MICHAEL KIRKHAM – Biography
Michael lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2006 and has been represented by Heart since 2007.
Michael’s illustrations are drawn digitally, incorporating scanned in abstract watercolours for texture. The tightness and control of drawing digitally is offset by the act of throwing paint around and looking out for elements he can’t control. The way he uses the computer to compose his images is greatly influenced by his background in the stencil based process of screen printing. Separating out the elements of an image allows him to focus on each independently and explains the detail in his artwork.
Michael’s conceptual thinking plays with viewpoints and the idea of space. Cutaways are used and birds eye views of his subjects. A stage can be set by two walls of a room, or with a two dimensional backdrop setting off the foreground activity. Whilst often very detailed, they are highly efficient artworks, each element aiding the sense of narrative or communication of an idea. They are considered yet playful.
His use and evident interest in architecture, and detailed interiors in his artworks have naturally led to commissions for clients with a similar interest. He is often asked to create scenes of cities or landscapes with multiple activities representing a community, as with his commission for Knight Frank and Citibank’s Wealth Report. He has also worked regularly for the American Institute of Architects and has illustrated catalogues for the Italian furniture company Arper as well as De Padova and Vitra. A portfolio of work in this field led to a commission from Laurence King Publishers to illustrate ‘This is Frank Lloyd Wright’. An amazing amount of reference material, plans and photographs were distilled into a consolidated series of images explaining the architect’s buildings and projects as well as his interests and the events of his life.
A similar approach, providing a new view of something familiar, was required for his commission for Sea City Museum in Southampton. Michael created a cutaway scale drawing, ten metres long, of the Titanic, showing the rooms of the passenger liner and featuring key members of the crew that were known to be onboard.
In other projects he has created artwork for wine labels for Marks & Spencer, a branding and identity image library for a law firm, an animation for Google/Avis with the ambition of creating limitless possibilities for a car hire experience, the holiday special cover for The New York Times, regular commissions for The New Yorker, colouring posters for The School of Life, advertising campaigns for Kwik-Fit and information leaflets for Bayer Pharmaceuticals.
Select Client List
American Institute of Architects, Arper, The Arts Journal, AVIS, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, The Believer, The Boston Globe, Case da Abitare, Citi Bank, De Padova, DropBox, The Economist, ESPN, Esquire, Fedrigoni Papers, The Financial Times, The Folio Society, Google, GQ, The Guardian, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, MIT Technology Review, Knight Frank, Kwik-Fit, Laurence King Publishers, Los Angeles Times, Marks & Spencer, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The New Yorker, The New York Times, New Scientist, Penguin Books, Random House, Sea City Museum, Selfridges, The School of Life, Tatler, The Telegraph, Wallpaper*, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post