Artist and tattooer Mike Wardell has been working in the tattoo industry for five years. Mike enjoys working in a variety of styles, but is most at home doing neo-traditional, color tattoo work. Mike’s artistic influences include mythology, comic book art, skate board graphics and the American traditional style. Mike’s work is based theoretically and historically in the culture and history of tattooing as art form. Educated at the Art Institute, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 2012, Mike believes that art theory applies to tattooing on many levels including color theory, composition and design.
Mike showed artistic promise at a young age, when he could be found doodling monsters in the margins of his school homework. He flourished in drawing class and eventually made a foray into a disparate array of mediums including acrylic and oil paint, pen and ink, sumi ink wash, charcoal, and colored pencils. In addition to the traditional mediums, Mike is also fluent with digital graphics programs, such as Adobe Photoshop.
Mike has been influenced by a variety of artistic movements, but if he had to pick a favorite he would choose surrealism. He is fascinated by the works of M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, H.R.Giger and Alex Grey. Additionally, Mike admits to being infatuated by “low brow” art, such as that featured in Juxtapose and High Fructose. Artists such as Ron English, Michael Hussar, Chet Zar and Sheppard Fairey are among his favorites. In terms of tattooing, Mike confesses that he could talk forever about his influences. He was fortunate to learn under the tutelage of the talented Scott Falbo of Seattle's Apocalypse Tattoo and later with the guidance of Josh Hathaway, owner of Industry Tattoo in Bellingham, WA. A few of Mike's other influences include Jeff Gogue, Nick Baxter, Bob Tyrell, Carson Hill, Tony Ciavarro, Victor Portugal, and Nikko Hurtado.
The history and culture of tattooing, argues Mike, is an essential part of the industry. He takes pride in staying current in industry standards and his goal in life is to continue to grow as an artist and a person. Mike enjoys working with his customers to create visually appealing designs that appeal to both customer and artist. He truly appreciate his clients, who have given him the opportunity to grow as an artist. He also expresses gratitude to all of the artists that he has been lucky enough to learn from along the way.