SpearTalks: Michael Perry

Posted on October 10, 2008 Under Books

Let's start things off right by saying this: Wow, did we love that Hand Job. Not that that's an atypical reaction for us (we'll take hand-drawn ABC's over Photoshop-perfected ones anytime), but regardless, that book just felt good in our hands.

Well Happy Friday to us, because the man behind Hand Job — the creatively inclined, Brooklyn-based Michael Perry — has just given us another. Over & Over, a book of people-drawn patterns, stays clear of the sexual innuendo that initially got our attention, but still manages to keep our attention in the same way that (your favorite punny porno title here) does. Or doesn't, or used to, or"¦hey. Sometimes, we just prefer a book.

Joshspear.com: We first got to know you through Hand Job, your dirty-sounding yet porn-free hand-drawn typography book. What else is in your history that we should know about?

Mike Perry: I live and work in Brooklyn, NY. I make books, magazines, newspapers, clothing, drawings, paintings, illustrations and teach whenever possible.

My first book, Hand Job, was published by Princeton Architectural Press and came out in 2006. My second book, Over & Over, hit shelves early this fall. I am working on two new book ideas that I am really excited about.

In 2007 I started a magazine called Untitled. It explores my current interests. The first issue was a fashion magazine. Issue 002, which came out this summer, is the swimsuit edition. I have worked with clients from New York Times Magazine, Dwell Magazine, Microsoft Zune, to Urban Outfitters, eMusic, and Zoo York.

In 2004 I was chosen as one of Step magazine’s “30 Under 30”, in 2007 as a groundbreaking illustrator by Computer Arts Projects magazine, and 2008 I received Print magazine’s “New Visual Artist” award and the Art Directors Club — Young Guns 6. I recently had a solo show in London titled “The Landscape between Time and Space.” I feel very fortunate that all of these great things have happened in my short life.

JS: Where did the concept for Over & Over come from?

MP: I found that I was making more and more patterns in my work. Once I noticed this I realized that so many of my friends and peers where doing the same. It seemed like a no brainer from there. There must have been a global feeling about patterns because there were a solid handful of pattern books published this year.

JS: Hand Job featured a ton of work from a big selection of artists. Does Over & Over do the same?

MP: Yeah. 50 different artists.

JS: In an interview you did with Print magazine, you mentioned something about how drawing something over and over “feels good.” I think a lot of people feel like that — it’s like meditation for creative types. How long do you normally spend on a pattern, and how organically does each one come into being?

MP: I am very organic. But I also have a pretty short attention span so I it really varies from piece to piece.

JS: Considering we have such an easy path to perfection through computer arts these days, it’s weird how refreshing hand drawn type/patterns/anythings are. You have some great philosophies on doing things by hand — tell us about them!

MP: I really just think that making things by hands shows the person who made it. I personally love that attribute. That said, I am a believer that although most project can use hand made elements, it is not always the best solution and it is important for contemporary makers to understand that technology is an important part of the creative world we live in.

JS: On that note, so you have personal qualms about digital design that make you lean away from it, or do you just prefer to work by hand?

MP: I don’t really have any qualms with digital design. But I think it is important to distinguish between digital design and design. Design is a solution to a problem; sometimes you use a computer and sometimes you don’t, and digital design is making things digitally in Photoshop or Illustrator. These programs should be used as tools, not the answer. This is something that a lot of educational institutions forget to teach. I get a lot of emails from students and they ask me what programs I use to do my work. The work is not made with Photoshop; Photoshop is just a tool that I use like a pen, marker or paper.

JS: Untitled sounds awesome. What’s the story/goal behind that magazine?

MP: The function of this first issue was to celebrate great photographers, stylists, clothing, and the wonderful handheld physicality of printed matter. My goal for future issues is equally simple: A modestly curated selection of talented artists that are making work around me. Every issue will be a direct reflection of my inspiration and mood at the moment I’m assembling it. As a result, the form and content will change, allowing for the exploration of new ideas and new media. I hope that it will become a continuous forum for engaging the many creative people and possibilities that lie within my reach.

Issue 002 really came about because I thought it would be funny to do a swimsuit edition. From there I wanted to explore the collaboration of photographer and illustrator. At the same time I wanted to grow the magazine size. The size went up from 6 x 9in to 9 x 12 in. And issue 002 is three colors instead of two.

Because spontaneity will be an important part of concepting each book, I have not predetermined the themes and direction of upcoming issues. But there are so many avenues to take, and time will tell… All I can say is that issue 003 is going to explore science!

JS: You seem like you’re one busy guy. How do you balance out, not burn out?

MP: Well"¦ That is the eternal struggle. I moved my office out of my house last year and that has been very healthy for me. Not only am I forced to leave my house everyday but I have to commute and move my legs more then just from my bed to my desk. I think it is important to try and have a life, spend time with friends, travel, exercise. But the more I do this the more I realize that my work grows and evolves.

JS: I kind of need convincing about why the Midwest is best. Want to give it a go?

MP: Well the Midwest needs to stand up and be apart of the country. In these tumultuous times we need to support each other and think bigger than what we have been able to do in the past. The midwest has the roots that grows people who strive to be more. These roots are deep and those of us who have grown from those roots need to be more proactive to help support the idea that it is the best. Over the years I have been given shit for not living in the midwest any more, like I have abandoned those roots, but it's the people who think like that are the problem. It is a big world and we all owe ourselves the opportunity to explore and wonder. It's only through that exploration does the world really grow. And when I plant my roots I want to understand why I have made this decision and have done my part to be a member of the world.