August 1st, 2018

Jesse Gussow


The artwork of "poop bird" aka Mike Groves, is a glistening shrine to popular culture. His work prominently features a kind of twisted humoristic side to characters in pop culture. Look no further than Grand Moff Tarkin with a dog snapchat filter. It’s downright hilarious and yet obviously Tarkin would never use that filter - he’d be all about the Rabbit.  

His work has a fun vibe to it that you can’t help but enjoy. Seeing minor characters from your favourite movies is such a joy. His tattoo work is also incredible and I'm not sure why anyone would want anything but his own style on them. His lines are bold and clean. His colours pop and his work is easily recognizable.

He is an artist who you must follow as whenever he posts something it’s always funny and exciting.





Where are you from?

I’m originally from Seattle but I’ve been here [Athens, Georgia] over twenty years so Athens pretty much feels like home.





How did you get interested in art?

In the dark ages before the internet… if you wanted a big Hobbit poster for your bedroom you pretty much had to make it yourself!  I spent hours and hours and hours as a kid drawing all my favorite characters just so I could plaster them all over my walls. I can’t even tell you how many ninja turtles I’ve drawn!





What inspires you and your artwork?

Oh, I love drawing things that are rare or random. I get excited about obscure pop culture characters or items… or true life animals that people don’t really know about. Basically, if I stumble on to something you don’t see often… then I’m instantly excited to see what I can do with it. I draw a ton of ‘b team’ character that no one cares about. It’s a terrible business model but I enjoy it so much!! Who wants a Condorman tattoo!?





Is a poop bird a pigeon or a seagull? Or really any flying and shitting bird (sorry penguins and ostriches).

It’s more like a rusty metal toucan! He is this little character that I tried to add to all my projects when I was in art school. I was looking for a little detail that folks would recognize and be able to trace it back to me. I was starting to brand myself without understanding how that would be important later.




How would you describe your work?

 … a desperate attempt to avoid drawing hands! (that’s an art style right?!)





What is your process for creating a piece from start to finish?

The bulk of my time is spent drawing things for tattoo appointments. I have to say that process is NOT very interesting. Now that I have an Apple pencil... it’s probably even less exciting to watch, haha. I just sketch it out… move a few things around and then ink it!

Let’s think of a different question! What’s my favorite Denzel Washington movie? The Equalizer (duh)





That’s a wicked movie and I’m pumped for the sequel! How have you grown as an artist? Are you still creating the same type of art as when you were younger?

I would say I’ve changed a great deal as an artist. I used to be super messy with my ink work. I had splatters and stray lines everywhere. Now that I’ve been tattooing for so long… I draw everything as if I might one day have to put it in the skin. My lines are so much more bold and deliberate.

My compositions make WAY more sense. Plus I use shadows now! When I was young I was extremely scared to attempt any kind of contrast.

I’m participating in an art show later this year. We have to dig up one of our old kid drawing of ours and recreate it as an adult. I’m pretty excited to give it a try! I have no idea what I’m going to pick. I have a lot of old Predator drawings!





How long have you been tattooing for?

I’ve been at it about seventeen years. Jumped into that world about four seconds after leaving college.





What was the transition from traditional artist to tattoo artist like?

Doing the job is just like learning how to sew or use oil paint. It’s a skill that you have to practice. Lucky for me I was a dumb kid who never penciled out his sketches first. I would always try and go straight in with the pen. That’s not a real smart move but I think it helped prepare me for the ‘don’t mess up’ world of tattooing.

The really weird change was that I was no longer drawing stuff for myself! Now I’m designing images for others that they want to wear forever?! Everything up to this point I could throw away or do over again if I didn’t like it. That’s a serious bit of pressure when you really sit and think about it!





What is your least favourite thing, style, and body part, to tattoo?

Oh probably tribal. Not because I dislike it necessarily …I’m just really bad at it. I really have no interest tattooing the inside of your lip.




I love the pop culture references in your work. Is it challenging to have to constantly stay on top of new popular trends and cultural phenomena?

 I should probably stay up on that stuff even more than I do. Most of the ‘fan art’ I do now is for tattoo appointments. If I don’t know the material… clients are usually pretty excited to tell me all about their favorite game or character! I’ve only had to fake my way through a tattoo a handful of times! I really should watch some more Miyazaki films!





What is your favourite dinosaur?

Oh man… the triceratops is such a beautiful creature! I want to believe she had bright colors on those horns (and maybe had laser beam eyes).





What does your artwork say about you?

If you look closely… it probably says I have an unhealthy work/life balance!





In all your years of making art, what for you has been your proudest moment?

You know… I’ve been thinking about that and I don’t know if there is a single epic moment that stands out. I did a super fun tattoo on top of some pretty brutal self-harm scars. That piece healed out so nice and she was excited to conceal those marks. I was honored and proud to do that for her.





Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-o cookies?

 When you graduate with an art school… you have a big art exhibit to show off everything you've learned. For the reception I built this big temple of doom lookin' altar thing and filled it with Oreos! I don't think people understood they were for eating… or they were scared to put their hands in it. Either way, I ended up going home with a large cookie shrine. (sadly Oreos do NOT stay fresh for very long)

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