Michael Tam Artwork


All the images on this page were done for me by my friend Michael Tam, and are very personal.
Please do not duplicate or use them in any way.


In 1989 I discussed with my friend, Michael Tam, an idea I had for the back-piece of my leather jacket. It was to be a scene of struggle featuring the creatures of the abyssal zones of our oceans... an image from an ancient and invisible world populated by nightmarish alien forms deformed by extremes of pressure, darkness and cold... a lonely, violent and mysterious realm hidden kilometers beneath the surface of our seas.

The central figure is a viperfish (Chauliodus sloani) drawing in a school of hatchet fish (Argyropelecus lychnus) with it's luminous lure. Under ultraviolet light, only the bioluminescent parts of the fish are visible. In nature, these fearsome creatures are dwarfs - the viperfish is about 6 to 10 inches long; the hatchet fish, 3 inches. Michael exercised some dramatic license when colouring the viperfish.


Before painting the jacket itself, he was inspired enough to do a full-size deep sea tryptich study based on his initial charcoal sketch. It features hatchet fish, deep sea squid, prawns (cooked from the colour!) a viperfish and some lantern fish.


Abyssal Triptych

"Abyssal Triptych" - watercolor and pencil


Once completed, the final work was breathtaking. I was dumbstruck at the beauty and fidelity of Michael's interpretation of my vision. Here's the backpiece of the jacket as it appears under normal light and ultraviolet light. It was painted with acrylics and the detail was achieved without using an airbrush. The jacket is my most prized and personal possession.

Abyssal StruggleAbyssal Struggle, UV

"Abyssal Struggle" - acrylic on leather, under normal and ultraviolet light


This starkly beautiful photograph was taken when Michael chanced upon a decaying sealion corpse while walking on the beach. "I only had two exposures left in my camera, which was a good thing... the stench was unbearable." It was presented to me at a shower in May 1993.

Death Rock

"Seal Rock" - photograph




Michael Tam lives in San Diego, where he also does digital photography and ink sketches.




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Xmas 1999 | New Year's 1999 | New York City



All images on this page are copyrighted 1992, 1993 Michael Tam. All rights reserved.