Mike Perry
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Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
2003
Designer at Mike Perry Studio

What are you up to these days?

I live in Brooklyn, New York, and work at Mike Perry Studio. I just finished up some work for the Standard, which is a large hotel in the city. I have a couple of other art projects currently in the works. And I’m also pitching a book right now, which I hope will happen soon.

What recent projects have you enjoyed?

I did a pop-up exhibition last fall called Wondering Around Wandering. It was a Kickstarter-funded, community-based project in my neighborhood. I rented a seven-thousand-square-foot warehouse and converted it into a gallery with dance performances, workshops, openings, and screenings, and it was a proper cultural facility in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of those things. The goal was to share my art world with my neighborhood. And that was pretty amazing. It was just one of those things that was really life changing. It was exhausting, yet it was worth every ounce of money and time that went into it.

In the past you were a designer at Urban Outfitters?

Yes, it was great. It was right at the beginning of the web department. It was at the moment of time when the Internet was powerful, yet people didn’t really think about it. It was such a small part of the Urban Outfitters business that they kind of left us alone to do whatever we wanted, which was amazing. It was a very fun and liberating kind of experience. I learned so much, and it was such a great opportunity to take all of the things I learned at MCAD and put them into practical use.

When did you open your own studio?

I got hired at this little studio called Helicopter in Manhattan. And as soon as I moved to New York and began working here, for some reason I started getting calls for work to do freelance stuff. I had a couple of jobs come in right away, so I quit the job at Helicopter—I had worked there for only about a month. I’ve been busy ever since. I’m pretty much blown away at the opportunities that present themselves. When I was going to school, if someone would have described the path and the possibilities that I’ve experienced as a creative person, I wouldn’t have believed it.

What were your goals when you were younger?

I knew that I wanted to be successful, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I knew that I wanted to make my work and have the ability to do what I wanted to do. But it has actually been better than that. I do a lot of what I want to do, and I also collaborate with people and corporations and do things that I can’t even dream up. I get to do things that are only presented as opportunities and not things you can present to yourself as opportunities. It’s just crazy. When I was at MCAD, I wanted to work with clients like Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Sony—stuff like that. And I’ve done all of them. It’s scary because I’m only thirty-two, and I’ve got a long life ahead of me. I’ve got a lot more work to do, but not in a bad way. It’s exciting. All of the projects that I’ve done are so cool and things that I’m really honored to have participated in.

And now you’ve designed an MCAD viewbook?

Yes. And I remember when I started at MCAD, I wanted to be a painter and wanted to be in the painting program. And even with that mindset, I thought it would be so cool to make one of the viewbooks one day. So amazing. And then, suddenly, the opportunity presented itself. I feel very honored to be a part of the history of the school and its design legacy. I remember when I got my first MCAD viewbook. I just thought, “This thing is just insane and incredible.” I think I was thirteen years old. That’s about nineteen years ago when I first saw a viewbook! Dude, that’s insane! It’s just strange to look back on everything. I grew up in Kansas, in a suburban and rural environment. I had goals for myself and a vision for my future. And it has fully surpassed anything I have ever expected. It’s craziness.

How have you changed since you attended MCAD?

I hope that in spirit I’m the same person I was while I was at MCAD—wide-eyed, excited about the universe, but with a little more of the world under my skin. I try to walk around with an open mind that’s ready for anything.

Do you have any advice for young artists and designers?

Work hard. That’s the thing. I think people think it’s easy to be a creative. But there’s a tradition of struggle in the creative world. The struggle is part of the path of a creative person. For me, it’s about hours and time spent. There are days where it’s pretty chill and relaxing. It’s about being in the studio and working really hard. If you’re not working all the time, and you don’t have the tenacity, then the opportunities don’t present themselves. I was always a very ambitious and motivated person, but I think MCAD has helped harness that. It’s just what you do. It’s not a job—it’s a lifestyle. Be the person that makes the work. You can’t just do the work and hope it works out. It has to be done. MCAD is a great school. We are a force to be reckoned with.