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My name is Myron Macklin. I am a Designer/Artist based in Charlotte, NC. I work as a graphic designer at a local university by day and trade early sleep for drawing as an artist by night. At the university, I serve all of the various departments producing ads, posters, logos and brochures. Outside of that I’m writing and illustrating a graphic novel.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

I entered college wanting to design video games. So I studied computer science. After about a year of writing bad programs and spending all of my time in labs, I changed my major to art. I could always draw pretty good but had never really gave it serious thought or figured that I could make money from it. I didn’t even know what graphic design was at that time. My friend Adarryl got me into comics around the same time. That helped fuel my passion for drawing and creating. It’s kind of funny because the last game I bought was 7th Saga for the SNES.

Who or what inspires you?

I am generally drawn to solo artists and creators able to do many things well. I like to see limits broken in that respect. My inspiration span many artistic mediums. Visual arts/comics: Naoki Urasawa, Katsuhiro Otomo, Kent Williams, Matsumne Shirow, Frank Miller, Paul Pope, Dave McKean, Alphonse Mucha, and Gary Kelly. Music: Yoko Kanno, Madlib, Qwel (think Shakespeare from Chicago) and MF Doom. I dig the work of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. Also, my good friends Adarryl Grant and Rodney Blackwell are good a motivating me when I’m in an artist slump.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I received a BFA. Although that was sufficient for doing general work, I still felt I needed to learn lots more to reach my career goals. But that’s probably any profession. Going to college was great in that I learned how to teach myself and had lots of time to experiment and fail at different things.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

It’s good to keep things fun and current. I’m not talking about style trends, but staying abreast of technology and perspectives. So I do that by looking at the work of my peers and also looking at the work of old masters. I read industry related materials on and offline. It’s good to have self-imposed projects where there is no client involved so one can experiment and keep discovering. Try to keep the process fun and not care too much about the outcome.

What are some of your current projects?

Besides the usual design work from the day job, I split my time between coloring Rodney Blackwell’s Fierce Creatures comic series and working on my own graphic novel called “The Zoo Act.” In between chapters, I take breaks to sketch, paint or work on freelance projects. Oh, I just finished redesigning my site. I had to brush up on CSS and JavaScript a bit to get it done.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

It’s hard to nail down a favorite. Sometime I get excited about a new project, jump in and find my enthusiasm wane if what I want is not coming to fruition. So by the end I may not like what I have. I have learned to step away and look at it with fresh eyes to judge my own work. That being said, I’m pretty happy with my recent comic work because it’s moving faster and the quality is getting better. I thought the one page story “The Spirit” I did for Comic Book Artist Magazine’s tribute to Will Eisner turned out pretty cool.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, and projects in your field that you have yet to try?

I have not tried 3D or motion graphics. It’ be nice to work with it, but the learning curve for them seems like learning Photoshop all over again and I can’t put that kind of time into them. I feel guilty messing around in too many things not directly related to my current career goals.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

If you want to be a designer, learn to illustrate. If you want to be an illustrator, learn to design. I’m not saying either can’t do the other, or does not just that too often the skill sets seem to be thought of as different. One cross-pollinates the other with new ideas of approach.

Another would be to draw everyday. Draw things for pleasure and also things you hate to draw. It’s good to work on your weaknesses.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

Intention. That’s the best way I can gauge the success of my work and that of others. It’s good because it lets you think in terms of effective artistic choices. In design, for example, in producing a map for a tour bus, one may focus on where all of the historic buildings are located or where the food and restrooms are. For this, your intention would first be clarity. So your choices must point to being concise and informative. This decision would inform your choices of type, color use, and hierarchy of information. The same holds true for illustration or even fine art. Say an illustrator has a magazine article to illustrate about divorce and wants to communicate the subtle insecurities and guilt held by a child going through a divorce. Your intentions as illustrator to communicate those subtleties should inform your choices on composition, color, mark making (or non-mark making) texture, etc. And yes in theory, you could execute a very good-looking image, but that would be a separate issue concerning its success as an illustration and it’s original intentions.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I try to cut my “art brain” off sometimes and let it recharge. It’s hard because as an artist, one is always processing, organizing, deconstructing and reverse engineering things around them. So I spend time with my wife. I cook. I take walks everyday to clear my head and listen to music. Exercise is good. But even then you can get caught thinking about human anatomy and go right back to thinking about how to draw something…

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."

A zoologist maybe. I love animals even though I’ve never owned a pet. I would love to be paid to study them. It would be nice to travel to Africa or Asia and study animals in the wild. I’d probably still draw them for the pleasure.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

I don’t really keep up with TV much any more. I don’t have cable so my channel selection is limited. I do watch PBS and reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, Grey’s Anatomy, House M.D. and MadTV. I like to watch documentaries online while I work. Such as those by Adam Curtis: Power of Nightmares, Century of Self, and The Trap.

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