieben?
Mike: Oh shit yes! Being able to turn something you love doing into a way of making ends meet is pretty much best case scenario in my eyes. So I’m always keeping an eye out for any such opportunity, I will definitely have to work on my mustache to get to Dali status though.

SLUG: Recently married and all, does that cut down your time to paint or does it only inspire you that much more to produce awesome work?
Mike: Cut back? Nah… my wife has never been anything but supportive of the things I love to do. In fact she was actually just helping me work on one of my paintings. She’s basically amazing. We just bought a little place downtown and it feels pretty good to have a spot to call home base.

SLUG: What originally made you want to start turning your imaginings into visible work?
Mike: I don’t know … I just hate feeling like I’m wasting time. I always have to have some sort of project going on or I just feel like a big pile. My brain is constantly rattling with more colors and run-on sentences than I know what to do with, so I try to focus some of that energy toward a physical product of some sort and hope for the best. It makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile with my day, instead of just working and paying bills.

SLUG: If and when you decide to make the final leap into the “legendary artists of the 21st century” will you stay just as humble as you are now, or will you blow all your art money on stripper wives, jet packs and gold Rolls Royces?
Mike: Ha! Who needs a gold Rolls Royce when you have a jetpack? I think if I get to the point of having several stripper wives, the least I could do is buy them each a jetpack. Fuck it, I’ll buy everyone jetpacks.

So there you have it- spoken like a true artist, make art in everything you do and never stop. You might just want to check out Mike’s Flickr page ( to see his extensive collection of most of his work and play there, but remember that you will be able to peer into his imaginings in real time at nobrow next summer. You better start saving now so by the time the show gets hung he can make enough money off the sales to buy us all jetpacks.