Born and raised in Swansea, Michael Gillette is an artist who for the past 20 years has been based in California. Michael is known for mixed-media illustrations and has worked extensively within the music industry.
Since gaining his breakthrough with sleeve work for Elastica and Saint Etienne in the 1990s, his art has attracted collaborations on animation projects with The Beastie Boys and My Morning Jacket, and portrait work for Beck and Paul McCartney. He also designed a highly collectable set of James Bond book covers for Penguin.
We were excited to speak with Michael about his career in illustration, how his style has developed over the years and the projects he has lined up in the future.
Having worked a lot in the music industry, how have things changed for the role of designers and creatives since you started?
I think the major difference has been the incredible overload of everything in every direction, and how that’s bled a lot of money and energy from the music industry, especially the indie world. Internet killed the video star. I was born in 1970, and the world’s population has doubled since then. When I started in 1992, you could touch all four walls of the design world in London. I became friends with the bands I worked with, I had a large social and professional circle, and that’s what got me work. Maybe young folks are doing the same, but things seem much more disjointed and random now. Britpop was a scene, backed by major label money, maybe the last of that model.
It’s been great to get a perspective of how designing for the music industry has changed through the years, we look forward to seeing the new projects that Michael gets up to in the year ahead.
We’ll be back soon with our next creative spotlight, so keep an eye out for that one.
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