New Michael Motorcycle Poster

Feb 07 2011

We are only 1 week away from Valentines’ day, so in the tradition of creating special posters on this romantic holiday, The Standard Hotel is releasing another set of hand crafted posters… this time, for The Standard Hollywood

(Just Released in The Standard Shop from Michael Motorcycle)

Previous posters were specifically designed for The Standard Miami, The Standard Downtown LA, and The Standard New York.

This last design, for The Standard Hollywood, is the fourth in a series for each of The Standards. There are 300 hand silkscreened, hand-signed, and numbered posters for The Standard, Hollywood. 18” x 24”, on cream colored paper. This poster is especially close to Michael’s heart, since he spent most of his adult life living in Hollywood. Living on the west coast, his clients include the Hollywood Bowl, Goldenvoice Presents, and All Tomorrow’s Parties Presents. In addition to exhibiting in galleries throughout the US and Europe, Michael’s work has also been published in The Art Of Modern Rock

We asked Michael a few questions about his inspirations, his craft, and some of the factors that informed some of these pieces on sale at The Standard Shop now. 


The Standard: Tell us how you discovered there was an aritst inside you, and how you embarked into a career of illustrating?

Michael Motorcycle: I drew all the time when I was a kid. My teachers told me that I should be an artist for a living. I didn’t know what that meant. When I was in high school I started to win money by entering drawing competitions. I began to realize I might be able to make a living as an artist. In my early thirties, I started making a living designing and printing rock posters. It became clear to me then that I was an illustrator.

Tell us about this dream world in the poster series? It seems there’s influences from so many different eras… from Victorian to almost tattoo culture? What is the common denominator in all your 4 posters?

Victorian fairy tales, and French art deco pochoir prints are two of my biggest influences. I thought I wanted to be a tattoo artist in the early 90’s. It turned out I didn’t like it but I can see the remnants of that style in my art.

The common denominator is love.

Can you break down the narrative of each protagonist — LA, NY, Miami… and the world she inhabits?

In 2007 I was working on a series of prints that began in the forest and ended up in the city. The Standard’s Los Angeles poster came at the perfect time in the series when I wanted the story to take place in the city. It’s about being vulnerable and allowing another person to see your most intimate self. It’s also about my love for Los Angeles.

The Miami poster is a breezy, light hearted image. I made many sketches and took a lot of pictures for this one. I tied the butterfly theme from the LA poster into the Miami print. I wanted people to feel this poster, more than think about it.

In the New York print, I was trying to capture the excitement, and inspiration that pervades NY city. I had recently fallen in love with the city and was planning a move to the east coast from California while I was making this print. I was looking for a place to live while I was working on the color separations. It was the most difficult of the four to make because I designed and printed it during one of the most stressful and exciting times of my life.

I got the idea to draw the queen of sleep for the Hollywood poster one night when I was nodding off while drawing. I tied the stars from the NY poster into this poster the way I tied the first two together with the butterfly. I lived in Hollywood for a number of years, and I saw many people move there with dreams of success in the entertainment industry. That is what the girl in the poster is supposed to be dreaming about. The star is coming down from the night sky to give her some good luck while she sleeps.

How long does each poster design take for you to do? Can you explain the process?

Each poster takes about 6 weeks from conception to completion. I start each poster with a sketch, that turns into a drawing, that eventually gets inked. The next step is to scan the inked drawing into the computer and clean it up and work on the composition. Next, I work on the color separations. I usually print 7 or 8 colors so I have to make 7 or 8 different layers, which represent the layers I am going to print. When those are all finished, it is time to print the actual image. I print one color a day starting with the darkest color, working my way to the lightest color, which is usuallyyellow. I integrate my knowledge of color from painting with color in printing, and visa versa. I finish by printing what is called the keyline. The keyline is the drawing I started with. It is the “key” that holds the whole piece together.

What work are you most proud of in your career? Why?

I am proud of the posters I’ve printed because they are laborious to make, and I believe through trial and error, I’ve come up with a unique style of printing that didn’t exist before me. I love the do-it-yourself aspect of making posters. With determination anyone can learn to screen print in their house or garage. I am working on a series of oil paintings that are based on images from some of my posters. The paintings are more difficult to create than the posters. It forces me to explore the themes more deeply, and develop a richer understanding of my work.

What is next on the horizon for you? What other projects can we expect to see?

I spend a large portion of each day working on my paintings. I moved to the east coast to become involved in the rich art world that exists here and intend on making my living as a painter at some point.


To purchase the Limited Edition print of 300, go to The Standard Shop / Michael Motorcycle ($35).