Since before he was in high school, Lewes’ Michael Johnson said he’s had a passion for the arts.
“At one point, five of my eight classes were in the art department,” said Johnson with a big smile while describing his academic workload in high school.
Now, he’s turning that passion into a career. Johnson’s biggest, and most visible commission to date is the recently completed mural on the side of the shed at Apple Electric off Route 24. The marlin-themed logo is visible to drivers heading toward Route 1.
Johnson said the mural was challenging because the siding of the shed is textured and metal, elements which had to be accounted for. He said he did his research, and he’s really pleased with how it turned out.
Johnson said he used a lot of tape to make sure lines are crisp.
“Enough to make a volleyball-sized ball of tape when it was all pulled off. Lowe’s likes me,” he said, holding his hands in a spherical shape, roughly the size of a volleyball.
After graduating from Cape Henlopen High School, Johnson attended the University of Delaware. He spent his first two years pursuing an engineering degree, but ultimately graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts, with a focus on visual communications. He said his dad is a civil engineer and his mom is an artist.
Johnson said his dad wasn’t surprised he changed paths.
“He already knew I was more interested in the arts,” said Johnson, of his dad. “It was more of a passion I wanted to pursue. They’ve both been very supportive, even if it doesn’t seem as safe a pathway.”
Johnson said he’s designed T-shirts, graphics and branding for businesses.
“I can do much more than just murals and painting,” he said.
So far, Johnson said he’s been able to find jobs and he’s grateful. It’s mostly been locals, which is great, because it’s locals supporting locals, he said.
As for artistic pleasure, Johnson said he finds inspiration in the surfing and beach culture he’s been around his whole life. Colorful and vibrant are the adjectives he uses to describe his work.
“I’ve worked at Catts for 10 years,” said Johnson, speaking of the beach umbrella service. “I’ve been sitting on the beach most of my life.”