An Interview With Mike Harman | The Man With A Heart of Gold
I learnt about Mike Harman through my habbit of using LinkedIn to connect with potential contributors and the business/arts community. Wherever I looked I would see Mike’s profile. He would frequently comment under people’s posts, publish content, and seemingly new everyone in my small and erratic bubble. I asked people who I knew were active on the platform: ‘who is this guy?‘, ‘what does he do?‘, and most importantly ‘what does he want?‘.
Now, I can’t remember whether Mike befreinded me, or I him. It just happened. He sent me messages about doing work for charities, helping out the magazine, and supporting him in his effort to change the world. Immediatly, my guard was up. Here’s another guy looking for a free meal, promotion or publication. And who could blame me? Have you used LinkedIn or any other social media platform before? It’s filled with people trying to sell you their services, scams, or add you, simply to have an additional digit next to their account. I recieve these sorts of messages daily. Attempting to dicipher who is genuinely being nice from those who are just snake-oil salesmen is getting increasingly more difficult – they are evolving.
I’m skeptical of those who wish to give with seemingly very little in return. Mike was one of these characters. He wanted to gift us his products, artwork (to generate money for our magazine), and spread the word about our success. When I asked ‘what’s the catch‘, he said their wasn’t one.
‘Bullshit‘ I thought. Nothing is ever truly free.
Now, at this point you might be able to gather that I’m a cynical bastard. Paranoid might even be a term of understatement, but after dealing with swathes of people looking to con you for every dime nestled in your pocket you can maybe begin to understand why. We live in a world of narcissists, sociopaths, and degenerate souls who’s main goal in life is to catch you out, manipulate, and decieve… To not be aware of this is foolish at best and in many cases can lead to tragedy. Shit… I’m being pessimistic again aren’t I? I probabbly should schedule another visit with my psychoanalyst so that I can re-evaluate my trust issues.
Anyhow, we continued to talk. I picked up the phone, curious as to see who this guy was and if he was the real deal. Needless to say, Mike was. He was genuine and had an immense passion for helping people, charities, and other organisations. He expressed how he wanted to deal with the chaos that is currently ensuing around the world and while he wouldn’t be able to change it with the click of a button, he wanted to do his bit in the best way he knew how… Create art.
After talking over the course of many months, we began to develop a freindship. Mike would keep me updated with his progress, send us prototypes of his new products and artwork, and reach out whenever he could to give a helping hand. His generosity to this day still perplexes me. In a world where you must, quite unfortunately, harden and give into the notion that the majority of people are always out for themselves, it is surprising when you find those that are not.
So Who is Mike Harman and Why Should You Care?
I want to start by telling you what Mike isn’t. He isn’t a famous artist. He isn’t a successful businessman. And he isn’t even a celebrity. So, why are you reading this article? Why are you about to (hopefully) read this interview. Well, it’s because, despite not being any of these things, Mike has managed to create the biggest impact he possibly can in an effort to enact change.
Many of us talk about what we think, what we believe, and what we would like to do to make the world a better place (whether its simply for us or for the betterment of mankind), yet we rarely act on our mutterings. Instead, we sit at our screens or walk through our communities and do nothing… We wait for someone else to come along and clear up our mess because this is the easiest path.
So, this interview isn’t about red carpets, an in-depth analysis of the financial markets, or how someone managed to venture to the moon, but for you to find out about an individual who has put themselves out there and is sticking to what they believe in. Mike’s dedication to his philanthropy might be unachievable for most, but it might provide a lesson that you can help your neighbours, community, and the wider world if you want to.
And for those still cyncical… it was my idea to write this interview.
An Interview With Mike Harman
Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Mike Harman?
I am a self-taught artist and the creator of the Colour Buddy Concept. I have always had an interest in Art from a young age, but never took it seriously enough to go to Art college. However, as I got older I realised that my ideas and artwork could be used for positive reasons.
What is the Colour Buddy Concept? When and how did you come up with this idea?
The Colour Buddy Concept is a way of investing back into the community/society by using profits that I make from the sales of products, books, or any concept I create using my Trade Mark Colour Buddy or my name.
