Mike Egan | Red Truck Gallery New Orleans

I was born outside of Pittsburgh, PA in 1977 (a reason why you’ll find those numbers in my artwork). As a kid I would trace cartoons, skateboard graphics and album covers. I can recall drawing Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” many times in sixth grade. I took art classes throughout high school and decided to pursue a degree in fine arts after school. I went on to college at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, two hours north of Pittsburgh. I focused on printmaking at the time which is where I learned about artists like Jose Guadalupe Posada and the German Expressionists like Kathe Kollwitz. I loved woodcut printing as it offered bold black line work and a graphic quality that I’d later use in my paintings. After I finished school and returned home where I did not have the necessary supplies to continue making my prints, so I turned to painting so I could keep making art. I’ll be honest, my paintings were bad. Really bad, but I enjoyed making them and I continued to learn what worked and what didn’t. I lived near the airport and ended up picking up a job with the airlines. I had worked there part time cleaning airplanes until I got a full time job at one of the hangars. My first day of work was an intro class of we should expect while working there. After two hours of videos we took a quick break. When we returned to class the television had images of planes flying into buildings. My first day of a full time job with the airlines ended up being September 11, 2001. So that job ended rather quickly however I kept making art, bad art. I had discovered that there was a mortuary school in Pittsburgh where I could get licensed as a funeral director/embalmer. I knew nothing about the business or what I was getting myself into. I went to school for a year and followed that up with an internship for another year. I learned how to do removals, embalm, do restorations, dress and casket people, do the cosmetics and assist on funerals. I continued to paint and made a lot more bad art. I eventually got a job as an embalmer out in Reading, PA in 2005, four hours east of Pittsburgh. Between four locations we did 500 calls a year, so it was a busy time for me. The hard thing about being an embalmer is that you're on call so when someone passed my phone rang and I had to go to work. I spent a lot of time alone in my apartment waiting for said phone to ring. A lot. This is where I learned to craft my paintings and style. I thought back to my printmaking days in 2000 and how I loved the bold line work I was doing. So I started to paint in that style and things started to click for me. I was making a lot less bad art and started to make some good ones. In 2006, a friend of mine put together a gallery show in Pittsburgh and included my paintings. I sold three the opening night and thought I'm doing something right. I used my love of religious imagery, my experiences dealing with life and death, and my love for skeletons and devils to make my art. Since then I've been working with galleries all over the United States, Canada and the UK and have designed art toys that got me to Comic Con in San Diego.