Upcoming artist profile: Michael Gaughan

Yeah, half the artwork in our section is by Michael Gaughan. He’s taking over the art scene with his controversial but immaculate illustrations.

PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL GAUGHAN

PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL GAUGHAN

Mark Brenden

You may recognize local artist Michael GaughanâÄôs work in album art full of interplanetary monsters or in mysterious formations that tread the line between kinky and scatological. But thereâÄôs no question about the quality of his craft. Now that his recent illustration for Midwest supergroup Gayngs has garnered him lots of buzz, GaughanâÄôs main concern remains creating a positive impact in peopleâÄôs lives. âÄúIf I’m using a sheet of paper, paintbrushes and paint, people in a factory had to make all of those things, so I feel that morally it is my responsibility to put time, thought and care into what I’m making,âÄù he explained. Gaughan comes from a small town in Illinois, northwest of Chicago, where his musician mother and an art teacher traded guitar lessons for art lessons for their respective children. That brought him to MCAD in 1998, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2002, and then on to a masterâÄôs in art education from the University of Minnesota in 2004. Since then, Gaughan has been one of the Twin Cities’ most prolific artists, doing album artwork for numerous local bands, including Moonstone Continuum, Eyedea & Abilities and Brotherman. He’s also done an intricate American Apparel ad, a poster for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s âÄúCannibal! The Musical,âÄù Rock âÄònâÄô Roll Summer Camp T-shirts and a myriad of vibrant personal paintings. GaughanâÄôs collection of work is delightfully wacky. For example, his âÄúFantasy Rock BandâÄù series includes a power trio of Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and Gene Simmons, and a collective featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Silverman, Dustin Diamond and David Copperfield. Another example is the âÄúHelicasterâÄù âÄî a helicopter made with an RC helicopter and electric guitar parts. In addition to everything he sees, Gaughan’s artistic influences range from Andy Warhol to Mike Judge to Michelangelo to âÄòWeird AlâÄô Yankovic. âÄúI can never look at anything and not be inspired,âÄù he said. His current acclaim is for the inside album artwork he painted for kitchen-sink upper Midwest collective Gayngs. The busy absurdity of the drawing featuring every Gayngs member doing something silly in a gigantic hot tub has been one of the main sources of excitement for the group. In May GaughanâÄôs organizing an exhibit at First Amendment Arts that asks various local artists to draw the much described but never shown âÄúSmell the GloveâÄù album cover from Spinal Tap. Each artist gives his or her own interpretation of what it would look like. The extravaganza will also include a Spinal Tap cover band and a screening of the mockumentary. As David St. Hubbins so eloquently reminds us in âÄúSpinal Tap,âÄù âÄúIt’s a fine line between stupid and clever.âÄù Manifested by his impressive body of work and his good-vibes attitude, Michael Gaughan seems to labor on the right side of that line.