Photo: Diana Paulson

Hi! My name is Mike Han. I'm a Detroit based artist, designer, and "modern vandal". I am a Cheongju Han (a royal Korean clan known as House of Han) whose lineage dates back over 1,000 years. I was born in Ann Arbor, the first child born in America on my mother's side. She immigrated with her family into Detroit's Cass Corridor during the early 70s, and my father immigrated into Ypsi about the same time from South Korea.


I currently live with a creature called Tum Tum in downtown Detroit. He's got one squished little ear, FIV (cat AIDS), and is an Emotional Support Animal (although I'm pretty sure I'm his Emotional Support Human 'cause he's super needy).


He rules.


My artwork is influenced by Korean calligraphy, graffiti, modern design, and cartoons. Above all, I strive for balance in my art while working to illuminate the ubiquitous truths of life that are too close for us to see.

I find myself chasing my art as I seek to live life like the process of my painting. Through the work I strive to overcome anxiety and fear through organic mark-making in an effort to achieve balance. I create art to learn how to live, and I strive to live a life of purpose filled with joy, kindness, and generosity. With that, I believe the highest form of art is a life well lived. The paintings are moments, capturing time within a journey.


I work on manufactured, hand crafted, and found objects to better understand and explore how to live well. This attention to materials is synergistic with my practice as a sustainable sushi chef. My work, whether with organic or inorganic materials, explores my identity as a Detroiter with Korean heritage, creation and consumption, and the ways in which we are all connected. 

My practice is burdened and bolstered by the understanding that in order to create, you must destroy. From this truth, I describe my practice as Modern Vandalism. Modern Vandalism is the mindful act of destroying materials, products, and/or space in an effort to create value. By being mindful of my impact as a creator and consumer, I hope to help others find the truths that hide in plain sight.


Mike has exhibited work in Seoul, South Korea, Metro Detroit, Ann Arbor, and has created work for clients in Chicago and Osaka, Japan. Han has been commissioned to paint murals for Google for Startups, LinkedIn, vitaminwater, Patrick Thompson Design, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, Bamboo Royal Oak, Batch Brewing Co., HOMES Campus, and more.


Han has paintings in the permanent collections of Huntington Bank, Henry Ford Health Systems, Shinola Hotel, and The Daxton Hotel. Han has been commissioned to create paintings for numerous private residences including well known figures like Dan Gilbert. Mike has collaborated with Synecdoche Design, Leon Speakers, Mothfire Beer, and will be releasing collaborations with Eleven Madison Park, Coffehaus, and SEE Eyewear later this year.

In 2021 Han won an Art Prize Equity Grant, was awarded a Red Bull Micro Grant, made the cover of SEEN Magazine, and was featured in designboom and Cool Hunting. 


Han has had work purchased by Paramount Pictures for use in a feature film and will have his Art Prize mural featured in the first Juneteenth film, Block Party, hitting theaters in 2022. Han has created art installations for Red Bull, and his work has been featured on BBC World News, Apartment Therapy, The Detroit News, Live in the D, the Urban Outfitters Blog, and published in Detroit Home.

Mike was the founder of Street Culture Mash, a Detroit creative agency, which was responsible for creating and facilitating the Woodward Windows Project. The project transformed 7 vacant buildings in downtown Detroit into a world class public art gallery during 2011-2013 in partnership with 323 East Gallery (now Inner State Gallery), the DEGC, Farbman Group, and with support from Strategic Staffing Solutions. Han's work was a catalyst for redevelopment as he vacated space to make room for H&M, Bonobos and Madewell.


As a sushi chef, Mike opened NYC's first sustainable omakase sushi restaurant. It was distinguished as a "Best New Restaurant in NYC" by the Village Voice in 2017. Han has lead sushi teams at highly acclaimed restaurants like Zuma in Miami, Roka Akor in downtown Chicago, and was formerly Chef De Cuisine for Bamboo Sushi in Denver (part of the world's first sustainable sushi restaurant group).

Han also opened Detroit's first sustainable sushi restaurant in 2018 which was the second restaurant he opened with both Seafood Watch and Smart Catch certifications. Mike has had the honor of making sushi at the James Beard House for a sustainable seafood dinner with acclaimed chefs from around the country.

As a chef, Mike was featured in the last print issue of The Village Voice, Edible Manhattan, Denver Westword, Detroit Free Press, and has done live TV segments in Chicago and Detroit.


Although Mike no longer has any desire to open a restaurant, he plans to develop and express his Korean-American style of sushi as ephemeral art experiences in Detroit.