Mike Mitchell has made his name drawing pop-culture figures for several years now. He’s the guy who created the “I’m With Coco” poster that became ubiquitous back in 2010, and he’s done specialized artwork for Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, and Adventure Time. And now, BuzzFeed has an exclusive first look at Mitchell’s newest solo show at the premiere pop-culture art gallery, Mondo Gallery in Austin, Texas, featuring “thirty-ish” new portraits of beloved and semi-obscure characters from all of cinema. The show will run April 26 - May 25.
“It’s kind of an eclectic mix,” Mitchell told BuzzFeed in a phone interview. “I like a lot of different movies. When I watch them, I see characters I really like regardless of the genre it’s in. I just enjoy these characters on their own merit.” Mitchell used visual references from each character’s respective films (and sometimes from other movies featuring the actor in question) to create these portraits on his computer, and then gave each one a title highlighting a memorable quote from the character.
While Mitchell did draw from widely different types of films, director Quentin Tarantino held a special place in the show — Mitchell even did a portrait of Tarantino’s character from Pulp Fiction. “I don’t know what it is about QT, but he knows how to make loveable assholes, and Jimmie is such a loveable asshole,” Mitchell wrote in a follow-up email. “Not to mention, it was a chance to pay respect to QT, who I am a huge fan of. It’s definitely the one piece that I am curious to see how people will receive it.”
Tarantino’s portrait aside, here are six standouts from the show, along with Mitchell’s thoughts about each of them.
3. “D’Artagnan, motherfuckers!”
Django from Django Unchained
“When I was watching that movie, as soon as I saw that scene of him wearing that suit, I didn’t know how I was going to do it — this was before I started this solo show — but I knew that I was going to [draw] this [character] in some way. To me it’s so funny and ironic, but also sort of cool.”
4. “Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.”
Veronica from Heathers
“Some of the portraits, you almost feel like they’re from the movie, like they’re paused on part of the movie. But some of them are like having a portrait done of them at that moment, trying to capture the way they would feel about it. At the end of Heathers, she’s much more relaxed, just cool, doesn’t care. I tried to capture that.”
5. “Now the forbidden fruit must be tasted!”
Mugatu from Zoolander
“I’m one of the people who loves Zoolander. Every time I watch that movie, I just like [Mugatu] more and more. He’s so ridiculous-looking. I just love that giant neck thing with the big Mugatu letters on his chest. He’s just such an absurd character, and I just wanted to have a chance to do something with him.”
6. “Can 10 years’ worth of imaginary training be put to use?”
Oh Dae-su from Oldboy
“This was more of a made-up scene. It’s a collection of reference thrown together. It’s one of my favorite movies. He’s sort of emotionless through a lot of movie, and it’s sort of a realistically violent movie. I just wanted to capture that — he’s just covered in blood, and he doesn’t care.”
7. “How ‘bout if I’m Mr. Purple? That sounds good to me. I’ll be Mr. Purple.”
Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs
“Originally, I was going to do Mr. White. And then I was going to do Mr. Brown. And then when I was watching the movie again looking for reference, I realized I just had to do Mr. Pink. I showed it a few of my friends, and they sort of complained that he looked too, like, pretty, I guess, for Steve Buscemi.”
8. “Ah, hon, ya got Arby’s all over me.”
Marge Gunderson from Fargo
“For Marge, I tried to put that tundra feel into [the background]. Yeah. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to put Marge in the show.”