Getting to Know Mike Savad

In case anyone was wondering, I like to colorize images because it allows me to travel back in time without those pesky ramifications, and time machine fuel is risky and expensive to use. It also lets me expand my reach, and allows me to make things, I could never get with my own camera. I don’t like traveling much, I’m an inside kind of person. Yet there are vast resources of free images, and I can travel as far as I want.

Mike Savad

Mike Savad
http://www.MikeSavad.com

What’s your background?

I’ve done stained glass for over 20 years, starting when young.  I learned at a summer workshop, doing one class when I was 9.  I liked it so then 2 classes, 3, then 4, and it pretty much took up my morning.  From there I built a workshop, and it took off.   It’s hard to say how long it took to learn it but I did it for about 25 years.  I would still be doing it if I didn’t own a computer, or get into photography, or run out of space.  I switched to photography at least 15 years ago, learned to colorize and did that for 3-4 years now.

I find it interesting that people think I colorize only, when in fact I am a photographer first and foremost.

Mike Savad

Does your artwork come from that background?

The photography part of it does, but I always used photos to make glasswork.

Annapolis MD – Naval Academy Chapel – This chapel was built in 1908, and the different stained glass windows (made by Louis Tiffany), were donated by students and other people over the years. This church is a focal point in the Naval Academy.Underneath this building sits a large sarcophagus in a crypt, and inside is John Paul Jones, the first well known naval commander.

What are you trying to say with your work?

Nothing. Art has no meaning to me, no real feeling. I hope it means something to someone else.

What made you choose the medium you work with?

Once you get past the camera, its cheap. No chemicals, no burns, its safe, inside, away from sunlight and so on. For me it had an easy learning curve. When I worked with glass, the supplies are expensive.  If you slipped you would cut your hand open. Burns were possible as well. When I work with photography, its kind of free.

Do you work in a studio?

When I did stained glass I had a studio. With digital and photography, I have a home built computer. 2 large screens, and a huge mess on my desk… who has time to clean?

Long ago it was said that a giant sea monster lurked under the water to grab large sailing vessels and eat the contents. The story was based off of real accounts of seeing something huge, though no one had really seen it. The Kraken is a monster similar to that Lochness the Scotts talk about. This is my amazing mechanical wonder recanting the tales of this event, as a warning to anyone who wants to be a sailor.

What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?

Wacom tablet, (Intous Medium), I use it for everything. That and a laser mouse – I’m soooo done, cleaning that ball in the mouse.

Who are your biggest influences?

When it was stained glass, I’d say Tiffany and LaFarge. For photography and such, I really don’t have any.

What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?

I don’t have any real favorites. I tend to forget what I last made when I focus on a new piece.

How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?

When it was glass, it could take a week or two.
A photo will take only a few hours, even if its an HDR
A digital photo will take a week or so depending what it is.
A colorized image usually takes between 4-20 collective hours.

The brain is a complex organ. It does so many things without your realizing anything happened at all. It all starts with the thinking process, lots of thinking, memories, urges, things you hunger for, and so much more. This items would make a great gift for a teach, biologist, neurologist, or anyone into freaky detailed things with a big brain on it.

How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?

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You know its done, when its done. I can walk away with confidence that i’m done. However in the future, I may see the flaws I didn’t see the first time.

What project are you working on now?

I’m finishing my 389th colorized image.  (Before I had this published I finished that one,

http://mikesavad.com/featured/gas-station-oklahoma-service-station-1939-mike-savad.html

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

I don’t think anyone gave me any kind of advice, or I never listened to them. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t talk to people, they don’t talk back.

What was the first piece of art you sold?

That I can’t remember, I’ve been selling for a pretty long time. And if I counted the stained glass stuff… That would trail back to high school, maybe earlier.

Time is so complicated, every time you think you figured it out, you don’t, your back where you started from. Time doesn’t seem to have a start or an end. Time spirals out of control, it goes too fast, too slow, it seems to stop. If time stopped, would we live forever? Would it be life at all? Or do you keep aging and time doesn’t have anything to do with that part of life. Perhaps time is only an observable event, and it just happens to coincide with things moving forward.

Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?

If I learn something new, its confusing. Stained glass I learned when I was 9 years old. Photography took me longer, but I was able to really experiment with digital. It took me over 6 months to get the hang of colorizing, and a year to really nail it down.

Selling it is always confusing, what works this month won’t next. And what’s popular now won’t be later. You have to be a real salesman, of which I am not, due to my hermit lifestyle.

What are you personally doing to advance your work career?

I’m just a local suburban boy, I’m not some city slicker, I can only do what I know how to do, which isn’t a whole lot. I can’t see myself going to galleries and stuff like that. I can only increase my product range.

Colorized photo from 1943Original title: Union Station train concourseLocation: 225 South Canal Street Chicago, ILThis is the concourse for the Union Station in Chicago. It was originally built in 1893 for the Columbia Exposition. During WW2, they served some 300-400 trains a day, but after that it started to decline.

In this scene we see the grand display of flags and model airplanes. Lining the ceiling some 60ft high, there are lines of airplanes. 4500 in total, wing spans ranging between 12 inches, to 48 inches across. This was supposed to represent the many thousands of planes they used in the war.

While the station is still in operation, this concourse was demolished to make room for an office building, this took place in 1970.

How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?

I don’t really have a method, I just try something and see if it sticks. Wish it was more scientific than that.

Do you use social networking in your day to day life?

