Mike + Claire




Mike and Claire are artists who live in NY and have been collaborating for two and a half years. The duo (full names Michael Bailey-Gates and Claire Christerson) met freshman year at SVA studying photography, and after working on a few projects, realized they had the same influences and vision. The directing team raised on The Mighty Boosh, early Flickr communities, and Myspace-meets-Blingy visual aestheticism, have an almost obsessive-compulsive work ethic. They have released an epic amount of of art projects online over the past year that has captured a robust social media following.

They balance their focus on Internet aesthetics with theatrical cues, hand-made costumes, and in camera techniques from past decades–be it silent film era acting, Scooby Doo horror soundtracks, and hand created green screen visual effects. They nod to the past, while giving their work a future-focused twist that could only spark from the minds of two, Hattori Hanzo-sharp brains who’ve spent a lot of time on Tumblr.

Paper Magazine says of the duo “If Cindy Sherman and Ryan Trecartin had babies, they might resemble Mike and Claire”. Mike and Claire are unique among their reference points in that they actively strive to push still imagery to its next frontier–often with the aid of GIFs: “With GIFs you don’t have to press play. The idea is that it never stops or starts. It’s more inclusive.”

This year Mike and Claire have created costumes for the Mix Film festival and were finalists for the New York Photo Festival. They are frequently cast in their friends work and last year were placed in front of the camera by Ryan McGinley and Petra Collins amongst others. They’ve recently directed internet spots for “Free People and “Beloved Tshirts”, as well as a music video for “Heart’s Revolution”.

What you like about one another.

C: I like working with my best friend because I don’t have to feel like I’m being judged and I can trust Mike to tell me what he thinks (vice versa.) Its cool being able to bounce ideas off each other and let something escalate and then we both have to do the idea and nothing else feels quite as important.  Mike feels like my twin…

M: Working with Claire keeps both of our minds fresh. It’s exciting to figure out the technicalities of an idea, to pick something apart, figure out how it works, then make it happen.  When we work together on something it feels like we are doing something very important because we support one another. We are lucky to know each other.

How/When You First Became a Photographer/Director

M: Everyone goes through a photography phase, and I started taking photography seriously when I was around 13.  I got hired at a photo studio, and worked there for most of my adolescence. All of my spare time was spent building sets, or making materials for my own pictures. Making pictures come alive, whether they be moving images or still frames, is all I know how to do.

C: When I was 13 or 14 i was given a point and shoot camera, which then moved into a 35mm b&w camera.  I used to take pictures of only two of my friends because they were the best at acting and I would tell them to act scenarios out.  I had always loved videos and animation but didn’t quite have the knowledge of how to make these things, I learned a lot at SVA and basically quit still imagery and now I really only do motion based things.

What type of directing do you see yourself doing?

We are all about making work that pushes boundaries, and moves art forward. We like colorful, new, and exciting ideas.  Paying respect to the past, while thinking about what is new.

Where were you born and raised?

M: Born and raised in Rhode Island, and parts of New England. I went to high school and am now going to college at  SVA.

C: Born and raised in NYC on the upper west side. I graduated from The Rudolf Steiner School and attend The School of Visual Arts.

What are your favorite movies?

C: Edward Scissorhands, Lords of Dogtown, Billy Elliot, Labyrinth

Favorite snacks?

Lemon heads


Video games?

M:Sonic the Hedgehog

C: Donkey Kong


Peter Greenway


Robert Wilson, Pierre et Gilles, Bernard Faucon, Roger Ballen, Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus


Keith Haring,  Julie Taymor, Friends With You, Mike Kelly,

Who do you most idolize?

Robert Smith

Cyndi Lauper

a lot of people….


The Creators Project (Vice.com)

Noisey (Vice.com)

Paper Mag

Paper Mag

Animal New York

Collab Cubed