The Founder of Fully Illustrated – Micheal Heald
Micheal Heald, a mixed disciplined creative professional from UK, has worked about new media for more than 10 years and is now the owner of the famous design studio named Fully Illustrated which offers creative services, from design and branding to illustration and 3D motion graphics. Over the years, Fully Illustrated has been awarded with over 100 varied creative awards for not only web design but also motion graphics and illustration. We are so glad to have such a successful talent here, let’s come to the interview.
Q1. Thank you so much for accepting this interview, please tell us a little about yourself, what are your likes and dislikes? What do you usually do in your spare time?
Your more than welcome, thanks for inviting me!
I guess to start I should really introduce myself. So hello, my name is Michael Heald and I’m the owner of Fully Illustrated, a small new media company that offers just about every creative service you could imagine. I’ve been living and loving this industry for just over 10 years now and spent different periods of that time in many different roles, from being a cartoon illustrator and 3D artist, to a dedicated photographer and designer. So these differing roles throughout my career have allowed me to call upon a wide range of skills as and when I need to.
When I’m not doing commercial work, you can usually find me either at the cinema, walking in the countryside or behind some form of games machine. I truly adore the cinema, it’s one of my biggest sources of inspiration and it’s a great way to get my head out of work and travel to somewhere totally different. I usually use the cinema, or a good walk over the moors, to clear my head when I get creative block too, as when that comes along, I have to remove myself from all things work related and allow my head to completely empty (which isn’t very hard ; )
Q2. Usually, a creator will specialize in a certain creative field, while you are proficient in all manners of creation, where did you get those skills? Who is the most important person that might have inspired you to start your design career?
Thanks for the complement!
As far inspirational people go, I have to mention my awesome uni tutor (one of Cosgrove Hall’s ex team members), Pete Beard, a phenomenal cartoon illustrator, mentor and all round awesome guy. I thank Pete for where I am today, as it was his guidance that kept me on my desired path. Up until being tutored by Pete, all my previous art teachers had always shunned cartoon illustration, and told me to ‘stop wasting my time, there is no future in drawing silly cartoons…now draw that flower pot with these old knackered pastels, that’s what art is all about!’…not for me it wasn’t.
What I do today, is purely the outcome of practice and patience I think. As when I look back to my days at college, university and now my career, I’ve always wanted to be better than I was, (which is a perpetual challenge), as in my personal opinion, you can never peak, you must carry on improving. My own personal test of this is to look back at my old work and if I have any reaction other than ‘Eek, I wouldn’t do it that way now…that kinda sucks’ then I’ve not improved. I know that sounds harsh, but that is how I judge myself on a regular basis.
Something that keeps this challenge alive is by surrounding myself with work that is MUCH better than my own. So I always gaze over other artist’s work that makes me think ‘WOW’. And until I see my work as equal to theirs, I will never settle.
Q3. You are the founder of fullyillustrated.com , so what was your first idea about this website? Can you give a brief introduction about fullyillustrated.com ?
Fully Illustrated started out as a personal portfolio site about 6 years ago…which in truth, truly sucked (he cringes to himself thinking about it). At the time, the company I was working at was struggling and I knew that I needed to get my work online so that I could apply for other jobs. The site then took on a couple of new looks over the coming years as my tastes changed, but still stayed as a personal portfolio.
All of a sudden Fully Illustrated seemed to have popped its head into the limelight, appearing in few design books and magazines, shortly followed by this crazy slew of web awards. Over 50 awards later Fully Illustrated had become visible to the world and I was in a very lucky position to turn it from simply a portfolio into a fully fledged company! It was time to step away from the safety of a full time job and follow my dream.
So when I set up Fully Illustrated as a company, I set out with the sole goal of working with the games industry and have worked really hard over the past two years to make that happen. I don’t know what it is about this industry, but I just love it, I have done ever since childhood and it’s an interest that has never waned. Everything from the concept art and creative thinking, to the final product, cover art and advertising, I just love it all. I personally feel that the games industry is one of THE most creative industries in the world, as every single element that resides within it, is the product of pure imagination. I think that’s a pretty impressive feat for any trade.
