SPOTLIGHT: Mike’s WarBird Art

Those of you whom have followed Mike for any length of time have probably noticed that he is a big fan of Warbird paint jobs, particularly on guitars. I, better than anyone I suppose, know how much he enjoys this particular type of art, so I decided to ask Mike exactly why he found warbird paint jobs so compelling.

Mike first picked up an airbrush, around the age of 10, because he wanted to paint his model airplanes. So it kind of all started there. But the interest for the airplanes themselves came from the fact that he had so many relatives who fought in WWII. Most of his uncles, in particular, were veterans and a few served on flight crews. 

“I started studying the details of the airplanes when I was a kid. I enjoyed the history. I learned a lot about my relatives who sacrificed an awful lot during that time. My warbird  artwork is just a continuation of paying homage and respect to that generation by keeping nose art alive.”

Whenever Mike has the opportunity to create a warbird piece for a customer, he takes the time to research models, markings, and usually takes it even further by researching particular battles and looking for actual planes with history to use as his inspiration.

“I have always thought that nose art was kinda cool because it was something that was rather informal. It wasn’t always “politically correct”, in fact it was often far from “politically correct” back in those days and there is something to be said about that. I think that the artwork is cool. I have books full of it. I enjoy seeing how those artists just grabbed a brush and some household paint and slapped up a massive piece of nose art on the front of the airplanes. I don’t know exactly, but there is something about it.”

Being a career artist has its challenges, and Mike is asked about it all the time. “How do you keep your passion for the art when you have to do it every day?” Finding meaning in the pieces, and connecting an authentic love of the history and opportunity to research and learn more about something that connects, is certainly one way to keep things new, interesting and challenging.

Here is a gallery of some of Mike’s stunning Warbird designs. Take some time to click through this gallery and appreciate not just the artwork, but the history and sacrifice behind the representations.

Here is a video from a FaceBook LIVE feed Mike did with more discussion around Warbirds and a detailed look into complex masking: