Mike East

Cityscapes and Shifting Perspectives: An Interview with Artist, Mike East

Cityscapes and Shifting Perspectives: An Interview with Artist, Mike East

When it comes to your time at the canvas, do you paint from observation or with reference photos and other tools? Have you had the opportunity to experiment with the size and scale of your paintings? I know that artists like you will be thrilled to hear from the brilliant and talented artist, Mike East. 

Mike is a representational painter who lives in Flordia with his wife and two children. Over the course of our conversation, Mike and I discussed how the choice of canvas size can impact your painting, how Mike’s thought process shifts when he changes his subject matter, and so much more. I know that artists like you will learn a lot from Mike’s seasoned perspective - make sure to check out the images of Mike’s artwork located at the end of this post! 

Cityscapes and finding the right perspective

Think of your favorite work of art that you’ve produced in the last year- what is it that stands out in your mind? Do you love how the colors turned out? Are you over the moon about the lighting and textures you were able to convey? Mike East spent over ten years working almost exclusively on cityscapes as he plodded and navigated his early career. Through all the challenges over the years, Mike points out that getting the right perspective with his cityscape projects really helped him grow as an artist. In fact, stepping out of that area of success and comfort proved to be challenging and rewarding in the next phase he now finds himself in.

Making a mindset shift 

Let’s face it, most people abhor change - they construct their whole lives around avoiding discomfort and change - many artists aren’t any different. If you have any intention of growing as an artist, you need to make your peace with “Change.” Don’t look at change as the enemy, look at it as an opportunity to explore and expand your skillset. After years of working on cityscapes, Mike East was ready for a change and that journey began with preparing his mindset for a significant shift. 

The challenge and freedom of “Going big”

I love talking to my fellow artists when it comes to the subject of scale - from huge murals to small paintings - it’s a joy to see artists light up over the parameters they’ve set for themselves. When it comes to the parameters of your canvas, do you find it liberating or constricting? Does going small or going large fill you with a sense of freedom or dread? Imagine what it would look like to push past those feelings to explore new possibilities. When I talked to Mike East about the scale and scope of his paintings - I really got the sense that Mike relishes the freedom that large-scale paintings give him. What can you learn from Mike’s story? Make sure to check out the link to mike’s website and his Instagram account located in the resources section. 

Outline of this episode

  • [2:30] I introduce my guest, Mike East. 
  • [6:00] Mike talks about how he got started as an artist. 
  • [7:30] What really lights Mike up. 
  • [11:00] Why Mike loves working on a large scale. 
  • [17:30] Investigating complexity. 
  • [24:00] Mike talks about his time in college. 
  • [36:00] Giving yourself permission to work outside of the box. 
  • [42:30] Mike opens up about his time visiting Europe. 
  • [45:30] How COVID has impacted Mike’s work life. 
  • [50:30] The challenge of working from life when it comes to cityscapes. 
  • [54:00] Closing thoughts. 
  • Other artists mentioned on this episode

    Resources Mentioned in this episode


    View over Reading Viaduct II

    Jar, Plastic Bag, Cinder Blocks, and Cellophane


    Frank's Avocado Tree


    East on Green St, Overlooking the Reading Viaduct

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