If you saw a drawing of Mickey Mouse by artist Craola One compared to the original loveable Mickey that Disney created years ago, you might consider it a bit eerie. You might wonder what could be going through a person’s mind to make him create an evil Mickey Mouse. Yet if you look at the artistry in the depiction, and you notice the intricate detail of every curve and line, you won’t be able to help but find the beauty in it.

The man responsible for such morbidly gorgeous pieces surely has some creative juices flowing from his mind down to his drawing hands. Even he admits that he can understand why his art might be interpreted as weird. At times he wonders why people like it so much. After all, few are like him in that they can appreciate Animal Planet to the extent that it prompts them to create some sort of sick crossbreed between a monkey and a dog. Of course, that’s why Craola’s the artist, and the rest of us, well, aren’t.

“They gave us instructions and told us not to make Mickey Mouse look evil”

Format: Your art has been described as wonderful and eerie. Do you agree with the eerie diagnosis? If so, is that done purposely?
Craola: [Laughs] I don’t try to make it eerie. I accept it.

Format: When did you first begin doing this type of art?
Craola: Oh gosh, in junior high I started drawing. It got more intricate and detailed when I got to high school.

Format: Where in your everyday life do you find your inspiration?
Craola: A lot of it is in books. I listen to a lot of books while I work.

Format: What kind of books do you listen to?
Craola: Lately I have been listening to The Man in the Iron Mask and Oliver Twist–whatever I can get at the library.

Format: How long does it usually take you to complete a project?
Craola: It can take over a month or two depending on the size and the amount of detail that goes into it.

Format: Which piece took you the longest?
Craola: The Bear Market and Bull Market. They were both over six feet and those took me over a month. They were really involved; they had a bunch of characters and background.


Format: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect in your creative process?
Craola: Time, getting time to draw. I wish I had more time for everything. Conceptualizing isn’t as hard.

Format: What type of technical training do you have?
Craola: I got my Bachelor’s of Studio Art degree from Long Beach State –that and Junior College before that. I learned a lot more on the job and with other artists.

Format: When you are creating, is there a certain environment that you require?
Craola: I’m home all the time when I’m painting so I like to go places to draw. I will go to the beach or to coffee shops. I will have my iPod on. That seems to be the best environment for me; it really gets my brain flowing. Sometimes I will go to libraries and sit and listen to music. Be around people but not really interact too much. If I’m at home then I will get lonely. [Laughs]

Format: What music do you listen to?
Craola: JawBreaker, so many bands–I even listen to classical music. I usually try to concentrate on what I’m doing. I listen to a little bit of hip-hop.

Format: What do you think it is about your pieces that attracts people to them?
Craola: I have no idea. I hear people say that some of the pieces mean a lot to them or inspire them. The attitude and the characters’ eyes–people relate to that. I don’t know what it is. [Laughs] I think some of the stuff is pretty weird.


Format: You mainly create with brushes, acrylics, spray cans?
Craola: I don’t create with spray cans as much now. I have a family now; I have to focus my entire time on doing my canvases or doing a show–it’s really time consuming. My main stuff is acrylic and I do some computer work.

Format: We already established that some of your pieces are different…let’s say different. [Laughs]
Craola: [Laughs] Yeah.

Format: Yet you have done work with Disney. Do you find yourself taking a milder approach because it is Disney?
Craola: I had to take a milder approach on that one. They gave us instructions and told us not to make Mickey Mouse look evil. When I did, I think they kind of were a little worried. I thought I totally made him mild; a character like Mickey Mouse that every kid loves, they really want you to be careful. I still was surprised about what they actually let us get away with. One of the shows they did they had our names up with the characters’. I was like, “wow my name is with Mickey’s.” It’s so awesome. Growing up I watched every single Disney cartoon, so to be involved with it in some way was exciting.


Format: Are there any artists who inspire you?
Craola: A lot of my peers: Alex Paradee, my friend Bob Dob.

Format: What in particular attracts you to their art?
Craola: If it’s unique, something I have never seen before. I’m like, “how did you come up with that?” Something creative–they come up with some things that we have never seen.

Format: I noticed that you combine two animals in a lot of your designs. How do you decide which animals you are going to work with?
Craola: I watch Animal Planet and I think, “that would be cool to draw.” Then I will start to sketch it out.

Format: What stages are you at with your store?
Craola: We have a new website. It is not live yet. There will be some differences: there will be links to where my stuff is sold; I’m going to include sketches and paintings.

Format: What would you like to be remembered for as far as your artistry?
Craola: I would have to say inspiring others; being able to go to the high schools and inspire the students, talk to them, have them look at my paintings. Inspiring other artists and their lives.

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La’Juanda Knight

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  1. To: ‘hmmm’ – you are wrong. all of this work shown is that of Greg’s (Craola).

    I am a fairly large collector of his and have to say he is by far my favorite artist. The detail and originality that Greg puts into his work is far and above any other artist that I know. Much props to him.

  2. Hannah Zimmerman says:

    Craola’s art is really interesting and unique and the interview was great! There is a local artist in KC who is making a name for himself doing urban art as well. He just got a story in the paper Pitch. Here is a link if you want to take a look…

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