#LifeOnTheWeb: Introducing Judge Mike Medaglia
To mark the launch of our #LifeOnTheWeb Competition we’d like to introduce one of the our judges, Mike Medaglia.
We caught up with Mike ahead of the launch of #LifeOnTheWeb to find out about he started to draw and how he brings mindfulness into his artwork.
When and why did you first start to draw?
Mike: Well, I drew as a kid - but very poorly - and although I distinctly remember wanting to be a professional illustrator as a kid and teenager, I didn't pick it back up again until I was 22. I had just finished school (where I'd studied drama) and was travelling around Central America when I start drawing again, quite inexplicably. I like to think of it as a time when I was soul searching for what to do with my new found freedom of not being in school, which I had never properly experienced since I was about three or four years old .So I travelled and knew I could do anything so I started to draw and literally haven't stopped in the nine years since.
Why do you enjoy drawing?
M: The final product is the biggest enjoyment. All the prepping, designing, pencilling, inking, colouring and then I finally have a finished image, a new piece of art. That is so enjoyable that it keeps me drawing day after day. But I will also say that nothing beats being stuck right into the middle of a drawing. When the complicated design and pencil stage is over and I can just turn off my brain and spend hours inking and colouring. Those moments are very peaceful when I am occupied by something engaging while having hours before needing to attend to the rest of life!
Would you encourage people to start drawing and why?
M: Definitely! It is such a very human activity. Just as we so universally use language to communicate with each other, drawing is another human activity that can be found in every culture dating back thousands of years. When we draw we express ourselves in a unique way. It is not that we need to know ourselves before we can express ourselves through drawing, instead by drawing we can learn who we are and what we need to express. This goes for all people, even someone who may not be confident in their drawing abilities. What is wonderful about drawing is how quickly one can improve with just the slightest bit of effort.
Very simply, what is mindfulness to you?
M: Mindfulness, to me, is the act of being present. Of simply being here right now and looking fully at what is in front of you. The word is a reminder to exist in the present and not spend all our time in our heads worrying about the future or regretting the past. Breathe, look around and be present in whatever this moment has to offer. That's mindfulness to me.
Why do you choose to promote mindfulness in your art?
M: If it was a choice it would be because of the positive and nurturing effect it can have on people. But it wasn't really a choice as much as a natural development. For years I kept my art and spiritual practice separate and both suffered for it. Neither art nor spiritual pursuits will work as part time endeavours. So it was only when I made my first comic about Zen that I felt this click and everything seemed to naturally fall into place in my mind and heart. From then on I had no choice but to use art to explore spirituality and for my spirituality to inspire my art and both to enrich my life.
Do you ever feel ‘online pressure’?
M: My work luckily brings out the positive in people, so my experiences online haven't been too pressure filled. But perhaps the worst pressure comes from myself as I compare what I am doing with other people online. I will see other artists being more successful online or having way more followers and it makes me feel inadequate and unsuccessful. It is only once I remind myself that I have had success as an artist and I need to focus on the good that is happening to me instead of wanting the success of other that I can bring balance back to my mind.
One piece of advice for someone who is feeling under pressure?
M: To talk about it, in person, with friends, family members or professionals. We don't have to suffer alone and talking can be so helpful. But I will also say that, if possible, one should try to focus on the momentum in one’s life and not get stuck on the friction around us. There will always be things that cause us to feel insecure and anxious, but if we can learn to focus on the positive, especially at the worst of times, we will have access to happiness and balance wherever we are.
ENTER OUR #LIFEONTHEWEB COMPETITION
Has Mike inspired you to get doodling? Then why not enter our #LifeOnTheWeb Cartoon Competition. Find out all the info, including the T&C’s on the #LifeOnTheWeb web page.