Myles Hi / How illustration changed my life
I really wish I could remember the first time I did something artistic. That would be great. But it’s been such a long time of doing artistic things, that it’s all mostly a blur now.
Like most kids, I’d guess, I was in a trance whenever a cartoon would come on the TV. I had my own, cubic shaped television in front of my bed, during a time when Cartoons aired on TV 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was quite a time to be alive as a kid, honestly. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sneak and watch cartoons, or play games with the volume all the way down. Posters of my favourite animated characters hung from my bedroom walls.
When I would go to school the following day, regardless of how little I’d sleep, I don’t remember ever being sleepy in elementary school. But I do remember drawing. A lot. I would always practice drawing the characters from shows I had marathoned through the previous evening, binging on Looney Tunes way before Netflix was a thing. I really got into a trance when it was time to make art in school. I got lost in it. I noticed that as I got older, kids around me cared less and less about art class. But I was a kid that was excited for art class, all the way throughout grade school from 1st to 12th grade. I felt like how I imagine star quarterbacks felt when it was game time. I knew it was my time to shine, and do what I do best, regardless of who was watching.
After school it was right back to watching cartoons. Sometimes I’d sit and watch cartoons with one of my childhood friends, and we’d just draw the whole time simultaneously.
I was a dreaming, heads in the clouds type of kid. I pictured myself as an illustrator, musician, filmmaker, photographer, all that. I felt like, if I was an artist, I could switch between any art form I want. It was a part of my evolution. My mother wasn’t really big on me being an artist. She much preferred that I would be something that was, probably in her opinion, more prestigious. A lawyer, or doctor, the typical occupational wish list for parents who want their children to have a sure path to succeeding. Those things never interested me, and the thought of being that just made life seem very deflating to me. I was into being creative, and indulging in things that were made by creative people.
Around age 15 is when I started to see a path to an actual lifestyle as an artist. I think its very interesting that the moment came from me playing video games, because at the time video games were not seen as much of a positive thing. There was another kid, whom I had constantly played games with via this army online game. He had made a very cool banner for our squad, 8 different banners, one for each of us with our username on the corner. He sent it to me through the AOL chat. “HOW’D YOU DO THAT?” I asked him through my headset, mind blown. The headset beeped back and he replied “Photoshop. I’ll send you a copy.” I’ve opened an Adobe Creative Suite app almost every single day since then, and that was 18 years ago. I’m not even kidding.
I was into music too, so in photoshop I would make a lot of album artwork. That was my thing. Sometimes I would try to illustrate the cover, and other times I would put photos together in a collage type of way. By doing this constantly, I learned my way around Photoshop very well. In my senior year of high school, I decided to take a digital art class, since I was already very much involved. When I got into the class, I basically became a teacher’s aide. I knew how to work Photoshop better than, or at least just as good as, my 50 year old instructor. And he loved me for it! He took every opportunity possible to let the class know I was a Photoshop wiz. I never had to do any book work in class, because it was all just basic photoshop lessons. I just needed to complete the large projects to show and prove, and thats what I did. My instructor really made a huge impact on me that year, his faith in me gave me a lot of confidence as an artist. It made me feel like I was definitely on the right track.
By the time I graduated I wanted to be accepted into to an art college, and learn how I could further progress my young art career. At the time, being an ‘illustrator’ hadn’t even occurred to me. I applied for College of Creative Studies in Detroit, and got accepted as a Graphic Design major. Although I got in, even with a grant I couldn’t afford it. I only stayed for one semester, but the connections I made while there were pretty valuable.
While I was there, I was required to take many different types of art classes. History, Color Theory, Illustration, etc. The main thing I was forced to do while there, was draw. I say ‘forced’ because while I liked to draw, we didn’t necessarily draw what I liked drawing. I loved drawing without rules. But when you’re being trained as an artist, they have to lead with structure and fundamentals. So we drew naked figures, blocks, we drew plants, sculptures, ourselves, random fabrics. We used pencils, pastels, paints and charcoals. When we weren’t making art, we were studying people who did, trying to understand the appeal and techniques of each artist. Picasso, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Warhol, Dali, the usuals. It sounds simple and fun, but it was pretty intense. I was constantly drawing, carrying a load of drawings with me across campus every other day.
When I had to leave, I was a little discouraged, but I didn’t give up on art. I just told myself that this was my specific path to my goal. I continued to work as a side business freelancer, creating drawings, designs and photography, trying to lock in a style. I worked in print offices as a designer for a few years, and then went completely freelance. I threw my own art shows out of my creative studio/home, inviting other neighborhood artists to join me. We sold pieces right off my off-white gallery type walls. Artists sold their work in my home, it felt great. I began to shift more and more towards illustration, because I really liked how people would get excited over things I drew. It wasn’t enough for me that the pictures were drawn though. I needed them to come alive! So thats when I started to focus on learning animation.
After building up a collection of animation samples, people started to reach out to me for animation jobs.One particular year, Spotify reached out to me, and then an agency for a show on Hulu.Thats when I knew I needed to take animation even more seriously, so I began to look for artist representation.I made a list of agencies, and then a smaller list of those that felt like a good fit for me.Thats when I reached out to Anna Goodson Illustration Agency!I wanted to be a part of a team that really fought for artists, and one with a family feel.I wanted to be able to have a good relationship with the people who run the company.I’ve really loved the way the agency has helped further shape me as an artist.