Where: Cape Town, South Africa
Website: a page a day
The story…My name is Michael Ilias Linders, however most people know me as Migi. I was born in Zurich, Switzerland. My immediate family immigrated to South Africa in 1987. We lived in Johannesburg and I went to school there. After school, I started working as a photographic assistant and in 2002 I went back to Switzerland for a while. On my return, I studied photography in Pretoria. And after my studies, I moved to Cape Town and have been living between here and various European cities since.
I am living with a lovely lady and life just isn’t as good anywhere else as it is in Cape Town. I try to spend as much time on my own work as possible but lately I’ve done a number of freelance jobs. I’ve been working part-time as a university lecturer, on commercials (working in the art department) and as an illustrator. Every so often I shoot some pictures. I gave up on art for a very long time, as I was preoccupied with having a so-called career. These days, I am more focused on art practice and the bigger picture of making and doing things that I want to do now and which will hopefully be able to support me one day.
Now…At the moment, I get up and walk across the park to my studio. I sit down, paint, draw, write, smoke and then walk back across the park (while trying not to get attacked by any dogs). I watch a lot of TV, read and eat once in a while. Then sleep some more. In my spare time I do much of the same – maybe sleep more if I have a hangover or it’s raining.
Acquisition of skills…I have always drawn. But I thought I couldn’t draw and was always embarrassed by my drawings. I still can’t draw but at least I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to draw realistically or with any kind of perspective that makes logical sense. I’ve come to love the way I draw as it is the way I see the world.
Then and now…I was shy and lived in my head as a kid. I’m not so shy anymore but I’m still living in my head.
Talents, interests…One of my talents is probably photography. I take a pretty decent photograph and know a fair amount about the history of photography and the subject in general. I really enjoy researching photography and finding references for shoots. I also work as a creative photography consultant every once in a while. I enjoy the finished photograph more than the process of taking of a photograph.
I really enjoy books, magazines and blogs. I need information all the time. Books are probably my greatest love – I love their textures, their smells and how they all sit together on a bookshelf and are always there for you, to rediscover them.
Moving on up…I always wanted to be a film director but that desire faded away over the years and developed into a desire to be a photographer. Photography fulfilled me for a few years. But I got to a point where I could no longer express everything I wanted to say through photography. So, I started drawing and painting again. I never really thought I was good at anything – I just progressed by doing what I was interested in and experimenting. It is just a continual progression that I hope never ends.
Current projects…I’m working on several projects and ideas, all based around the concept of trying to get back to the process of making more constant art. My process involves doing a certain amount of work each day relating to what I see on that particular day, in a daily diary format. My main project is documenting what I see in all the different media that I am exposed to everyday. This involves looking at books, magazines and the internet for images that interest me. Then I draw or paint the images on an A4 page. I try to do two to three pages a day.
The series I’m working on will hopefully end up consisting of 250 pages, which will become a book. This’ll be similar to the self-published books I’ve done in the past – Random Lines and Can I leave it up to you, non-narrative illustrated stories.
I’m also making studies of volcanoes using different media, inspired by the idea that volcanoes were once believed to be proof of the existence of hell. I have a bit of a hard time using colour – most of my work is in black, white and tones of grey – but through painting, especially acrylic and watercolours, I’ve begun to see things in strong, flat colours. My paintings mostly depict a brightly coloured apocalyptic world. My work is based on reproduction, re-interpretation, re-evaluating and series as a whole.
Pros and cons…I like the freedom (when I have it) of making work I really want to do and actually enjoy. I don’t like having to do other work for money as it takes so much time to get back into doing the things I really want to do. I dislike not being paid for the work I love doing although I’m lucky that I do often earn money from it.
I grew up in Johannesburg – I really liked it there. We always lived on farms with lots of space which helped my already over active imagination. I think my holidays in Switzerland and Italy, during which I saw a lot of classical art, really opened my eyes to the possibilities of self-expression. I started to understand that what I saw in Johannesburg was as important as what happened and what was happening in Europe. I could interpret what I saw around me and realised that it could be important or meaningful in the context of the world and my place in it.
Day in his life…
Everyday is always different. I’ve never had a 9 to 5. What my day will be like depends on whether I’m teaching, working on a film or just doing my own research. I try washing the dishes so my girlfriend doesn’t think I’m a sloth. I even wash my clothes, sometimes. Weeks go by so quickly – some are more exciting than others, some are just wasted (but hopefully not too many).
Confidence…Confidence is too strong a word – I don’t know if I am that at all. I just like doing things, even though I dream of being a world superstar!
Roots…My family is very vast and spread across the world so the idea of culture and identity has always been very interesting to me. Most of my family live in Switzerland – some are of German descent while others are pure Swiss. I have family in Mexico, where my mother was born. I suffer from chronic homesickness and it’s rather confusing – it makes me a bit of a nomad.
The big hurdle…To make some kind of a living.
Lessons…Just do it – produce the work, find the means, just make make make and make some more.
Collections…I collect magazines, books, knives and old toys. I don’t collect as much any more because my girlfriend is a collector maniac but a good book will always make my heart race.
When he's uninspired…I normally stop working all together and spiral into a deep, dark depression. Then, usually after a few days, my depression becomes my source of inspiration and I see the light again.
A few of his favourite things…I love blogs, mainly fashion blogs, but lots of images of pretty things too – f&art, JAK & JIL BLOG, Gnarlitude, Geometrie Variable, Vvork and Them Thangs.
Relaxing, maxing…I should exercise but I mainly just drink or something of that kind. When I sleep I relax. Other than that, my brain is burning holes in my eyes.
If he could go back in time…I wouldn't have bleached my hair in the 90s.
Inspiring folks…I admire Hans-Peter Feldmann, Raymond Pettibon and Robert Crumb.
Plans…Draw, kiss, paint, kiss, draw, kiss.
Dreams…Making money from just sitting in my studio – drawing, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes.
Best advice received…Wake up!