Michael Brehm

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and went to art school in Minneapolis in the late '70s. In 1980 I moved to Chicago. I eventually found a home for my art on the printed page. From 19781993 I participated in one of the longest running collectively operated artists magazines: ArtPolice. In the 1990s I started Storyhead Magazine with Joe Peterson. Storyhead was a self published magazine of illustrated stories for which I did all the design and most of the illustration. Between 1993 and 1998 we published 11 issues of Storyhead.


In 2006 I self published "Alter Ego" which was included in AIGA's (The American Institute of Graphic Arts) "50 books 50 Covers" competition for 2006. 


Artist statement on drawing 

I make drawings using traditional materials: paper, wax pastels, ink, graphite, and colored pencils. My imagery originates in my sketchbooks where I practice automatic drawing. The immediate results are frenzied and abstract. Out of this raw psychological palette, I develop images, bringing out forms from the jumble of automatic marks. These drawings are then further refined and become a basis for my larger works.  


 My drawings explore the things that trouble us all: 


 The passing of time 


 The dissolution of memory 






 Human beings as a force of nature. The age of the anthropocene. 


 The impossibility of comprehending the universe and the terror we feel when we try. 


 The complexity and endless shifting of the human mask--its constant morphing as it reflects the mind beneath.




Over the years I have been influenced by a wide variety of artists. As a teenager it was the early moderns like Piccaso and Rivera. Later on, in art school under the influence of Frank Gaard who studied under Peter Saul, it was cartoons, comic art and Guston and Pettibone. Later, I found the work of Lee Bontecou and William Kentridge incredibly compelling. Now I am taken by the work of Dave Johnson of the Pottsville Museum and Ed Rath of Brooklyn NY.


Artist CV as downloadable pdf here




I have been a book designer at the University of Chicago Press for thirty years and have received awards for my designs from AIGA, Print Magazine, and the AAUP (Association of American University Presses).

I am currently retired and live with my wife Susan and our cat Bea in Lawrence, Kansas.