Kalamadoodle Characters is a monthly series that introduces an attendee* to the greater Kalamazoo community. Through these quick, bullet-point style interviews, we hope that you can learn more about your neighbors, find a common interest, and be encouraged to meet a new friend at one of our events.

*With all of the extra (and awesome) shenanigans taking place during our Two Year Anniversary, we were unable to sit down and interview one of Kalamazoo's creative community members. To fill the void for the month of August, Kalamadoodle's creator and co-founder, Mike Klok, stepped in to interview himself, and did not enjoy writing in third-person.

Photo: Matt Geerling - Bell's Eccentric Cafe 6.15.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Bell's Eccentric Cafe 6.15.2016

Meet Mike Klok

  • He was born here in Kalamazoo and went to school (K-12) in Mattawan, Michigan.
  • After graduating high school, Mike spent time at Kalamazoo Valley Community College studying Liberal Arts before enrolling at Western Michigan University to receive is B.A. in Marketing - Advertising and Promotion.
  • After graduation, he worked as a Sales Manager at Underground Printing-Kalamazoo, and more recently as a Publications Project Manager at Kalamazoo College.
  • Throughout his life, Mike has always felt compelled to do two things: 1. Bring people together. 2. Create.
"In high school, I used to host weekly (sometimes daily) poker games, and in college, I started a small apparel line. After I graduated, I continued to have an itch to build something new, something different, and my sketchbook(s) started to fill with ideas. Kalamadoodle was one of those projects; literally a doodle on a piece of paper."
Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 5.18.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Rupert's Brew House 5.18.2016

  • Though Mike doesn't believe he posses any natural ability in the arts, he knows it's something that been apart of him for as long as he can remember.
"In first grade, I couldn't draw straight lines or read big words, but I still have progress reports complimenting my passion for detail and storytelling in my writing and artwork. That type of stuff sticks with me. I know I'm never going to be the most talented in the room, but working hard to create an avenue for yourself, that is yours alone, as always fascinated me."
"When we were at my old house, I was probably three or four, and my Dad, a great accountant, had an office downstairs that had recently been painted white. I was too young to remember the real motivation behind the piece, but I guess I took it upon myself to paint my first mural with markers and crayons on the walls, carpet, and chairs. Looking back, I like to joke that it was my act of rebellion towards traditional work and employment."
  • And that desire to create has been with him ever since. Mike spent middle school listening to punk bands, skateboarding, and developing views that he felt aligned himself with the underdog and counter-culture.
"Growing up, I remember trying everything I could to find myself. Sports always played a huge role in my life. Learning to compete with others and push myself was something I took very seriously. I've always had this fear of wasting potential, and it's something that has followed me in every aspect of life."
"I guess I was probably considered a, 'Jock,' to some, but I was also the guy that got made fun of for writing poetry. And instead of shopping at the mall, I'd buy white t-shirts and a Sharpie to write, 'Anti-Crombie' on them to try and send a message. Maybe it was stupid, maybe it wasn't. Years later, one of my middle school teachers told me she respected it, and that was pretty cool. I think it's a shame our culture is so invested in labels and titles, and part of Kalamadoodle's mission has been to break those down and make connecting with others easy, fun, and without a title attached."
Photo: Matt Geerling - Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 1.20.2016

Photo: Matt Geerling - Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 1.20.2016

  • With two years of Kalamadoodle events under his belt, and a one-year anniversary of going full-time as a freelance designer and illustrator at Stuffed Brain Studio this fall, Mike is excited about the future possibilities for this project, as well as the many others he may have in his sketchbooks.
"Bringing this many people together is something that has certainly exceeded my expectations. But developing the foundation of Kalamadoodle is only the beginning. I believe there is a bigger mission and purpose for the community we've created and I'm excited to start exploring and implementing those strategies."
"As this creative community in Kalamazoo continues to flourish, I believe we have a responsibility to use our talents, resources, and platform for good. I'm looking forward to sharing more of what that can mean in the near future. Stay tuned!"
Photo: Lori Gottschling - Arcadia Brewing Company 8.19.2015

Photo: Lori Gottschling - Arcadia Brewing Company 8.19.2015

*Thank you for reading! We hope to have our regular format for this attendee-focused series return next month, and we appreciate your understanding. Join us at Arcadia Brewing Company on Wednesday, September 21st and you might be our next Kalamadoodle Character!