Hi @artofmck, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! Can we start with a brief introduction, how long have you been involved in the graffiti scene? Who were the artists that inspired you to start and who inspires you today?
Hello! Pleasure to be here talking with you guys today. This is Morgan CKAE, Owner of MCK Creative. I mostly paint murals, do a tad bit of design work and I’ve been a writer since 2012.
I Started painting freights back in 2015, then it developed and I started doing private and commercial mural work since 2017. I retired from my career as a martial arts instructor in 2018 and took that business knowledge/practice and mindset and used it to open MCK Creative. The artists that originally inspired me were lots of the local NC cats, NSM Crew.. SEANO, MINES, AIM, FILTER.. NGC, DESER, NEIR. 667, DETH KULT, SOUR, MOMS CREW … The more I traveled the more artists I met and connected with and inevitably became family with. There is a long list of really talented individuals that I’m grateful I was able to learn and connect with over the years. If you’re reading this you know who you are. For today’s inspiration, I would say JURNE, MECRO, SOFLES, ASKEW.. LITCHENSTEIN,
One of the things I really liked about your instagram page is you’re always posting motivational content for artists and talking about your process through your videos #morningmeditations. In one of them, you mentioned how reading on Buddhism changed the way you set expectations on your work, relationships..etc. I was wondering if you could tell us a bit about how that changed your attitude towards your work, do you think letting go of expectations made your work better?
So with my experience in martial arts for most of my life (started age 4) the concept of self-development/mental conditioning was always a factor for me. That led me to lots of reading and studying philosophy and different religions/perspectives on life.
As a human inevitably I wanted an answer to the concept of “self” and the ailments we find ourselves in. Reading about the Eightfold Path taught me about letting go of expectations; Which in actuality was keeping me from producing better work. I would create excuses to not post on social, release a print, paint a new outline/concept, do anything that would remotely conflict with the image/identity of myself. That was actually a protective mechanism from taking risks and I was too focused on everyone else’s POV rather than how I actually felt.
Gaining awareness over this gave me lots of momentum to start producing and pushing the boundaries on what I thought was possible before. I had to let go of who I “thought” I was supposed to be and stopped clinging to comfort. There is beauty in development and open thinking. Also
everyone is too concerned with themselves to ACTUALLY care about you anyways!
You also seem to be bridging into tik tok and in one of your recent posts you said you’ve gotten a ton of views and engagement so congrats on that! What do you think are the key things an artist must do to properly promote themselves through social media? Do you think it
mostly comes down to consistency?
The answer to this question is really simple. When you stop caring about what other people think about you, or how you will be judged by your friends and the people around you, you will start doing the things you want to do. Otherwise, you’re just crippled by anxiety.
There’s a toxic mentality out there amongst artists/writers that you can’t do “X” because it’s not “Keeping it Real” or “Staying True”. Like it or not, Business knowledge is important as much as having a quality product. Good business says that whoever has attention, has the power.
Spotting trends, taking risks, making investments, innovation is all just business… you can be the best artist but if nobody knows your brand and you can’t communicate who you are effectively, how do you expect to survive?
I just jumped on TIKTOK because it is a good opportunity.. Good organic reach.. Could be worth something. I’ll get in early and see what happens! I don’t keep all my eggs in one basket. I encourage everyone to try new things and break the mold. Most importantly.. Just do you. That’s the best thing to see. Also, yes. As much as not giving af is important you have to have mad discipline and perseverance because nothing is going to work and sometimes everything is going to work. The point is to keep going because it’s your purpose and you can’t wait to wake up and get to it.
I see that you run your own business, going back to the topic of expectations is the artist lifestyle everything you thought it would be? Do you feel like you have hit a stride where work comes to you regularly or is it still a fight to keep yourself going?
