Art Whore

Art Talk – Michael Kortez

Michael Kortez - Colour Art 004

Michael Kortez is an American multidisciplinary artist most known for his tattoos and paintings – Infusing cubism, pop art, and surrealism into his own unique beast.

Hailing from what many would regard as the true home of Lowbrow and Pop Art, Los Angeles, Michael has been exhibiting his creations since a very young age, and has spent many years honing his many talents.

(Picture below of Michael painting)


With a fast growing reputation and many projects in the works, now is the perfect time to get to know Michael by reading the Art Talk below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

Michael Angel Kortez

City, State n Country you currently call home?

Los Angeles California

City, State n Country you’re from?

Los Angeles California

(Picture below of some art by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Sketch 004

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, girls, school, crime… ANYTHING man.

* age 5 – beginnings:

By Age 5, I had lost my Father and had just come out of being Homeless…
My Parents struggled hard growing up.
Also by this Age I had already begun Painting…

* age 10 – continuations:

By the time I was 10yrs old I was Oil Painting and showing in Local Galleries around Los Angeles.
I was really into Painting Portraits of my Heros. Like Billy The Kid, JFK Etc…

(Picture below of Michael as a child)


* age 15 – getting serious:

During this time I had dropped Oil Painting and Realism….I was Heavily Influenced by Picasso & Basquiat. Cubism Meets Abstract Expressionism.
This REALLY changed my perspective on Art all together and started Painting what was inside and using Mixed Media.
This Style and Technique never left me…I still do it Today.

* age 20 – young adult:

By Age 20 I had begun getting Tattooed, I really loved the Old School Style of Tattooing. Classic Never Dies…Really wanted to start Tattooing but didn’t have proper guidance at this point.
I also got really Into Nick Blinko’s Artwork. British Musician/Singer of Rudimentary Peni. His work simply spoke to me, His visions were dark and I related.

* age 25 – adult mode:

Age 25 I continued painting…It was something I had to do…I woke everyday with a craving for it…It was a way to mark my days here, And to somehow make my days accounted for… A daily document left behind to verify I was here.

* age 30 – fully formed:

By age 30 I had been Tattooing Professionally for 3 yrs…
Finally earning money as a Commercial Artist….I feel very Blessed that Tattooing chose me.
By this time I had been showing publicly in Galleries for a lil over 22 yrs.
My heart and My ambition were finally in the right place.

(Picture below of some art by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Colour Art 002

Personal motto?

EVER FORWARD…Keep your head straight. Stay focused. Stay Positive. One day at a time…
Do good things and Good things will come.

Favorite band(s)?

The Germs, Joy Division, The Cure, The Doors, The Stooges, Nirvana. to name a few…Mostly Dark Rock and Roll!

Favorite TV show(s)?

Don’t really watch much TV…But I still to this day love The Wonder Years.

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

Never been a Meathead…HA!

(Picture below of some art by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Mixed Media 001

Favorite movie(s)?

Stand By Me, Goonies, Back To The Future, Citizen Kane, Barfly…
Any film with James Dean in it.
Wild One, Sore Losers, Wild Zero

Favorite books and comics?

I was a big Fan of Batman… Always have been.

Art Questions

Favorite other artist(s)?

I have always enjoyed looking at works by Picasso, Basquiat, Warhol and Kandinsky.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

It really isn’t an Art Hustle for me…I was born to do this…I have no choice in the Matter.
I have to apply what has been sent whether it sells or not.

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

As for Contemporary Art Hustle…Well Like I said It’s really not a hustle to me…It’s what I was born to do.
But really I think nowadays there’s a lot of room for many styles to become well known, More accepted and widely sold and distributed…
The internet really changed a lot of things…Made it possible for unknown Artists to have a platform to show their work and to have a wider audience.

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

I suppose if I had to put a label on it Id call it “Contemporary Urban Abstract Art”.

(Picture below of some art by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Mixed Media 004

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?

I started drawing as a child like any other child would….I just kept doing it!

What did you draw as a pre-teen child?

I really enjoyed drawing comic book heroes…

What did you draw as a teen?

As a teen I drew directly from what was going on inside…

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

The cubist and Neo Expressionism movement changed my life…and Growing up in Southern California also brought me into Low Brow Art…
Really was Inspired with the work la Luz De Jesus Gallery was putting out.
I have been lucky enough to have shown there Several times over the years.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

Like I said above…I was born to do this…I REALLY didn’t have a choice in the matter.

