When I stumbled upon Michael’s concept art for the new Burton film, I was floored. His stuff is magnificent, glorious, impeccable in technique but with imagination to boot. Artists like this don’t come along that often.He works traditionally and digitally – an obvious master at both.
Found a number of interviews with Michael on the web. (That’s what being associated with Disney will do for an artist, overnight.) Here are some good tidbits.
From the LA Times blog- Hero Complex
HC: But you didn’t know you were “auditioning” to work on “Alice in Wonderland’?
MK: They said there were a couple of illustrators – kinda like a competition — so would you please draw a caterpillar. Like think of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” real actors with animated features. I did that in one day … I tried to do the best that I could. I got the job and finally met the vice president of Sony Imageworks [Debbie Denise]. She said what movie I’d be working on. She said it was Tim Burton and “Alice in Wonderland.” I was totally like fainting.
HC: When did you first get into illustrating?
MK: I was always drawing, from kindergarten age. I didn’t really go to art school, I just self trained. At that time I always felt self-conscious that I don’t know too much, now I kinda find that’s what makes it a little more special. It’s not the taste of the professors or one of my [peers].
SQ When you’re starting a new character what are you looking for and what methods do you take to create it?
MK: I try to prevent from doing the same approach over and over again when designing characters, because each design should look unique, I think an artist should be a mix an inventor, a scientist and a craftsman in equal shares. Therefore he should experiment with drawing and ideation techniques, both in traditional media and digitally, and switch between this techniques for each project. I use basically every method and technique that comes to my mind for that process.
MK: I do my best not to stick to only one universe, cause there are so many more!
I’m somewhere between movies, comics, fine arts, animation, architecture and design. I simply don’t want to decide if I am a concept artist, illustrator, fine artist or whatever; I want to do all of that!
I would be bored like hell if I had to be a pure comic artist, painting the same characters over and over again. I need to experiment, transform, invent. Art influences film, film influences fashion and the other way round.
Everything is connected with everything, that’s a fact; you just have to open your eyes. It’s amazing where each project takes me. Each one is a new experience and all together is a journey.
MK: There are hundreds of definitions of what art is and what art should be. If we say, art is what you see in a museum then as of now I’m not producing art. I don’t really care if a piece of art is displayed in a museum, comic store, movie theater or anywhere, it just has to move me. I know this is not the only truth, but for me it’s a good way to navigate in that ocean of visual impressions. There’s a lot of crap in comic stores and in museums and at art fairs as well, but there are always a few pieces of art which stand out and which I think of even weeks or years after. If we say: art is a language of creativity, which moves and inspires some people when they look at it, I would say yes, I’m an artist.