Whether he accepts the accolade or not, Frodo Mikkelsen is a legend in the making. Still a few years shy of 50, the Copenhagen artist has achieved the pinnacle of what many fine art and graffiti-influenced forefathers often spend a lifetime attempting to balance— public visibility, respect from the streets, and recognition from the contemporary art world. Frodo has walked an incredible line. Some of his art resides in permanent collection at Metropolitan museum of art in NY, while other commissioned or self-propelled work graces walls from as far away as the Museum of Graffiti, Florida, Bergen kunstmuseum, Norway, and as close to home as, ARoS - Aarhus kunstmuseum, Denmark.
Frodo has artistically done a lot — Paintings, Street Art, Sculptures, Ceramics, Collages, Linolium and Prints. He’s work is comic-slash-history books on acid. It’s that colorful, immersive, informative, and organized. It’s an incredibly lush time machine for the eyes, full of surrealism, subversive, pop, and wildly vivid illustration elements — no doubt the result of his enthralling artistic track record and a really important graffiti heritage.
We have tasked ourselves with interviewing one of the hardest working artists in Denmark.
Frodo what does it feel like to complete a Show/Project? And do you always know whats next?
I have themes that have been running for years and that don't just end at the end of a project. While exhibitions that are curated along a certain discipline or theme often end when the works leave the studio, from there it is up to the audience to relate to the works!!! The cool thing is that you don't always know what opportunities are around the next street corner... So no, luckily.
Do you prefer to work by hand, with computer, or a combination of both?
I always work a lot "by hand". Sometimes I project and trace what I need, stencil or tape and sometimes i freehand. But i think it's important to be able to freehand it as well. That’s sort of an homage to graffiti and the old-fashioned way of doing things.
Do you remember when you decided to pursue a career in art?
My father was an artist, so i was surrounded by artists all of my childhood ... For example Frank Rubin, whose works I love? When I was ten years old (1984) I said to my father and his friends: I want to be an artist !!!!
I Loved the art studios we entered, and wanted such a magical space for my self! When graffiti came to Denmark, I chose that path as my springboard. In 1990 I got my first parts studio (in Stockholm) That’s where I got my first taste of figuring out how to make a living as an artist while giving tribute to all of the cultures that I loved.
I debuted at KE ( Kunstnernes efterårsudstilling på den frie ) in 2001.
I know you've worked on many, different projects in your time. Is your approach to up-cycling Vintage any different than any other graphics you create?
In the mid/late 80s (86-89) I spraypainted with a lot of stencils (Sorry Copenhagen Municipality) That’s what’s birthed this style. I’ve been playing with that and it’s been very liberating. I think it's very much me.
And wanted to go back a bit to the 80s look...Like when people in New York went to exhibitions and got their clothes tagged....Those Were The Days....Street art before street art was "invented" as a thing of the gallery and museum world
How do you find a balance between doing other work and focusing on your own personal work and your family?
I go to my studio every morning to work, there is a radio and coffee….The work is what is on the desk that day……Whether it is sculptures, sketches or some stencils for a vintage clothes up-cycling project….It doesn't matter, it is work, it is all taken seriously... Work I am not satisfied with does not leave the studio!
My twins are two little party machine weirdos and my wife always has my back so when i'm not working I just want to hang out with my wife and kids.
What are some of the themes you’re exploring in your art work?
Death, nature and how we treat each other and colors…Love colors!
The way we see is through light waves and color and it’s such an important thing. It’s all about a feeling and inspiration.
Sculls seem to play a big role in your work. Why is that?
I always loved skulls... When I was a kid and we smashed my piggy bank and we bought the pirate ship from Playmobil, it was the pirate flag that caught my eye and it was the coolest thing i had ever seen.
Later in life, and after some trips to Mexico to experience the "day of the dead", I was sold.... Skulls are just fun to draw and paint . I like to express beauty in the morbid, skulls always smile, what's not to like!
I also know that you appreciate and have many tattoos. which artform do you hold in the highest regard?
I love all kinds of different art, old New York graffiti, urban / street art, sculptures, prints and painting….There are SO many cool art forms that it would be a shame to single out one or two….Same with artists…i have hundereds of favorites. Actually its like that with music aswell…..Love Bob Dylan and N.W.A….
What do you have on the horizon as far as your art goes?
Sky is the limit!!! And the calendar is full…