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mike.savad
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MikeSavad
Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/103135376608986610292
Instagram (though I don’t update much) – https://www.instagram.com/mikesavad/

Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?

People that take my ideas, locations, angles etc, then sells against me. There is too much competition, anyone with a phone considers themselves an artist, and it seems to get harder and harder to sell.

Colorized photo from 1938Original title: Coronation SectLocation: 5120 South St, Arbutus, MD 21227Trains from the past had a distinct look. Experimenting with shapes, they became more aerodynamic and streamlined, hence the name Streamliner.

These two trains are showing off their stuff. The one on the left is the Coronation Scot, built in the UK, by the LMS at Crewe UK. Originally blue, it was painted red, a bell and a light were added when it came to America. It was considered one of the finest trains in its day, and could reach speeds up to 113mph. While other trains were faster, it was still the fastest in the UK. It was also smaller than other trains as you can see here. This train was brought over to America, so it can be featured in the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York.

But while it was here, the war broke out, and they couldn’t return it after. It was housed in the US till 1945, and then it was reunited with the country after.

The bright blue on on the right is a Pacific No. 5304, from B&O (Baltimore & Ohio Railroad). This train was a part of the Royal Blue line, a system of trains that dated back many years. This is the streamline version. The bullet nose became the symbol of the Royal Blue train. It was said that this train dazzled the press and the public, it also symbolized the new era of trains.

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To stay on top of technology, its quite expensive if you want the right gear.

What advice would you give new artists?

Break away from your own work, don’t attach yourself to it, or anyone that comments on it, you may end up with hurt feelings. Learn how to give yourself a critique, always be honest with your own work. Look at it when your done and say – is this the best I can offer, can I make it look better? Is there something that is distracting in it? Should I clone it out, fix it, adjust it etc?

Every piece you do should be the advertisement for the next piece. There should never be the attitude of – it will do, they will never notice the mistake etc. Always make every image or creation your best. It will be just your luck that the one image your not proud of, that’s the one piece  someone will find, and end up not looking at the rest because the image itself was less than stellar.

Always challenge yourself to get better. Every now and then do a challenge project, something that is hard to do. Something outside of your normal art. When I did glass work, I would increase the pieces, or the curves, or the shapes (I made a lot of 3d work). After, not only will your skills increase, but anything below it will seem easy by comparison. Its sort of like learning how to speak Latin, before you learn Spanish.

Colorized photo from 1907
Original title: Elevated railroad
Location: Wabash Ave & Van Buren St., Chicago, IllThis is known as an elevated railway, still in use today. Also known as an L train. The L train is a small set of trains that rides on tracks that are above the road. This allows for an express route any place in the city.Over the years many cities took down these, because they are kind of ugly, noisy and the people living in those buildings don’t get much privacy. But if they like trains, its a joy every day living there.This train is from Chicago, the tower in the middle was known as Tower 12, its a switching station and maintenance shed for this corner. There were windows on the top on all sides, and rows of levers that had to be pulled perfectly, or you would have a train flying off the tracks.

This area was known as Piano Row, nearly every store sells piano’s of some kind, some sell organs, and one sells caskets. Which is very convenient if you just bought a piano and are bringing it home that day.

Have you got hobbies?

Beyond art, I go to garage sales and I collect and restore tools.

I collect tools.  No one gets them till Ii die.  It’s important to have at least 12 of each thing; for no particular reason though.  Mostly i want each size of each thing, usually unusual tools.

I can’t call it collection since I call them tools and i use them.

I’m running out of space and couldn’t count the amount I have.  Probably  over a 100 hammers/mallets of different kinds. I don’t yet have a full size anvil, but should I find one at a sale, and its a good price, and I can lift it, I will probably put it some place. I do have one made from a rail road track. and I’m starting to collect vises, despite the lack of space.

The basement is densely packed and I took over the furnace room, a closet, the back porch.

I guess I’m a pro hoarder, but i use the stuff I get.

I like to think that I have whatever the heck it is I need for that particular job. and as long as I can remember where I put it, or where I would put it now, or in the general vicinity of where it should be, then I can find it and use it.

I still do stained glass now and then, but as hobby only (I ran out of space years ago).

Colorized photo from 1905
Original title: Dreamland Park
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYConey Island has a long history, lots of rides and interesting attractions. They had vaudeville acts that amazed many. Magic tricks, comedy things far more interesting than that set of elephants walking behind those people, all of whom are entranced by what they see.They had amazing animal shows, and many of the rides we use today started at this place.The park has been rebuilt a number of times. Fires over the years gutted most of the park. In 1903, the park was totally destroyed, it was reopened in 1904. And again in 1911 it burned down all over again.

But in its day it was a spectacular place to visit.

Where are you based?

Beyond art, I go to garage sales, I collect and restore tools.  I still do stained glass now and then, but as hobby only (I ran out of space years ago).

Westfield NJ

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Isabella F A Shores
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Isabella F A Shores

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Hello, my name is Isabella Shores.I'm a dog lover with two Alsatians.A bird lover...2 budgies, and an avid writer.

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Bill Swartwout
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Great interview! Mike is a great craftsman when it comes to colorizing images and it shows in everything he does. I only “know” him because of the discussion forum at Fine Art America but I have always liked his art photographs. I now feel like I know him better. Much better.

~ Bill

Ludwig Keck
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Nice to get to know you, Mike. You do interesting work. I have enjoyed your meticulous attention to detail.