Michael Foster
Michael Foster

Michael Foster

website: www.fosterscafe.com

Article by | photos by Jaime Foster published | april ‘09

Michael Foster’s art teacher was disturbed. The theme of the second-grade art show was "dreams," and amidst the sweet drawings of unicorns and rainbows stood Michael’s picture, a scrawled drawing of a city going up in flames. His mother stood by him proudly as he was awarded second place, but other parents murmured their concerns that he was a budding sociopath. When they got home that night, his mom lamented to his dad about the general response to his drawing. His dad simply shrugged and replied, "He’s going to be an artist."

PredictionsArtist, yes, but according to Michael he also held the title of Class Nerd. "If I was doing art, I was not getting beat up. I began to associate art with sanctuary," he says. This ultimately drove him to develop his skills, which began to evolve from his early childhood sketches of Charlie Brown into the more complex cartoons he did as he grew older. Later, he added illustration, graphic design and painting. Michael believes that the things we gravitate toward around age 4 or 5 shape us and reveal our natural gifts. "We’re the same now, doing the same things. We’ve just added layers of complexity."

Raised in a rural area outside of Chicago, Michael attributes his simple Midwestern upbringing with much of the success he feels as an artist. When someone buys one of his paintings, Michael has high expectations of the tangible value it will bring to its new owner. "If I’m going to sell someone a painting, it better really speak to them every day, add value in their lives every day, and influence their decisions."

Most of Michael’s recent paintings center around the theme of communication and how people deal with information overload. "We get a thousand messages a day. We’re just starting to ask, ‘Is all this input necessary? How do we process all that? Is this a problem? And am I the only one experiencing this?’"

I'm Not That Anxious"There are always many things competing for our attention at once," he explains. One of the worst offenders is the addiction to getting instant gratification in the form of e-mail. "An e-mail message comes in and we have that nice little feeling that, ‘Oh! I’m accepted.’" The challenge is that this basic human need for gratification allows us to be influenced by many outside forces. Sometimes these outside forces come in more obvious form, such as billboard ads, but even when there’s no targeted advertising vying for our attention, we still find ourselves pulled in many directions at once. "Even the natural world solicits our attention," he says, pointing to a tree outside the window. "’Look at me! I’m so beautiful!’"

Michael hopes that the art he creates, including the art that addresses the topic of information overload, will help people become more conscious of the information they’re receiving. As he sees it, he has a responsibility to the world, to himself, and to the people all the way up his family tree to continue with his art. "I get to be an artist for a living because for generations everyone in my family tree made the sacrifices necessary to give me the opportunity to do so. I will never forget it."

the arc magazineBack to top »

MediaStormiUniversePreemtive Love CoalitionCD BabyRed Lantern JourneysFeast