Growing up as a child in Jacksonville, Florida, art was an escape from the many hardships he had to endure. Coming from a lower middle class household, TTK had to deal with drug abuse and poverty all around him. At the age of 6, he saw the movie that would change his life. "Beat Street" introduced him to b-boys, graffiti and hip hop music and culture. The main character, Ramo had a huge influence on TTK, "I saw Beat Street in '85, '86 and Ramo was like, tag-gin' up the trains and it was amazing, this is what I want to do." It also showed him the connection between music, culture and art, and how they can be fused together.
TTK also cites comic books as one of his earliest influences, specifically comic book writer and illustrator Todd McFarlane. TTK explains, "Todd McFarlane was drawing Spider-Man back in the days...he just changed Spider-Man into his own character, made you forget everything before him..." He was also heavily influenced by his older cousin, whom he looked up to as a brother. TTK credits him as the first person to put a pencil in his hand and teach him how to draw.
Armed with a new found love for art and hip hop culture, Mike Harris transformed into "TTK". He drew, sketched and tagged on every surface he could find. He didn't receive formal art training until high school where he studied fine art and learned how to paint. After graduating and entering college, TTK's bright future was put on hold by the birth of his daughter. Needing a job so that he could properly support her, he joined the Navy. After working on a submarine everyday for 2 years, spending weeks and months at a time underwater, he was able to come home.
Upon returning in 2004 he was told about the new movement in the art and fashion world, sneaker customization. Being a huge sneaker collector already, this was perfect for him. After checking out what the current sneaker artists had to offer, he decided to try it out. TTK himself will admit himself that his first attempt did not work out too well, "I said man, I could do this and I can do it better...I went home did some research on what paints to use and the first (pair), straight up it was whack". Always humble and hardworking, TTK went back to the drawing board, researched the proper paints and materials to use and practiced, refining his craft. Eventually he created his own signature style, which is his affinity for combining colors that are not usually associated with each other, his ability to recreate any picture or photo with amazing detail, and a patented design he created that looks like a magnified fingerprint.
Since then TTK has won the Custom Kicks Showdown sponsored by Finish-line and Reebok, the Hartford, Connecticut division of the Funk Flex Sneaker Battle, and he was featured on the History Channel show, "The Works". He has traveled the country making appearances and displaying his work at various trade shows and has gained fans as far as South Korea, where he was also commissioned to work. He has done custom work for music artist Cormega, r&b soul singer Dwele, and Natalie aka the Floacist from the r&b group Floetry as well as special projects for Cornell University, Timberland, and clothing line Hood Prep. Summer of 2009 was his busiest yet.
TTK debuted as a canvas artist in his first official gallery show at Sole Food NYC. He also painted a mural at New York radio station Hot 97's annual summer concert Summer Jam June of that year, as well as a live art installation at the New York location of the Sneaker Pimps national tour.
Who is TTK? He is an artist, a brand, a movement. What's next for this rising star? Only the sky's the limit...