Grad Spotlight: Michael Driver

Michael Driver is a 3rd year student at Kingston University specialising in illustration.

We chat to him about juggling client work whilst studying, his post-graduate aspirations and how joining Puck Collective has provided a platform to push his work even further.

You’re just a few months away from graduation, what aspect of your course have you most enjoyed?

I think when I look back on my three years of University I think that the best thing my course offered me was lots of tutorial time. There is something really encouraging about a tutor who is willing to sit and talk to you about your ideas and your work and how best to tackle briefs. Aside from regular contact time with tutors i really enjoyed location drawing, not because I was any good at it but because it gave me a great opportunity to explore museums and places that i might not of ever been aware of.

We spotted that you’re a member of Puck Collective – how did you get involved ? What is it you enjoy most about working alongside the other members of the collective?

About six months ago Puck opened up their portfolio submissions to new members, and I had met a few of them at Pick Me Up the year before and thought they were nice guys so I applied. I wasn’t really expecting to get in but i thought I may as well give it a go! I was really chuffed to find out I’d got in. Its opened up more exhibition opportunities and let me meet some older and wiser people which has been great. I think its great to work with other people in general. I think sometimes when I’m working a lot I’m in my own bubble most of the time and I think the opportunity to do a exhibition or a book or a drink and draw session gives me stuff to look forward to and a reason to go out. Aside from that, Puck are a lovely bunch and I really admire their drive. Unless I’m mistaken most Puck members work in the creative industry, many for some years, so I think there’s perhaps only one or two that might of left University in the last 2-3 years. I think I’m the only student in the collective.

I’m in my own bubble most of the time and I think the opportunity to do a exhibition or a book or a drink and draw session gives me stuff to look forward to.

I’m about a month or so away from the very end of University its really exciting but also very daunting. The last few months I’ve been doing alright, I’ve been in a fair few exhibitions, two of which have been with Puck Collective. Work wise things aren’t bad I’ve been picking up bits of work here and there some has been paid other bits haven’t been but have been worth doing for other returns. Everything is a bit of a juggle but I’ve tried my hardest to stay proactive during this turbulent time making sure to submit to things.

Can you name any clients you’ve been commissioned by so far – how did they find you?

I work monthly for Nottingham based LeftLion Magazine, I’ve worked on a few projects with No culture Icons and Awesome Merchandise. I recently finished the identity for Bristol Comic and Zine Fair which is soon to drop.Most of my client list so far has come from either finding my social media pages or through me seeing theres a job going and contacting them and showing my portfolio.

Self promotion – what are your thoughts on this? What tools and techniques have you found to be most successful so far?

Most of my work has come off the back of social media, so I try to keep all of my feeds updated regularly. I think that has served me well so far. However in a month or so I’ll graduate and I need to be thinking about how I’m going to secure bigger clients. I’m in the process of creating an editorial portfolio and I’m thinking of getting a few runs of prints to send out to art directors to attract work.

I think it’s a lot easier to discard a badly written email from a inexperienced graduate then it is a nice print in the post.

How would you describe your working process? What materials do you most enjoy working with?

My working process is a real jumble! I usually focus on a idea, then thumbnail till I’m really happy with the composition and then i’ll start working digitally dropping in bits of hand drawn elements and print textures that I’ve either made or stolen from my universities scrap paper draw. I’ve recently been trying to incorporate some painting aspects into my work using crushed water soluble pastels and black carbon.

Do you take day trips or travel often? How does getting out in the world fuel your creativity?

I try to go to as many exhibitions and museums in my spare time as I can. I’m not sure if this necessarily resonates in my work but I feel its really important for me to be creatively and culturally fed from outside the realm of illustration and design.

What role do visual journals play in your work for recording ideas and dipping in and out of for inspiration?

At the moment I use loose pieces of paper and a sketch book to help me develop stuff. I used to unhealthily live in my sketchbook but now I find it to be more of a help in regards to process then anything else. From time to time  I will binge in my sketchbook and fill it out in a week or two.

Tell us about the last book you read / documentary that you watched – ­ is there a subject matter interests you most?

I’m a real sucker for a documentary even those shoddy ones that Channel Four make. There’s a really great documentary called ‘Guys and Dolls’ which is about men that have relationships with full sized dolls. It’s pretty strange to say the least, I think you can find it in parts on YouTube. Most of the stuff I watch I enjoy because it’s really foreign to me and that’s what I find so interesting. There’s nothing better than feeling really bogged down with work then watching a documentary about a guy who maintains sewers for a living. It very quickly gives you a better sense of perspective.

The last book I read was ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman saying its a fantastic novel is a real understatement it really elevates comic art as a whole.

What is your go-to snack of choice to fuel your creativity and productivity ahead of a big deadline?

My go to snack is chocolate I have a really sweet tooth and chocolate is my favourite. If I was a bad guy chocolate would be my weak spot.

Are there any creative projects out there that you’ve seen recently that you wish you’d made?

That’s a tough one! There is so much good stuff out there at the moment! The Jaunt project by Jeroen Smeets is a pretty exciting project. I don’t wish I had created it though.. more so because I wouldn’t know where to begin but I’d love to be part of it!

Are there any writers / architects / designers that you admire and look up to? Who are they and what do you like most about their work?

I will forever be incredibly fond of Keaton Henson’s work, be it his music or his drawings. His work is quite dark and his music is simply beautiful. I’ll always have a soft spot for his work. it’s his work which really got me into illustration in the first place. Outside the realm of illustration and design I really love the work of Claire Curneen who works primarily in ceramics. What I like best about Claire’s work is how she depicts the human figure.

Do you work from a studio or home at the moment?

I’d love to have a studio, but right now it really isn’t viable. I think having a studio would help me to feel like I actually have a proper job. At the moment most of the time I work in my bedroom which is great because working is flexible but bad because its harder to separate my personal life from my work life.

What would you most like to be doing with your illustration in 5-10 years time?

In 5-10 years time I’m hoping to be making a living from this at the least. Other than that I’m not too sure! It would be great to think I’d had a solo show and maybe designed a toy or something but I think that’s really wishful thinking.



Posted on Jun 1st, 15 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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