by Jorge Chirinos Sanchez

Can you describe in detail what a day in the life of Michael Vasquez looks like?

MV: In this field we have a lot of freedom, which is nice of course. However, I try to maintain a pretty strict schedule throughout the week so I can shift focus on the weekend to personal and family time. Weekdays I am up early and in the studio by 8:00am, coffee in hand. I generally start at the computer with the usual internet browsing, e-mails, research, etc. I’ll work on making art until about 2:00pm, then run a few daily errands, and return to the studio at 4:00pm. Depending on circumstance and energy levels, I’ll continue working until 8:00pm, – or all night if I need or want to.

How did your interests in art begin?

MV: When I was in the second grade, I was in a combination class with both second and third graders. There was a kid in the third grade who could draw really well. I liked how he could draw my favorite characters (Ninja Turtles, at the time) from memory and how the other kids would look on in awe. I decided that I wanted that for myself and have been practicing ever since. But seriously, from there I wanted to be a comic book artist, then an animator, then a video game graphics guy, – all the things kids like. At some point in my teenage years, I decided that I wanted to pursue graphic design, specially within the context of fashion. I left my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to major in graphic design at New World School of the Arts in Miami. Once there I discovered a world where people were being ‘real’ artists. Making whatever work they wanted and being successful at it. This was very foreign to me, but I liked it. At that point I decided that I just wanted to be an ‘artist.’ I haven’t looked back since.

What does your “Before I Die” check list have in it?

MV: I think the ultimate goal in this particular journey is to one day be in the art history books. What could top a legacy written in stone?

What are you currently interested in?

MV: The only things I am into outside of friends and family are art, fashion, and music. Besides my art, I am also co-owner/founder of So It Seems. So It Seems is a clothing label we have been developing over the past couple of years. Between this and my art, the only other thing I have time for is listening to music. Musically, I am particularly interested in emerging rappers with an eclectic but developed sound and style.

In your opinion, what role does art and the artist play in contemporary society?

MV: Unfortunately, I believe that the average person in contemporary society does not really have a relationship with contemporary art. They are simply not exposed to it in their daily lives, nor do they seek it out. While I think that at all levels art is communication, the majority of ‘art’ that is in the public eye, is in the form of graphic design and advertising.

In contemporary art, the artist is communicating his own ideas, not a company’s product. Although even within the contemporary art world, the artists and art can develop into brands and products. It gets quite complicated…

What is the most stressful and rewarding part of making your work?

MV: The most stressful part of my process is ‘finishing’ a work. I never look forward to addressing the sections of a painting I had been avoiding the whole time I was making it. I’m the type that forces a deadline on myself and works non stop until the very last second of that deadline, whether I am ‘finished’ or not. The most rewarding part is when a work has an impact on someone. I’m my most accomplished when people feel a genuine, empathetic connection to what is addressed in the work.

Do you have a favorite time of day to work? If so, why?

MV: I like working early in the day, or very late at night. This keeps me free from outside distractions because most people that I interact with are either sleeping or busy themselves at these times. I hate when I’m focused working and someone throws me a curve ball via phone that I have to attend to. I like to be able to be in my zone when I work. You can either come vibe with me, or leave me alone.

What is your outlook on Miami’s growing art scene?

MV: I think the future is bright. The energy level is high and growth is happening. But I do feel we need more programming that can direct this growth. I have seen a huge surge in interest from the local Miami community over the past couple of years, but feel like they come for the spectacle of it, aiming their sights on Second Saturday Art Walks in Wynwood. I guess this is a start, but what I want is the general Miami public to develop more of a sophisticated taste and interest in art that transcends pretty colors, shapes, and the happening parties. I would also love to see a seriously developed MFA graduate program implemented here. I think it would be most beneficial in continuing and expanding growth.