One of my first thoughts after being introduced to the art and life of Michael Jones was that this guy looked like he was having FUN! We at Phantom Sway recently discovered Michael on Facebook and were instantly impressed by the positive vibe of both the artist and his work.
A Moment of Inspiration
A few years ago while on his commute to and from work in Southern California, Michael would notice the graffiti sprayed onto the walls and the sides of buildings in the city. The words found in the street art he saw caused him to wonder how that type of art might be used to send more upbeat messages to the community that encountered it every day. What would happen if he tried his hand at making art that encouraged people to “Dream Bigger?”
That’s how a small campaign to bring an expression of optimism to a generation living in uncertain times was born. Michael created the Dream Big(ger) brand, disseminating the logo and slogan onto stickers, hats, tees,even into the composition of his own paintings.
Two Paths Taken
Michael is a self-taught artist who uses paint and discarded materials to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. He says he loves to incorporate every kind of element possible in his paintings such as roses, ashes, hair, blood, and nail polish, to name a few. “I have always found recycled materials fun to work with…Something that once had meaning to someone is now going to have another meaning to someone else, and the cycle just keeps going on so that the medium never dies,” he explains.
Some art fans have noted that Michael himself, as well as his work, bears a striking resemblance to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the American abstract painter who achieved huge success in the 1980s and who also began his career as a street artist. Despite these similarities, there seems to be a stark difference in the paths taken by each artist. Basquiat’s work focused on the many injustices he saw in society and his life was plagued by depression and a heroin addiction that ended his life at an early age. Michael’s work is a celebration of how far mankind has advanced and the benefits found in its many achievements.
A Life Influenced
When I asked about the most memorable response he’s ever had to his craft, Michael tells me about the story of one of his fans that moved him deeply. About a year ago, Michael received a message on Instagram from a young man named Dylan. He had seen one of Michael’s Dream Big(ger) stickers on the street, and he had been affected and influenced by the hopefulness of Michael’s work. A year later, Michael got an email from a friend of Dylan’s with the sad news that Dylan had died recently from wounds inflicted by a violent assault. Michael’s heart sank while reading the email. The woman told him that Dylan had spoken very highly of Michael’s art and the Dream Bigger Movement and she planned to put one of his pieces in his casket. She explained that Dylan had been an addict at one point in his life, but had completely turned his life around, holding down two jobs and competing in weightlifting competitions. Michael says, “Sometimes as artists (or even just people in general) we don’t realize how many we inspire. It is a great feeling and I love doing it.”
Motivated by Joy
Michael says he gets inspired to paint when he makes a fresh, huge canvas or buys new paint. Viewers of Michael’s work can’t help but be swayed by the bold colors and energy found in it. He claims he never paints while in a bad mood, that he’s never able to tap into his creativity while angry or upset. “Most people can paint in whatever mood they are in and use it to fuel that motivation to make a masterpiece. Not so much me, but I am okay with that. All my customers can know that every painting I create comes from a happy place – as corny as it sounds!”
In a world that sometimes seems overwhelmed by cynicism and negativity, we don’t think that sounds corny at all.
To acquaint yourself more with Michael’s philosophy, the inspiration behind the Dream Big(ger) logo, and his techniques, watch this video by Nico Aesthetics titled A Day In The Life Of : Michael Jones “Dream Big(ger)”:
Michael is currently working on two collaborations with fellow artists, and his work can be found online at the follow web sites: