Fine Art meets Pop Culture on @Micahnotfound – an Instagram page that acts as an interactive timeline, documenting all things pop culture from rap beefs to movie premiers and everything in between. The magnificent ode to pop culture was created by Micah Milner, painter turned graphic designer, who is a part of the art collective (or artup – as he calls it) Art 404. Micah is the graphic designer, but he also works with a team of web artists – partnering with Manual, the companies branding machine, and Moises, a conceptual artist who is also in charge of production. Their work has been featured in Complex Magazine, Yahoo, BuzzFeed, and Vice, just to name a few.
I got a chance to chat with Micah about his process, his inspiration, and how he creates commercial art without compromising the integrity of his work.
Micah samples his work in a similar fashion to musicians – overworking existing images to make them his own and incorporating them in a much larger “almanac of [events] to create a multifaceted experience.” Timing is of the utmost importance in this production, as the cultural landscape of Arts and Entertainment is ever changing.
Scroll through the feed from the top down and you just might have a few “aha!” moments, remembering the movies you haven’t made time to go see, Drake and Meek Mill’s hilarious beef, The Grammys, etc. From the bottom up, the experience is entirely different and gives the viewer a peak into the evolution of an artist. Surprisingly, the page started with cats and gradually became more pop culturally oriented and event specific – the reason being that Art 404 was looking for a way to balance both fine and commercial art.
The talented trio starts planning things out a month in advance, but this, of course, limits them to scheduled events (movie premiers and award shows). The unpredictable events that make pop culture so exciting prove to be a challenge for the artists, as they must construct new work keeping both the layout of Instagram and the format of their current work in mind – seamlessly blending the old and the new, within a time frame that keeps the content relevant. Micah and his fellow artists fully embrace the challenges of the twenty-four-hour news cycle and work tirelessly to create art that is relatable in its content yet revolutionary in its execution.
On the subject of creating distinct art, I asked Micah (as any journalist would) what advice he would give to young artists. His answer was refreshingly honest, rejecting the all too common notion that waiting for inspiration will somehow translate into great art:
Work. I feel like everybody tries to give this feel good rhetoric about how inspiration will find you when you least expect it, go out and live your life, life reflects art – things like that. That’s true, but until you get your skill level to an elite place, nobody’s going to want to hear about your experience. You need to have your foundation and you really need to lock yourself in a room and just work for years before you can really say something powerful about your opinions and your life experiences and what brought you to the point that you are at. And that’s why I feel like every artist wants to tell people, myself included, tell people their story, tell people what they think about certain things, or just shine a light on the subject matter of their choice. But until you have the foundation and the skill level to put something out there that it doesn’t matter how terrible or mundane or how boring the content of your subject matter is, it still looks great and it will still catch your eye and then you can talk about just about anything. To me it’s just lock yourself in a room and don’t come out until you get the best work of your career. And then do it again because you should always be looking to be producing something better than your last project.
Micah focuses more on creating rather than studying art – recognizing the great work that other designers and pop artists have done before him – but still focusing on developing his own skills and aesthetic, as he believes that knowledge does not trump practice and skill.
So what’s on the horizon for Micah and Art 404? Micah recently collaborated with Soundwall – a company that combines music, art, and technology to create experiential art – to create canvas prints of Micah’s art that also play Drake’s music. Art 404 is also working on creating an app, called Art Drop, in collaboration with Dan Vingo, a programmer. The app seeks to help consumers find art for their homes that they actually feel a connection to – as opposed to just finding art that matches their furniture. The app allows you to shop through different designs first and then allows you to change the colors and rearrange the layers so that you can create something that resonates with you and in your home. They are hoping to release the app by the end of this year.