Bunny Michael isn't your average Instagram star or meme-maker. The performer, visual artist and musician's very popular posts go well beyond starter packs or existentialist copy printed over ironic images of Paris Hilton. Rather, Bunny encourages us all to get comfortable with our Higher Selves and the unique intuition we each possess and can learn from, if we listen carefully.
After being inspired by a workshop with feminist astrologer Chani Nicholas, Michael began posting images last year that feature a double version of themself. One version considers the anxiety of the immediate moment, an all-too-familiar feeling for Millennials in a world permanently caught up in the moment. The other self, Michael's so-called "Higher Self," swoops in with spot-on wisdom that helps in-the-moment Michael reframe their thinking and face reality with a more positive (and compassionate) outlook. It's like cognitive behavioral therapy in meme-form, and it's brilliant. Michael models a quest for better mental health and self-love that we can all benefit from.
When (and where) are you most creative?
I'm most creative if I've meditated because I need some space in my head to channel the creative energy inside. When I'm full of thoughts or anxiety, I can't create.
How did you get your start?
Since my work deals with psychological and emotional healing I guess the first time I felt love? So probably I got my start in the womb.
What are you working on right now? Can you describe any current projects or activities?
Right now I'm making a book of Higher Self Memes. I'm writing and filming a narrative fictional web series based on the Higher Self, directed by Zoie Omega. I'm releasing new music and in the beginning stages of creating a Higher Self podcast, where I give advice and also do interviews.
What is success to you?
Success is feeling joy. Success is finding peace. Success is being able to be proud of yourself for surviving. Success is not needing validation from other people, and realizing you are enough and have always been enough.
Do critics matter?
Yes critics matter in the sense that I want to know how my work is being interpreted. For example if I make a post about mental illness, and someone doesn't feel like I'm acknowledging an important aspect of that conversation, I want to know. I know I still have a lot of room to grow and I still make mistakes. I want to hear from my audience how I can better serve them.
Obviously you've seen success in your career but can you tell us about a time you failed?
I've planned tours that never happened, I've put "visions" on my vision board that never came true, I've promised myself I'd have a certain amount of money by a certain time that didn't happen but I would never call these career "failures". I am learning and growing constantly, there just isn't a way to learn without making mistakes. I honor all my mistakes. They have made me a better person.
Do you think about legacy?
Honestly I don't think too often about it. I want to stay present enough to be of service to Love. I don't do things because I want to be remembered fondly. I make art that contributes to the well-being of humanity because I have no other choice, nothing is more important to me than that.
What advice do you have for someone looking to break into your industry?
Art is not an industry. It's the expression of our humanity; it's as natural as birth and death. If someone wants to pursue their artistic potential, I say you must. Because you were given gifts and gifts are meant to be shared.
Did you ever give up (or want to give up)? What were the circumstances?
Of course I have the days where I don't feel like I'm good enough, we all do. We all have a deep fear of our inadequacy because the world we are conditioned by tells us that we need more of everything to count for anything. Its really sad, and sometimes that sadness builds up in my body and I have to have a day or two to just feel emotional. But I move through it like we all do and remember none of that conditioning is real. Its an unlearning process to expand your consciousness and remember you're worthy and you deserve happiness.
What trends in your field do you find most exciting / are you most optimistic about? What about your field is frustrating? What would you like to see change?
I get so excited to see young people making amazing art and being so conscious! I love the dismantling of gender roles in music and art. Im so happy to hear conversations about growing your self love not just your pocket book. Young people have a gift of fearlessness. I have so much hope and optimism in the artists revolutionizing our world by having the deeper conversations, by standing up against oppression, by using creative thinking to show there is another way. Sometimes I get frustrated with time, I get scared we are running out of it, but then I remember its a really difficult journey because so much truth has come to light about the needless suffering in our world, like its a wound that needs to be healed- first all the puss must come to the surface.
How do you plan to build on your success so far? Is there anything you fear will set you back?
I look at creating like an ongoing stream. I just keeping it flowing. Sometimes its wide and expansive and reaches lots of people and sometimes its thin and quiet and just for me. So its not like I'm building one thing on top of another, its more like a heartbeat. And I can hear it louder some days and some days its not that easy. But no matter what the current keeps moving forward never backwards.
What was the first moment you knew you were going to be able to do this as a job – not necessarily your first big break or success, but the first time you thought, "This is it, this is my career?"
It was fairly recently actually. I've been making art in New York for over 10 years but until the last year it hadn't really come together. I didn't have a lot of confidence. I realized though that it wasn't about "me." I had an awakening. I took down all the "goals" I had written on my vision board and wrote down, "What do people need?- 1. To heal from past trauma. 2. To feel safe to be their authentic self. 3. Inspired to contribute to humanity. 4. To feel loved, respected and appreciated." And then I wrote, "How can I help?" That was the moment my life and my art changed.
What's been the biggest choice you've had to make in your career so far?
Lots of people write me for advice and that advice ranges in topic from relationships to jobs to death and grieving. Choosing what to say and being very delicate isn't always easy, but I find the strength by connecting to the Higher Self in me, which is the Love in me, and without telling anyone what they should do I guide them to the wisdom in themselves that KNOWS what to do.
What is your morning routine like? (What time do you get up? Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Any breakfast routines?)
I'm definitely a coffee addict (I hope not forever). So my morning is putting the coffee on, meditating, drinking coffee and catching up on emails. Then I write a meme and post. I've written a meme nearly everyday for the past year. I have over 300 of them.
What are you most excited about for the future? (Can be about your career, your personal life, the world - anything.)
I'm just excited to grow, to blossom and watch the world blossom. I'm excited to love. I'm excited to love my family, my partner and my community. I'm excited because I don't know what the future holds and thats exciting!
What are you most worried about for the future?
Worry is a waste of my time. So I'm not gonna even put that out in the world right now!
Are you good at giving advice? What is the best advice you've ever given?
I think Im really good at giving advice because I can hold space for other people to be themselves. I don't judge them and I think people need that so much right now.
Are you good at receiving advice? What is the best advice you've ever received?
I'm good at receiving advice from my therapist, lol.
What makes a person beautiful? What makes you beautiful?
To be alive is beautiful. Beauty radiates from Love within. We all have it, we aren't always aware of it though. Being aware of it is the goal. When you are aware you have it you can see it in other people as well, even if they can't.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my priorities. I'm most proud that I know what is really important- not money, not hype, not fame - but Love, its the only thing thats real.
Photo by Zoie Omega
Yellow coat seen on Bunny by Dirty Clodz