Artist Mike Bersk has been arrested multiple times. The charge? Painting where his art wasn’t appreciated.
“Some people,” he explains, “like to sky dive or jump off a bridge or drive fast cars.” Bersk, however, splatters his adrenaline rush across alley walls in vibrant shades of blue, purple, and green. Graffiti is his passion, and he’s brought that passion to life all across Raleigh. Now, he’s making it his career.
Making a living as an artist is notoriously difficult, but Bersk’s altercations with the law made finding a “legit” job difficult. “I have a background check that is over 13 pages long,” he recounts. “I was in a position I had no job and really no other choice. I moved to Raleigh with zero contacts. No bank accounts. No car. No credit. And no idea what to do.”
Ironically, Bersk’s illegal artistic pastime, which barred him from other means of employment, has become his business, his graffiti sought by dozens of local businesses for its dynamic hues and brazen anti-establishment originality. Next month, he’s commissioned to paint a church.
“I wanted to start a business doing what I love,” Bersk reminisces. “I worked at a signage shop for a while to learn how to do banners and vinyl lettering. I also do graphic design and paint graffiti and murals. So I combined them all. Got wholesale contacts with leading brands of spray paint, and here I am.”
In an economy that devours small businesses, Bersk’s company, called Midnight Anchor, is mushrooming across Raleigh, and even overflowing into new territories, like Virginia, Texas, and Alabama. He even has a client in Canada. “Every single day I do at least one thing to build my business. Passing out stickers. Giving away free art. Or even just sketching.”
His murals, both legal and illegal, feature hues and themes as wild as a lucid dream. “The most notable one is 2 Dixie Trail, where I literally painted the entire building, outside every wall, inside every wall, floors and ceilings. The floors, I made it look like you’re standing on a galaxy. The ceiling, I made it look like the sky with clouds.”
“I enjoy painting for local-owned bars. Local businesses,” he says, with true conviction for the Raleigh community.
Then he adds, “I like to drink lots of PBR and stay up ‘till 3 or 4am and walk the streets at night and see what I can do.” The next day he’ll drive by to admire his work.
Commissioned or not, Bersk loves adding his pigmentation to the Raleigh urban-scape, resolving, “I would rather die doing what I love and failing at it, than live working for somebody else and hating it.”