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  • Writer's pictureJoakim Norling

4 or 6 questions for Michael Orr

Can you tell me something about your beginnings and background as an artist?

I find it hard to talk about my art and its process. There is mainly just an overwhelming desire to create. There are also times when the desire is non existent. This can last for several days, to several months. Thankfully these lapses become further and further apart. It truly takes me out of my head and helps me cope. It's therapeutic. I'm a recovering alcoholic and substance abuser, anything that I could put in my body to make me feel different than my natural state of being I would ingest. I suffer from mild depression and anxiety. The depression and anxiety are under control for the most part as a result of sobriety and somewhat, all considering, healthy living. I should mention that I was still creating when i was using. It's different now though. The work is much more coherent and just all around quality.

How was the work in palingEnesia made? Is it all analog work?

The pieces are made from various colors of card stock. I have these shape punches that cut out the large shapes. so i punch out from two different colors and tape the pieces back in place on the back side of the works. This is why they probably look digitally manipulated. There is no digital manipulation in these works, strictly stamped ink, illustration and collage with the different colors of paper. I take pride in not using the computer in this body of work.

What kind of art influences your work? Am I right in thinking comics might be important?

The abstract comics much more than the traditional. I had been making these types of images in the past without the awareness of what they were. Someone had to point out to me that I was doing abstract comics. That's when I was guided to the Fantagraphic book on the subject. Traditional typographic design has always been an interest for me so when i discovered visual poetry that made a profound impression on me. Design in general is also important - textile design, fashion design, industrial design etc... I love schematic diagrams of just about anything. Anatomy. I like the mark making and results I get out of producing my own stamps and found pieces of rubber or foam. Still, factory made stamps are of course valuable some times and I have also taken it upon myself to manipulate these with xacto/razor blades. Japanese and Middle eastern calligraphy. I could give you a completely different answer if you asked me this in a week. :)

I tend to think of your work in relation to the visual poetry community, partly because that is where my primary interests as a publisher lie. De Villo Sloan also argues the case for this in his essay in the book. What’s your own take?

I’ve struggled with the label in the past, because I felt I was stepping into a world where I didn’t belong. Simply an insecurity. I’ve concluded that this is nonsense thinking on my part. As I go further along this journey I’ve become more interested in abstract text, language and wordplay. I have become confident that I have something original to offer to the visual poetry community.

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