Calling all cat lovers!
Looking for a fun and creative evening? Create-A-Craft hosts a special adults-only Collage-A-Cat class with local collage artist Perris Mackey from 7 to 9 p.m. this Friday, July 21. Working with Mackey, participants will create an original cat-themed collage using an official “Collage-A-Cat” kit. Guests are encouraged to leave the kids at home and bring your favorite adult beverage for a fun-filled night of art-making.
“I will help guide the guests through my artistic process to ensure that they will leave the workshop with an original work of art that they are prrrr
-oud of,” says Mackey. “Guests are welcome to bring their favorite bottle or adult drink of choice. However, we always encourage our guests to drink responsibly. This is a celebration and experience we want them to take home and show their kids and or family.”
Mackey’s pop culture-themed artwork has been exhibited at events and venues such as Ingenuity Fest, 78th Street Studios, the Waterloo Arts Fest, Wizard World Cleveland, Cleveland Bazaar, the Beachland’s Rockin’ Flea, Walkabout Tremont, Oddmall (Akron/Canton), Stella’s Art Gallery in Mentor and more. A self-taught artist, Mackey had little interest in art classes in high school. He credits his initial inspiration to watching the film Exit Through the Gift Shop
, a documentary showcasing contemporary street artists, such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader and the polarizing Mr. Brainwash.
Remembering the documentary, Mackey says, “These artists displayed their works in the streets and developed a huge following in the process. Each artist did this for fun but along the way they started gaining fans and people who loved and appreciated what they did. I was so infatuated with this that I had to get involved.”
Before discovering his passion for collage, Mackey began by painting life-size characters on pieces of cardboard and posting them on abandoned buildings and light poles in his neighborhood. Although technically a form of vandalism, Mackey says the work was appreciated by the city and residents. According to Mackey, city officials even began collecting many of the paintings when they eventually needed to be taken down.
Two years ago, Mackey decided to experiment with collage by creating a large Batman piece just for fun. After posting the image on Facebook and receiving positive feedback, Mackey knew he was on the right track. “It took me 22 years to find my passion,” Mackey says. “Expressing myself through art was the best decision I've made to date, besides marrying my wife.”
Building a fan base organically, Mackey was soon featured on Fox 8 News and in the pages of the Plain Dealer. One of his most popular pieces features portraits of the Cavs’ 2016 NBA Finals starting lineup (LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Triston Thompson and JR Smith). After the Cavs won the NBA Championship, Mackey even brought his collage downtown with him, both the night of Game 7 and at the record-breaking parade. Over a year later, Mackey continues to sell prints of it, as well as his other collages online and at various events and markets throughout town.
Although his creative career may be relatively new, Mackey’s materials – magazines and comic books – are deeply connected to his childhood and family, specifically his 77-year-old grandmother, Rosetta, who worked for the now defunct George Klein News in downtown Cleveland. A magazine distribution company, George Klein News also distributed books, comic books, sports cards and other collectibles and products. As an employee for 35 years, Mackey’s grandmother received a discount on all the products in the company’s warehouse, which she used to bring home comics, cards, posters and more almost daily for her three daughters and two grandkids, Mackey and his cousin Bryan.
“I feel like my grandmother and my mother inspired my pop culture subject matter,” Mackey says. “My grandmother mainly because she is the one who provided me with the reading material and my mother for continuously buying me all the action figures and video games that kept my love for these characters locked in. I've always been a fan of superheroes. More so now than ever.”
Continuing to reflect on his comic book collection, Mackey says, “I have a large collection of comic books and even more that have lost value because we didn't understand the value of them when we were younger. Some have missing and folded pages. Some have water damage and some are ripped and worn. I've tried to sell some of my comic books, but because of the condition, I came to the conclusion that they would be worth more cut up than as-is. I created that first Batman piece using all my damaged comic books. I eventually came to the conclusion that I couldn't source all of my colors from comic books. I started using all my granny's old magazines to balance everything out and so that I wouldn't be completely destroying all of my comic books.”
Cost of Friday’s Collage-A-Cat workshop is $35 (with discount code “earlynerd”), and includes everything needed to create a custom, cat-themed collage. The Collage-A-Cat kit is specifically designed by Mackey and his Immortal Nerd business partner and Euclid High School classmate Maestro Stevens. Originally founded in late 2015 as a clothing company, Immortal Nerd is a visual art, design and apparel company showcasing Mackey’s artwork.
“We wanted to come up with a collage kit that we would be able to eventually sell to the public,” Mackey says. “A kit that would include a non-collaged character, a paint brush, a small container of Mod Podge and some precut 1 in. by 1 in. scraps. We didn't want to make a kit of characters that were already owned by other businesses so we wanted to come up with our own.”
Create-A-Craft is located inside of Euclid’s historic Shore Cultural Centre. More than 100 years old, the building was once the original Euclid High School. Create-A-Craft is operated by Eileen Sheehan, another classmate and childhood friend of Mackey.
“Me and Eileen, the owner, went to grade school together, and we've been friends ever since,” Mackey says. “Maintaining friendships that have evolved into business partnerships has been very beneficial to Immortal Nerd. Create-A-Craft has opened its doors to visiting artists to share artist networks and expose the community to a variety of artmaking workshops taught by a variety of artists.”
Registration for Friday’s Collage-A-Cat class is available through Eventbrite. For more on Immortal Nerd, visit immortalnerd.com.
(Create A Craft) 291 East 222nd St., Euclid, 216-505-0684, create-a-craft.com.