Michael P Fikaris loves Melbourne.

Melbourne is the second biggest place in the world, next to Brazil, with the most unbridled art on its streets.

It’s not that he doesn’t like New York, it’s just that he loves this town, his town, and will love it till the last shot rings out.

“According to a recent survey” said Fikaris, and you get the feeling this is a statistic he quotes regularly at parties, “Melbourne is the second biggest place in the world, next to Brazil, with the most unbridled art on its streets.”

Now that is one bazooka of a fact to arm yourself with, and would undoubtedly help any artist to keep the art faith in a town that seems so far away from the rest of the world.

Fikaris though, despite his punk skateboarder attire and facial hair, which tends to be constant movable feast, always has the same archetypal vibe to him.

Put him in any other costume in fact, and you will still get it, of a man who has sold his local wares for centuries.

Whether that be miniature pyramids at the feet of the sphinx or painted rubber cobras at the
markets of Bangladesh, Fikaris is
always hustling something,
anything, as long as it comes from the streets he knows.

And from that street source, Fikaris explained, he does a number things.

“One is comic books, which is mostly storytelling and that’s what I’ve been doing for the longest. There’s also a group I started in 2002, called Silent Army which publishes other people work.”

Fikaris’ comic book work is mostly autobiographical, expressing the everyday, about the streets of Melbourne and the people he know.

“When I was younger I was very influenced by Robert Crumb and years ago I did some work with Harvey Pekar, who passed away recently, who was very well known for his autobiographical writing like Robert Crumb,” said Fikaris.

Fikaris also does illustration work for others.

“At the moment I’m doing something for The Lifted Brow,” continued Fikaris.

“It’s a journal of writing that is beginning to introduce more comic book stuff and illustrations, and oh yeah, I’m finishing up a job for the New Zealand magazine, Extra Curricula“.

These small magazines or ‘zines’ have become a great outlet for
artists wanting to get their work out there, without having to necessarily go through the gallery system, which can either be too expensive or politically complicated.

Then there’s the connection
it has to street art or the graffiti scene, not just Melbourne, but all
over the world.

“I started to make street art with City Lights in 2004,” said Fikaris. City Lights started out in Centre Place, a lane-way off Flinders lane. The work is displayed in light boxes and was created as an alternative to viewing art.

It’s now in Hosier Lane and has become a cult location for street art in Melbourne, its Mecca almost.

“It’s there I did a couple of my murals,” adds Fikaris.

Street artists tend to be prolific and use a constant image, or a personal logo or tag. Fikaris’ is featured in the picture here and it can been seen everywhere.

But he keeps company with many more street artists, again not just from Melbourne but from all around the world, who have chosen to
travel over to display there work in
Melbourne, and Fikaris has carved out a niche of giving personal tours of this landscape of ‘unbridled art’.

So, if you’ve spotted a little piece of street art that did your head in one night while you were relieving yourself in some alleyway,
there’s a strong likelihood, Fikaris might know of it, and can lead you back there and tell you its history.

Now, that’s quite a service and it sure beats the hell out of buying yet another painted rubber cobra made in China.

Visit Fikaris’ website at www.fikarisart.com. For Fikaris’ street tours go to: www.melbournestreettours.com