If you find yourself on Michael's personal website, you immediately get a sense of his character. There's a whole heap of humour and a dose of humility. He doesn't take himself too seriously but is passionate about the people and causes he gets behind. Whether he's focused on branding, design or illustration – collaboration and play are at the heart of everything he does.
A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Michael's already enjoyed much recognition during a varied and rewarding career. He received the ADC Young Guns and New Visual Artists awards early on, recognising the world's top creatives under 30. A decade later, he's happily still at the helm of Franklyn, but much has changed since the pandemic and, more recently, since becoming a father.
In this episode, we get quite nostalgic, talking about Michael's childhood in Chicago and how his time spent with friends and growing up watching John Hughes movies inspired how he is today. With collaboration being so important to him, it almost feels as though that '80s innocence of bike rides, tree climbing and scratched knees, and occasional shenanigans with friends has never really left him.
It's this optimism that shines through his personality and his work. We've mentioned how he feels about "play", which comes across in his illustration practice – but whilst he mostly pokes fun at the world around him, he simultaneously highlights important issues. Here, he gives us a wonderful insight into studio life beyond New York City, the difficult balance of career and fatherhood, and the legacy he wants to leave for his son. And we discover why he might just make a short film with childhood friends, inspired by those seemingly simpler times.