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Mike Hinson’s poster art satirizes contemporary culture

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Mike Hinson’s poster art satirizes contemporary culture
Mike Hinson, Anything Express, Digital illustration, 2020

Illustrator Mike Hinson is serving up humor with a side of social satire in his show “Welcome to the Future, I Hate It Here,” showing at the Montserrat College of Art’s Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery through Sept. 12.

The series of nine posters, mounted in the exhibition space and viewable online, satirize contemporary issues like the environmental crisis and the curated representations of life presented on social media. Hinson began the project in January but continued creating work as the pandemic developed. This makes him one of the rare artists at the moment to have a physical show displaying pandemic-inspired works. The show can be viewed in person by appointment as well as on the Montserrat College website.

Mike Hinson, Earth’s Revenge, Digital illustration, 2020

Mike Hinson, Earth’s Revenge, Digital
illustration, 2020

One poster shows two haggard delivery people with limbs in casts, crying and surrounded by packages. The slogan says, “Literally Anything: Delivered to you by any means necessary.” The piece is punctuated with catch phrases like “Providing quality and convenience at all costs.” This is especially resonant as online sales skyrocket during COVID-19, putting employees at risk while safe, wealthy tycoons reap the rewards.

Despite the digital presentation, it was important to Hinson to create the in-person show as well. “Part of me always loves owning physical things, especially when it comes to art. I collect a ton of books and ’zines and comics and things like that,” Hinson says. “It’s important to me to have something physical that people can see and hold onto and experience in a different way than just opening up your phone.”

This is the first time he’s presented work on such a large scale. The gallery features the nine posters framed on one wall and a wallpaper-style print on the opposite wall as a photo backdrop. A digital screen shows visitors who have used the concurrent Instagram filter to express their appreciation for Hinson’s work. The filter can be accessed from anywhere and puts a frame of Hinson’s cartoon stickers around the selfie-taker’s head. Here, the analog and the digital flow together, marrying the physical history of comic books with the age of Instagram memes.

Hinson previously worked as an illustrator for Buzzfeed and now he works as a creative designer for TikTok. It’s refreshing to see someone so ingrained in social media culture able to critique it and the society built around it. Though the posters are entrenched in real world problems and have a dark side, they’re meant most of all to bring humor to the viewers.

“I want people to get a good laugh at a time when so many serious things are happening,” says Hinson. “That way when you can experience something, enjoy it, laugh at it, but it’s not completely taking you out of the world.”

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