Enjoying the fruits of his labor
By Sue Baldani
Art is truly subjective. Some people will love your work, and some won’t. For international top-selling artist Michael Godard, that’s okay.
“Being an artist, or being any type of creator, you have people who don’t understand what you’re doing or don’t like what you’re doing, and that might be a good sign that you’re really onto something,” he says. “I think it was Picasso who said, ‘If you’re not getting criticism, you’re playing it way too safe.’ When you’re passionate, genuine, transparent and honest about what you’re doing, you have to stick to that as your mantra because that’s at your very core.”
His method is working, and working well. Michael’s paintings are now selling for half a million dollars each and rising all the time. He’s on television shows like Bar Rescue, Mind Freak and Counting Cars, and good friends with Ozzy Osbourne and many other well-known people.
“When I started to create different types of art, I was only thinking about how I was going to paint, draw, and doodle all day and still be able to pay my rent,” he says. “That was my only goal.”
He’s obviously well exceeded that goal. Michael might be best known for his delightful and fun paintings depicting olives, grapes and strawberries. “When I started painting my silly little olives, it was more about me and expressing my life and my perspective. With my art, I’m just a storyteller.”
One of his favorite paintings is called “Love My Heals.” “When LeeAnn [his wife] and I were dating, I said I wanted to paint something fun, and was looking to paint a sexy pair of shoes.” He found the perfect pair – black and glossy with solid red bottoms. He told her he was going to buy her a pair. “She said, ‘You’re going to buy me Christian Louboutin’s?!’ And I thought, uh oh, what the hell is a Christian Louboutin?
“Wow, were they expensive! So in the painting, my wife is a strawberry hugging the heel and there are hearts emanating up above her, and there’s me as an olive standing next to her pulling out my pockets because I’m broke. Once I explain these depictions to fans, they start looking for those stories, and then they find one that resonates with their life.”
Not long ago, he also became the art curator for Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, where he resides. “I gathered 100 or so artists from the community and their works are now hanging inside the new $2 million stadium,” he says. “It’s the talk of the NFL – I call it the Las Vegas Louvre.”
His path to success hasn’t always been easy. He grew up poor, had many highs and lows in his various careers, but the darkest time in his life was in 2006, when he lost his 16-year-old daughter Paige to brain cancer. What helped him get through it was turning his grief into philanthropy. He started the Paige Godard Foundation and works closely with St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Make a Wish, and other cancer organizations.
“At 3:00 in the morning, when I’m thinking about the things I’ve done and things that I still want to do, it’s what I’ve done as a human being to make the world a better place that really matters, not selling a painting for a million dollars. I’ve done a lot of philanthropy and those are the things I’m going to remember when I’m 92 and on my deathbed.”
Michael says he’s just an ordinary guy who happens to draw and paint. “I might have just sold a painting for some astronomical amount the day before, but when I get home, my wife still wants me to pick up my dirty socks.”
He credits LeeAnn for not only keeping him grounded, but also for keeping him on schedule. “After I met her, I started showing up to art shows on time. The first time I arrived at the scheduled time, no one was there. I thought my career was over! But my fans were used to me arriving late, so in they came about an hour later.”
The things he says make him happy right now are his wife, his dog, date nights, becoming a grandfather, and spending time with his children. “At the end of the day, I’m just doing my doodles and trying to stay out of trouble with my wife.”
In New Jersey, his art can be seen at the Wentworth Gallery in Short Hills. “Shows at the Wentworth are some of the most fun and exciting ones we do,” says Michael.
Follow Michael on Twitter @officialgodard, on Facebook at officialgodard and on Instagram @Godardscrazylife.
Written for Chatham & Short Hills Lifestyle magazine in NJ.