We speak with Mike Clelland about his research on strange owl encounters and the UFO phenomenon. He has been collecting stories and doing research on the strange connections in preparation for an upcoming book. We also speak to him a bit about his own personal experiences, which are fascinating.
You can find some of what we will be talking about on his blog; hiddenexperience.blogspot.com. You can also read the long form essay he has on the owl phenomenon here.
Mike, in his own words... "I was born in 1962 in the suburbs of Detroit. Even during my pre-kindergarten years I was a skilled illustrator, and most of what I would draw was goofy and cartoony. Curiously, the stuff I would draw in elementary school looks a lot like my drawing style now.
I was deeply influenced by MAD magazine, and that is still evident in my work today. I need to thank Mort Drucker, Sergio Aregones and Jack Davis for shaping my style. I also need to thank R. Crumb, who I discovered a little bit later in life.
In 1981 I moved to New York City, where I went to NYU Film School for one year. I was all too aware that I was a lousy student, and I dropped out and began working as a free-lance illustrator and art director for advertising agencies.
In the winter of 1986/87 I spent the season as a ski bum in Jackson Hole Wyoming. This experience would make it very difficult to fully embrace my urban career when I returned to New York. I eventually moved out west permanently in 1991, and this move paralleled the advent of the fax machine and Federal Express. These revolutionary tools allowed me to do illustration work anywhere I wanted, and I was still dealing with clients back in The City. All of this became much easier with the internet.
Once out west I began doing book illustrations and teaching for an outdoor school.
It was around 2005 or so when I felt a sort of oppressive need to look into some odd life events, stories and memories that I had denied had any importance. Little by little I realized that I simply could no longer ignore those memories and their implications.
The catalyzing event was a profoundly strange synchronicity involving a bottle of sunblock. From that point on, it felt like the floodgates were opened up.
Let me also add that the initial years of my self exploration have not been easy. The act of trying to peer into my own unknown life events has been enormously challenging. I became a shaky recluse, locked in a spiraling tape loop of insecurity and self-doubt. Presently, things have been a little less difficult, but it's by no means easy. The act of digging like this is no simple undertaking, it’s been hard work. The truth for me is that I simply have to go down this road, no matter what the consequences. It seems I am being pulled ever forward by some unknown force. This might be my own higher self, or it might be something interacting with me from outside my being, I truly don’t know. What I do know is that this new chapter of my life has been profoundly interesting."