Kugali Spotlight: Mikhail Sebastian
This week the spotlight shines on the SCAD graduate, entrepreneur and creator of the shōnen inspired Mythallica Lux Nova. The North Carolina native has had an affinity for creativity since the tender age of 2 and has not stopped drawing since. In this interview, we take the look at the inspiration behind work of Mikhail Sebastian.
K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?
MS: A lot of things really. From my family to my favourite cartoons. I like to think it all played a part. A case of everything leads to something I suppose. But as a kid I was always thinking about the future. Of the things I could do. I don’t think I’d call it courage though. Because at the time I didn’t fully understand the path I was taking enough to truly fear it and have the courage to pursue it anyway. I think it was mainly naivety lead by genuine and ignorantly blissful passion. With time and effort it manifested into something that requires courage to continue doing.
K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art
MS: My family has continued to be a major supporter of mine. My mother (Priscilla) always encouraged my sister and I to do what made us happy until it made us money and not the other way around. My mother is an educator too so to hear that her kids wanted to be creative must have been somewhat of a shock to her. But she never made us feel as if we had to follow the path that she took. Which in many ways I ended up doing myself. Even when the mindset of her generation may not fully understand it, she’s supported us. My Father (George) is the more rational one (I consider myself a rational optimist) I think for him it took him actually seeing us fully commit to it and put ourselves into our work to truly understand our pursuit. He, my mother and stepfather (Brian) proudly boast the status of our biggest fans. My sister, (Mikhala) is actually the one who originated my interest in art. She sings now but still draws from time to time. When we were younger, she wanted to do what I’m doing now. It was because of her I started to discover the creative arts. My career has always been supported and encouraged to some extent by my family.
K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?
MS: Most certainly. I think one of the things I’m still learning to master is how to balance quality with the demand of the industry. Something I think many of my peers do well. Much more so than me. But I am very conscious about what I make now. I even often find myself prolonging my own process so that I can really be cautious of the work as I’m doing it. I do try to make it clear to people who I work with that if you want the best out of me, or any artist, you have to give us the time we need to deliver it.Describe your
K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?
MS: Mythallica: Lux Nova hands down. Primarily because, even though all my projects are technically mine, Lux Nova is mine in a way that is very significant and precious to me. All of the stories I write are in one way or another for myself. But I always try to consider what the audience will see or how they will perceive it. But with Lux, I am truly writing for myself. It’s a story I want to tell for me. And it’s an extensive one too that goes to levels none of the readers will anticipate from the content I have shown so far. I look forward to working on multiple things in my career all the while expanding this personal story of mine over time. Seeing the characters grow and mature with the audience.
K: Describe your worst job or project and why?
MS: Oh now this one is impossible to answer. Because as a freelance artist, we run into our fair share of bad projects. I think any project I’m not afforded the time or creative flexibility I need to make it to the best of my ability, I usually dislike in some manner.
K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.
MS: Inspiration for me is inexplicable at this point. Anyone who knows me knows my story ideas are usually pretty out there. I can get inspired in the middle of a random conversation, staring out the window or even just from being in my own head too long. But when the inspiration hits I start thinking about the final piece and the requirements to execute it at the level I’d want. Which for me is more care free than anything. I always try to reassess my work flow with everything I make.
K: What do you think separates good art from great art?
MS: I’m having to learn (even to my own distaste at times) that good art, great art and even bad art are subjective to the viewer. Instagram and Facebook groups have taught me that. Although I do believe that societally we have vastly lowered the bar in terms of quality and taste. But the previous bar was also the result of the society built around it at the time. We are now more focused on quantity than anything. I think people respond to what they respond to for various reasons. Most of them probably not visibly apparent to them. Others may even be subliminal. If you’re putting yourself into your work and people don’t like it, they probably won’t like you is how I sort of see it. My mother always says everyone isn’t going to like you and that they don’t have to.
K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind?
MS: Many things. I think of women, particularly Black women because for me personally, I’ve been taught and influenced by many powerful black women in my life. I also think of asymmetrical patterns or designs. How there always exist something to disturb the balance. I think of youth and how important it is to nurture that creativity at a young age in order to ensure beauty is brought into this world. I think there is art to literally everything around us. It’s just that we spend too much time in our own heads to see it. But I think because in some capacity I’ve been able to maintain a youthful outlook through my life it has helped my creativity because I actively look out for the beauty in everything and everyone around me. You don’t always find it. But when you do, it means something. Something that can be channelled into your art.
K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say?
MS: I’d tell him to build a time machine to go 5 years back from then to tell myself to love myself. I think it’s important to learn that lesson as early as you possibly can. I’d tell him to be true to himself and it will all come together in the end and to not worry so much.
K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?
K: Describe your art in a sentence?
MS: When the ordeals of maturity doesn’t disturb your inner child.
K: What can we expect from you in the future?
MS: A lot. I’m 25 and barely even started. All I am allowed to say for now, is that great things are coming.