Michael Stipe: His Entrance Into the Visual Arts World

Self scan of Michael Stipe in a 3D digital environment

Who is Michael Stipe?

Popularly known for being the lead vocalist of the band R.E.M., Michael Stipe in general is an artist at heart.

After R.E.M. broke up, Stipe turned to work on his visual art, continuing a passion from college. His favorite mediums are photography and sculpture. However, he does experiment with many other mediums if given the chance. Recently, he had visual art installations at the Outsider Art Fair in New York.

Outsider Art Fair’s Instagram where Michael stipe is standing in front of some of his art

Early life as a Military B.R.A.T.

Stipe was born in Decatur, Ga., U.S.A. He moved around a lot (including but not limited to Germany and many states in the U.S. such as Texas, Illinois, Alabama and Georgia) due to his father’s career in the U.S. Army.

After all the moving around, Stipe came back to Georgia for college.

At the University of Athens in Georgia, he studied photography and painting. Stipe dropped out of school in 1980 to pursue and dedicate more time to R.E.M.

Band life

R.E.M. was created in 1980. The band consisted of Peter Buck (mandolin), Bill Berry (piano), Mike Mills (bass guitar) and Stipe (lead vocals). After releasing their first album “Murmur” in April 1983, the group quickly grew in popularity. The band went on to release 14 other albums before they disbanded. Their top-selling albums were “Out of Time,” “Automatic for the People,” “Monster” and “Document.”

R.E.M. album cover Document

R.E.M. came around during the time when college indie pop music was becoming trendy. By the late 1980s, they were starting to get recognition internationally. This happened following the release of two of their songs, “The One I Love” and “Stand,” the former topping the charts in the the USA and the United Kingdom.

In 1992, R.E.M. received two awards: 1) Best International Group and 2) Best International song (for “Drive”). These were granted by the Palmares. They celebrated 31 years together as a band and decided to disband to follow other passions.

Celebrating everything they accomplished, R.E.M. stated on their website:

We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.

R.E.M. broke and redefined what rock music is and their music will not be forgotten.

R.E.M.’s Instagram of a photo of the group from 1982

Visual Arts

Self scan of Michael Stipe in a 3D digital environment

After the disbanding of R.E.M., Stipe restarted his passion for the visual arts, making his own installations and pieces. While his main focus and interest is in photography and sculptures, he did a piece in a 3D digital space of a self portrait. This is one of the many pieces that can be found in his book “Our Interference Times: A Visual Record.”

When Stipe was actively in R.E.M., he would use his college art major to take charge of the band’s online presences and graphic design.

Stipe has never lost his love for visual art. He continues to make art today despite what others may think of it. Art to him is art, regardless of what it looks like, whether it is the most beautiful piece, horrid or low quality looking. Art is subjective and is just that: art.


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