I first met Mike back in 2009 at Atomic Tattoo in Austin, TX. It was the closest tattoo shop to my dumb job at the time and I started stalking him on the internet. I liked what I saw and his art wasn’t half bad either haha. I think it was my hands that Mike tattooed first & we’ve been good buddies ever since. Brothers from another mother some might say… My wife would say, two idiots. We’ve spent many hours together over the years while getting tattooed & Mike has created a handful of my favorite Terrier Cvlt designs.
Mike, let me first thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to do this interview with us. We have a really cool relationship because I admire you as a friend but also as a huge fan of your design and art style. I’m always psyched to see what you’re up to next & I still don’t feel that you’re even close to reaching your full potential as an artist (which is scary as fuck haha)
When did you start getting into art and when did you realize that you wanted to draw & create art for a living?
Hi Bob, thanks for having me. Art has always been a part of my life, my Mother was the first to see it. I was about 5 or 6 years old when my mom started noticing the lids to her shoe boxes were missing. I had used the back of the lids to draw my favorite cartoon characters on. It was the one thing that made me feel special, being able to impress other kids and even adults with my drawings. Mom and Dad encouraged me with all kinds of art supplies and anytime the community would hold art classes outside of schools my Mom would sign me up for them. Spent a lot of time painting and drawing flowers and cow skulls with retirees and cat ladies as a small child. Creating art for a living was something I knew was going to happen from the beginning because there was never any other way of thinking. I've never seen... wanted any other option.
How did you get into tattooing & would you consider yourself a tattoo artist that draws on the side or an artist that tattoos on the side?
I got into tattooing because I was tired of drawing caricatures at family theme parks. One day while working I met a tattoo artist by the name Craig Sheets. He really liked my style of drawing over the other artists with me that day. We struck up a conversation as I drew him and his family. We hit it off really well and he made the offer that if I moved to Austin Texas he would teach me how to tattoo. So I showed up in Austin 2 days later and I have been working with him for over 18 years now. I'm definitely an artist that learned to tattoo.
You started a comic book, Little Hero, a few years ago that blew me away! What can you tell me about Little Hero & what’s next?
Little Hero is a story book I have been working on for way too long about a little boy named Little and his faithful companion, an oversized house cat named Champ. The world they live in unfolds with government cover ups and monsters from other dimensions worshiped by ancient aliens and the origins of man. It's still a long ways away from completion but you'll be the first to know of any updates.
I know you’ve done some crazy design stuff on the side & one that even paid you in tacos BUT the work you do for the band Blood Hammer is fucking great! Can you tell me a little bit about that relationship & what’s the latest project you are doing for them?
So Blood Hammer is a band that a couple of good buddies put together. Fast metal/ punk horror movie music. All the songs are tip of the hat to their favorite horror movies and ghost stories. I'm not a "band" member, I can't even play the radio, but I get to go into the studio with them and be part of the creative process like subject matter for new songs. Mostly me listening to new songs and telling them that this one makes me think of this movie or that ghost story or something to that effect. I met an animator, Louie Granda last year and he and I have collaborated with Blood Hammer to make a full length animated music video for their song The Blob, off their second album Sounds of Mayhem.
We are both around the same age & I would say very nostalgic about the cartoons & toys of our youth. We started the "Masters Of Friendship" which depicts the two of us as Masters Of The Universe characters in their full glory. You've done some really great ones over the years. What can we expect for Master of Friendship in 2023?
Well I'm always open for ideas with the Masters stuff or perhaps us in a pro wrestling scenario.
As I’m sure you’ve realized, I have you as He-Man tattooed on me… My question to you is, Where's your fucking Bob as Skeletor tattoo? What gives?
See this is like when the crazy girlfriend gets her dudes name tattooed on her and he's like "you get mad when I tell you your ideas are bad!" ha! I'll get you in a Man-At-Arms helmet, how about that. That suits you better.
Now I have to ask this only because we are a dog company; I've had many pets in my life but I’ve never had a true friendship with one of my animals until I met my Boston Terrier, Elsa. She instantly became my muse for Terrier Cvlt and continues to have an influence on my life. We almost lost her this summer & it really hit me hard. Has there been a pet in-particular that’s made a significant impact on your life & can you tell me more about that relationship?
Yeah... he was a cat... hahah. It's funny to me because this is for a dog company. I had a cat for 14 years named Sasquatch. He was a really good guy. He was really good with my son when he was a baby and the relationship I saw with them built the foundation for the characters in my Little Hero book. My wife is the animal lover in our home. We have 8 dogs, 6 are Chihuahuas so they don't take up much room in the house. Out of all of these little guys here I am most attached to a long hair Chihuahua named Otis. My wife brought him home and I was so upset with her bringing home the 5th dog I didn't look at him for the first year he was with us. I can't tell you what he looked like as a puppy haha but he was persistent on us becoming friends and now for the second time in my life I have a special animal friend who I love dearly.
Mike, Again I thank you for your time & I hope to visit you soon. Love you buddy!
Check out the crazy world of Mike Barentine HERE