On this latest edition of Meeting Point, we speak with Michael Harker, the photographer behind the currently popular Street Art book: ”Icons Of Street Art”.
With his camera, he captures moments from an unexpected perspective, showing the beauty in often hidden places in their graphic resolution.
– Please introduce yourself to us!
Michael Harker, born in Munich 1951, studied business administration in Vienna. Already during this time I found my passion for photography. However, after graduating I worked for more than 30 years as a management consultant for large companies. Only after 2007 I realized my passion for photography. As a newcomer and self – taught, I turned to professional photography.
I photograph people, cities and landscapes with the romantic eyes of the street photographer and with the unshakeable belief in the good and beautiful in the world. My works show the magic and the emotionality of the moment. The images will let the depicted persons in all situations their dignity. Years ago, I started documenting graffiti on my photo trips, because they fascinated me. Over time, this became an important topic and there was an intensive examination of this art form. I am currently under contract with renowned image banks, I have puplished a number of calendars and I am currently working on 2 book projects with major German publishers.
– What is street art for you? What impact has it had in your life?
Graffiti, swiftly sprayed and at times illegal, has long become an established art form that emerges in and with its environment. Street art is , perhaps, the most democratic art of our time. It is made for the people, it is often based on ideas that are developed together with local residents, and it has the power to change everyday lives. It enables direct contact with viewers, delighting locals and passersby who encounter the pieces on their daily commutes.
– Tell us a bit about your latest book – ”Icons of Street Art”.
The aim of the book was to show the interaction of street art, here in the form of the big murals, with the architecture of the city and the living space of the people. That means: Street Art should not be treated as a monographic art from A to Z, but should show connections and a variety of topics and leave room for imagination And of course you need someone to give structure to the art work and develops narrative threads to make it easier for the viewer to access. My biggest thanks go to my wife Suzanne, who, as an art historian, was able to cover exactly this task and completely curated the “icons” book.
– Which street artists do you admire most and why?
Bordalo II, he is closest to my own soul with his sensitive and loving elaboration of his animal motifs as well as with his environmental activist attitude. Therefore I am particularly happy that I was able to win him over to the foreword.
However, I also admire all the other artists in my book for their strength and intension in their work, especially artists like VHILS, ROA, Seth, to whom a separate chapter has been dedicated. They have been a constant inspiration to me.
– Street art in the last few years has had a big impact on society, a lot of artists being in the spotlight and trying to make a career out of it. What do you think about this evolution?
Two souls beat in my chest at this question. Street Art belongs on the street like art belongs to people and not in museums. Street Art in particular needs direct, non – curated contact with people.
On the other hand, I am of course pleased with the social recognition for the artists that goes with the new development. And it is often the galleries in particular that provide the necessary platform for the artists with their projects.
It is also a balancing act for the artists. They originally chose the street for their art. Today this art direction is commercialized in many ways, so that many artists also get a good income for their life, their teams and new projects. And that`s great.
– Which cities do you think have the biggest activity and influence in the global street art scene?
For me, New York City and Paris are the epicentres of this art form. Just remember Keith Haring and Blek le Rat and their beginnings about 40 years ago. Today we can count ourselves lucky that street art is spread all over the world. A positive effect of globalism. Major festivals and activities are now taking place everywhere. In Paris, Lisbon, Berlin, Rome ,Vienna to name just a few. Whole quarters get a wonderful upgrade.
– What are you working on nowadays?
I am in the final stages of the second book “Icons of Street Art – the hidden treasures”. It is dedicated to the small works that can be found in gate entrances, on roller shutters, in house entrances, and that are among nice surprises in everyday life.
Beyond street art, I`m working on a photo book about India.
– What is the biggest challenge when preparing such a book?
The search for a publisher that takes the risk and has a love for the topic. In addition, a free place in the cat boarding house for our cat “Burli” (means “cute boy cat”) during our world wide trips.
– Do you remeber any occasion in which something went horribly wrong?
The beginning of the corona crisis when my publisher´s email came which told me, that in these bad times, he could no longer publish the second book due to financial problems. So I hope that next year there will be someone who will publish the book.
– Do you have a wild project that you dream of achieving some day?
An exhibition with my photos of the big murals book on the fences of – le jardin du Luxembourg – in Paris, to bring the other cities and places from the book with their works of art to this metropolis.
Usually other photos like “reporters without borders – reporters sans frontiers” or special artists or topics are presented here. It would be a curated exhibition and at the same time the art would remain on the street, which corresponds to its basic idea.
– What are your plans for the future?
To make all the trips, that we are currently forced to cancel and, of course, to make a follow-up volume of “Icons of Street Art – Big Murals” in the near future.
-Is there a specific thought or message you would like to pass to our audience out there?
Keep your eyes wide open for all the beauties of the world!
Thank you Michael, it has been a great pleasure discovering your work and we wish you manage to fullfil your next projects with success.
‘’I Support Street Art’’ team.
Check out more about Michael Harker‘s Street Art book here.
The large-format book (28 x 35.5 cm) has 288 pages, 400 illustrations and was published in October 2019 in two languages, in German and English, by Kunth Verlag.
Visit Michael Harker‘s website and full portfolio.