The Lightest of the Dark Elves: Noah Becker Talks With Artist Mikaela Spielberg

Artist Mikaela Spielberg.

By NOAH BECKER February, 2020 

The press is a strange group of people, trust me. When I first saw stories in major newpapaers about Mikaela Spielberg, I wasn't drawn to the scandal of her going into porn. Her film director father Steven Spielberg was a curiosity to me - that's how I found out about her at first. Upon closer examination, I saw Mikaela's art and was very interested in her art - interested enough to ask her some questions about her work for the following conversation in Whitehot Magazine.

Noah Becker: So this painting called Fatherly Archetypes, a Portrait of Eric - it's red pencil? Can you tell me what it's about?

Mikaela Spielberg: So it's red pencil emulation using an app called Procreate. It's all hand drawn but it's an emulation pretty much. It mimics the texture of red pencil on paper.

Noah: I see. So it's done with a graphics program?

Mikaela: Yes, called Procreate, which is this amazing graphics program that they released a couple years ago free - and it's become one of the biggest platforms in the world.

Noah: Really?

Mikaela: Yeah, yeah. It's one of the biggest platforms for creators nowadays, next to Photoshop because it's illustrator friendly. It's a little different in that regard...

Noah: And you've made the eyes different colors in the piece. One of the eyes almost looks kind of inset or something?

Mikaela: Yeah, it's actually a labradorite. So I hand painted the labradorite in one of the eyes.

Noah: Ah. And so is it printed out on something?

Mikaela: I can get prints made. I don't have any printed because at the time when I did it, the financial stability part wasn't there. So it's like the printer is super expensive, so to get a good one that lasts forever, you have to really shop a lot. So I never actually made prints except for one thing and that didn't go right. So...

Noah: And there's the other piece, there's one called The Fox Spirit is Real, I've Seen Him.

Mikaela: Oh yeah, that one is so interesting, the story behind that. Because actually I did that one of a friend who I had a falling out with. So that was my first portrait that I did with the same program.

Noah: Right. And do you make work on canvas as well? Are some of the ones on your Instagram on canvas?

Mikaela: I used to and then I stopped and pretty much deleted those - I don't really do anything on canvas. And the one I did on canvas I actually got rid of because I hated it.

Noah: So if you were going to show or sell some of these works, would they be printouts?

Mikaela: They would be printouts on some high quality stuff.

Noah: Right. And would you work into them by hand after or would they mostly be prints on high quality paper?

Mikaela: That's interesting because I know of one other artist who does that and I would actually have to ask him what the process for that is because I know it's hard. No, I would probably just be doing them with printouts so I wouldn't be working over them.

Noah: So you're working exclusively with computer work?

Mikaela: Yes. At the moment, yes.

Noah: Wow, that's so interesting. And how many years has that been going on?

Mikaela: About two years now.

Noah: And are you showing with any galleries?

Mikaela: No, not at all. Nobody seemed to express any interest in that.

Noah: Have you shown with galleries in the past?

Mikaela: No, not at all.

Noah: Oh, so this is sort of my discovery in a certain way.

Mikaela: Exactly.

Noah: Well I'm kind of surprised that you don't have a gallery considering the quality of the work.

Mikaela: Oh, wow. Thank you. That's actually a huge compliment.

Noah: Yeah. I like the work. I see there's one here where it says, "Getting ready to paint a special strain of black cannabis."

Mikaela: Oh yeah. I gave up on that one because it just like ... I had a rocky living situation at the time and I didn't get to really preserve it very well. So I might redo that, I don't know.

Noah: And another one that I liked very much, I think it may also be computer, is I think it's called Krauka?

Mikaela: Krauka, yeah. It's one of the old Norse words for raven.

Noah: And it's the wing of a raven?

Mikaela: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Noah: And what inspired you to do a picture of the wing of a raven?

Mikaela: What inspired me was actually I'd had this old piece of vector art that I was doing for school. I really hated it because I can't work with things like Illustrator, that mathematical thing really gets to me. So I actually took it and redid it with a watercolor digital emulation. I was going through a really rough time and something about the iridescence of it just calmed me - so yeah.

Noah: So would you say, would you call yourself a digital artist?

Mikaela: No, I would call myself somebody who's multi-medium.

Noah: Oh, because I see there's some black paint on looks like the bones of something.

Mikaela: Yeah, it's a deer jaw.

Noah: Oh, so it's the jaw of a deer and you've painted the teeth black?

Mikaela: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Noah: And then inset some sort of pearl-like things?

Mikaela: Yes, it's a pearl.

Noah: Nice.

Mikaela: Thank you.

Noah: What else do we have? Are You Hill Folk.

Mikaela: Oh, that's like a shitty little doodle I did.

Noah: And it's like ... It says, "The lightest of the dark elves."

Mikaela: Yeah, it's just a doodle that I was working on.

Noah: Oh, this is interesting. It's a portrait of a man and he's got sort of flowers and kind of like a spiky head dress.

Mikaela: Oh, that was actually a portrait of a lead singer that I'm really obsessed with and I got rid of that. That was the one I got rid of.

Noah: The lead singer of what?

Mikaela: Of Catatonia.

Noah: Oh, what kind of band is Catatonia?

Mikaela: It's a doom band. It's like a really old doom band from Sweden. Yeah. I did a portrait of that and I was like, "Oh, I'm going to throw it out. I don't like it. It's not exact."

Noah: And do you still have the one, that's like a floral head dress with antlers and it sort of has flowers and antlers?

Mikaela: I don't. Shit, I don't have that one. I just was really down on myself so most of the stuff that you're seeing there, it's gone.

Noah: Right.

Mikaela: Except for the digital prints.

Noah: Except for the digital prints - and are you works for sale?

Mikaela: I could potentially sell them. I mean, they are for sale in terms of like if somebody were to contact me and say, "Hey, can you get a print for me?" I mean, if they paid me for it, I would be like, "Yeah, I'll go ahead and put that towards printing."

Noah: Gotcha. All right. Well, I just wanted to talk about a few of your pieces and it was great to meet you.

Mikaela: Good to meet you too. Thank you so much. WM

Noah Becker

Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023. 


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