Michael Van Huffel

Michael Van Huffel

Santa Cruz, CA

I was in a tough state prior to this photography project. It brought an unexpected and deep relationship, and finally feeling productive again. Since I started, I feel much less like I am disappearing and it's given me much hope for a real future."

Michael Van Huffel (he/him/his) enjoyed a successful career as an artist, animator, Creative Director, and musician. His career got a jumpstart when he began working with the musician Prince, as a staff artist, and eventually Art Director. He also has also worked in motion design, TV and movies, and served as Creative Director for numerous projects in advertising and entertainment.

In 2007, Michael unexpectedly developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) a devastating and poorly-understood neuroimmune condition. Michael began to face loss after loss. Unable to work and eventually housebound, his career, home, and the life he built were lost due to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical co-pays. Life became very different and solitary. He relocated to a one-room studio outside San Francisco, and has been taking part in the largest-yet studies on his disease at Stanford. That room became his de-facto art studio.

Michael describes that his life for 8 years turned into an isolated existence, that most relationships had become virtual, except for home infusion nurses and very occasional visitors. The most recent transformation in his art career, and what you see featured on ArtLifting, occurred when he received an iPhone on a family plan, and an artist friend suggested they start a photo-a-day project. Michael describes that “this became a search to find beautiful or interesting things within an apartment that had only been accumulating painful associations using numerous physical and technical limitations as a means to a unique style and meaning. This also unexpectedly led to a relationship, a partner—something that had long seemed a lost part of life.” 

In this past few years, his life has welcomed big changes and transitions. He got married and relocated to Santa Cruz. Michael can occasionally get outside for short walks and is now close to a lot of natural beauty. Nearly all of the photos use things he collects while outdoors. He then brings the objects, whatever they may be, back to photograph when he is feeling well enough. The photos are often expressionistic—an attempt to make things look like something other than what they are—such as paintings, sea creatures, or landscapes. He aims to convey emotions and feelings and for viewers to see and find interesting corners of his world. 

To learn more about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), please visit the Open Medicine Foundation and follow the groundbreaking study mentioned in Michael’s bio. In addition, see the multiple award-winning documentary, Unrest, created by a woman living with the disease. 

A Purple Ghost - ArtLifting
Acceleration - ArtLifting
Actual Antiquity - ArtLifting
All The Lights - ArtLifting
Almost Amber - ArtLifting
Anglehead - ArtLifting
Antimatter - ArtLifting
Architecture - ArtLifting
Arcs - ArtLifting
Ariel - ArtLifting
Astro Pop - ArtLifting
Aurora - ArtLifting
Balancing Act - ArtLifting
Beauty Mark - ArtLifting
Bifrost - ArtLifting
Big Bang Boom - ArtLifting
Black Forest - ArtLifting
Blue Genie - ArtLifting
Blue, 2 AM - ArtLifting
Blush - ArtLifting
Breaking Glass - ArtLifting
Bridge - ArtLifting
Bright Tahoe - ArtLifting
Brink - ArtLifting
Burst - ArtLifting
Burst - ArtLifting
Butterflies Hideout - ArtLifting
By the Light of the Silvery Moon - ArtLifting
By Wham-O - ArtLifting
Canopy - ArtLifting
Cascade - ArtLifting
Cathedral - ArtLifting
Champagne Lipstick - ArtLifting
Chemistry (See Figure One) - ArtLifting
Cherry Cola - ArtLifting
Clara - ArtLifting
Cleopatra (Was Actually Greek) - ArtLifting
Copper and Silver - ArtLifting
Cosmic Jellies - ArtLifting
Crepe - ArtLifting
Currents and Fields - ArtLifting
Dacite - ArtLifting
Deimos - ArtLifting
Diptych - ArtLifting
Don't Play in Traffic - ArtLifting
Drifting - ArtLifting
Drukpa K - ArtLifting
Earth - ArtLifting
East - ArtLifting
Einstein's Hairdo - ArtLifting
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