We knew we'd love Mike as soon as we learned of his passion for big fat robots, pyjamas, and cartoons. In fact, we knew it before then: when he sent us a self-designed Christmas card before we'd even seen his face. With a razor-sharp wit and a wealth of experience to boot, Mike is a dream Senior Web Designer and a Cannes International Advertising Festival winner - the kind of dude you really need to know.
1. What sparked your passion for design?
Winter mornings in my jimjams, eating coco pops and watching cartoon gems like Astroboy, Masters of the Universe, and various other caped and underpanted superheroes. Last winter was great!
2. How creative were you as a youngster?
I was so inspired by the aforementioned caped crusaders, that I drew an Aquaman for a nationwide Humphrey B Bear drawing comp. I was second to a crudely scrawled Batman … still bitter.
3. Do you come from a creative family? Were they supportive of your desire
to be a designer?
No not really. My mum had some very creative dance moves to ABBA. However, they were both brilliant, as long as I was happy, they supported me.
4. What sort of education and training have you had?
BA and Adv Dip in Design (Multimedia).
5. Who did you want to work for when you first entered the industry?
A small company in Canberra called Media Graphics – lots and lots of Government clients.
6. Tell us about your first project and what do you feel about it now?
I did the ACTION buses’ (Canberra) timetables back in the day when “cut and paste” actually involved a scalpel and hot wax. I remember at the time thinking how appreciative everyone was that I was doing it (because, as I soon discovered, it was the job that everyone least wanted to do). I believe my mum still has a handful of them. There is still a crick in my neck with ACTION buses name on it, so it mainly makes me feel sore.
7. What is your preferred software to work with and what has been the
greatest advancement in technology over the past 5 years?
Toss up between Illustrator and Photoshop – Illushop perhaps. The greatest advancement to me is the mobile phone. I no longer need a watch, television, calculator, currency converter, Walkman, games console. Nor do I need to remember birthdays/meetings/phone numbers or even who I am – because my phone tells me. These little beauties have it all, in one small, radiating-in-the-pocket package!
8. What are the various mediums that you¹ve worked with and are there any
that you would like to explore?
The last 12 years I've been firmly in the digital world – everything from cranking out Corporate vids on a Media 100 suite to building web sites for Nike. Prior to that I was cutting and pasting business cards, annual reports, and the aforementioned bus timetables. I would like to have a poke around the world of animation at some stage in the future.
9. Is digital technology going to eliminate the need for print?
I hope not! No matter how many RSS feeds I've subscribed to, I still get my copy of the Age delivered in the morning, and pore over it while I pour coffee down my gullet. I still get mags and books to flick through for inspiration.
10. Whose work do you really admire and why?
Illustrators I admire are Shepard Fairey (brilliant lines and an unwavering conscience), Tara McPherson (bold colours and strong lines), Audrey Kawasaki (soft palette with darker, erotic themes), and the old master Osamu Tezuka (because I still study his work, like Astroboy, for his dynamism, proportion and sense of wonder). As for Web design, the Apple people consistently come up with world-beating sites.
11. Who has been the greatest person that you¹ve ever had the pleasure of
working with and what have they taught you?
Unfortunately I've yet to meet my mentor. Maybe you are the one! …was that a little too clingy?
12. What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I led a team of web geniuses, and we won the Cyber Bronze Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, 2001, for a Nike site.
13. How would you describe your work?
Quirky, clean, eclectic, quick and all at a low, low price.
14. What are your plans for the future?
More freelance work, or maybe a dream job, with a dream company who have dream clients. Plus, work at my pet project – www.bigfatrobot.com – t-shirts to clothe the nerds of the world.
15. What sort of company would you like to work with next?
The aforementioned dream company, or somewhere like Madman Interactive who create products that I would be proud to promote.
16. What is your opinion of Australian design?
It's heaps grouse! We are creating some gems, and the cultural cringe of yesteryear seems to be, thankfully, wilting away every year.
17. What is the best/worst thing about being a designer in Australia?
Best: The Australian dollar! Americans are knocking on my Internet door again. Worst: The Australian dollar! I can't get to my friends abroad as easily as this time last year.
18. In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge the Australian design
industry has to face in the near future?
Keeping the cream of the design industry here, and avoiding the lure of the big money and big clients in New York, London etc.
19. What is your creative outlet outside of design?
Cooking, eating, wining, dining, singing horribly out of key on Singstar, and wining.
20. What is the best designed bar in Melbourne?
I'm new to Melbourne, any suggestions?
21. What are your top 5 websites at the moment?
1. www.bigfatrobot.com - your one stop shop to stop nude nerds.
2. www.redbubble.com - a really well conceived art/social networking site, based in little ol' Melbourne.
3. www.threethousand.com.au - for a Melbourne noob, this gives me a nice snapshot of my new city.
4. www.smashingmagazine.com - great source of design tips/ideas.
5. www.google.com.au - not one day goes by without me questioning the wise one.
22. What CD are you currently listening to and is it any good?
At this exact point in time, I'm listening to the Dresden Dolls' “A is for Accident”. It is superb, nothing like witty dark Cabaret on a 45 degree day!
23. If I was a font, I¹d be...?
Extremely well kerned.
Do you need an A-List Artisan like Mike in your studio? Would you like to know more? Contact Karen NOW.