Exploring the Arts: 3-8-15

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Producer Kayla Menzie interviews Mike Gehrke a UWEC artist.

Edited by: Nicole Eastman

During the March 8th  Blugold Radio broadcast, producer Kayla Menzie interviewed Mike Gehrke, a UW-Eau Claire art student.

Gehrke is an illustration major at UW-Eau Claire, who describes illustration as mainly storytelling through art or visual narrative. He became interested in art at an early age, growing up reading comic and children’s books and even making his own small comics on printing paper. At the age of 26, Gehrke decided to come back to school to get a degree in doing something more than he had been doing before, and found that art was the right fit. He noted that he’s loved all his classes and the different mediums he’s gotten to work with. The challenge he had was deciding what to specialize in and how to narrow down his choices to preferring to work in watercolor and digital media. He also enjoys the professors and small group of people he gets to work with and see everyday, in addition to the nice support structure he has at UW-Eau Claire.

Besides illustration, Gehrke also talked about his enjoyment in working with video and video editing. Like illustration, he cited the storytelling and visual narrative components of the medium. He’s hoping to make a video entry for the annual University Activities Commission (UAC) film competition Festival Eau Cinema. This open competition for the Eau Claire community has people write, film, and produce a short film of 12 minutes or less in one month. 2015’s theme is Romance and Revenge and all entries will be shown at Woodland Theater in the Davies Center on March 31st (UAC Facebook Page, 2015). Gehrke has participated in the competition before, with his first film being Ruby Tuesday, a steam-punk adventure.

Another project Gehrke is currently working on is his graphic novel that he’ll be using in his senior art show for graduation. He describes it as an epic fantasy story revolving around a wolf named Swift in her quest to save a forest. With no human characters in the story, he calls it a really big adventure fantasy. This evolved from a bedtime story that Gehrke told his son over the course of a month. He cites family as a big inspiration for him, as well as the whole fantasy genre of books and movies.

Going off the inspiration that he draws from, Gehrke stated that the most enjoyable part of art is the possibility of inspiring others. He hopes that they can be inspired by his work to look at the world differently, have dreams, and to reach for something better. Gehrke’s goal is to eventually get a job as an illustrator and use the creative skills he’s learned to be able to make a living.

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