Michael Wylie tells about passion for art, typography and football
Another guest of ours, Michael Wylie, aside from amazing murals and artworks can show you how to choose the role you really love, give your work a personal touch, play football and spark the creative process with the help of… sketchbooks!
— Greetings, Michael. We are so happy that you agreed to have this small conversation. Let’s begin, then? Can you tell us how did your story start in the first place?
— From an early age I have always been creative and some very inspiring art teachers at my school helped develop this passion for art. After I left school in Sunderland in the northeast of England I moved to Manchester to study art at Manchester Metropolitan University. During my foundation year at the university I undertook my first typography project. I wanted to create artwork that was accessible to all so I started printing slogans and words on clothing and putting up inspirational messages all over the city. Thinking back, it probably wasn’t as profound as I thought it was at the time but it did give me an insight into how people react differently to typography artwork. I was intrigued by the range mediums I could use to deliver a message and the variety of personal responses that the project received…this definitely continues to inspire me. I’ve had a range of jobs since leaving education including admin roles, screen-printing and teaching, but I’ve always known that I wanted to work for myself in a creative role. Luckily in 2015 I was at a point where I was making enough from my freelance work to leave my teaching role and I haven’t looked back since.
— What was about typography that fascinated you?
— Words have always fascinated me. It’s more the interpretation of words that appeals to me. You can make a statement in a piece of art and that can incite completely different responses from each person who views it. People can attach their own meanings or draw on their own memories to respond to your work, this creates a completely personal experience for the viewer..
I also love how open typography is, you can explore typography using many different methods, you can incorporate sculpture, animation, collage, painting, to name a few, there are no restrictions to your art practice.
— Did you explore something as an artist? Aside from typography, murals, I mean?
— I’m from a fine art background so previously I have explored sculpture, printmaking and commercial graphic design before embarking on the typography path. I do feel however that every artistic experience I’ve had in the past does influence the art work I create now and I actually have some plans to create some sculptural typography artwork next year. I’ve also been involved in education when was a lecturer at Further Education colleges. I taught art and design students and it was great to work with young people and see how they approach a creative brief and develop solutions to the problem in hand. It was a learning experience for me as much as it was for the students.I try all the time to work on different styles, now the most i like is illustration and digital animation.
— Do you remember your very first serious project?
— My first big typography project was in a bar/restaurant where I had been commissioned to produce around ten murals. I approached the project very eagerly, pretending to the client that I’d done this a thousand times. Of course I completely underestimated the time it would take (I took around double the amount of time!) and definitely undercharged them but it was a huge learning experience. Ultimately the client was really happy with the work and I’ve had plenty of projects following on from it so I guess you can count it as a success.
— Is there any artistic principle that you always stick to as your guiding light?
— I guess the one principle I have is that I always create my work by hand. I love the idiosyncrasies of hand-made artwork; the wavers or deviations in a line that show you that the artwork is a handmade piece. Those little ‘mistakes’ give the artwork personality and a uniquely human-touch. My art style often changes and develops but the one constant is that it is always hand-created.
Another more practical principal is to always evaluate your practice and your projects. At the end of any project I always sit back and note down the positives and negatives and how I can improve for the next project.
— Can you name several things that inspire you?
— I’m inspired by music, quotes, places, people, environment, architecture…the list goes on. I think that you have to be open to inspiration from all aspects of your life. I was recently in Japan and loved the geometric patterns/textures that adorn their buildings. The huge variety of patterns and shapes seems to sum up craziness and yet structure of Tokyo and Japan so well. When I came home I drew on this inspiration when creating geometric patterns in a mural that I created back in Manchester.
— What do you recommend doing when an artist stumbles upon the lack of inspiration?
— I would say that keeping a sketchbook to recording influences and ideas is a great way to spark the creative process. It gives you a starting point to refer to when you’re in a creative crisis. You may have had some ideas or created some sketches that didn’t work last year out but when you review them they might spark a new idea. Last year I undertook a project #TypeofYear on my Instagram page where I created a typography piece each day that was inspired by a news story on that day. It created an alternative diary of the year and was really fun to do. Not only did I develop my own skills and experimented with a range of mediums, it also gives me a body of work to refer back to when I’m in a creative crisis. Sometimes I might just find a technique that I want to explore, but it always gives me a starting point.
— Do you have any other hobbies? What are they?
— My other hobbies outside of art include football; I support Sunderland AFC my hometown team. My passion for football definitely has inspired some of my work as in 2015 I created a design based on the history of Sunderland AFC from a real fans point of view. This led me to work with football fans all over the country to create designs based on their experiences with their clubs. I love the passion and tribal nature of football and football fans.
I’m also a big fan of music and this again has inspired many artworks featuring some of my favourite song lyrics. I really enjoy the personal experiences around those songs that people share with me when I’m at events…one song or lyric can illicit so many responses.
I’m also love walking in the fells in the Lake District, you can be walking for hours and not see a soul. During my #Typeofyear project I did create a type piece on top of a mountain using found rocks…that was great fun and the image is amazing, what an art studio that was!
— How are things with your plans for the nearest future?
— I’ve just finished a big project for a housing developer, Manchester Life. I spent the last month producing three large-scale murals at their new development. This was my biggest project to date, the murals totaled approx. 280m2. I’m busy lining up some new mural projects for the new year and I’ll be spending some time over the next two months working on some of my personal projects that have been side-lined while I’ve been too busy this year. I’ve been looking at exploring some deconstructed hand-painted type designs so keep an eye out for those soon.