by Tommy Skyrunner
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Mahmud, known on Instagram as @MahmudTheMedium or Muddy and I am a visual artist from Chicago.
What originally inclined you do art?
I started making art when I was 7, tracing my Batman action figures in order to color it with crayons.
You were living in Chicago for some time, did any of that influence your art?
Well, I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, went to college in Chicago, and spent 5 years of my adult life living in the city. I’d say the city influenced my creativity all the time in various ways. My visits to the city in high school influenced my fashion sense, the art on the street influenced me into doing graffiti for a bit, and then while living in the city seeing diverse people walking the street would inspire new characters in my art. Not to mention some of the art legends from the city who provide a different type of inspiration.
Can you tell me what’s the concept behind muddy?
So muddy is my graffiti name and it came from a high school nickname given to me by my track and cross country coach. Even though I stopped doing graffiti I still sign all of my artworks with the name muddy.
When started off who got you into art or was an inspiration?
My dad got me into art actually because I used to have him trace my Batman toys for me to color. But one day I didn’t like how he did it so I took over. That led to drawing freehand eventually.
I’ve seen photos from some of your shows. What was your first one like?
So over the past couple of years, I’ve done a couple of small group shows, where I had a booth or brought a couple of pieces to the pop-up event. My first solo show was recently and it was awesome. It was in a really cool neighborhood in Chicago where a lot of artsy events happen.
Did you have training for your art or self-taught?
I did not. I almost applied to go to art school but ended up notebook doodling my way through business school. That landed me a stable corporate 9-5 after college and I continue making art on the side.
How does your wife influence your art?
She influences it a lot. Her qualities can be seen in certain characters and one of them actually is like my reimagined version of my wife as a kid.
What made you all move and how are you all liking it?
My wife has been living in Maryland for a while now due to school so I actually just moved here. It was long overdue. We’ve been married 4 months now while doing the long distance thing. So far it’s been cool. I'm really hyped to tap into the art scene soon.
Do you prefer painting or drawing?
It’s funny because I think I prefer whatever art form I haven’t done in a while. Like right now I really miss painting because I’ve been doing a lot of marker and pencil illustrations. And I’m sure when I work on paintings for a while I’ll miss illustrating. But I guess even with paintings there’s some drawing involved when it comes to sketching out the concept.
What’s your favorite custom piece you’ve created?
Right now my favorite piece has to be a recent 11x14 in illustration I did use markers and pencils titled “Self Care”.
Would you ever get into another art form such as cooking, sculpting, etc?
I’m def going to get into sculpting this year. I’m very excited about that. Music production is something I briefly dabbled in. Wish I had more time for it.
Can you tell me a little about Onion City?
Onion City! Yes, The city of haters, home of the stank face (haha). It is the setting for all of my artworks. My art is very narrative driven so every story needs a setting. Onion City is inspired by Chicago in a way but it’s like the parallel universe version, sometimes set a 1000 years from now. My comic book will break it down better but it’s basically a city overrun by hate and ruled by negativity.
Where do you see yourself going next artistically?
I see myself continuing to improve and evolve. I see myself applying more life experiences into the stories I’m trying to tell thru my work. I see myself learning new forms like sculpting and seeing where it could take my portfolio as a whole. I see a lot.
If you could collab with any artist / brand who would it be and why?
When it comes to artist collabs I feel like a relationship is necessary first. I feel like when visual artists collab with their creative friends it comes out better than DMing someone online to collab. Unless you’ve had some conversations first and have a good understanding of each other’s styles and concepts. When it comes to brands, I’d love to work with Fear of God. I just feel like that brand is making the clothes of the future. It’s like they’re creating fashion for the Blade Runner Era of humanity. My work is narrative driven and it plays with alternate dimensions, parallel universes and time periods that are 1000 years from now so a Fear of God collab would be a dream.