St. John’s resident Mike Feehan raises his profile with big ticket clients and world-class art.
You may have seen graphic designer Mike Feehan’s name in the news lately – the St. John’s resident keeps getting big breaks, leading him to collaborations with big names, like Netflix and their original series, Stranger Things.
The Newfoundland Herald is no stranger to Feehan’s talent – he has created artwork of our founder Geoff Stirling, Jesse Stirling’s Meetings with Remarkable People show, Captain Canada, Captain Newfoundland, and even the OZFM team! We caught up with Mike prior to his departure for the 2017 Toronto Fan Expo to chat about his most recent accolade.
Tell me a little bit about how you got turned on to Stranger Things.
I remember seeing the trailer early last year and thinking that it looked great. I think pop culture right now is pretty into the 80s nostalgia thing, but Stranger Things did a great job with it. I remember telling my partner “you have to watch this show, I think it’s my favourite thing.”
Do you tend to make fan art relating to most or many of the shows you enjoy?
I try to when I can. I’ve done some fan art of movies, TV and comics that I enjoy, but I’m usually so busy with other gigs that I don’t get much time to draw for fun. And although I love drawing, after being in crunch mode for a week and not sleeping in order to hit a deadline, picking up that pencil again isn’t always my ideal form of relaxation.
What was running through your head after you guys had connected for Curiosity Stories?
Equal parts excitement and panic. The Stranger Things Instagram account has 1.8 million followers, and knowing that so many people could potentially see my work created a lot of pressure. I actually got pneumonia in the middle of working on this project and I’m sure it was related to how I was dealing with the stress. It was worth it though!
Did they have any stipulations or mandates or were you given total creative freedom?
Each of the eight artists participating in the project were assigned one of the eight episodes from season one. I was assigned episode two, and I had to choose at least three scenes to draw and animate. I had to submit my concepts to them for approval, and fortunately they were totally on board with my ideas from the start.
How did the now famous image pour out of your head and onto your tablet?
My process is kind of all over the place. I draw a lot of thumbnail sketches and take a lot of reference photos before I commit to a concept and composition. I do a lot of guess work, and most of the time I feel like the whole thing is about to fall apart in front of me, but on some level I must know what I’m doing because the final product always turns out pretty close to my initial vision.
Blowing up on Tumblr, what was your reaction to seeing the notes (shares on Tumblr) reach the thousands?
When I was working on that piece of fan art, I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I kept checking on the Internet to see if anyone had drawn that particular scene like that, and at the time no one had. So I had a feeling it might get retweeted and shared around a few hundred times at most. The amount of notes it has on Tumblr now is close to 250,000 and that’s a number that I can’t wrap my head around. I’ve lost track of where it’s been shared on sites like Facebook. When I was in Toronto last year for Fan Expo Canada, I had people coming up to me saying “I reblogged your art!” or “I shared that on Facebook!” and that was surreal.
What does an opportunity like this mean to you?
I’ve been doing freelance illustration work for close to a decade at this point and with every job comes a little bit more exposure. This is without a doubt the most high-profile gig I’ve had and my social media following has increased significantly because of it. When you’re an artist looking for work, the more people who see your stuff the better. So this has been cool.
Any more collaborations like this on the horizon?
I do storyboarding work, mainly for commercials, pretty regularly, but quite often I can’t talk about or share those. Last year I did similar work to this Stranger Things gig for a show on IFC called Stan Against Evil – I created some animated gifs for their Instagram and social media pages as well. I’ve had a busy summer, with a few projects I’m still working on finishing up, so I’m not looking to the future quite yet, but I’m expecting some more work to come in as a result of this job.
Check out Mike Feehan’s work at www.mikefeehan.com or follow him on Tumblr at www.mikeseriously.tumblr.com.