Inside The New Shopping Bag – Mick Johan

From time to time we ask users of The New Shopping Bag about their life. In light of our current art inspired collection ‘Untitled’, we’ve approached several people from the art scene to be part of this interview series. For this edition, we had the pleasure to sit down with Mick Johan. Apart from being an all-round fun and chill guy, a loving husband and father, Mick is a writer, visual artist, and musician. He was the first editor in chief of Vice Netherlands and made waves as half of the artist duo Miktor & Molf. In 2017 Lebowski published Mick’s first book Totemdier Arafat. His band MICH is signed to Excelsior Recordings. Because of his wife’s career, Mick and his family lived in Japan for a while. Whenever we were there for business, Mick would show us around and take us to some secret hotspots.

Describe yourself in three words.
Guy with eyes.

Where are you now?
In my studio (The Cardboard Paradise) in Amsterdam Noord. In life I’d say I’m finally about to do some stuff again.

Tell us something about you and The New Shopping Bag.
I think it’s safe to say that out of all New Shopping Bags mine has carried the largest quantity of Japanese porn in the world. The same might go for onigiri and warm coffee cans as well. Either way, carrying it every day like some kind of man purse has never given me the awkwardness I would expect from carrying a man purse. It’s also very durable, I’ve been heavy heavy using mine.

Tell us something about Susan.
We have never met, but I love her sense of colours and style. I think she’s a bonafide business lady as well. She also has to be very persistent and driven. Those are qualities I envy in human beings because I lack them completely. I met her husband a few times and he’s really handsome. Susan has great taste.

What ecological measures would you take if you ruled the world?
Oh man, where to start? No more export of waste for all countries, ban plastics and plastic production, raise taxes for flying and invest in developing sustainable kerosine, reduce livestock drastically and stop factory farming, maybe create a global tax system to skim the super rich and invest in nature and ecosystems, teach people to feel responsible for the public space and their environment. There’s so much to do, and I’m no expert, so there’s a lot I don’t know.

How do you brighten up your existence?
I don’t think it has to be bright all the time. I think it’s healthy to realize how dark and random existence is. It helps you appreciate these rare bright moments better.

What part does colour play in that process?
Oh, you meant brighten up literally. Well, we recently painted a wall in our living room pink, and I wear a lot of pink too. I wear a lot of bright colours actually. It compliments my bright personality (Happy face emoji).

What is your favourite ‘Untitled’ artwork? Or other favourite art (all time or recently)?
Not a single one comes to mind, and I have to say I there’s very few occasions where I think ‘untitled’ is a good name for an artwork. Such a tough question. One of my favourite pieces in public space is ‘Iliad Japan‘ at Sankei Plaza near Otemachi Station in Tokyo. It’s a brutal bright red sculpture by Alexander Semeonovitch Liberman, about 14 meters high, standing amidst enormous skyscraper office buildings. It’s out of this world. Everything is so huge and impressive, it’s a city view straight from a manga. Feels really 80s as well. There’s so much disrespect for the human scale in this specific place, it’s hilarious. Anyway, I like a lot of different stuff. This one just popped up in my mind.

How does art influence you in your daily life?
Sometimes I see some work and it really makes me want to create something too. I love when that happens. It’s Monster Energy for the mind. Sometimes it blows you off your socks. I love that too.

Which music have you been listening to recently?
Recently my band MICH mostly, haha. We have a new album coming out and I need to practice. I also really like it, if I may say so myself. Other than that I’ve been listening to Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank u next’ a lot, and not a week goes by without listening to Protomartyr.

What is your biggest loss?
We are currently losing my dad’s brain to Alzheimer, this is a very sad and very big loss.

What is your ultimate destination?
Death, I guess. Mind you, I have no plans of going there anytime soon.

Photography by Jan Bijl