Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Michael DiMilo is an artist who brings his affectionate humor and whimsical style to a his vector illustrations and animation. His work has appeared on packaging and online brand experiences for companies including Mountain Dew, Frito Lay and SCJohnson.
He has produced original animation for broadcast and social media. His animated films have appeared in Film Festivals around the country.
Pizza Hut ▪ IBM ▪ Frito Lay ▪ Pepsi ▪ Mountain Dew ▪ Cracker Jack ▪ Ziploc ▪ Florsheim Shoes ▪ Bed, Bath & Beyond ▪ Sprecher Beer ▪ Tiki ▪ Palermo's Pizza ▪ Smartfood ▪ Naked Baker
INterview with Michael DiMilo:
How old were you when first realized you wanted to become an artist?
From the time I was about six I knew I wanted to be an artist.
Do you still have any of your early artwork?
I have drawings and artwork that date back to when I was in grade school.
Have you studied art formally?
I took classes in illustration as part of the design program in college. That is where I learned about the artists from Pushpin Studios. I admire their intelligence and playful adaptation of historical styles.
Is there an artist whose work you admire? What is it about their artwork that intrigues you?
The work of Barbara Nessim I find inspirational. I love how her work doesn't distinguish itself as either commercial or fine art. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Nessim when I was a student at UW Milwaukee. Her client work flows directly from her many sketchbooks.
How did you arrive at your current style. What techniques or authors inspired you?
I have always loved animation and have sought out ways to commingle illustration and motion art from my college days where I studied film and art history. I worked for many years as an art director at advertising agencies in Milwaukee where I would incorporate animation into what might have been traditional illustration. Saul Bass is a designer whose work I very much admire. He would incorporate the same striking visuals in his poster design as in movie title sequences so the art was doing double duty. He also exhibited an impeccable eye for typography.
What are the sources for your inspiration? Do you have a muse? Do you have a process you employ to generate ideas?
I love sketching people in public spaces. People communicate volumes through posture and gesture. My ideas come from active free association where many concepts are poured out and then reassembled to find things that work.
Where do you find inspiration, concepts or images for your illustrations? Do you have a purpose, a key message about important topics you wish to portray through your artwork?
Often I am inspired to produce works that comment on current events. I think of illustration as a social form of communication. I like to handle social topics with humor.
What clues might you provide to help viewers understand your art?
I try to approach my work with a sense of play. My art is seldom overly heavy or serious. If there is a visual metaphor or pun I respect the viewer so they feel like they are in on the joke.
Do you have cultural references to which you gravitate?
I am interested in topics of current news events, music and lifestyle imagery. I like to think about how we go about our daily lives reflects on who we are.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
Currently I am collaborating with a musician to produce a series of animated social media videos that address the issue of media literacy. The idea is to use the very media where misinformation and conspiracies spread to encourage fact-checking.
How do you set up your job when you get a new contract?
When setting up a job for a new contract I like to organize the brief and any client direction in one place. I then collect inspiration, reference and begin preliminary sketches from there.
Can you describe your creative process?
I like to get information about who the audience is for a project ensure the visual message is on target. I pan out my initial ideas in a sketchbook with lots of loose sketches. As the ideas start to take shape I introduce color and move toward sketching and storyboarding ideas on the iPad. If the project is animated I will move toward a simple animatic to block out timing and transitions.
What tools do you use most in your work?
I love sketching on heavyweight sketch pad that can take pen ink and markers. The iPad is a great tool for drawing and animating. It is my go-to device for drawing digitally.
How do you re-charge when a difficult assignment nears the deadline?
I re-charge with a cup of double espresso with a twist of lemon.
What is your favorite activity when you take a break from the studio?
A leisurely bike ride to the neighborhood record store is a nice way to take a break from the studio.
What would be your dream illustration assignment?
My dream assignment would be to create an animated advertising campaign for a food or beverage company spanning broadcast and social media.