Crowded urban scenes, architecture and maps – the things you see today in Mike Hall’s artwork go back to his creative beginnings. As a child he used to love drawing images full of people, and maps of imaginary towns and even entire countries. He says this might be because he grew up in the new town of Harlow in Essex – the modern, pre-planned, post-war setting gave him an interest in architecture, topography and mapping from an early age.
Of course, he liked comics and picture books too, and today he’s also inspired by William Hogarth, Gustave Doré and Wenceslaus Hollar, as well as MacDonald Gill, an artist who embellished his map illustrations with all kinds of colourful motifs. He loves everything Hispanic, which is why he recently relocated to Spain.
Mike spent two years studying graphic design before switching to an illustration course. He completed an Illustration degree at the University of Westminster.
Often Mike’s hand-drawn imagery is embellished using a computer. He combines print designs he’s drawn using pen on paper with digital elements to build up an image. The colouring is done digitally. Sometimes, he’ll also draw his map designs using vector graphics.
Architecture usually plays a large role in Mike’s work – either as the primary focus of the illustration, or as something in the background that gives it structure. He’s very interested in topographical views, geography and conveying a sense of place. Nonetheless, his characters come through just as strongly with crowded, colourful people scenes giving you plenty to look at.
Cartoons Trust Young Cartoonist of the Year 2005