Michael Burk is a photographer and image-maker based in Brooklyn, NY.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m a photographer and image-maker originally from Southeast Florida. I work on all kinds of projects, from shooting lookbooks, to designing socks, to building sets for porn.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why?
Pinterest: I use it to search for and catalog all kinds of imagery that inspires me, and to organize mood boards for future projects.
eBay: I’m a hoarder and addicted to shopping, so I can spend hours just cruising eBay for knick-knacks, taxidermied animals, and clothes for my puppy. I justify my hoarding by using many of the objects as props in my work.
Tumblr: Memes, gifs, fashion, and porn. What else is there?
How has living in Brooklyn affected your work? I think I’m inspired by the general absurdity of life here. It’s such a crazy place full of crazy people, and even though it can be a bit taxing, I like that. I may be stressed out, poor, and living in a shoebox, but I’m definitely never bored.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? 80s glamour shots, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, sexual fetishes, Grace Jones’ One Man Show, Antonio Lopez, Permaid, Pierre et Gilles, The Kybalion, Miles Aldridge, 90s cartoons, religious cults, Diana Ross, dollar stores, Divine, James Bidgood…
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just did production design and art direction for [the world’s first?] fashion presentation in the form of a porno. My good friend and frequent collaborator, BCALLA, had the crazy idea to make a porn for New York Fashion Week, instead of a runway show or presentation. I worked with him to come up with ideas for sets, we shot everything in a day, and released the video during Fashion Week. So far the response has been…interesting! You can find the *NSFW* film here.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Iced matcha almond milk latte with a drop of honey.
How did your interest in your work begin? As a kid I was very crafty—I would keep boxes of buttons, felt, bottles, string, and other junk, and sit around making little sculptures or gifts for my parents. What I do today is essentially the same thing, just expanded upon. I love making images that encompass many different creative aspects like textile design, set-building, sculpture, illustration and collage. I like the idea of making an object, creating an environment to photograph it in, turning the photographs into prints for textiles, then photographing a model wearing the textiles in another set that I made, and so on. I guess it feeds my ego as an artist to know that I am in control of every aspect of the image, and that I can recycle and reinvent my work ad infinitum.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? I would love to work with Karen O, Beth Ditto, Paul Reubens, David LaChapelle, Grace Jones…the list goes on.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn and what brought you there I’ve lived in Brooklyn for about five years. I came here a few weeks after graduating college to escape suburbia and start a career in the arts. I figured NY was the only place I could go where I could possibly be successful at doing what I do, which is sort of nebulous. The ‘success’ part is still TBD but I’m definitely hustling.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? I’m not really sure. And as long as they have some sort of reaction, I don’t know that I care.
What were you like in high school? I was sort of a loner in high school—I only had a few friends. I didn’t subscribe 100% to a certain subculture like emo or goth or punk, so I sort of mingled between the fringe groups. I was a little overweight, had a ‘fashion mullet’, got neon pink and green rubber bands on my braces, and sketched a LOT of anime characters. I had an incredible art educator who really pushed me to think about my work and develop my skills—she taught me traditional black and white darkroom processes and held my work to very high standards. I’m forever grateful for that.