UML Sits Down with Cigar Artist Mike Uhren

Written by on December 15, 2014

Recently UML got the chance to sit down and chat with Mike Uhren. We came across Mike’s work a while ago, browsing the social interweb, his work captures a great past time and makes it timeless.

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I appreciate that you enjoy what I do. Very cool. Shoot.

When did you start drawing/painting?
When I was a kid, I always had a pad of paper and some pencils. I once won Friendly’s Ice Cream for a year as a reward for winning their coloring contest -kind of a fun memory. Through high school I focused on my artwork while taking AP classes. I collaborated on a mural piece which is still hanging on the walls at Westerville North High School. If you’re ever in Westerville, Ohio & driving down County Line Road, take a peek at the high school. That’s some of my first displayed work right there! Then, I began as a Fine Arts major at Kent State University and got through two years before changing majors to Advertising. I was in the Honors College, writing papers weekly and looking for a way to combine a few things I enjoyed -talking to people & creating art. I graduated Cum Laude and worked in advertising for a bit, but it was on the sales side, not the art side. I watched the artists start with a fantastic idea or concept and have it whittled down by all the cooks in the kitchen until it wasn’t at all what they started with. That was not going to be for me. We had kids and we decided I got to stay home with them. In the meantime, I picked up some paints, started rocking some cigar art & have been at it since 2009. I keep waiting to run out of ideas and/or inspiration. Hasn’t happened yet.

Who inspires you?
Difficult large scope question! Makes me chuckle. The short answer is everything. A longer answer is those around me most inspire me most. My wife & kids are always pointing at something, asking something, and creating something. All of it intermingles in my mind. Musicians inspire me wildly & honestly vary vastly. I never create artwork without music in the background. Movies, TV shows, clouds, grass, leaky pipes, maps – I like to think a little bit of everything sneaks in there and inspires me. I’ve always been able to lay and look at clouds and find things. Smell the roses, that kind of thing.

We see that you’re a smart individual and graduated Cum Laude, with a degree in Advertising. Did your creative nature/mind crossover into that field?
It did. Mostly because I enjoy solving problems creatively.

Do you have a favorite piece of art?
Of my own? “Stealing a Kiss” It’s based on my wife and I kissing after our wedding. It’s special to me. That someone else created, I can’t point to a favorite on the spot. Like music, art is all over the place for me personally.

You specialize in acrylic, pen, ink & charcoal, what’s your favorite medium?
That’s like picking a favorite child! Each has it’s merits. I like the tones that can be created with acrylics. I like the impact & contrast of the pen & ink, and I like the diffused nature of charcoal. I have recently picked up watercolor pencils & pastels as well. Blend-ability of both of those is intense and quite enjoyable.

How often do you work on your craft?
Daily. Absolutely.

Are you in any art galleries and if not is that a goal of yours?
I just finished my first gallery show that ran for a month between Spetember 20th and October 20th. It was fun. Opening night we had a little outdoor smoking section where, those who wished to, got to partake in some cigars from my personal humidor. In planning the show, it was pretty cool to dig through some older work. Some stuff I’d not seen in years. It may be wrong of me to admit this, but it’s still fun for me to stumble upon my own work! Stuff that has been in storage and pops back out. I almost get to see it for a first time myself. I create something, for lack of a better term, in a zone. I shut everything out and just work until it’s done. Kind of a blur in my mind. I finish it and on to the next thing. It’s an intense, cool and scary thing how the mind works. Back to the question! As far as getting into another gallery. I sure wouldn’t mind it! I had a good time with it!

I really dig your cigar art, what motivated you to begin creating it?
A coupon! I got a mailer from JoAnn Fabric and I had been looking for art to hang in our newly finished basement and I wasn’t finding anything I really enjoyed. So, I got a coupon, bought some supplies and painted my first piece of cigar art back in 2009!

What’s your favorite stick to smoke?
Liga Privada Dirty Rat by Drew Estate. No question. Perfect draw & burn every time. It is a flavor profile I’ve not found in any other cigar.

Do you have a stick on your list you dream of having?
Short answer is no. Expansion on that is that I’ve gotten to smoke a lot of cigars from various manufacturers, various years, various decades, and various countries. I’ve smoked quite a few that I believe would be on others’ dream lists and I don’t take that for granted. I’ve had opportunities others have not and I appreciate every one of them to the fullest. I’m sure there is a cigar out there that might blow my mind, but I’ll just keep looking for it one cigar at a time.

How extensive is your collection and do you have a cigar you’re saving for a special occasion?
My collection at this point is perhaps about two thousand cigars? I’ve never really counted. I do have special occasion cigars. On both of our kids’ birthdays, I smoke a cigar from the year they were born. This is a fun story I’ll share. I found a box of Padron Family Reserve 45s from my son’s birth month the year he was born. I contacted Jeff Padron via FaceBook about the possibility of having his family sign it for my son in the future and he was more than accommodating! He had the entire Padron family sign and inscribe the box with “Happy 18th Birthday, Carter” then factory sealed it and send it back to me. Carter is five now. I intend to break that out on Carter’s 18th birthday so he and I can enjoy his first cigar together. That will be a fun cigar.

Our online publication covers a wide variety of topics. We cover fashion, technology, music, automobiles, hobbies etc. How would you describe your fashion style?
Right now. Gym clothes! I just got home from a workout. I wish I had more of a personal fashion statement. I really don’t. I do my best to look like I took a shower recently and don’t live on the street. I can shine up nice, but normally I’m a pretty casual, jeans and T-shirt kinda guy.

Do you listen to any particular musician that sparks your creative side? If we picked up your MP3 player, what type of heat would we find and what would it say about you?
Like I said, I always have music on! Varied stuff. Jay-Z to Florence and The Machine. I’ve been listening to Hans Zimmer’s instrumentals from The Dark Knight Rises & Inception this week. Whiz Kalifa is who I am pushing on everyone. He’s got a good swagger about him. Dave Matthews. OAR. County music. I play Tool sometimes. If you zipped through my MP3 player, I think you would say “That? Followed by that? What the?” If that makes sense! I’m all over the place with artists and moods.

Are you a tech junky, if so, what’s your favorite piece of tech you own?
I play Playstation & watch a lot of movies and TV in surround sound. The Playstation gets Hulu, Netflix, games and BluRay movies. That coupled with the TV are my tech needs. Of course I use a computer daily but the computers we own are old and nothing to write home about.

Do you interact on social media, if so what’s your poison of choice? Twitter? Instagram? Facebook? If so please let our audience how to connect with you.
FaceBook is where you’re most likely to find me. I have Twitter running as well, but it mostly posts my FaceBook feed as tweets. If someone drops me a line on Twitter I do my best to respond, but most of the time I feel over my head there. It moves quicker than I do! Believe it or not, there is another Mike Uhren out there on Facebook! Here is a link to ME on facebook – Mike Uhren FB

A few final quick fire questions…

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night Owl naturally. Kids have me up early, but I am most creative at night.

Perfect vacation? Relaxing beach getaway or Las Vegas high rolling?
Beach

Bow tie or necktie?
Neck Tie

Scotch on the rocks or a aged brandy with your cigars??
Maker’s Mark with a small splash of water.

Van Gogh or Basquiat?
Van Gogh

Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me. Always fun when the possibility of bringing a new person into the art world arrives. Hopefully some folks who have not seen my work take an opportunity to check it out. Have a good one!

In closing, UML would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us and our readers. More of Mike’s work can be located and purchased at www.mikeuhren.com

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