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I caught up with London-based artist Mike Bliss, who specialises in portraits and erotic pop art.

Me and Madonna (Mike Bliss)

Me and Madonna (Mike Bliss)

When did you start to explore your passion for art?

Its like breathing, I have very little choice. I finally accepted this was what I’m supposed to do about 16 years ago, and moved to London to see where it took me

How would you describe your style of art?

My art is 100 percent pure pop — like Prozac for the soul, or a really great Kylie Minogue track.

Madonnas (Mike Bliss)

Madonnas (Mike Bliss)

What are the subjects that most appeal to you?

I’m so lucky to be able to get excited by a whole wide range of subjects. The themes that are more frequent in my work are love, lust, religion, fame, sex, kinky sex, fetish wear, obsession, hate, and broken hearts. That’s the work I do for me — commissions are very different. I love that, it stretches me. Commissions make me a better artist

Is your target audience primarily gay men?

They are my audience and they are so amazing to me. The support I get from my gay buyers is outstanding! It wasn’t targeted though. My artwork is always informed by my life, so the gay community can relate easily to it. I’m sure the glitter and naked men can’t hurt. I have buyers in America that commission art regularly, but it’s not the gay themed work. They love my style, which easily translates to other subjects.

Your image of Prince Harry has always attracted a lot of attention?

I’m always amazed about the reach of that artwork. It continues to introduce my work to a wider audience. There are two new Harry artworks that I’ve done to celebrate his recent wedding. One is pretty dirty, it’s an idea I’ve had for months so I needed to get it out of my head. 

Prince Harry by Mike Bliss

Prince Harry (Mike Bliss)

What are some of the projects that you’re currently working on?

Since working with sheet metal while screen printing, I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to use metal in my work. I’ve started experimenting with Men’s jewellery. I like using words with a sexual context on chains. I’m basically trying to realise all the ideas that pass through my head.

What are some of the things that you’re currently getting excited about?

I’m really excited about working on and with new materials. I’ve always tied myself to canvas, but I’ve decided to liberate the work and experiment. I’m heading towards more 3D and sculpted work. That could change though.

What are some of the things that are currently making you angry?

Islamophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, racism, sexism, Brexit, all politicians, violence, bigotry, war, bullies, and religion.

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What are some of your priorities?

I haven’t done a one-man exhibition in London for ages, I’d like to get that organised as soon as possible. I also want to show in Berlin and New York. I’ve been asked to show in Paris, but the language barriers are proving challenging.

Follow Mike Bliss on Twitter

Crisco. 2018. (Mike Bliss)
The Winner Takes It All. 2017. (Mike Bliss)
Trinity (Mike Bliss)
Marlon Brando. 2018. (Mike Bliss)
Pop goes The Selfie (Mike Bliss)
Cunt. (Mike Bliss)
Marilyn Monroe. (Mike Bliss)
French Bulldog. 2018. (Mike Bliss)
Neon Joy (Mike Bliss)
Amy for Amber (Mike Bliss)
Rocky Horror (Mike Bliss)
Whatever happened to Baby Jane (Mike Bliss)
Jeff Stryker (Mike Bliss)
Übermensch The Man (Mike Bliss)
Madonnas (Mike Bliss)
Grrr (Mike Bliss)
Princess Diana (Mike Bliss)
The Leather Boy (Mike Bliss)
Leather. 2017. (Mike Bliss)
Take A Ride. 2017. (Mike Bliss)
Gun Oil. 2017. (Mike Bliss)
Ready Meal (Mike Bliss)
Prince Harry by Mike Bliss

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“Scott” (2017). Graphite on paper. Sketched from a photograph by Mack Sturgis. By Nik

I love art, and everywhere I look, there is loads of talent. One day I came across Nik and his amazing drawings of hot sexy men. I was blown away by the level of detail and talent Nik puts into each drawing he does. I reached out to Nik for an interview and was honored that he accepted.

“Scott” (2017). Graphite on paper. Sketched from a photograph by Mack Sturgis. By Nik

Nik, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an early thirties guy from a small town in New Mexico. I grew up in a really conservative Christian family and because of this, I was pretty sheltered from things that our church found transgressive like homosexuality. I find it a little ironic that despite this upbringing, I’ve grown up to become a gay, atheist, artist that draws dicks and hairy bums as a hobby. I went to college to study biology and have worked in laboratories in both academia and industry. I now live in the Midwest with my handsome fiancé where I am finishing up the last year of my doctorate in Genetics.

“James” (2016). Graphite on paper. Sketched from a photograph by Jeremy Lucido. By Nik

When did you start drawing and when did you start drawing men?

I’ve been drawing and making art for as long as I can remember. My grandmother is an artist and I spent a lot of my childhood watching her paint and sculpt. She often involved me in her process and would have me knead her clay for the storyteller dolls she made. I’ve always been really close with her and I think that art is a major part of our connection. I was a very quiet and reserved kid, so I spent a lot of my time drawing and reading. My childhood sketches were mostly of dinosaurs and animals — a lot more innocent than what I work on now. The story behind how I started drawing men is a bit unusual. To make a very long story short, in 2012 I had a near-death experience and I am only alive today because a friend of mine was there to save my life. I couldn’t think of a gift grand enough to thank him so instead, I drew a hairy bubble butt on the front of a card and wrote on the inside “thanks for saving my ass”. That hairy booty was the first of what has now become many.

“Luis” (2016). Graphite on paper. Sketched from a photograph by Afif Kattan. By Nik

Is it easy to find men to draw? Where do you usually find your subjects?

I primarily use Instagram to find the men that I draw and using that platform, it has been really easy to find muses. I’ve met some wonderful guys on there that have gone on to become the inspiration for my work. People are surprisingly very open to baring it all for a sketch. I live in the middle of nowhere, so I often have to work from reference photos. It’s been really fun to work together with the guys to come up with poses for my sketches. There are also a ton of incredibly talented photographers I’ve met that are kind enough to allow me to work from their photos. I really enjoy the process of taking their images and reinterpreting them in my style. Lately, I’ve been trying to work on doing more art trades with other artists where we each will work on a portrait of the other. It’s been a lot of fun to have the tables turned and get to become the art.

“Jedi” (2017). Graphite on paper by Nik

What motivates you?

My motivation to draw men comes from a love of the male form and an appreciation of how beautiful I find body hair. Drawing has also become a major source of stress relief for me, so I’m often motivated to draw to give myself an emotional release. I find the process of drawing body hair to be incredibly relaxing and being creative allows me to use another part of my brain that I don’t get to use in my day job. I’m also motivated by other artists. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the queer art community on Instagram and every day I learn something new from these talented artists. Aside from a few classes I took in high school and college, I’m mostly self-taught so these other artists have become my teachers. They motivate me to try new things, take risks, and keep improving.

What is next on the horizon for Nik?

I hope to turn this hobby into a side business. This year I’m hoping to begin selling prints of my pieces and hopefully have my first art show. I also have some ideas for some pins based on some of my sketches which I’m hoping I can make and begin selling. I also want to start working with more color and incorporating other mediums into my work.

Nik, thank you for taking the time to share your life with me. If you want to keep up with Nik you can find him on Instagram as en.santi and his website ensanti.com.

Nik is has been a pleasure.

“Hole is where the art is” (2018). Graphite on paper by Nik
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