The portfolio of Mikey Joyce shows how sometimes, not following the traditional route into graphic design can provide a more eclectic output. With just an Instagram account displaying his design flair, Mikey’s work jumps between the silly and the serious as he nestles his way into the design world, adopting the title of a designer, creative director and artist.
Born in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles and now living and working in New York, Mikey is still exploring the possibilities of a design career at the age of just 23. Experimenting with Photoshop was his entry point to design, creating bits and pieces since he was just a kid. “My early work was all personal work,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I was making digital collages and video art purely for myself, attempting to push software to its extremes.”
Consequently Mikey has a signature design style, one that merges typography, illustration and photography, in a music-focused portfolio that on first glance is difficult to date. Some record sleeves or posters appear entirely modern, such as the use of photography on the sleeve work for Lewis Grant, whereas other pieces like his Daisy record sleeve are reminiscent of a 90s dance pop hit artwork. This broad design scope is inspired by a number of influences, his current home being the most visually obvious. “The maximalism and grit of New York City is pretty evident in my work,” he explains. “Being constantly surrounded by garbage, unreadable graffiti, mangled trucks and crazy shop signage is extremely disorienting and I love it.” Music is also clearly a driving creative force for Mikey too, particularly club music, as “there’s no escape unless you really try to avoid it,” he points out. “The unrelenting energy always peeks through my work in the forms of texture, colour, rave-inspired custom type, or sometimes literal collages of garbage.”
In terms of a graphic tone, the designer notes humour as “the most important element in my work,” he says. “I’m still super young and using my early 20s to only focus on serious design seems like a misuse of time I’ll never get back. That’s not to say silliness dictates my entire output — I’m versatile enough to work within a professional scope, but it’s pretty obvious that the serious straightforward projects in my body of work are punctuated by ridiculousness.” Examples of this include poking fun at his own branding by “falsely claiming that a graphic of a fairy sparkle next to an illustration of Mickey Mouse is my new logo,” or translating his music taste into design in a “graphic tee that sarcastically lists the sins that apply to everybody that listens to music with high frequencies”. Despite the self mockery that inspires these projects, Mikey’s following eat it up, for instance his t-shirt design post is full of comments by fans begging for a restock.
Looking towards the rest of the year, Mikey plans to continue to keep “a healthy balance of calculated and convoluted silliness,” that clearly seems to be working. “I like to stay on my toes, and in the near future hope to experiment more with apparel design, fleshing out my custom type into complete display typefaces, and video art.”
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.