Interview with artist Michael Carini

Michael is a neurodivergent artist with Tourette Syndrome living in San Diego, California. At Loyola Marymount University, he graduated first in his class and with honors, including the Scholar of Distinction Award in Painting. Art Design Consultants also named him Emerging Artist of the Year.

To get to know him more, you can watch his posted YouTube video about his interview with us, which can be found

Michael, tell us a little bit about yourself.

The essence of my artistic journey is the process and totality of the never-ending quest to find myself, so I guess you could say I’m still figuring out who I am, while trying to help others figure out the same along the way. To hit the basics though, I am a neurodivergent full-time San Diego based artist and arts/mental health advocate.

How can you encourage other artists/people with neurodivergent thinking to not be afraid of being different like you?

I think the best way to help other people that are neurodivergent, as well as those that aren’t, to not be afraid of being different is simply to put yourself out there. Art gives me a wonderful platform to be a voice for the voiceless. I know for a long time I felt like I was born into a world that had no place for me, so I created my own. That often meant not just taking the road less traveled, but the road never traveled. You will only get where other people haven’t been by doing what other people haven’t done. I think that there is a universal value to this message, regardless of who you are and what you do. At times it was and is still extremely uncomfortable because I have to be completely vulnerable, but I’ve learned over time that I have to open myself up to free myself. I also know that some people haven’t learned how to do these things yet and as someone that has, it’s my responsibility to set an example through action and create a bridge for those lost in the sea of the mind.

How did Carini Arts, also known as Acrylic Alchemist, start? Can you tell us the story behind its name?

Carini Arts is my brand, so that has really been around as long as I have. People ask when I started doing this, and the truth is the day I was born. This is what I was put on this earth to do, and I never allowed the world to talk me out of it. My job is just to be me.

Acrylic Alchemy was essentially born on April 27, 2009, after an assault and battery that left me with a concussion, severe eye trauma, and multiple facial fractures. My logo, tattooed on my arm, is what I saw flashing in my head after my concussion. It represents life grown from death and many say it resembles a tree or neuron, both of which are essentially correct. Acrylic Alchemy is based on the principle of equivalent exchange, meaning that nothing can be created or obtained without sacrifice. What that sacrifice is, well that is up to you.

Braska, your little kitty, is so cute! May we know how Braska helps you stay motivated in everything you do?

Braska is my little studio helper and “Employee of the Month” coming up on something like 56 months in a row, or as long as I’ve had her. My other cats aren’t really happy about that and claim bias, but I told them they just need to work a little harder. They tried to unionize, but I had to break that up. Braska checks everything that comes in and is responsible for all final inspections. Sometimes she likes to get involved a bit more than others.

We see that while you are finishing your studies, you’re serving as an apprentice with respected artists Jane Brucker and Roland Reiss. What can you say about your experience working with them?

I think that finding a good mentor is about the most valuable experience you can have as an artist, whether that be in school or outside of it. I wouldn’t be the man or artist I am today with Roland, who sadly passed away (December 13, 2020), and Jane, who still actively exhibits her work. They taught me what it really means to be an artist and the impact I could have if I stayed the course and maintained my focus. I am eternally indebted to both of them.

Can you tell us about your artwork? How did you make them?

I have a broad repertoire of work because I’ve been doing this for a long time and like to work in a series format. I’m constantly evolving, creating new bodies of work and also revisiting old bodies of work with new perspectives. I’m currently working on two bodies of work simultaneously. Some might find that odd, but I find it completely natural. One body of work, my “Open Wounds” collection, is my yin collection, or darkness. The second body of work, my “Roots” collection, is my yang collection, or light. A lot of my signature techniques were developed by trial and error, breaking the rules of what you’re technically supposed to do or how I was taught.

You had over a hundred exhibitions locally & internationally, what are the best things about this experience?

I think the best part about that was learning what does and doesn’t work for me. You have a perception of these things before you’ve done it, and sometimes a radically different one after you have because you don’t know what you don’t know and until you experience it, you may never know. I’m thankful for all of those experiences and it is really cool to walk into a gallery and see your work on the wall or in the window. I’m currently working with several galleries and am represented by Adelman Fine Art in San Diego, CA. I currently have shows there and at La Playa Gallery.

Is there an award you’re looking forward to achieving in the future? And why?

In my younger days as an artist, I was all about awards. These days, I let the ego go and I’m about the journey over the illusion of validation. The journey is the award, as well as the memories and lessons that come with it.

What are the things you like about Canvy? How was your experience so far?

I purchased the app the day that I found it and absolutely love it! It is one of the very best investments I have ever made as an artist. I do a lot of work, but the thing I struggle with is providing context. The stagings of Canvy allow me to not only provide references for scale, but provide theoretical environments to provide that context that so many buyers need. Seeing a piece on a wall with a possible frame option is vastly different than seeing a piece on an easel or the floor. I highly recommend Canvy to anyone looking to sell their artwork. It’s so easy to use and I can provide great renderings, over which I have so much control, in just 1-2 minutes. It was an absolute game changer for me.

Do you have any plans this year? What are they?

So many, and constantly adding to those plans. I recently did an IPA label for Mother Earth Brewing Company. I’m currently finishing up a coffee table collaboration project with Edenic Design. Yesterday I shipped out a painting for hip hop artist Enkay47, for whom I recently created album art that you can find on most of the streaming platforms. I currently have shows at Adelman Fine Art and La Playa Gallery. I have big things coming up with Adelman and a solo show planned for La Playa Gallery, where I will be teaming with Verilink to add AR (Augmented Reality) to the experience. Who knows what new opportunities will come tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to what may come. We can plan all we want, but sometimes the journey changes course, and all we can do is go with it.

You can also read his interview with us at his website

Find Michael Carini and his artwork here.