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Michael Mullan artwork

Michael Mullan

Originally from Chicago, Michael Mullan is an artist and illustrator known for creating fun, colorful collections that are popular on the wall, and on products. Mullan earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Millikin University and a MFA in Illustration from SCAD. He currently resides in Vermont where he works as a freelance illustrator, hand-letterer and a surface designer. His playful and positive words are an inspiration daily to our team at Recently, our PR staff had a chance to interview Michael to get up close and personal information. Here's what he's shared about his work, illustration and being a foodie!
Michael Mullan PrintsMullan Art

How did you become an illustrator?

When I was in art school I was commissioned to draw a series of book illustrations for a local author. That was the first time I realized getting paid to draw was an actual thing. I went on to get my MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design and took off from there.

If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be doing?

I'm a big foodie. I'd buy a food truck and park it on a mountain. All you can eat burritos at the top!

Illustration is really on trend - Why do you think that is?

Young artists coming out of art school are tech savvy and taking advantage of design software to create art that is fast to develop and adaptable. There are so many outlets for independent artists to get their work out to the public and young illustrators are putting themselves at the front of that movement - using social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, and customizing their own products to sell on sites like Zazzle, Cafe Press, Society6, and Etsy.

What advice would you give an illustrator starting out?

I learned a ton from exploring new techniques and making mistakes. Don't be afraid to try new things and fail. Make that a part of your development. Also, create a ton and learn to edit yourself. Don't let one ugly piece in your portfolio hurt your chance of getting work.
Michael Mullan ArtworkJimmy Kimmel Michael Mullan

How did you discover your art style and has your art style changed/developed since the start of your career?

Vegas Pool Hall My style developed through a lot of trial and error. I paid close attention to what methods I enjoyed and what came most naturally to me. I'm always aiming to improve and stay current so my style is an ongoing process.

There were a lot of artists and concepts that inspired me along the way that helped direct me to where I'm at right now. I love outsider art, folk art, and mid-century modern art. My tendency to let my natural drawing hand show through comes from that influence. I studied graphic design and illustration in art school, so combining digital and traditional media made a lot of sense to me. I didn't fully merge the two mediums until I was working professionally.

What part of being an artist is the most fun for you?

Type Sax Square I love the moment of panic and excitement that comes when getting an email/call about a new project. I never know what's going to come my way, so I love the anticipation. Also, I love the feeling of completion, especially when the art turns out better than anticipated. I've gotten a few really nice emails from aspiring illustrators in the past few years. It's great to connect with other artists who are where I was just a few years ago. I received some great advice early on from established illustrators so I'm always happy to help artists who are starting out.
Framed Michael Mullan PrintsMichael Mullan Products

How did you end up creating artwork for Jimmy Kimmel Live and what part did you like the most?

I get a lot of crazy commissions but they don't always pan out. That was a fun one, but would have been way cooler if it made it to prime time. My favorite part was photoshopping Jimmy. I made him look sharp.

Out of all the advertising projects that you've done, which is your favorite?

I recently worked on branding for a new brewery in Vermont. This was a fun one because I love packaging, I love beer, and it was for a local business. I can't wait to see my work on all sorts of beer swag!

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Still making art, I hope! There's so much I still want to do. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to break into new illustration markets that I haven't broken into yet. I would love to start making handmade products, and would love to get more into painting so I can take on gallery work. Eventually, I see myself in art consulting or teaching. I'd love the chance to help young illustrators follow their passion.
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