From punk rock wallpaper to stop motion animation to screen printing and robots, Michael Arms has led a highly creative life. With a new workspace and moniker, PrimeTime Adventures, the creation keeps on coming. At the upcoming Maker Market shoppers will find Michael's screen printed robots, prints and other assorted wares but that is just a small representation of the work that has come from this Tennessee native. Michael took some time to answer some questions about his past, present and future.
Maker Market: Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Milwaukee?
Michael Arms: I was born and raised in Knoxville. I left when I was 18 to go to the Atlanta College of Art, that lasted 2 years then I moved to Los Angeles. From LA to São Paulo, Brasil, and then 12 years later from São Paulo to Milwaukee
MM: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
MA: Atlanta College of Art, I only completed two years and really only had classes in the general disciplines plus sound and video. I liked sculpture, too, or maybe just the giant old industrial machines in the shop there.
MM: When did you realize you wanted to lead a creative life?
MA: I don't think there was any conscious choice, just brain wiring and chemistry.
MM: You spent a large amount of time in Brazil. What were you working on and how did you end up there?
MA: I went the to teach a class for a month at a production company I had worked with in Los Angeles on a stop-motion commercial for the 98 World cup. I ended up going back to LA for a month then returning to Brasil and staying for 12 years. The first 3-4 years I worked on mostly TV ads that featured stop-motion or special effects or "traquitanas" as they were called. At the end of that time CGI had basically improved to the point of not looking so bad and stop-motion, despite it's charm, got pushed out of the market mostly because of production costs. After that I started screen printing quite a bit, having learned the basics from friends from Argentina also living in Brasil. Old school screen-printing, full punk rock style. I had a t-shirt line under the name Nobody for a while, mostly selling out of my house on weekends at special events "Bazares", which featured bands (mostly my bands), art, ping-pong, beer, and food.
MM: What kind of animation projects did you work on?
MA: In Brasil the best was a project funded by Coca-Cola, with a Flaming Lips song as the soundtrack, and we were free to create whatever we wanted on top of that. This video -- In addition, I worked on many television commercials and music videos. I learned about stop-motion when I lived in LA and worked at Creature FX who did a lot of the special effects work, modeling, and puppet making for Full Moon studios. We were next door to a true old school Stop-motion animator, David Allen. When I worked there I also worked on the Tool music video AEnima.
MM: Is it true that you worked on Puppet Master 7? What was that like?!?
MA: I worked on many Puppet Master projects many undefined or unfinished, we worked on things that would get shelved then used later because the owner had spent all the production budget on a car. He was famous for that. Then he would re-write the script under a fake name to pay himself more and re-use old footage, unused footage, or revive the same sad broken puppets for one more movie. I remember he had a poster on his wall with a goal of having 200 video titles available by the year 2000 (this was in '96-'97, so it meant producing about 60 more films in the next 3-4 years). And a boss who would try to cheat us constantly on our hours because he also had budgeting and self control issues.
MM: You also did some amazing large scale printed "wallpaper" Could you describe that project and its inspiration?
MA: I saw a bar in São Paulo that had used screen-printed wall paper, but only 10x10 tiles, and this was an idea they had seen executed in Europe. I did the same thing for a friend's bar where my bands used to play. I wallpapered the entrance hallway/lobby and both of the bathrooms with A1 sized paper sheets whose edges tiled together to form patterns. This technique was also used as the background of this 37' x 16' screen printed collage mural.
MM: What is your creative process? And where does your inspiration come from?
MA: I make things I like. I'm attracted to patterns, mostly chaotic in nature, that can be found in rust on metal, paint spilled on the floor, or residue left behind from a sticker. I enjoy seeing things that resemble other things, faces in places. And I have for a while now been searching out old illustrations in magazine and repurposing them as parts for my robots.
MM: Could you talk about your shop in the Lincoln Warehouse and PrimeTime Adventures and its mission?
MA: PrimeTime Adventures is myself and Paloma Chavez, designer and poster printer of the highest order. PTA share our space with a band space that houses my bands, The UNThinkable and CrossEyedChrist, my drummer's other band MurderHorse , and our friends SecondHand Soul. Our primary mission is to pay the rent and keep the space going to be able to do things we want to do the way we like to do them. We're set up to print t-shirts in small scale, print posters, burn and reclaim screens. We're still looking for a possible third partner so anyone interested should get in touch.
MM: What can shoppers expect to see from you at the upcoming Maker Market?
MA: Lots of affordable 11x17 prints for themselves and great as gifts. Robots, animals, patterns, buildings. Magnets, stickers, t-shirts, The UNThinkable Cd's and t-shirts.
MM: What is currently inspiring you? IG accounts? Artists? Music? Blogs? Movies?
MA: Bernie Sanders inspires me. Harry Crews inspires me. Group of the Altos "R U person or not" inspires me. Things that Charlie and Frank say inspire my song titles.