Into the Michael-Verse...
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
This week, North Core Creative spoke to Michael Rice, a Creative Graphic Designer and Digital Artist. Initially set on working in the film industry, Michael soon began to develop a passion for illustration and decided to shift his focus to art and design. With two home-grown businesses under his belt, Michael creates character pieces heavily influenced by pop art which he brings to life with bright colours and expert techniques. Here, he tells us about his creative influences and creative process, and his current ‘Spider-Verse’ project.
North Core: Tell us about how you got started and what drove your passion for art and design? Michael Rice: I’ve always had an interest and passion for media and art, but it wasn’t until my first year of University that I really started to learn my way around art and design. I did a Media course that had a design module that allowed me to create projects surrounding magazine design and graphic design.
From there my interest in art really took over from my interest in film. As the years went by I’ve slowly got involved with more and more art projects that have allowed me to not only learn more about the industry, but create pieces that I’m consistently proud of.
My interest in pop art and bright colours came from when I started a small business called Atom (@atomdesignshop on Instagram). I designed stickers, pins, patches, and t-shirts under that name. I ran it for about two years before my real-life job caught up with me and I couldn’t do two things at once. While running that business (and I have plans to bring it back at some point) I met a lot of people, learnt new techniques and created a name for myself. Since March, I’ve been developing this new interest in art and over the past few months I created 140 (@onefouroh on Instagram) as a way of getting my name out there and exposing myself to new ideas and techniques.
NC: What’s your creative process when putting a piece together? MR: So generally, I’ll start out with a small sketch in my art pad. The term sketch is actually an insane overstatement because my sketches range from a few lines to some developed lines, but I can always understand what my idea is. Once I’ve sketched it, I grab all the assets I need and get to work in Adobe Illustrator. Depending on the piece, this can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months. Once I’ve got all the pieces in place, I’ll take it into photoshop if the piece requires painting. The painting section is the part that I’m learning on the go and it’s proving to be really rewarding. Once I’ve completed it, I’ll make it print ready and get a couple made for my own physical portfolio folder. That’s the general process that I take.
NC: What software do you use? MR: I use a MacBook Pro with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. For drawing I use a Wacom Intuos graphics Tablet. I’ve had the tablet since 2014 and while I really do need to upgrade, this tablet has worked for everything I need. When I do upgrade, I think I’ll be moving to an iPad Pro, mainly due to the fact that Photoshop and Illustrator (I think Illustrator will be there soon) are on that as fully fleshed out apps.
NC: Tell us about your favourite project! MR: Most of my favourite projects involve Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s one of my favourite movies and Spiderman is such a joy to draw. So, yeah, all my favourite projects involve this character’s world. My absolute favourite project has to be one that I’ve working on right now. It’s a Spider-Verse piece (surprise), but it’s my most ambitious piece to date. I’m really going all out with colours, painting techniques and composition. Instead of posting on Instagram about it, I’m actually doing weekly blog updates on the progression of the piece.
The blog is on my website: www.michaelrice634.wixsite.com/onefouroh
NC: Do you have any fellow professionals who give you inspiration for your content? MR: There are three names that immediately come to mind when I’m asked this question. Firstly, Thumbs (@Thumbs on Instagram). He’s one of the main reasons I even had Atom. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have even been exposed to the pin community on Instagram. Secondly, Danny Haas (@artofdanny on Instagram). Again, his work was some of the first I saw before starting my adventure with 140. I loved the way his pieces looked, and the colours always seemed to pop no matter what he drew. Another thing about the colours he used were how he didn’t always go with the colours you associated with those characters. Thirdly, Doaly (@_doaly on Instagram). His work is what I strive to be like. The level that he works at is just insane and I’m always in complete awe of anything he makes. I own a few of his prints and will always be inspired by what he does.
NC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow their passion in illustration? MR: Take your time. Absolutely take your time. When I started this at the beginning of the year, I created loads of pieces and dumped them all on my Instagram account as I wanted to build a following and get noticed. I quickly ran out of pieces and I noticed that my work began to be more quantity over quality and that I was rushing pieces to get them posted on Instagram. It became unhealthy and I wasn’t enjoying it at all. So, my advice would be to take your time. The way I did that was I stopped posting and I built a website instead. For about two months now I’ve been writing a blog and only posting to Instagram when I really want to. I feel so much better about my art now.