Interview with Mikey Burton(@mikeyburton)

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Today, the day after the day after Thanksgiving, we have a fantastic questions set with Mikey Burton, legendary designer, letterer and illustrator. That pretty much sums it up. Here we go...

How/why/when did you get into design?

Growing up, I really enjoyed drawing and making people laugh. When it was time for college, I wanted to do something creative but I didn't want to be a starving artists. I heard that Graphic Design was the best career path for weirdos like me. To be completely honest, I went into design pretty blindly; I didn't even know what a typeface was. I had some vague thought that I'd get to design CD packaging or something.

What is your favorite activity?

Work. I love to work, and if I don't work, I get really sad.

Who is your biggest idol?

My Mom and Dad. They are the hardest workers I know, and they instilled that work ethic in me.

What does your workspace look like?

I work out of my tiny apartment in Philadelphia, PA. My kitchen/breakfast nook/living room and office all are the same thing. As long as my space is clean and organized, I'm happy.

What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

Turning my thesis project of book covers into a real product. Growing up, I was more interested in watching TV than cracking a book. I feel like if I would have taken more time to read when I was younger, I’d have an easier time comprehending things as an adult.  By pairing an edgy, illustrative style (strongly influenced by rock/movie poster art) with books questioning authority, the project is supposed to make reading cool. I spent four months reading, sketching, designing and illustrating. I got a little too wrapped up in the work I was producing, and forgot that this was a school assignment that had a paper with it. I noticed the deadline for the paper was less that a week away and I hadn’t even started yet. I feverishly spent the next few days writing and haphazardly turned the whole thing in. Unfortunately, no matter how great the design work was, my paper was absolutely horrible and substantially brought my grade down to barely passing. I did graduate and receive my masters, but the whole experience was something I just wanted to forget. 

I put the project out of my mind for the next few years until I was approached by Out of Print Clothing. Out of Print takes the beautiful and forgotten out-of-print book covers from yesteryear and gives them a new life as T-shirts. They approached me about my project, and producing a selection of my covers as their first artist series. It’s also a great one-for-one company. Every time you buy a shirt, they give a book to an underprivileged child. Knowing that my book covers are getting books into the hands of children (even in this roundabout way), makes me feel like my initial idea actually became a reality. 

Here is the desktop background I designed for Mr. Burton. Click the button to view and buy!

David Silverman