A few weeks ago, I met Mike Harrison at the OFFF festival in Barcelona. We had a little chat and I decided to interview him for abdz. Read all you have to know about the graphic designer & illustrator from England
First of all we would like to thank you for taking the time to provide abduzeedo.com with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?
No problem! My background in art started over 10 years ago when I opened my first Adobe application, Flash. My memory is foggy as to how I found out about it in the first place but I started playing around and making some (quite bad) animations and really enjoyed it. I think it was just a phase as I stopped using it after a few weeks as I needed to focus on school.
It was many years later that my older brother showed me some images that he’d been making and I was intrigued how he’d created them. He then told me about Photoshop and so I got myself a copy and started playing around and experimenting myself. A year or so later when I started university I had the time to use the program more and more and use it to create some of the work for my course. Then pretty much throughout the next 4 years of my university life I self taught myself Photoshop as well as a number of other programs in the Adobe family as I wanted to be disciplined in as many fields as possible. After university I was proud to start a fulltime job as a designer, using the skills I’d taught myself over all those years.
Almost 2 years later I quit that job to do some travelling in South East Asia and Argentina, then when I got back I decided to jump into the world of freelance, and that’s where I am now, living and working in London!
How did you come up with your style, what made you explore more this style and what in your opinion is the main characteristic of it?
I would say that I like to cover a range of styles; I would also say that I have a favourite style that I like to work in which is mixing the digital with traditional. Over the years I tried out an assortment of different styles and techniques and the one that I enjoyed the most was using a combination of stock imagery, watercolour and paint textures and hand drawn sketches. I felt that it gave me a more unique look to my work and could be recognised as my own.
How would you break down your workflow in steps?
I almost always start with a really basic sketch, just to test out the idea in its most basic form to see if I have a basis for a new illustration. From there I decide what medium(s) and programs I will be using and prepare anything I will need such as a sheet of sketches to be scanned in later on. From there it’s straight into creation. I always like to keep an element of ‘freestyle’ during this process, by that I mean not locking myself down to a finished look early on as I like the idea of a piece evolving naturally and the unexpected turns it could take to possibly become something a lot different from what you first imagined. Once I feel it is complete I will sleep on it for a few days and keep on coming back to see what I could change or add.
What's the importance of the computer in the creative process?
Of course it plays a very important part, but if I’m working with a largely hand drawn illustration then I might spend only 25% of my time on the computer composing or testing out some ideas. It all depends on the nature of the work.
Apart from the profits, what type of satisfaction do you get from your work?
Even since the very beginning of my adventure in design I still get the same feeling of excitement from creating something new. I always look forward to releasing a new piece of work and showing it around to get feedback from my peers, it helps push you forward. I also get satisfaction from thinking about how lucky I am to be doing this as a career as it started as a hobby and a lot of the time does still feel like that!
What are your favourite 5 websites, and why?
Well I really enjoy the social networks Facebook and twitter; I guess you could count them as one. They are a great tool for keeping in touch with friends, connecting with other designers, promoting work and finding cool stuff online. I’m a big fan of motion graphics so I love going through Motionographer and seeing some of the latest amazing animation people are making. Karan Singh’s Pig Bimpin is always good as he is a great writer and there’s some great reads on there, different from your usual design blog. I really enjoy music so another site I use regularly is SoundCloud, a lot of my favourite producers and dj’s are on there sharing their music and releasing exclusive songs now and again. Last but not least Abduzeedo, always loved browsing this as it’s updated all the time and packed with interesting things to read and look at!
Any advice for those who are starting out their career? What kind of references are important for those who want to work with this kind of style?
I always say to those starting out to practice, practice, and practice. Experiment with styles and techniques, use trial and error and just have fun. Sooner or later you are going to find out what you are good at or what you enjoy the most. Stick with it, don’t give up and you’ll soon start getting recognition for what you’re doing. You will no doubt meet other like- minded people along the way who you can collaborate with and receive critique from. Passion, dedication and hard work are 3 key factors on becoming successful!
Where to find him on the webDestill.net - Portfolio Destilled.tumblr.com/ - Blog
More work of this artist