World famous painter, Michael Godard, aka “The Olive Guy” or “The Rock Star of the Art World” turns out to be one of the funniest, most balanced, generous and humble stars in the art world. Here’s to you sir!
You probably know famous painter, Michael Godard, as “The Olive Guy”, but there is a lot more to this funny, humble and very down to Earth artist than most people know. I had the privilege to spend over an hour on the phone with Michael and really get to know the kind of person that he is.
His original works currently sell for over $100,000, but things weren’t always so easy and glamorous for this acclaimed painter. As a youngster, he grew up very poor and he specifically told me that there were times in his life that if he didn’t sell a painting, then he wasn’t going to eat. Michael had to sleep in his car several times, before making it big and that is something that he said “he will never forget”. I believe it was these experiences, amongst others, that made Michael the man that he is today.
His sincere, generous and grateful attitude towards life is one that will inspire even the most disturbed and depressed person. Michael says, “I will be happy living in a box or in a mansion. Those aren’t the important things in life. I’ve been to the deepest bottoms, after losing my daughter to cancer, to the highest highs, loving my friends and family, helping people and inspiring others to believe in higher powers and make a real difference in their own lives.” Michael could have just given up after his daughter’s passing, but he didn’t. Although, extremely difficult, he moved on and realized that it was his time to change the world in the way that he saw fit! Through his cheerful, humorous and very exquisite art. He literally told me that he “has already been to hell, so he now does everything that he can to move him, his family and his fans towards happiness.” What a comeback story huh?
Michael doesn’t sweat the small stuff and he states that, “What really matters in your life, is how you react to situations, to grow stronger spiritual and just continually move towards becoming a better person, inside and out, without letting negative forces influence you in a direction that you don’t want to travel in. You have to spin everything towards positivity, make the best of everything, no matter what comes your way.”
Michael is all about giving back. He dares others to ask themselves, “What real value/meaning does your life have?” Well, to Michael, the answer is simple, it’s about what you give back, and it’s about whom you help along the way and not just arriving at your end destination. He said he enjoys “Watching the magic of life unfold before his eyes, spending time with loved ones, being a good person and finding true joy through helping others.” His philosophy is, “If God dropped a paintbrush in your hand, then you need to give art back to the world.” Pretty wise words for such a young guy.
Today, Michael has 3 daughters; a 20 year old, a 2 year old and a 9 month old, along with his beautiful and intelligent wife Brittany, who has been extremely instrumental in the process of setting up this interview along with Michael’s Publisher Mr. Nick Landis.
About Michael’s History and Art:
As a young child, Michael explains that he loved music and he loved art, so naturally he wanted to be a Rockstar or an Artist. He never knew he would be painting “Olives in Motion” though as a full time profession. As a young man he attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and studied fine art at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Michael had been drawing for pretty much his entire life, but only started painting about 15 years ago around the turn of the millennium. He started by painting flowers and portraits, but one day his good friend asked him for a birthday painting. Michael asked him what he wanted and his friend said, “I love my martini and two olives”, and so Michael added the legs and arms to the olives, dropped them in a martini glass and BAM, just like that…he created his first masterpiece. His Aunt then asked him to do one for her and she loves wine, so he painted, Nervous Grapes, which is 3 drunk grapes walking a straight line with a cop watching. His iconic images were evolving!
Now I don’t know if he knew how famous he would get, but he figured that he could paint these images in any way that he saw fit. Unlimited options, it was just all about his creativity and imagination. Almost all of his works have some kind of personal meaning to Michael or they tell a story about something in his life.
“Three Amigos”, “Olive Party” and “Seven Deadly Zins” were all breakthrough pieces for the young artist, launching him to national recognition. His wild marketing stunts brought more notoriety. “I don’t mind criticism from the art world or the public,” he says. “Without it, I’d know I’m playing it way too safe.”
He also eventually, started to incorporate strawberries and champagne into his pieces as well. Catering to an even broader market of fans. He has so many different pieces now, that there literally is something for everyone from almost every profession and demeanor.
