Meet the Cartel: Sea By Land
Welcome back to our new interview series Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. For today’s installment, say hello to Mike Pinette, an artist and life coach who explores patterns and nature through his paintings.
How did you find your way to a career in art?
I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. I was obsessed with music and drawing in my early years and it never really went away. I had a hard time sitting in a classroom and art was always my escape into my own world and imagination. In my twenties I worked in restaurants which eventually led to consulting for restaurant groups in South America to open bars in Bogota, Colombia. Living in Colombia reconnected me with my passion for art and music. Colombians are some of the most open, welcoming, passionate and upbeat people I’ve encountered and submersing myself in their culture woke up my creative urges that were put on the back burner.
After a year in Bogota, I walked away from the restaurant industry and focused on my passions which looked a lot like traveling throughout Central and South America. I poured all my energy into creating and connecting with the things that inspired me. A lot of my art is inspired by nature and I tend to create images to reflect the ways the outer landscapes match out inner environments. In the process I’ve been able to collaborate with some incredible artists and organizations that are supporting both mental health and nature preservation. It’s been a never ending trust fall into the art business, but it’s been the most rewarding work I’ve experienced so far on my journey.
Why did you choose Big Cartel?
Big Cartel seemed to make the process easy for a less digitally savvy person to get their start in selling their crafts. I did a lot of research on what was available and I really loved the simplicity and easy integration offered by Big Cartel.
Tell us about your most popular item in your shop
My yoga apparel has been most popular on my site. I spent a lot of time in yoga studios which inspired the wearable art. Some of the other prints that I offered to support non-profits and fundraisers did really well also.
What about your favorite item in your shop?
My New Dawn piece has a special place in my heart.
Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?
I wanted to keep things really clean and simple to let the art speak. The theme I chose really supported that.
Check out the Luna theme for your own Big Cartel shop.
Which Big Cartel feature could you not live without?
What does a regular workday look like for you?
Right now I am working on an oracle deck that maps out the subconscious mind through symbolism. So right now is a blend of researching ancient symbology and archetypes while putting a lot of ink on paper. Other than that, I have been exploring animation and new ways to express with digital mediums.
Tell us about your process for coming up with new products.
Seems different for each piece, but usually it starts with a rough idea that keeps bugging me until I put it on paper and canvas.
Who or what inspires you?
David Choe has been a huge inspiration as of late. His way of exposing his raw humanness and vulnerability in art is pretty incredible. His Choe show project is offering a new lens for people to have more empathy for others and inviting more authentic expression from one another. With the all the division and “othering” happening around the world, anyone that’s bridging the gap and lifting people up is inspiring and motivates me.
What’s a moment in your career, or life in general, that you’re proud of?
Working on the ground with the LINI Foundation by planting coral reef in the north island of Bali was a really powerful experience for me. I was able to fund the time there by selling art and it allowed me the opportunity to invest it back into the oceans that inspired a lot of my creations.
What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business? How did you overcome that challenge?
I was used to having a stable income in the restaurant industry and transitioning into being my own business took some time. There’s a lot of hats to wear and skills necessary to get a sustainable business running, which can take a lot of time and patience at first. On top of the creating of the art itself. I’ve learned a lot by doing things the wrong way, and have become a better boss for myself by outsourcing things that aren’t the best investments of my time so that I can focus on the art.
How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?
Being in nature watching the sky change colors.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Losing my mind probably.
Twizzlers or Red Vines?
Red vines no doubt.
Give us three recommendations… for anything!
- Art: Supakitch
- Music: Find my playlists on Spotify
- Voice.com makes NFTs easy for creators and is less harsh on the planet.
- Sacred Breath Academy for guided breath-work.
Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?
I’d say do it if you love the products that you’d be selling. I like Simon Sinek’s line, “Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress. Working for something we love is called passion”.