MICHAEL CAIBIO: Building Bridges Towards a More Creative City

Michael Caibio, Patrick Sirmeyer, LuxusI met Michael months ago at an event with some clients. A dear friend had been raving about IMMERSE which was described to me as South X Southwest meets Art Basel. I was fresh off of my first trip to SXSW in Austin, and I had to chuckle at the ambition. Nonetheless, I was intrigued and spent quite a while chatting with Michael and his incredibly talented wife. We all exchanged cards, and he invited my friend and I to coffee weeks later. After multiple interactions and a virtual introduction to the Chief Evangelist of Creative City Project, Cole NeSmith, I get it. I see what they see. He is truly building bridges towards a more creative city and culture. Mark my words, that team is going to make a lasting impact on our city if they continue on this quest. The author Jhumpa Lahiri said, “The power of art is the power to wake us up, strike us to our depths, and change us.” I can’t wait until October, and I’m so excited to share this interview.

Michael Caibio, Visual Artist and Creative

Michael is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at The Creative City Project in Orlando, Florida. He is passionate about connecting artists and brands to create innovative art encounters that audiences can’t have anywhere else in the world. He plays a major role in IMMERSE which is the Creative City Project’s annual performing and interactive arts experience in the streets and public spaces of Downtown Orlando. Michael has a Bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television and Cinema Studies from University of Central Florida. He has over 10 years of experience as a creative force in Marketing, Advertising, Multimedia and Public Relations. As part of the team at Creative City, along with Cole NeSmith (it’s founder), Michael is transforming the city of Orlando through the arts one partnership at a time.


Where’s your favorite place in the world and why?

Admittedly, I haven’t gotten to see very much of the world but my current favorite is Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a modern city but the pace of life is very different there and there’s a lot more focus on conversation. You don’t see people’s faces buried in their phones like you do here. I’ve also observed that they place a high value on quality and design. You can really see it in the artwork, the architecture, the landscaping, the interior design and in their clothing. The design all felt future forward but timeless at the same time. I remember leaving Copenhagen very inspired.

What are you passionate about?

I’d have to say that I’m passionate about the visual arts. Art and design are in everything and can be a very trans-formative medium. It can transform cities, companies, inspires others and can tell stories all at the same time.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV? How was it?

The last thing I watched was the season 3 finale of The Good Place. If you haven’t gotten to watch it yet, give it a chance. It’s from the same producers of The Office and Parks and Recreation and it’s a hilarious and super creative show. Essentially, it’s just a funny take on what they think happens in the afterlife but with a whole lot of twists. It’s not at all what you would really expect.

What’s the craziest or funniest thing you’ve ever done?

Back in college, one of the craziest and stupidest things I’ve ever done was try to prove how invincible my immune system was to my roommates by licking a cutting board top to bottom that was just used to cut raw chicken. Then it gets better, they kept egging me on and I thought it would be funny to lick the bottom of someone’s show from one end to the other. Almost immediately after, I regretted what I did and thought that I could have gotten crazy sick doing this all just to prove a dumb point. Tequila may have also been involved. Thankfully, nothing happened!

What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

The coolest thing I get to work on right now is finding businesses to help us bring an AMAZING experience to IMMERSE (annual arts festival my company puts on) called the “Architects of Air.” It’s a giant inflatable structure that can be best described by imagining what a space ship and cathedral would look like if it had a baby. When light shines through the luminescent material on the top of the structure, it casts colored light and geometric patterns throughout the interior. It’s like a colorful light museum inside of a huge inflatable. You’ll want to go to Google Images and check it out, it’s an incredible experience.

Who would you swap places with for a day?

If you follow Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on Instagram, you’ll see that he’s got one of the most interesting lives. One day, he’s in one city shooting one movie, then he flies out to another part of the world to shoot another movie, then he’s in the gym lifting ridiculous amounts of weight, then eating crazy amounts of food. Really, I’m just wanting to eat an entire table of food and still be in great shape! He’s sort of the exact opposite of me both physically and professionally so it would be fun to experience what that would be like. Plus, it would be great to finally “smell what The Rock is cooking.” (lame joke for WWE fans)

If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go and why?

This is a good question. There are a bunch of places I’d really like to visit but at the top of my list is the Philippines. The last time I was there was when I was 2 years old. The large majority of my family lives out there and I’d love the opportunity to meet many of them for the first time. If I could be there for an entire summer, I think I could really learn more about my roots and pick up the language. It would be amazing to venture to the many beautiful islands there and soak in the culture too.

What are some of your pet peeves?

Oh man. Where do I begin? It’s very hard for me to talk with people who only talk about themselves and how great they are. I also can’t stand it when people completely dominate conversations and don’t let you contribute. Reckless drivers! Missing my exit on I-4, construction on I-4… I-4… just to name a few.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Cerulean Blue!

What’s your favorite way to get inspired?

Usually walking and looking at things gets my creative juices going so going to a museum or a mall actually allows me to take in all sorts of visuals and gets me inspired in many ways.

Tell me about your morning routine.

It’s pretty basic: I wake up around 7:45am, I take my dog out in the backyard to let her do her business, I feed her, then I do my business. I shower, I get dressed, I have my coffee, brush my teeth, kiss my wife good bye and head to my boss’ house to start my work day just before 9:00am.

What’s the best purchase you made this year under $100?

That would have to be my Nomad iPhone XS leather phone case. I’m normally very careful with my phone but for whatever reason, I’ve happened to drop it a handful of times this year and the case has saved me time and hassle with not having to get a cracked screen repaired. The leather has developed a really nice patina and is looking really good now too. And since I’m a little OCD, I’m really happy that it matches my wallet and key-chain!

What makes you laugh the hardest?

It doesn’t take a whole lot to make me laugh hard but the last thing I did that made me laugh the hardest was go to a SAK Comedy show. I love the unexpected routes an improv show takes and this last show I went to had me cry-laughing.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Watching a movie on Christmas day is hands-down my favorite family tradition. Having to be quiet and watch something entertaining rather than arguing with my family is the best, haha

What’s something you wish people would ask you more?

“Can I give your organization a couple million dollars? And a follow up to that, “Can I give you a few million too?”

What’s your favorite quote?

“Work hard and stay humble.” There’s a chalk design I see every morning when I wake up and it works as my daily mantra. It’s simple and concise and think that it’s achievable for anyone.


Interview conducted by Anna Sirmeyer