An Interview with Colorado Artist Michael Boyer

Michael Boyer is a talented artist on the music scene who has many different artistic skills and is the owner and creator of Boyer Apparel & Screen Printing based out of Boulder, CO. I had some time after Fall Tour was over to chat with Boyer about all the projects that he does and to find out his inspiration on everything he does.

Kelley Zilembo: Seems like this summer and fall Phish tour was a big year for you with your basketball jerseys and posters. How long have you been making/selling your work on Lot and was this your biggest year so far?

Michael Boyer: This was a big year. I have finally found a way to combine my favorite thing in the world (Phish), and work. I have been selling my art on lot since 2009 (3.0), but it evolved significantly in the past five years. This was undoubtedly my biggest year so far.

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KZ: I have seen so many of your jerseys and shirts being worn at shows this year. What was your inspiration for them?

MB: There are so many lot shirts. It seems that 90% are spin-off’s on famous logos. They are fun tees, but not very original. I wanted to bring something brand new, something fresh. I wanted to create a higher-end collection that only 10% of Phans might understand, but find it stylish and original. The ‘Page Side, Rage Side’ tanks were so popular that I wanted to keep it sleeveless. Jerseys seemed like an original option, so I sat on that thought for a while. If I were to do jerseys I needed names on the back, and I figured the most household names were Escuandolas (Antelopes) and Rutherford (Lizards).

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KZ: You have Lizards, Llamas, Mockingbirds, & Antelopes with different numbers on them. What is the significance of the numbers?

MB: The numbers are my favorite part. Signed and numbered posters make the artwork one-of-a-kind, so I figured I could do the same for jerseys. None have repeating numbers. I plan to go to 99 and then produce “away team” jerseys with different colors.

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KZ: You have done posters for Phish, STS9, Disco Biscuits, and Big Gigantic Conscious Alliance. Are all these bands that you follow and enjoy, and does that help with finding inspiration to make art?

MB: I like seeing all those bands, but especially STS9. I developed my first real emotional connection with music via STS9 in 2006. They are a huge inspiration. I couldn’t thank them enough.

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KZ: We seem to run into each other at most Phish shows. What got you into Phish and how many shows have you seen?

MB: I remember listening to David Bowie sitting in the passenger seat of a Culver’s parking lot in high school. That was my first “holy shit” moment. I really fell in love with the band after the 2009 Saturday Red Rocks show. I think I’m only at 61 shows.

KZ: What were your thoughts on the Atlantic City Run and Phish covering themselves with new material?

MB: I loved it! Before the music started I was disappointed. I thought it was a pre-holiday marketing scheme. After reading the Playbill, hearing the second set, and the rest of the AC run, there was no doubt in my mind that Phish was authentically stoked to play their music. I feel the main goal of an artist is for the crowd to understand the love and passion behind their craft, and they couldn’t have done that any better.

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KZ: You do so much other types of art, like wrapped jewelry and custom apparel clothing. Which is your favorite or most inspiring type of art to make?

MB: Jewelry. I love it. The pursuit of perfection really turns me on. The medium is evolving very quickly and leaves so much opportunity to innovate. I love creating something no one has seen before. Each piece is unique and original and the response I get from wire-wrapping keeps me alive.

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KZ: The wrapped jewelry seems like it takes a lot of time, energy and detail to complete just one piece. How did you get interested in making it, and how long did it take for you to master doing it?

MB: I’m no master, but give me about 5 more years. I saw my first wire-wrapped pendant in 2005. I always love the natural perfection of birthstones, and I have always been an “artist”. I figured combining the two would be a good outlet. I gave it shot, and I was terrible and frustrated, but I seemed to love the outcome regardless. I wanted to be the best, and I still do.

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KZ: Can you briefly explain the process of making one piece of wrapped jewelry from start to finish?

MB: A lot of planning, staring, twisting, caffeine and NPR podcasts. Remember lanyard? It’s kinda like that, but far more time consuming.

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KZ: You also make hats that have similar designs to some of the custom apparel that you have made. When did you start making hats?

MB: I started with hats about a year ago. It suits my “vector based” illustration style. There is nothing like seeing someone across the country wearing one of my designs on their head.

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KZ: In 2012, you came out with the ‘Page Side, Rage Side’ shirts, which where a big hit. How did you conceptualize the idea and design?

MB: That was my first Phish related design in 2009. They were not a big hit when I started, but after a few years of redesign, it has become very popular. I always heard people screaming, “Page side, Rage side.” I placed the design on the left side of the tee, and kept it really basic: Helvetica font, with two colors on black. It seems that folks on lot love selling “hippy dippy” flowy 1960’s art. That was never my style, and I think a lot of Phish fans don’t go for that either. A few years ago, I saw a “Mike Side Right Side” tee with the same color and font printed on the opposite side. That’s when I knew that my tee was a hit.

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KZ: For other custom apparel, how does that work and what kind of things have you already made for fans?

MB: I started making custom apparel for commercial purposes. If the sprinkler company needed 100 tees, I was the guy to do it. As my design skills evolved a handful of retail brands and popular JamBand names approached me for help. I started designing for pennies, but remained persistent. Now, designing and printing retail is a major part of my business.

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KZ: Are you working on anything new for Phish playing at MSG for this upcoming New Year’s Run?

MB: Hmmm…we’ll see. I’d like to keep the ball rolling with Phish merch, but its really tough selling in NYC. Expect to see me a lot in 2014.

3 thoughts on “An Interview with Colorado Artist Michael Boyer”

  1. As read this interview I recall seeing a lot of Michaels work as I strolled lot , the jerseys are a phresh innovative idea.
    He says that he is not a master wrap artist sry Michael I disagree your wraps are stunning and I am very much looking forward to purchasing a wrap off him, wraps are for the most part a dime a dozen a lot of work that is displayed and for sale on lot doesn’t scream to me, I have been in search for a piece that talks to me for quite some time and up until I became FB friends with Michael that search was still happining , keep up thd great work bud!

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