We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Seward and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michael, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’m all about taking risks, I’ve quit two different day jobs with little or no money, so I could go home & paint. One of those times, I liquidated everything I owned, in order to paint for a few months. The second time I did it, I survived for 8 months on donated, expired food from a church. I believe working a job I don’t like, affects the way I paint. Currently I am taking another big risk. I believe it will pay off soon. My whole life has been about taking risks. It’s not always worked in the way I intend it, but it’s always worked out somehow. I feel that every time I’ve made some type of sacrifice, I’ve grown from the experience in a powerful way. I could never see myself living life by playing it safe. Without my pain or sacrificing something, I would have nothing.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Every art piece I create now has a purpose & a meaning behind it. My paintings have all taught me things about myself I didn’t like. I learned something new with each piece, I created. Every time I finished one painting, a emotional wound inside myself was healed. I suffered in my own pain for 29 years, before I found art. I used different substances to drown out that pain during that time. Until one day, I found out that painting was a tool I could use to move forward from all the chains that were weighing me down my entire life. Without my pain, I wouldn’t have any of my paintings. So, I choose not sell my artwork, because I consider them my family members. Together they help tell my story of how I became who I am. I will eventually donate all of my paintings to my own art school that will help addicts recover & untreated victims of abuse believe that change is possible through painting as a tool to heal.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My best friend lives in Nevada right now. If she decided to take a trip down here, I would surround her with everyone & everything that helped me become who I am today. I would take her to Butterfly Wonderland, that’s where I teach my art classes. I would show her the church that gave me food for 8 months. Choosing to follow my dream, came with the sacrifice of eating expired food. I am grateful for Greater Bethel AME in south Phoenix for helping me through that incredibly difficult time. I would introduce her to several friends that helped me out in the last 5+ years. The people that helped me get sober, gave me a place to live, told me what I needed to hear & not want I wanted to hear. These humans all seen how passionate I was about my artwork & willfully made a sacrifice of their own to ensure I continued on my path . I would also take her to Southwest Institute of Healing Arts & Maverick Coffee. Those two businesses along with BW were the first three small businesses to support my artwork. I am forever grateful for these opportunities that I was blessed with.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
11 months after I started painting, I met Carla Keaton, who is also an artist. She gave me a opportunity a month later to fill in for her as the Art Instructor at Butterfly Wonderland. I had no formal training in the art industry, I still do not. I had less than a year painting on my own. I explained to her that I had no knowledge about art. I tried to talk my way out of the position to Carla, but she insisted that this was my path. That planted a seed for me to teach full time. Everything I am working towards is because of Carla seeing something in me, before I did. The art class at Butterfly Wonderland, has given me such a high level of confidence for myself, that now I look for ways to help others in the same way Carla did for me. At the time she may have thought she was committing a small kind gesture for me, but she changed my life in a way I will forever be grateful for.

Other: I deleted my Facebook, Instagram, & my website. I am currently in the process of building a new foundation of pure energy that isn’t toxic. Currently I am the Art Instructor at Butterfly Wonderland & I can be emailed directly at popart2917@gmail.com.

Image Credits
Maddy Crouch Victoria Joelle Celia Duran Garcia

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