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Meet Michael Kraichely

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Kraichely.

Hi Michael, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in St Louis. After high school, I really fell in love with music, art, and nature. The great romance of my 20s was the American highway. I would work odd jobs a lot of service industry stuff waiting tables bartending usually kept my own place but it was always one foot on the ground in my head in the clouds. Nothing could keep me in one place for too long.

I traveled heavily through the Southwest and up and down the West Coast. Living for some time and San Diego California and in Portland Oregon. As I approached 30 years old, something very unexpected happened, and I became a father! I was working at City Museum here in St Louis at the time where I had the great pleasure of getting to know Bob Cassilly personally. For anyone in St Louis who’s been to the museum, or especially knows Bob, they know that this was a life-changing experience.

In my time there I was able to paint an 18×24 ft oceanic mural in the toddler town area on the third floor which remains there today. Much to my flattery other artists have come in and imitated what I started in the entire room is taken on a beautiful aquatic feel. It was a great pleasure to bring some of my experiences on the West Coast here to St Louis!

Also, in my time at the museum, much to my surprise I realized that I was a really good first responder for first aid. So here I am about to turn 30 and become a father, pretty much a rolling stone with a fun job. Somewhere in my head, I decided it was a good idea to learn how to scrub surgery! I spent the next three to four years delivering pizzas and doing school and clinical learning anatomy physiology, and surgical procedure, everything I would need to know to work in the operating room.

At the age of 30, while paying child support, supporting myself trying to do all this was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever taken on. I found that I was really good at what I was doing once I found my rhythm, time however revealed that the work environment was just not suited for a free spirit such as myself. Sparring all the nitty-gritty details of the 40 years that have passed, here we are. I’ve spent the last couple of years working art and music festivals, putting a lot of time and energy into building a very successful online community that’s quickly approaching 2,000 members!

It’s been extremely challenging and rewarding to take on being an artist full-time. Probably my favorite thing has been the opportunity to do commission work. I absolutely love building bridges, meeting people in the middle. I love that art is a way to nonverbally communicate with people and maintain connection without being physically present.

I’ve had the opportunity to do a couple of other big creative projects most proud of the mural I got to do at the Handle Bar STL of a large scale St Louis city skyline, stop by and check them out Tatyana and the career there are some of the best humans I know.

In addition to the acrylic painting and more traditional media that I’ve worked with most of my life, I’ve recently branched into digital art. Working on an Apple iPad tablet with a touch-sensitive pencil is really pretty incredible. I’m happy with the learning curve and I feel like I’m really bridging the gap between traditional media and the digital.

Life is always a balancing act and I’m happy that I’ve now taken on a flexible part-time job at a local performing arts theater and I’m looking forward to a little bit more stability and sustainability in the coming years. My son is now almost 12 years old, I see him all the time and it’s a lot of fun getting to do some real parenting of a teenager now. Oh, the life lessons.

I don’t know the future but that kind of suits me. Regardless I’m looking forward to it. I’ll always be making art.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s been a challenge every step of the way. I broke away from my family as a teenager had a pretty broken start. Didn’t know where to go just knew there was something better for me.

Never take the love and support of your family for granted. In all honestly, I feel like I’ve done nothing but tread water as far as making forward progress in life towards any kind of financial goal or accomplishment.

I’ve survived!

I tried to say thank you every day. To count my blessings for what I do have. Some days it’s easier to only see the lack. Choosing the life of an artist is not choosing the life of luxury. I’m happy to say that I am in the most stable relationship that I’ve ever been in my life with a loving partner who is extremely supportive. I’m slowly learning how to live in that stability.

I think one of the biggest struggles that were also the greatest motivator was losing a really good friend from childhood and my mother in the same year. It was a few years ago. I’ve always had a very aware sense of my own mortality, the Buddhists say- if you’re going to meditate on anything let it be the uncertainty of the hour of your own death. If you ever want to get off your ass and do something just remember that you’re going to die and you don’t know when.

That spring I dug a 6 ft by 20 ft garden in my backyard pretty much with my bare hands. Burying my mother. Considering everything in my life trying to figure out where to go next.

I was asking the universe a million questions, it kept giving me one answer. LOVE.

The same answer every question, over and over and over again. Love, love, love, love, love, love, and love.

I said okay universe I get it.


What am I supposed to do with that?

In time, I started realizing that love in action is given. I try to remember that moment of epiphany when I’m really struggling. That no matter what I’m going through it’s not about me. It’s about all of us, and that’s why I keep making art. It took me a little longer to learn and I’m still learning this one. If love in action is given. Love at rest is received.

We all have struggles. Most of mine came from always being alone and not having help, to the point where I don’t know how to accept it sometimes.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I would describe my work as romantic impressionism. Through my 20s and, my love affair with the American highway I brought back a lot of great feelings and memories that translate into my artwork today.

My favorite people in childhood were the women on my mother’s side. They come from a strong Irish Celtic heritage and they are wonderful storytellers! I fell in love with the Celtic stories and traditions as a child and I’ve always loved the way that they animate reality with color and life, how you can almost see an invisible infinite knotted thread that ties through everything like magic. This is what I try to capture with my artwork.

I love cartoons, I love puzzles. I think you can see it in my artwork. My goal is to execute each painting masterfully and beautifully, but also keep them simple and approachable so that anyone who sees them can be inspired to think, I could do that. The greatest reward I ever received is an artist is seeing that positive energy in action.

Hearing people come back to me with the stories of how they were inspired, not just to make artwork but to go forward in their lives with ambition and courage. The question asked what sets me apart from others? I think it’s the raw heart that I put into absolutely everything I do. I was plagued by my own intellect as a young man and I’ve learned to turn down the volume on my head and listen to my heart.

I do my very best to make this evident in all of my words and actions. I want the very best for all of you. The accomplishments I’m most proud of are the mural at City Museum, the mural at the handlebar St Louis, and most recently I’ve got into producing enamel art pins. My designs are being pressed into metal and hand-painted with enamel and epoxy on top. They’re really cool wearable little pieces of art that are also highly traded so I’m excited to be getting accepted into that community as a new artist.

I’ve included a photograph of the first production of my medicine crow which really embodies a lot of the philosophy talked about here in this interview.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Nature helps me.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
William Cooley Media

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