Posted Jan 21st 2008 by

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An interview with
MIKE PERRYwords by , January 2008

Brooklyn-based designer Mike Perry is a master of the art of hand-drawn type, but whilst running his design studio Midwestisbest he makes use of a wide range of techniques and media to come up with some top stuff for a great collection of clients. On top of that, last year he brought out his first book, Hand Job, a collection of inspiring pencil-wielding typographers.

Hello and welcome to Thunder Chunky. How are you doing today?

Wonderful! I just signed a lease on a new studio space and am thrilled about 2008!

Tell us about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

1. I live in Brooklyn, NY
2. I am a Maker of things.
3. I love my JOB!

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly… why is Mid-west best?

Midwestisbest because of the spirit of the people that grow-up and end being creative. Whether they live in the midwest or live elsewhere like myself, I personally share a camaraderie with these people. In a similar way to if you are from Japan and you move to a new city you find people that you share a commonality with, from language to where you were raised. That and I really think that the way I was raised and the location made me who I am today.

Mike Perry Zoo York

Zoo York series with Damien Correll

Your agency has been going for 2 and a half years now. What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered?

I think the biggest challenges were just changing my lifestyle. When I had a full time job it was easy for me to not think about money because I got a pay cheque every week which led me to live my life a bit cheque to cheque. But now I have to think about what will happen if the work doesn’t come. What if I don’t get a gig for 6 months. What will I do. In a lot of ways it has made me have to be a bit more of an adult. But so far things are great and I am booming right ahead.

You brought out your first book in 2007, Hand Job, which is a celebration of hand-drawn type. What made you decide to do a book?

I had always wanted to do a book. I used to do a lot of zines and when I was in college I made a bunch of books. So one day I woke up and made the decision to make it happen.

Mike Perry Handjob

The Hand Job book

Organising any kind of project can be a bit complicated, but gathering work from 55 different contributors must have been a tall order. What were the most enjoyable, and the most frustrating aspects about getting the book made?

The most enjoyable part of the process was getting the submissions in and seeing the book come together. At the same time getting that work was so hard. You give people a deadline and they say they will meet it (and I truly think they mean that) but they don’t and I have to keep emailing them, nagging them.

A large amount of your own work is hand drawn as well. How do you decide what route to go down with each new project? Do you do a lot of sketchbook work?

Tons of sketch book work all the time and just making all the time. A lot of that process infuses into new projects as they come along. I try to not only do hand drawn type. I like to think of myself as multifaceted but I really like doing it that way so it often ends up in the work.

Mike Perry Columbia Uni

Columbia University invite

What would you say are the quintessential pieces of equipment for the designers and illustrators out there who want to dabble in more hands-on media?

I like office supplies a lot. Simple xerox paper and pens. But also water colors and other paints. I just work with what feels right. I also use my computer all the time as another part of my making process. So start as a sketch. Scan it. Print it. Scan it. Color it. Scan other elements. Until the piece is done.

What are you most looking forward to in 2008?

Just seeing what kind of new work I will make! I really enjoy looking at what I have made in my past and seeing how I have grown.

What music are you likely to find playing in the Midwestisbest studio?

So much. I listen to so much. Lately I have been listening to a lot of this radio show called Radio Lab. It is about science.

Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?

Have a little bump and grind.

If you want to see more of Mike’s work, then visit the Midwestisbest site. You can also buy the Hand Job book from there. Go for it, you know you want to!


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(One Comment) - click to comment/read
  • Still in it’s infancy but as a type reference we might be of some use! Found your site through “Not My Type” FB.
    If you do find us interesting then please spread the word.
    We shall . . .
    Mr Nash

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