(Pictures below of some art by Michel)

Michael Kortez - Mixed Media 002

Michael Kortez - Mixed Media 003

Describe the method of making a Michel Kortez work?

I start with a blank White Page or Blank White Canvas and just let the rhythm take me where it wants to. No preconception, Pure manifestation.
Most if not all my Personal work is created this way. I just let the Art speak and do as it pleases.
I’m just the vehicle used to put this type of Imagery  out…..

In your ‘Splattergasm’ interview back in 2014 you stated how,

There are only two types of art. The good and the bad”…

What to you are the qualities in ‘good’ art?

Well I guess Great Art has to touch the core of the viewer…It has to be real and must contain a true sense of the human element.
If it doesn’t have these Qualities its simply not good.

..And the qualities in the ‘bad’?

Bad Art does not have Honesty and Misses the Human Element.

Tattoo Questions

Worst tattoo customer ever and why?

Most clients are pretty cool. Never really had a Worst Client.
I’m happy just to be able to work as an Artist and Tattooer.

(Pictures below of some tattoos by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Tattoo 005

Michael Kortez - Tattoo 006

Michael Kortez - Tattoo 004

Michael Kortez - Tattoo 003

Michael Kortez - Tattoo 001

Thoughts on the rise of facial tattoos?

To each they’re own, I’m not here to Judge.

What are your favorite tattoo machines to work with and why?

I like working with Mike Pikes Tattoo Machines.
They seem to flow well with the way I Tattoo.
Work Horse Irons are also Quality.

(Pictures below of Michael tattooing)

Michael Kortez - Mike Tattooing 001


Thoughts on the rise of home tattooing?

I’ve seen a lot of this Happening.
Obviously if your Tattooing at home you don’t expect Great work. I started this way…Wasn’t my proudest moment.
I just hope people follow the rules of Cross Contamination, Sanitation is key when it comes to body modification.

Which celebrity, in your opinion, has the best ink and why?

Johnny Depp has the best Tattoos mostly cause my good friend and Tattoo Legend Jonathan Shaw Tattooed them! HA!

Odds n Ends

What role did toys play in your childhood?

Toys are integral…This is where your imagination starts to take form.

Who was your 1st crush and why?

My first Art Teacher I thought was extremely Gorgeous.
I was 8yrs old, It was 1988…She was a Rock and Roll bad ass…Leather Jackets, Classic Cars, Chain steering wheel…The whole bit!…I thought she was just fucking cool…And the fact that she was Teaching me about Art and How to Paint!..Well that was a plus…
All I can Remember is that her name was Claudia and worked at the Hollenbeck Park Recreation Center….Damn I wish we kept contact.

(Pictures below of some art by Michael)

Michael Kortez - Collage 001

Michael Kortez - Collage 003

Does sex change everything?

Sex is what has us all in a GIANT mess! Haha…

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

I actually do not remember my Dreams. I know I dream but I don’t recall them…As sad as that maybe.
I wish I could remember them!

Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?

I am not a Drug Advocate…It’s never a good Idea.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

Ummmm…Drugs Are bad!

Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

The American Culture is in Trouble.
The Internet has Really destroyed a lot of good things.
People are easily lead these days.
I feel like people were more into Originality in the past…Seems like people are buying into Celebrity and Rehashed crap easily.
I wish those luck who are trying to change this…and Those who work hard toward creating great original works.
I tip my hat to them!

What is it like living and creating in ole Los Angeles these days?

I love this town…Its where I was Born and I wouldn’t change it….There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.
For most of the part I’m able to create and earn in peace….The weather is amazing…I love my hometown!…
People travel from all over the world to be here…And I am lucky enough I have roots here.

What does punk music and culture mean to you and why?

Punk is about being an Original…To be able to step outside the Norm.
A way of saying fuck you to the Status Quo through Art, Music and Fashion….

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

No Collaborations insight…
Hopefully someday I can talk Anthony Ausgang into working on some Original Pieces with me!…Wish me luck guys…Keeping my fingers crossed.

Any major projects you want to hype man?

Currently I’ve been working with Justice Howard on a Photography Book that Features many Artists…Very Excited about this. Book comes out in December!…Keep an eye out.
Justice Howard has magic up her sleeve!


Michael Kortez - Flyers 001

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