It is this love that recently spurred me to partner with a developer friend of mine, Chris Wilson, to create a small indie games company, The Joystick Generals . This is truly the start of a lifelong dream, and our first bonkers game, entitled Super Turbo Action Pig, will be hitting the iPhone VERY soon! Our new site will be launching soon too, which will be full of all kinds of goodies! Watch this space!
Q4. In all your working fields like branding, illustration and 3D motion graphics, which one do you enjoy doing most? What do you think about the major differences among these fields?
It’s a tough one this, as I love each job in its own right, but I think Illustration probably wins out. There is something very special in creating a character, as you don’t just create an image, you create a personality, something that, to a degree, is alive and can be connected with. So when I create a new character and I see people smile, or laugh, then that reaction is priceless. So yeah, Illustration is my favourite I think. When I get to couple this with design, then it becomes one of the same. So on a project like Super Turbo Action Pig, or Trenches, where I get to create the characters and the interface, then I have a real connection with the whole package and love every element equally.
Q5. All your works are of great creation and can satisfies your clients and fans well, how do you fulfill it so perfectly? Can you tell us more about your creating process?
I hate to say this, but 10 years experience really helps here, as I’ve learnt what questions to ask to ensure I can ‘see’ their ideal vision before I start. As if I went into a job blind, without posing a load of questions to my customer, I would most likely come out the other end with a design that they hated. So over the years I have learnt which questions to ask to ensure I hit the nail on the head pretty quickly. Basic things like asking what types of designs they like/dislike (and asking for references), what colours they like/dislike and what pet hates they have are a great starting point. I actually provide every customer with a questionnaire that has lots of detailed questions in, and when I get that back, fully complete, I immediately know what they want. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always get it right first time, but on the whole, asking the right questions up front makes all the difference.
Q6. You have worked in this industry for about 10 years, have you suddenly felt that there was only little creative juices left? Where does your inspiration come from?
As I mentioned earlier, I draw a lot of inspiration from movies, games and nature, but in truth I draw inspiration from everywhere. Believe it or not, I very rarely look at design when I’m looking for design inspiration, and rarely look at illustration when I’m looking for illustration inspiration, it’s weird. I find that if I look at very literal things, I seem to get stuck very quickly, but if I look at unrelated things, they seem to spark my imagination. So for example, I can look at a cinematic trailer, and draw a load of inspiration for a website…I know, it makes little sense, but it’s just how my mind seems to work.
Being 10 years into my career actually feels more beneficial to my creative juices than anything else, as I feel that now, more than ever, I know where to look, and how to go about creating work that fulfils me.
Q7. In so many designed game characters, which one gives you the most satisfaction?
The characters that I created for Trenches are probably my favourite, as I’d always wanted to create some WW1 cartoon soldiers, but had never had the brief in front of me before. So when I got the chance, it was a dream come true! I really liked trying to convey the stiff upper lip of a British soldier and the menacing glare of the German trooper. Great fun!
Q8. As an award winning creator, would you like to share some tips with the upcoming illustrators and designers?
Hmmm. I guess I’d say you should never give up, never throw in the towel and always keep that goal in front of you. Don’t let anyone deter you, or tell you’re not good enough!
As an example, when I left college and was applying to universities, I went straight to my dream uni (who will remain nameless), who told me I wasn’t good enough, and to go away and come back the year after when I had, had time to improve. So for that next year I took another art course, and did everything I could to improve. The next year they told me again that I wasn’t good enough. At this point, I nearly gave up, but something spurred me on and I went to a different uni instead. 6 years later, which was 3 years into my career, the same university that had turned me down 2 years running, suddenly wanted me to come in as a guest lecturer!!
Oh and lastly, if ever you want to try your hand at something, just do it, and don’t let anyone get in your way. If you’re in a job, and you want to experiment with something new, and your employer won’t support you, go home and do it for yourself! Never give up!
Take your time. Thanks again for doing the interview with us!
No thank you, I hope you enjoyed…and if you did fall asleep part way through, sorry about that ; )