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Mig Me Some Sharpie Art

Sometimes, the artist — and the art — just speaks for itself…

mig-reyesHey there, I’m Mig, and I’m a designer living in Chicago. I’ve been lucky enough to work for really great clients around the country, collaborating with small design studios to bigger agencies alike. I’m super stoked to have recently joined the team at skinnyCorp / Threadless. Aside from that, I’m heavily involved within the Chicago design community, and I currently serve as the social media liaison for AIGA National. Beyond that, you can also find me contributing to CMYK Magazine as well as Scott Hull’s Visual Ambassador. Awards and recognition are neato, but I’d rather be a give-a-damn designer that makes a difference-all while helping other young-gun creative types do the same. A stickler for great typography, I dabble and doodle in the worlds of print, web, motion and user interface. I’m often engaged in conversations about key frames, motion blur, letterpress, small caps and why Internet Explorer can’t do any good besides break the box model. That, and I slightly obsess over street photography. Beyond design, I like getting my hands into other creative endeavors. Good writing is just as important to me as good design. I’m all about embracing social media-and yes-chocolate chip cookies are indeed the way to my heart.

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And now, Mig makes some chitty-chat about his work:

How did you get started as a communication designer?

happy-face-penWhen I was just little tot, before I even went to school, I remember my mom teaching me how to draw letters (not write them.) As the school years passed, I often found myself doing “bubble letters” whenever the opportunity arose. I didn’t realize it at first, but I definitely had an infatuation for hand-lettering and typography.

In high school, while the other kids were in Chess Club or after school sports, I was busy spending my nights learning Photoshop. It’s safe to say that by this point, I knew what I was doing for college: design school. Here I am, just over a year out.

Tell us a little about your genre. Are there lots of artists who do what you do? Where are they concentrated? What makes your work stand out from the rest?

I like to go by “communication design” because I can’t help but love designing for more than one medium. From print, web to motion… I think there’s value in exploration. During the day, I’m all for web and interactive design. I use Sharpie markers to sketch wireframes and page thumbnails.

By night, I’m rather obsessed with posters and illustration. Naturally, Sharpie plays a key role in illustrating and comping.

How would you describe your style?

I truly fancy the simplified feel of screen printed posters, and limiting my work to no more than 4 colors if I can. In a lot of my work, it’s rough and genuine to the pen stroke. You can see that in “Put on a Happy Face” and “Creamy Happy.” If I’m feeling really saucy, I’ll add extra distress to pay homage to the vintage days of poster design. Other times, I’ll aim for a smooth and slick refined approach, much like “Bliss.”

How did you come to use Sharpie markers in your work?

I’ve always been loyal to Sharpie. I’ve gone through myriad different pens and thin markers, but there’s something a bit more versatile about blissSharpie. With Sharpie markers, I can still do my other daily writing tasks aside from all of the sketching and illustrating.

What about Sharpie markers makes them your medium of choice?

Once you lay the ink down, it’s permanent. There’s no turning back. This idea of “forced progress” is why I really love using Sharpie markers in my work, it allows me to see where the line can take me.

There’s no erasing. There aren’t mistakes, but rather, serendipitous visual solutions.

Tell us about some of your own favorite work. What seems to get the most attention or is most coveted by others?

Why do you think people are drawn to your work?

Some of my favorite work are the posters and illustrations I’ve done last minute. When I don’t have a lot of time to think about what to do, I’m put in the mind set to just go wherever the design is headed. I really love doing typographic exploration with UnderConsideration’s Word It, where they have the creative community interpret a given word each month. The last one I did was “Flow,” which started completely with Sharpie pens only.

The one element that I believe draws people to one’s work is authenticity. You can download all of the stock photos in the world, piece together your latest clip art collection… but at the end of the day, it’s what you crafted by hand that counts.

Can you describe the process you go through to create your work?

I try to keep the process as organic as possible to avoid getting stuck designing by routine. For illustrations and posters, I like to sketch really rough thumbnails in a small notebook at first. When I have a good feel as to where the visual is going, I’ll bring out bigger sheets of paper and begin illustrating and fleshing out the line work.

In the end, I scan in all of my Sharpie’d illustrations to my laptop. From there, I might use the illustration as is, or I’ll convert them to vector paths and refine them from there.

Either way, it always starts with a hand-drawn sketch.

flowWhat are your inspirations?

Going to live shows and concerts. Stickers and graffiti on the streets of Chicago. And best of all, jokes and stories that my friends and I end up reflecting on. I try to pull inspiration from real emotion and passion, that’s where the authenticity lies.

As far as people I admire, the list goes on forever. But here’s a few…

• The Small Stakes
• Delicious Design League
• Modern Dog
• and of course, Aesthetic Apparatus

What statement are you trying to make, if any?

With music posters, I try to convey an unconventional vibe and all-around good time. But really, sometimes I draw and illustrate simply to keep myself creatively sharp (and sane.) Sometimes, my friends and everyone else’s reactions tell me the story, as opposed to the other way around.

Mig’s Markers:

sharpie-pens

Mig's Tools

Sharpie Pen
Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker
Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Marker
Sharpie Retractable Fine Point Permanent Marker

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3 thoughts on “Mig Me Some Sharpie Art

  1. nice organic illustrations. a lot of freedom. your process sounds very similar to mine…I get excited about getting out whatever’s in my head on pen and paper first.

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