Every year, MURAL’s team approaches an artist from the muralist line-up to create artistic elements for the Festival’s visual identity in their own personalized style. For MURAL’s sixth edition, we are proud to be working with artist Michael Reeder.

“I’m super excited to have my work and style be used for this year’s visual branding! Since it’ll be designed in numerous sizes and shapes as well as adhering to several advertising and signage requirements, it’ll be interesting to see how the crew for the Festival uses the elements from my work.”

A graduate from New York’s School of Visual Arts, Reeder is now based in Los Angeles and working full-time as a studio artist and muralist. His journey in the art world began at a young age; from car doodles on the coffee table, to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing contests, or private oil painting classes in first grade, art has always been a part of his life.

Currently known for his figurative and abstract work using contrasting colours, motifs, shapes and layers, Reeder creates ambiguous portraits exploring the concepts of identity????how we see ourselves versus what we project. Our backgrounds, experiences, upbringings, ethnicities are all very different and blend together in unique ways to create each of our identities. For Reeder, the concept of identity includes many layers.

Combining graphic and realism elements, his artworks end up having a collage feel, echoing the multiple facets that compose the identity.

While one art piece may explore identity through one’s ethnicity or gender, another may explore the inner self versus the outer self. Different symbolic elements make the identities of Reeder’s portraits unique. For example, he often deprives his characters of their eyes. “I like the idea of there being an inner-self. The person in our head, our ego, or our conscience encased in an outer vessel of skin, so I started creating these portraits without eyes – essentially depicting just the outer shell of a man.” He explains.

In the same vein, smoke billowing out of the eyes of his characters will signify that the inner self is released.

He also likes to incorporate skulls in his artworks. Typically viewed as being human, without necessarily having an ethnicity or a gender, skulls allow him to convey that in the end, we are all the same.

However, as Reeder explains, his artworks don’t always have a profound meaning: “There are many times when I don’t know exactly what a piece means, or what it specifically represents, but if I like it, I do my best to leave it alone. Maybe later on, down the line I’ll discover what it means.”

In addition to his contributions to the 2018 MURAL Festival visual identity, the American artist will also leave his mark on Montreal’s streets with a large-scale mural. Accustomed to the traditional canvas, painting a mural has, for Reeder, a greater impact. Compared to an exhibition, a mural’s scale and its public platform has allowed him to reach a larger audience for a longer period of time. “Murals become a part of an individual’s daily commute, or strolls with friends downtown, etc.”, he explains. Not to mention that as he spends a lot of time inside a studio, painting a wall outside gives him an opportunity to take in a little sun, move a bit and meet people!

While anticipating his enigmatic and colourful style to our Montreal streets, you’ll be able to enjoy his artistic touch to our visual identity via our digital platforms, booklets, posters and more.