To be honest, the lifestyle where you follow the “normal” path is so much more comfortable. You can just go autopilot, whereas when you run your own business, you are solely responsible for every single detail of what happens. I believe you are only as professional as you take yourself, so I work on making myself financially independent, Live minimally/frugally,
invest in myself and work on the things that actually matter to me. For a long time, I worked for someone else, way too hard, for very little.
I’m grateful that every day I can wake up and live the life I always wanted and do my part to help others do the same. As in everything, there are waves. Lately has been many blessings but undoubtedly there may come a slowdown but even when that time comes I’m grateful I get to do deeply fulfilling work and that’s priceless.
I love the work you do man, it’s so fresh and colorful. Have you ever thought about expanding your business into selling original canvas pieces or anything like that? I know there are a lot of graffiti artists that use that and branding shirts..etc. to make extra money. For some, it’s a key function of their business.
Thanks, man, I really appreciate that. Coincidentally, I’m working on a new drop that includes a full range of products, content, and online shop. I really admire what KAWS has been able to do with his brand.
Do you get to travel often? If so, where is your favorite place to be, and where would you want to visit that you haven’t had a chance to go to? Any crazy travel stories to share?
Lately, It has been lots of traveling and random spraycations .. but the best yet has been California for sure. I lived in Sylmar for a year and a half and that was a whole experience in itself. The city has so much life, history, culture .. however they are not as business-friendly with the tax laws, SO just visits for now. The craziest travel stories all came from my stay out in Pueblo, Colorado. From walking miles out into the desert to paint freights, crazy beef news articles, dodging friends, and scaling roof spots. Got a lot of love for that city.
This year I’m looking at finishing up the east coast and heading to Europe. My girlfriend is from Kosovo, and my family is from Germany. The European graff scene is attractive enough in itself.
What kind of music do you listen to when you paint? Who are your favorite hip hop artists that you think got overlooked or faded too fast?
I listen to mostly Hip hop when I paint. Anything with a smooth Breakbeat, ( I started Breaking in High School) Mobb Deep (RIP Prodigy), Nas, Tribe, KRS One, Artifacts, De la Soul, Pete Rock, Gang Starr… some new cats too, Logic, J Cole, The Weeknd..
As far as Artists that were overlooked .. I think Joey Badass is really underrated.
For people trying to go down the same road as you what advice do you have for them? Do you have any advice for artists specifically wanting to run a business?
My best advice is to avoid art school because we live in the age of information .. also knowledge is power. Don’t be a slave to your greed, practice good integrity, and work ethic. Always bring the most value.. Besides that only you can really decide what is best for you. So try everything and don’t be afraid to take risks and tell people to buzz off if they don’t understand you. Read books and remember your health is #1
What are your plans down the road? Do you think ahead or do you just go with the flow?
I used to be very carefree, however now I am a lot more strategic and coordinated. I have weekly/daily schedules and goals I set for myself. Artist dates, meetings, and holding myself accountable also fall into the mix.
Right now I’m developing all-new UX/UI for my online shop, developing a body of work for a show next year, and handling 5-6 mural gigs per week. I also find time for freights when I can.
My main goal is to build as many relationships as I can and work with like-minded individuals. I want to go ALL-World! In the far, far future I’m planning to have a Gallery, a shop/studio with classes, and really emphasize large scale community work with prominent narratives. I just
Love painting with my whole heart and soul man and I’m gonna keep doing it as long as I breathe!
Any shout outs you would like to give? Where can people follow you?
Shout outs my girl Julia for being my right-hand woman and biggest supporter and occasionally the brains..my boy STALE, AGES, PRONSKE, AZER, LAMES7, DESER and all the Ancient Thieves And Kings! Also SEANO, DARTS, SPCLGST.. ZONO, BAYOU, MAHS, GAMS, DIST, NASIN, COSER, WELSED, RELM, JALEL RONIN, CESAR T, SLIM DISTRO,
TESH.. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, Behance @artofmck and on Youtube at MCK Creative.
Interview by Wesley Edwards