Mike Perry talks to Creative Boom about the joys of graphic design, hustling and laughing
We recently spoke to the very colourful and comical Mike Perry, over on our magazine Creative Boom. He's a Brooklyn-based artist, animator, creative director, brand consultant, poet and designer, as well as the mastermind behind the animated titles of Comedy Central's hit television show, Broad City.
Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, he studied graphic design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and after graduation worked in-house for Urban Outfitters for three years before moving to New York City and launching his own studio in 2006.
With many successful books under his belt, including his most recent offering – The Broad City Colouring Book (published by Laurence King) – he also loves to draw, paint, and illustrate, animate, cut, paste and build. That's whether he's working on personal projects or serving clients such as Nike, GQ and Playboy.
How did you get started? Tell us more about your background.
"I started art school wanting to be a painter but quickly discovered graphic design. Graphic design was so fresh and inspiring as a way of working that I quickly committed to learning how to use a computer and got started 'designing', whatever that meant.
"Today I realise painting and design are basically the same things. I spent the morning working on a painting and everything goes back to the fundamentals of putting together a composition."
After leaving Urban Outfitters, you immediately moved to NYC to start your own studio. How did you make that work?
"I moved in with my girlfriend the photographer Anna Wolf (now wife). She was already running her own business, she believed in me and showed me that it was possible. And the phone started ringing. I had just published my first book Hand Job and the internet was into it. I was young and I started hustling, meeting people. I was inspired and I worked all the time. I'm still inspired and work all the time!"
How does working for yourself compare to working for someone else, in your opinion?
"For me, it's perfect. It started off as simple as waking up in my bedroom and walking over in my underwear to my computer. But now I have three full-time employees so it’s not just about me anymore. Now I have to be the boss, which I believe in and I look at the studio as a ship that needs a captain. It needs to be taken care of and it needs fuel in order to move forward. It takes a team and a lot of collaboration to stay afloat.
"I also love multitasking. I have my painting studio next to my computer so sometimes when I have to save a giant file or render something ridiculously large, I’ll work on a painting."
You have a new colouring book out based on Broad City. How did that come about?
"Publisher Laurence King reached out and said we are doing a colouring book, let’s go. I just did a bunch of drawings and then magically a year later this really fun book comes out."
What was it like working with Abbi and Ilana? Were you super involved in the process?
"Abbi and Ilana have placed a lot of trust in me and what I do for the Broad City world. They were not really involved, it is just a really solid multi-admiration based relationship."
It looks like you had a lot of fun making the book, was there anything that was too cheeky to include?
"There were a few bits that had to come out, too cheeky to probably mention here, but honestly I was more shocked with the things that actually stayed in the book. I think that's one of the best bits about the book – that everyone involved was like...let's go for it."
The Broad City Colouring Book, by Mike Perry and published by Laurence King, is available to buy now. In the meantime, check out Mike's upcoming solo exhibition at Garis & Hahn in Los Angeles – Intoxicating Pollen Wiggling in a Moist Journey of Constantly Blooming Tides – launching on 9 September and running until 21 October 2017. With a title like that, it's not one to miss, really.