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Mike Mills, Graphic Artist

Updated May 26, 2011

Before becoming a feature filmmaker, writer/director Mike Mills honed his aesthetic sensibilities as a graphic artist, working on posters, album covers, skateboards, music videos, and TV commercials.

Beginners: Portrait of a Graphic Designer
X-Girl Graphics
Sonic Youth Washing Machine Album Cover
Beastie Boy T-shirt/Poster
Album Cover for Air’s Sexy Boy
Subliminal Skateboards
Human Posters
Undefeated Billboard Project
Beginners: Portrait of a Graphic Designer

Beginners: Portrait of a Graphic Designer

In Mike Mills’ Beginners, the lead character Oliver (played by Ewan McGregor) is a graphic designer, working on T-shirts (with messages culled from conversations he’s had with his dog), album covers and an illustrated history of sadness. Oliver’s profession, like much of the film’s story, comes from Mills actual life. Raised in Southern California on a steady diet of punk rock and skate boarding, Mills brought this outsider sensibility with him when he attended art school at New York City’s Cooper Union in the 1980s. Interested in making work in the real world, Mills gravitated toward graphic design, creating the look and feel for clients he knew and appreciated. While there is no single thing that characterizes Mills’ design, his work inevitably showcases simplicity of form, a subversion of cultural expectations and a willingness to expand into any and all media. The following slide show gives a quick glimpse into some of his work. To see more, especially his film and video work, visit his site Mike Mills, as well as his special Beginners’ blog.