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Artist Interview: Mike Small

I met photographer Mike Small a few years ago when we were both working at an Interactive Agency in Phoenix. As is the social norm these days, we became friends on Facebook. One day Mike posted a photo on Facebook of a Lego surfer surfing on bubble gum – it was pop-culture deliciousness! I was hooked! Over the last year I’ve been able to see Mike’s Lego Candy series develop and thought it was worth sharing. If you fall in love with any of these photographs, like I did, they are for sale on Etsy.

"Bubblel Gum Surfer" Mike SmallMike Small, “Bubble Gum Surfer”

How did the Lego/candy photos start?

A couple of years ago Lego started making special mini figures in series of 16. Since I have always loved Lego I started collecting them. At that same time I was doing a 365 photo project where you take one photo a day for a year. It is harder than you might think to come up with a different subject everyday. So I had one of those old gumball machines since I was a kid full of colorful gumballs (probably as old as the machine) and I thought the colors would be a great photo of the day for my project. I had the Lego figures on my desk and I just had the idea to put the Lego surfer in the photo “riding the gumball waves.” Then I couldn’t stop at just one since there were 16 figures at the time so I started pairing the others up with other candy.

Mike Small, "Pop Rock Asteroids"Mike Small, “Pop Rock Astronaut”

How many photos are currently in the series? Will there be more?

Lego just released series 6 of the mini figures so I have 96 figures total. I have done 20 photos so far and have ideas planned out for 15 more candy/Lego mini figure photographs that I hope to complete in the next few weeks. So that means I need to come up with 61 more candies that match up well with the figures. And Lego plans to release 32 more in 2012. I have a lot of catching up to do. Any ideas are very welcomed.

Mike Small, "Starburst Disco"Mike Small, “Starburst Disco”

What do you do with the candy after the photoshoot? Is it purely a prop or do you get to indulge?

I have a bad sweet tooth, so I have to use a lot of will power not to eat the props when I am done. Some of it gets eaten, but I also have a bin in the closet full of “prop” candy just in case I can use it for another photograph.

Mike Small, "Swimming with the Swedish Fishes"Mike Small, “Swimming with the Swedish Fishes”

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been photographing as a hobby for about 15 years. I started getting more serious about it when I bought my first film DSLR camera about 10 years ago and then when I bought a digital SLR camera about 8 years ago. In 2011 I started doing small photography jobs for pay and just recently turned my passion for photography into a business focusing on real estate and architectural photography. I now work full time photographing (and marketing the business).

Mike Small, "Swedish Fisherman"Mike Small, “Swedish Fisherman”

How to find Mike Small:

Mike’s commercial photography site:
Mike’s blog:
Buy prints of the Lego/Candy series on Etsy:

Mike Small, "Tamales for Sale"Mike Small, “Tamales for Sale”

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