Mike Lythgoe, aka Like Mike, took some time to talk to us about his background as a designer and his process. He goes into some detail about how his own visual identity came about, so a good read if you’re interested in how designers evolve and develop their work. He talks about his clean, geometric style, which uses a mixture of photography and digitally rendered forms.
Can you tell us a little more about your background as a designer?
I graduated from illustration at Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2006, following that I moved over to Vancouver B.C, I was born in Canada and always wanted to move back there after university. After freelancing there for a year or so, I decided that if I really wanted to purse my career in illustration and design, I would have to head back over the pond and set up in London.
After a week in London, I landed an internship in the print department at Alexander McQueen, this was my first experience in a studio environment, it was an amazing experience and I ended up designing quite a few prints for the pre spring/summer 2011 collection. After McQueen, I moved on to an internship at creative agency YCN. This then developed into a full-time job on the design team. During this whole time, I was still pushing my freelance work and making contacts with people in the industry.
It got to the point where my freelance work was taking over so I made the decision to go freelance on a full-time basis. And thankfully the guys at YCN let me continue to work from their studio in Shoreditch, freelancing can be a pretty lonely pursuit, so sharing a buzzing studio with other creatives is really valuable.
Have you always had a photographic element to your work?
My work has come a real long way since I graduated, my final project did include photography but in a completely different way to how I use it now. It’s inevitable that your work will change and develop, and the use of photography is the one thing that has remained constant. I have always shown a real interest in photography and I love being able to use it in contrast to the highly structured computer generated elements that I use.
How much involvement do computers have in a project from start to finish?
When I first read a brief for any commission I will sometimes draw a really rough idea of composition and certain elements that I will need to include to convey the intended message. But most of the time I just write lists of elements and ideas and then build an image around this when im working on the computer.
Although 95% of my images are done on the computer, the process is still very organic, I don’t like to plan too much, I just get to work and see where it takes me.
What techniques or pieces of equipment have been most present in the development of your own style?
My work is created with two programmes, Photoshop and Illustrator. I have sat through endless hours of video tutorials to learn as much as I possibly could about both of these programmes. Once you have a solid knowledge base of what you are working with, it allows you to explore your own way of doing things, this is a crucial element in the development of my approach to design.
I also studied technical 3D drawing at school and that was where my inspiration for using 3D elements came about, after discovering that I could replicate this process on my computer I was totally hooked on weaving this into my illustrations. It’s hard to say how I developed my own style, but I think a lot of it was through trail and error, finding out what works together and what doesn’t.
What would be your dream commission?
My dream commission would have to be some form of ad campaign for Nike, they always work with amazing artists and have a great understanding of contemporary design and illustration.
© Mike Lythgoe, 2011.