The Creation of a Perfect Line

Meet the artist using detail to explain chaos, and showing us the beauty in struggle, creation, and the pursuit of perfection.

Timid - but bold. Quiet - but resounding. With features as sharp as glass and an effortless grace to his movement, he could be anything, but the white paint smeared across his black Van’s hoodie gives him away. Michael Covington is an artist, making sense of the chaos of life through the elegant patterns in his art.

The path hasn’t always been straight, or even clear, and to walk it he has had to cross oceans, overcome homelessness, and transcend personal limits. From food, to skateboards, to clothing, to canvases, to walls - he leaves beauty on everything he touches. Through his art, we’re allowed to peek into the inner workings of his mind.

A Legacy

Originating from the birthplace of Western civilization, Greece, he is the continuation of a line of artists on his mother’s side. She taught him about what art is in life - a place where people can interpret feelings and emotions through any medium.

So he did. As a child, he felt closed off from the world and began creating to make sense of what life was. Even in the early days, inspired by his thoughts, his work was very detailed.

“I like the details of things that don’t make sense to other people, only to me. I like putting together things that don’t match, like mixing Picasso with Lichtenstein, and taking a risk on what people are going to say.”

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

Ernestine Ulmer

After coming to America, he found communication difficult - English isn’t his first language, though you could never tell it now, and he was shy. In a quest to improve himself and his circumstances, he enrolled in Job Corps and excelled at culinary skills.

That’s what brought him to San Francisco. Luckily for our eyes, maybe not our taste buds, it’s not what kept him. After working at multiple restaurants in the city, including Michael Mina, he was let go from his position. In that moment he thought of the other skills he could pursue, and he fell back into painting.

Michael working with a group of artists on a mural in Laughing Monk Brewery in Bayview.

A Journey is a Collection of Steps

Homeless, and trying to break out, he began painting as much and as quickly as he could. That led him to his first break, a show at World Apparel in North Beach. Even though nothing sold, it was a step in the direction he wanted to go.

The next step brought him to FreeSpace. He walked in and asked if he could paint, and they obliged. He covered a wall with a mural so beautiful they not only wanted him to do more, they wanted him to curate art for them. With them, he worked on a collaborative mural with Arc of San Francisco which was filmed and turned into the award winning documentary The Mural.

He honed his skills at Hospitality House, where he learned the more technical aspects of painting and stretching canvas. His talent quickly gained attention, and he showed pieces in a collaborative auction with White Walls.

Now his imprint is all over the city, from inside StartUp House to outside City Impact, and littering the walls in-between.

Everything is a Canvas

In the days when he didn’t have canvases to paint, he would paint on anything he could get his hands on. Clothing, skateboards - anything was fair game.

That was the foreshadow to one of his current dreams, to collaborate with fashion companies - which is currently being brought to fruition in a collaboration with Vintage Artisan.

When he motivates and inspires others, he motivates and inspires himself too, through his art and his words. In his journey so far, he has learned about persevering through struggle to reach his goals. In the future, he wants to travel and paint images with his words that help others do the same.

Between the Lines

Right now, he’s letting his talents meld with those around him by working on collaborative projects. In doing so, he’s working to learn more about himself and find himself through the crowd of people - a raw, heartfelt quest of discovery.

“I want to find myself, within myself — to just be myself. I feel like it’s hard to be myself sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t know who I am.”

His internal complexity provides the context for his art. A never ending love affair with the abstract reflects the inner workings of his brain. He feels his personality is also also abstract - some people don’t understand him, but that’s just an art in itself.

Right now, the recurring theme is boxes. While sleeping in the Tenderloin, he had a dream in which there were these boxes floating over his head. He woke up and immediately sketched it out.

He’s not sure what the boxes mean, but he feels they’re a reflection of himself and where he’s at in life. Sometimes he feels as though he’s in a box, and he can’t get out. He finds himself going through the channels.

To him, drawing a line is a pursuit of perfection, and it always comes out slightly imperfect. But there’s beauty in the pursuit, the struggle, and in the creation.

Luckily for us, we get to bask in the trail of beauty he leaves in his wake.

If you think Michael, or this piece, is awesome — we’d really ❤ for you to hit the recommend button.

If you’re interested in keeping up with Michael, follow him on Instagram: @texturesandlayers.

This is the second piece in a series on the stories of undiscovered artists, if you want to read the rest follow the collection here.