Tell us a bit about your background, and the disciplines and media your work comprises. I was born in Missouri the son of Diane and Rick Perry in a typical suburban setting. My parents got divorced and then at the age of 14 we moved to Kansas where my back yard was miles of open land. I once went for a walk in my back yard and found a dead horse that had been killed by a wolf who ate its belly. No joke. We had apple trees and a pond. Horses in the back and cows across the street. Mowing the lawn took all day. I had very supportive parents and grandparents. My grandfather (who is a painter / claims to have made a flying car) when I was very young gave me a painting he made as a gift that I adored. As I got older and started looking at art history books, I came to realize that he had given me a Piccasso and called it his own. At the age of 14 he gave me a tackle box full of paints and that was it; from then on out I spent most of my time making paintings. I went to school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where I began my education as a painter but quickly realized that design was my path. I fell in love with design because it gave me the opportunity to do whatever was right for the idea I had. ie. if I wanted to use photography I used it. If something called for an illustration then that was the answer. Design seemed to be the medium that allowed me the most diversity. When I graduated I got a job as a designer at Urban Outfitters where I worked for the next 3 years. About a year ago I left Urban to start my own studio and that is where you find me today. I always try and incorporate a variety ideas and techniques into each and every project. I have a particular interest in typography, illustration and story telling. I think about color, texture and tactility.
What kind of messages do you infuse in your personal work beyond visual interest? I would say the messages are usually very simple and honest. I am a positive happy person and I wake up each day excited about the world and I try to infuse that into everything I make. I also try to have fun when I am making things and believe in laughter. If I can make myself or someone else smile I feel like I have succeeded. But in addition to that, process is very important. I have always believed in the generating of piles, and I look at the process of “making” like exercise. The more you exercise the stronger you become. Needless to say I do a lot of making for its own sake.I often times think about water and other natural elements but for the most part I try and just let things happen.
Would you share some artists, authors, movements, places, ideas that you’ve found influential? I think that a lot of my influences come from my peers that are doing exciting things. Talking about making and discussing process and ideas.I love all of the usual amazing things in the world: vintage illustration, american quilts, anything about typography, most outsider art, bodegas, accidents (for instance I was at this bar last night and it had the most beautiful tables and they were a complete accident), music, David Sedaris, diagrams on how the world works, kittens, flea markets and thrift stores. I don’t go to Kansas often enough but that place is amazing like the ocean.
Can you let us know what you’re working on currently? My first book titled Hand Job – A catalog of typography is about to land in stores. I am currently working on a few new books. A book about the use of patterns with Princeton Architectural Press. A book about the midwest that I am shopping around. I am designing a book for Chronicle Books. Planning the second issue of my magazine titled Untitled a… I have been art directing a new literary magazine called “The Crier” that I am really excited about; we are on our 3rd issue. Working on some records and illustrations. I am getting ready for a few art shows. Making tee shirts for myself and for clients. Giving a talk in Kentucky and in Minneapolis. I have an idea for a skate deck that I want to make. Art directing a fashion story for Brooklyn Industries. Just finished up something for Zune. A music video with some friends in LA. And some new typefaces that I will probably never finish.
About Mike Perry
Hello. My name is Michael Perry. I run a small design studio in Brooklyn, NY that has recently celebrated its 1 year aniversary. I am currently working on my second book with Princeton Architectural Press. My first book titled “Hand Job” is due out early fall 2007. I also recently started a magazine called Untitled a… I would love to talk to you about any ideas or projects that you might have coming up. Please feel free to contact me with questions, or for whatever your design, illustration, type, art direction, or art needs may be.