about Mike C

A short bio of Mike Clelland

I was born in 1962 in the suburbs of Detroit. Even during my pre-kindergarten years I was a skilled illustrator, and most of what I would draw was goofy and cartoony. Curiously, the stuff I would draw in elementary school looks a lot like my drawing style now.

I was deeply influenced by MAD magazine, and that is still evident in my work today. I need to thank Mort Drucker, Sergio Aregones and Jack Davis for shaping my style. I also need to thank R. Crumb, who I discovered a little bit later in life.

In 1981 I moved to New York City, where I went to NYU Film School for one year. I was all too aware that I was a lousy student, and I dropped out and began working as a free-lance illustrator and art director for advertising agencies.

In the winter of 1986/87 I spent the season as a ski bum in Jackson Hole Wyoming. This experience would make it very difficult to fully embrace my urban career when I returned to New York. I eventually moved out west permanently in 1991, and this move paralleled the advent of the fax machine and Federal Express. These revolutionary tools allowed me to do illustration work anywhere I wanted, and I was still dealing with clients back in The City. All of this became much easier with the internet.

Once out west I began doing book illustrations and teaching for an outdoor school. A listing of my books can be found HERE. And I’ve created a site that catalogs a bunch of my illustration work (linked HERE), and I wrote a book with a lot of cartoons (linked HERE). These links are entirely for self-promotion.

It was around 2005 or so when I felt a sort of oppressive need to look into some odd life events, stories and memories that I had denied had any importance. Little by little I realized that I simply could no longer ignore those memories and their implications.

The catalyzing event was a profoundly strange synchronicity involving a bottle of sunblock (the story is linked HERE). From that point on, it felt like the floodgates were opened up.

In 2007 I played a role in a still unfinished documentary. This events that lead up to this and it’s aftermath are shared in an audio essay posted HERE.

I started this blog in March of 2009, after some encouragement from Miriam Delicado. The on-line blog format has been a strange release for me. The joke I make is that is a form of truth serum, to the point where I seem to positively gush with honesty in these postings. If you wanna get a quick insight into my postings, I created a TIMELINE of life events. What I am trying to articulate is subtle and elusive, this blog is called Hidden Experience for a reason!

Let me also add that the initial years of my self exploration have not been easy. The act of trying to peer into my own unknown life events has been enormously challenging. I became a shaky recluse, locked in a spiraling tape loop of insecurity and self-doubt. Presently, things have been a little less difficult, but it's by no means easy. The act of digging like this is no simple undertaking, it’s been hard work. The truth for me is that I simply have to go down this road, no matter what the consequences. It seems I am being pulled ever forward by some unknown force. This might be my own higher self, or it might be something interacting with me from outside my being, I truly don’t know. What I do know is that this new chapter of my life has been profoundly interesting.

Peace to you,
Mike Clelland


Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that's what your heart tells you... Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question... Does this path have a heart?

If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use.

-Carlos CastenedaThe Teachings of Don Juan

Mike demonstrates the useless skill of sitting on his own boot. Mountaineering in Alaska, 2009.