Mike Parisella is a Salem-based artist best known as his Instagram alter ego @slimesunday. Slime uses 3D-rendering, collage and mind-melting motion graphics to create intensely saturated, sexually psychedelic alternate realities where some women have tentacles for tongues and sandcastles for nipples, while others straddle bridges, finger vortexes and snort lines of field daisies through rolled-up notes. The results are abstract, trippy visuals that are equal parts disorienting, disturbing and erotic.
What’s been your journey with art?
With the way our society is structured it’s very easy to become lost. I’ve always been an artist but for a while, I was following the wrong path. I was led to believe that doing well in school and getting a nine-to-five job was the only way to be successful. Art was always something that I did in the background. It wasn’t until I finished college that I really started to focus on @slimesunday.
Do you have a favourite piece/s you’ve created?
Yes! The girl from the 70s magazine blowing a line of flowers. I was in a local comic store and they were selling tonnes of old magazines at the time. I wasn’t feeling very inspired and I was struggling to come up with new ideas. My girlfriend picked up a random magazine and showed me the first image that she had turned the page to. I was like holy shit, that image is fucking amazing. As soon as I got home, I scanned the image and made the artwork in less than 15 minutes. Everything came together so quickly, and the final artwork looked amazing.
As an artist, what’s your relationship with social media?
Social media is a great tool for artists. The fact that the vast majority of people from the entire planet are all connected through one application makes it extremely easy for artists to get their ideas out quickly and effectively. Instead of a visual artist going to a curator, or a musician struggling to get a record producer to play their shit, they can just open it up to the internet and there will most definitely be someone or an entire group of people out there who will like it.
There are a lot of issues on a societal level and social media is still really new. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out. Maybe there will be some serious long-term effects that have been overlooked or maybe the positives will greatly outweigh the negatives. I’m using it as a tool to further my profession and so far it has been nothing but helpful. On the other hand, I can see it being an issue for younger people. Bullying is a lot easier, there are a lot of beautiful people on the platform you can compare yourself to, tonnes of popularity contests… I think we just need to learn how to use the tool effectively and not let it bleed into our personal lives. Easier said than done…
In terms of social media, do you find you’re led by what you want to create, or creating what you think people will like?
At the end of the day, I’m creating art for me. It’s something that makes me happy and the fact that some people like my shit is a bonus. I do on the other hand, think it’s important to listen to your audience. The people who view my work and enjoy looking at my art are extremely important to me, and I want them to receive quality content. I definitely get down at times when an image I put a lot of work into doesn’t perform well but I don’t look at that as a bad thing. It’s more like, what can I do better next time? I think it would be stupid to say that your audience doesn’t have any effect on your art because inevitably it does. The interaction from the viewer shapes the artwork in some way.
What was your inspiration for this issue’s cover art?
I haven’t seen anyone doing art with bellybuttons, so it’s something I wanted to explore. Also, I’ve come across quite a few people who tweak out when you bring up bellybuttons and thought it would be a pretty controversial subject to approach. I put a lot of thought into the final artwork and went through a lot of different iterations. At one point, I had a dude opening up a manhole cover, lugging his construction equipment into the bellybutton. I wanted it to be over the top, but I think using something more relatable like a Jack Russell terrier is what made the final image work.
What do you find sexy?
Do you ever have issues with censorship online?
Heaps. It was really frustrating initially but then I started playing a game to see just how far I could take an image without it getting deleted. It’s kind of crazy what you can get away with as long nudity isn’t involved. It still doesn’t really make any sense to me. I think Zuckerberg is just a weird motherfucker and his biases got injected into his social media algorithms.
What’s your earliest Penthouse memory?
In middle school when the internet was still in its infancy, my friend had a stack of Penthouse magazines he stole from his dad. I can vividly remember being in the woods behind his house sifting through the pages. It was the equivalent of striking gold for a 13-year-old.
Your images quite often juxtapose erotic with disturbing. What drives that inspiration?
It’s kind of just a play on contrasting ideas. Beautiful and grotesque are opposites but when you combine them into one composition the image somehow works. I get a lot of comments saying, “That’s gross… but I love it.” That statement itself shouldn’t make sense but oddly it does.