Michael is now one of the top selling artists on the planet! He creates his famous martini-themed artwork for a huge collector base of celebrities, musicians and regular folks who love his irreverent subjects and vibrant style. There’s a long waiting list for Godard original paintings (priced upward of $100,000) and his sold-out giclees bring big bucks on the resale market.
Michael says, “With success, you become a target, and people say you become too commercial.” They say that because he creates and sells prints and posters on top of his $100,000 originals. Critics don’t like this, but Michael keeps it real. He wants to share his art with everyone, so they can enjoy it, regardless of their financial situations. He can appreciate the 18 year old kid who worked all summer long to afford his 1st print, or the wealthy doctor who loves his work. “I am just trying to live life, make people smile with my art and keep my wife happy”, he jokes.
It is possible that one of the main reasons that he has so many fans, other than his obvious talents, is that his art is not so complicated. It is easily explainable and enjoyable. If you notice none of his olives have faces, so to describe their attitude, it’s all about their body language. He also hides things in his paintings, so it takes time to find all of his goodies. He just did a piece for Michael Jordan, where he turned him into an olive soaring through the air holding a basketball. He does a lot of cross promotions, where he turns celebrities into olives. It makes them happy and introduces their audience to him and vice versa.
Michael jokes, “The hardest part of my job is trying to keep the olives from moving while I try to paint them, those little rascals.”
A 10 year Vegas native, he also jokes, “Even though I look like Criss Angel, I can’t get Vegas tickets like him, I can however make money disappear at a BlackJack table like a magician.” Quite a quick and humorous guy!
Showing even more humbleness, he describes his talents as decent. He says, “there are a lot better artists out there, but I tell the story that’s going on in my life. If I experience a skiing nightmare, then I’m going to turn it into a painting, add some humor and probably a double meaning.” He said, “Paint what makes you happy, but it’s ironic, because I’ve painted things that I loved and we only sold a few prints of, and pieces I’ve done quickly that I was like it’s ok, sold out immediatley.”
I’m surprised all of his pieces don’t sell out immediately especially because his pieces don’t wait for you to notice them, they grab your attention. His dramatic black backgrounds, topped with gorgeous color, clarity and artistic talent make these pieces really special.
You can spot Michael on television on HBO’s “Cat House”, A&E’s “Mind Freak”, “American Casino” and “Inked”, among other places. A documentary on his life won awards when it was shown on the independent film festival circuit and his recent book “Don’t Drink and Draw” won the Art Book of the Year award.
Michael’s New Liquor Line
Ironically Michael doesn’t drink alcohol, but owns Michael Godard Spirits Vodka and Gin. In Junior High, he accidentally thought wine was sugarless Kool-Aid, had a horrible experience and the rest is history. That didn’t stop him from getting into the business though. The makers of his booze are the same people as the creators of Kettle One Vodka out of The Netherlands. It comes in a black bottle, is individually numbered and you can even register your bottle to receive a Certificate of Authenticity. Each year he will change up the art as well. Michael says, “Alcohol is a great social vehicle, it’s a happy thing and it’s how we celebrate weddings, and special occasions and if you notice I only paint Cigars, never cigarettes, cigars represent chilling out and enjoying the good life.” That’s what he is all about!
Michael looks like a tattooed outlaw and runs with the bad boys, but he has a soft streak a mile wide. He’s a great dad, contributes to many charitable causes, including the Paige Godard Foundation, established to help fund research to cure the illness that ultimately took his daughter’s life in 2006) as well as St. Judes Children’s Hospital, because they accept anyone, regardless of income. The kids there get free treatment and they helped him and his family in his past, so now he holds charity events for them and even paints the large hearts that you have probably seen on national news. All funds go to St. Judes Children’s Hospital.
Michael Godard has learned in the school of experience to value the things that really matter in life. “Put good in, get good out,” is one of the artist’s favorite sayings. This is a one of a kind, kind of guy and I am honored to say that I had the opportunity to interview him!
To purchase Godard’s Art go to:
Visit one of his Famous Galleries.
Or Call MICHAEL GODARD FINE ART ASSOCIATES at:
To start your collection today!
Enjoy the art and seize every single moment,