Mackey has come up with his own style…
allowing his imagination to run wild
in an environment
where art has its own identity.
Many incarcerated men continue to discover their talents and attributes behind bars, leading some of them to create animated characters.
Prison can be a dark place — or a place for the incarcerated men to find themselves as the healing process begins to take place in their lives.
“You know how people take their dogs out for a walk? Well, I take my pen or pencil out for a walk on paper,” said Michael Mackey. “I enjoy this exercise and it keeps me balanced in here.”
During his incarceration, Mackey has come up with his own style and trademark for his drawings by allowing his imagination to run wild in an environment where art has its own identity.
Drawing animations or cartoon strips on canvas in prison is not common, nor is displaying these figures during yard or open unit; Mackey has done so and to his credit he recognize how his willingness to draw in the presence of others has given him the opportunity to meet new people from varying walks of life. “Just to spark a conversation; that is something I enjoy,” Mackey said.
Mackey takes pride on his craft by pointing out a favorite from his many projects, which is the red and black picture of Majin Boo that he painted. He it is rare for him to paint his artwork. Nevertheless, he seems surprised as to how good this project came out.
Majin Boo is a character in an animation cartoon called Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). Majin Boo doesn’t like weakness and strives to better himself, to be the strongest in the world.
The blue picture he created is a character called Gotanks; he’s two people in one body, which is done by a method called Fusion that combines them together into one being. It makes them a strong person, stronger than they were before they fused together.
He drew two different stages: the first stage is called Super Sayian 2 and the second transformation is called Super Sayian 3. It’s like a power-up.
Having the knowledge of how these characters are related to each other in the series, Mackey also created the third picture with a green background, and the character on it is called Goku. He’s the main character in DBZ series.
“He reminds me of me being the oddball, discovering who you are as a person,” Mackey said, “despises what the world thinks of you by overcoming obstacles that comes alone in your life.”
He acknowledges how his skills have played a positive role in his rehabilitation.
“I create art because it’s something that I control and create,” Mackey said. “It’s a hobby that turned into a passion and is relaxing at the same time.”
Mackey says there are two aspects to drawing that he considers beneficial. The first is being able to teach someone else how to draw; the second is how art attracts people — in a way it unites us all.
After 18 years of incarceration, he never imagined how his newly discovered skill would change his life inside a prison cell. Mackey takes pride in his animated figures, showing a soft and unique part of himself as a person who finds peace and tranquility in his art.
He has been challenging his skills in a different style by creating a portrait of the famous actor John Wayne, who starred in many westerns. Mackey admitted during an interview that he didn’t really enjoy doing portraits at first, but later on, after drawing Japanese animation, he became better at drawing portraits.
He said he had tried to do portraits while attending Richmond High School art class, and but he got discouraged because he felt that he didn’t do good work, didn’t like what he created. So he left portraits alone for years.
“What I started doing was converting people into cartoon characters. In the process of that, I somehow got good at drawing portraits,” Mackey said, “I knew this after I drew a portrait of my daughter Adriana Mackey and it turned out to my surprise very well.” From that point on he felt confident that he could do portraits and this is what drove him to do the portrait of John Wayne.
He is currently working on his next big project by combining portraits with animation on giant posters.