This also includes creating pieces of artwork given to charities. The charity pieces of artwork are given with copyright and worldwide rights, so that each charity can use their piece of artwork for their own product lines and place the original up for auction. I came up with this idea many years ago while reading up on the problems we have in our communities across our amazing country. From mental health, abuse, bullying, the break up of the family home… The list goes on! I personally had, had enough of all of the negativity and sadness that has swept our country and decided that I would use my skills to help create change.
Your artistic designs often act as puzzles whereby the viewer is forced to slow down and examine the wide array of elements that have been laid out. Could you tell us a little more about this particular style and the reasoning behind it?
One of my styles of artwork that I create are called ‘Imagination Pictures’. These are hundreds, sometimes thousands of small pictures that are placed together to create one larger image. By grouping these small pictures together from any direction, the mind can create its own images through the use of one’s own imagination.
As I was working on these pictures, I realised that it wasn’t just small images you could use to create imagination pictures through the mind. By creating artworks through the use of geometric and leaf shapes, one can also create other pictures for the mind to manipulate. This imaginary artwork would then lead me onto the educational side of my artwork; spot the difference and search and find for children and adults.
There are now over seventeen pieces of artwork that you’ve created for charities (including: The Big Issue Foundation, The NHS, Save the Children, etc.). How successful has this operation been?
Not as successful as I would like. Some charities are holding off using their pictures. Maybe they are worried that I’m an artist who is only doing this to get famous? Some individuals who recieve my emails, concering these pictures, may find it strange that someone would give pieces of artwork away for nothing and feel apprehensive. There is a lot of mistrust out there at the moment.
On your website you mention that the Colour Buddy was ‘born from my ignorance of the problems many people go through in their everyday lives‘. Was there a moment that led you to realise how many ongoing issues the world is currently facing?
It all started from a mental health story I was reading and snowballed out of control! I couldn’t believe the huge number of problems that individuals and communities were going through.
One of the charities I have helped with a piece of artwork is called the Academy of Hard Knock; it’s run by a guy called Sam Rowe, he’s an amazing guy. He helps young kids that are on the cusp of going to prison by helping them focus on kick boxing/martial arts. Some of the young people he has helped and turned around their lives have been incredible. Each and every one of them has gone through a terrible story, yet so many have now managed to turn their lives around for the better.
Sue Scott Horne, from Let’s Get Talking London, is another amazing person. She started her charity, which focuses on Knife Crime with young kids who carry weapons and take lives so easily… It’s all very sad.
In our conversations together you have always been incredibly passionate about giving the younger generation greater opportunities. With repeated lockdowns, student debt, a limited jobs market, and a lack of secure housing, young adults seemingly don’t have much to look forward to… Unsurprisingly, this has led to numerous issues regarding people’s mental health. What are your thoughts on the world’s current situation? Do you see a pathway for us to deal with the world’s insecurities, anxieties, and depression?
I believe it coems down to great leadership. Just because you move into politics doesn’t mean you are a great leader or the best person for the jon. Just because you leave university with high results doesn’t mean you have common sense or empathy for others.
We spend so much time looking at our leaders as celebrities… How they fool around, make us laugh, or cringe. We somehow feel these are the attributes of a great decision maker.
A great leader shouldn’t look at business alone. One should look at the communities structure, youth clubs, and the educational system, which has now become so out of date. What are we teaching at schools? We are still lacking cultural/individual social skills, an awareness of our environment, or the cultures that exist in our world today.
Understanding racism should be taught at schools at a young age, so that it sticks in the minds of children for the rest of their lives… The youner the better. A school must be a happy place to go to. Schools should be a place for laughter, fun, and enjoyment while learning about important issues, especially about liking or loving oneself and others around you, no matter what background they come from.
Today and in the past for many, school was/is a place of bullying, abuse, and upset. This in turn leads onto mental health issues and insecurities for many. Sitting thirty children behind a desk without even considering what each child is suffering at home or outside of school will ultimately lead to worse mental health issues in the future.
What’s next for both you and the Colour Buddy Concept? Have you got any exciting plans moving forward?
I certainly have. It’s important that my first novel comes out this year. This is all a part of the Colour Buddy Concept
I am also working on a project with the Kent Messager, in which I’m organising for twelve pieces of my artwork to be processed into an auction (one being sold every month) through the newspaper to help twelve seperate charities to raise money. I’m hoping that this turns into a positive story and will hopefully get people excited about what can be achieved with a little pen and ink!