Craig Mildrexler is an accountant-turned-artist who wowed the crowd at this year’s Maker Faire Kansas City.
Story by Nicolette Martin
It was the bright colors, child-like faces and “black light-friendly” label that drew me in, but it was Craig Mildrexler’s ability to make me feel like I was visiting a long-lost friend that made me stay.
The Kansas City artist, who travels around the country selling his art at art fairs, made his debut at Maker Faire Kansas City this year, selling pieces from his collection “Power & Black Light Art.”
“I live five minutes away,” Mildrexler says. “It’s close to home, so I thought ‘Why not?’ It’s really inexpensive, the crowd’s great – a ton of kids – and I’m just getting a great response here at Maker Faire.”
Mildrexler, the son of two professional artists, graduated from KU with a business degree. Working as an accountant, he began using painting as a way to release stress. He did his first show to “prove to [his friends and family] that [his paintings] wouldn’t sell, and they sold.” He’s been a full-time artist for eight years now.
A large part of Mildrexler’s paintings incorporate a type of stick person featuring a face for which he says he drew inspiration from his daughter. “She’s 18 now,” he says, “but when she was a very young child, she’d always have the funniest expressions of everything – happiness, anger, sadness – everything. I’m just motivated by children.”
And as for the neon and black light inspiration? A result of necessity.
“About six years ago, I was doing a show in Glenwood Springs, Colo., and I sold out all the paintings,” Mildrexler recalls. “I had to do a show the following week in Cass, Wyo., and when I got home, I had about three days to paint a whole bunch of paintings.
“My daughter had bought me all these neon paints that I refused to use, and I thought, ‘I have to use them because I don’t have time to go out and buy them.’ It just came out on a whim like that, and it worked. When I put it under a black light, I couldn’t believe what happened. And it just took off.”
If you’d like to purchase one of Mildrexler’s paintings, you can find him at the Zona Rosa Arts Festival Sept. 12-14.