Pulling up to the home of Joey Salamon, one can already tell he’s taken the red pill. He’s in one of the first houses off the Woodward Corridor in the North End neighborhood. There’s graffiti on the parking wall facing his home fully adorned with an empty building in a vacant lot on the corner. Less than half the houses on his block are occupied and we even saw a sign for fresh coons nearby. A young man greets us at the door with a smile, holding a white, bully breed pup. His demeanor is eager yet still casual. The home is tastefully decorated, comfortable and laden with plants—undisputedly the home of an artist.

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Up on the second floor, Joey’s studio is sunny and open with a large window overlooking his illustrator’s desk that is stockpiled with markers and pencils. Everything is nicely arranged. The piece on his table is quite large and we are told is only halfway finished.


When asked where he draws inspiration from, he expresses simply “I don’t really know. I just sit down and start working.” Joey goes on to tell about his process, starting his pieces from the bottom up and explaining how they grow and morph over time. His work ethic is truly remarkable. Often starting in the late morning, he works until the wee hours of the night stopping for breaks only here and there. His illustrations are meticulous, colorful and intoxicating, most of which take up to 100 hours to complete. They are modern psychedelic, forged in the realm of intense daydreaming and introspection, collecting energy from music, castles in the clouds, and the many places Joey has lived. On the other end of the spectrum, he says his work is sometimes masochistic. One of his pieces sitting out is a 6ft. X 7ft. collage of a southwestern landscape assembled out of torn pieces of paper; another is composed entirely of markered hole-punches precisely arranged on canvas.

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Some of his favorite working artists right now include Pose, Jen Stark, Kobie Solomon and Zio Zigler. Salamon is from Midland, MI and graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2010 where he studied art and design. He also spent time in Molokai, Hawaii for a sponsored internship at a newspaper where he handled all of the layout and graphics work. He reminisces of how peaceful it was there, telling stories about riding mules and journeying out to the highest sea cliffs in the world. “That was just one for the bucket list, something I always wanted to do.” After Hawaii, Joey bounced around from Cleveland to Columbus, taking a summer sojourn on a commune in Virginia.

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Joey briefly lived in Chicago in June 2012 where he worked for Hub newspaper. One of his works was the backdrop at Obbity Fest, a three-day music festival in Chicago. Soon enough Detroit started calling his name. After assisting artists like Freegums in his murals at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago and Jen Stark with one of her pieces displayed at the Smithsonian, Joey finally made his way out to Detroit in May of 2014.

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He has since been commissioned to create various murals throughout Detroit in the spring and summer months, one of which is on a house owned by Darin McLeskey, originally designed by Cranbrook art students for low-income families. Another building in the same neighborhood on Warren is set be the foundation of a new Joey Salamon mural. He currently has a residency at Fortress Studios on Oakland Blvd in the North End neighborhood of Detroit. Joey plans to grow his skill set, expanding his working knowledge of computer programs to include animation while also getting some of his illustrations onto shirts using sublimation printing. He wants to build his name as an artist here and absolutely embodies the grit and focus to do so. When asked what he thought about Detroit so far he came back with, “People here are risk takers and just have something different to say. This place has an allure like no other and I think it’s just a really exciting time to be here.” Welcome to Detroit, Joey Salamon, we are excited for you to add a splash of color to the city.

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Check out more of Joey Salamon on his website and flip through the full feature and other exclusive content in ZIPR Magazine Issue #2. Read all of the ZIPR Magazine exclusive artist features on our blog.

Words by Marianne Audrey Burrows | March ’15