Awesome Artists We’ve Found Around The Net: Mike Mahle

by Natalie Kiser

For years, Awesome Art We’ve Found Around The Net has been about two things only – awesome art and the artists that create it. With that in mind, we thought why not take the first week of the month to showcase these awesome artists even more? Welcome to “Awesome Artist We’ve Found Around The Net.” In this column, we are focusing on one artist and the awesome art that they create, whether they be amateur, up and coming, or well established. The goal is to uncover these artists so even more people become familiar with them. We ask these artists a few questions to see their origins, influences, and more. If you are an awesome artist or know someone that should be featured, feel free to contact me at any time at theodorebond@joblo.com. This month we are very pleased to bring you the awesome art of…

Mike Mahle

Mike Mahle is a designer and illustrator based in Central Illinois. He is known for his vector illustration, bright color palettes, and creative layouts. Mike has had the pleasure of creating work for clients such as Disney, Sci-Fi Now Magazine, Sony Pictures, and many more. His work has been recognized by ImagineFX, Pulp and Cult, Printed in Blood, and UCDA. Mike has self-published three books featuring his art and design, Prime , Empire City , and Squared .

When Mike is not working with clients, he can be found creating for himself. Either putting together his next art book, or working on something that he has a burning desire to produce.

JOBLO: What got you started as an artist? MAHLE: Superheroes. The earliest drawings I can remember creating were of the Super Friends. Always loved recreating my favorite heroes, cartoons, or movies. I knew early on that I wanted to do something that was based in creativity. In high school I investigated different options before settling on design as the creative profession that I wanted to pursue. Fast forward a little and I now have my bachelor’s degree in graphic design and have been a professional designer/illustrator for over 20 years.

It took a bit to find a particular style that I wanted to work in. The more I progressed through my design education and career, the less I focused on illustration, and the more on design. At some point I realized that I’d completely stopped doing any real form of illustration and jumped back in with digital illustration. I experimented with a bunch of different tools, but always had a hard time getting the type of look I wanted. I was after a very clean style that I just couldn’t achieve working with pen, paper, and Photoshop.

That’s when I started experimenting with vector artwork. Being a designer, I was well versed in Adobe Illustrator, so it didn’t take me long to start loving the way things were looking in vector. Lettering was also a huge piece of the puzzle that I wanted to include in my work, which is vector is made for. Kind of bridging the gap between traditional illustration and design, I wanted my illustration to look more like graphic illustration if that makes any sense.

I’ve been working in my current style for almost ten years now, but I still don’t think I’ve quite achieved the exact result I’m looking for. That is, with any sort of consistently.

Who were some of your favorite artists growing up? Being a superhero fan since I was old enough to know what one was, and I loving to draw, it only made sense that I’d gravitate to comic books, the home of superheroes. Pouring over those comic pages from artists like John Byrne, John Buscema, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, and Todd McFarlane just inspired the hell out of me.

Classic Disney animation also had a big influence on me. The original hand drawn animation from films like Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Bambi, and all the rest had such a vibrance and life it was hard to grasp that they were drawn by hand. There was some incredible talent on display in those early films. I love how Disney changed the animation style with almost each film. It gave each film so much personality.

I think you can see those two specific influences on my work. I’ve never tried to hide that. I’ve always felt it’s important, at least for me, to wear those influences on my sleeve, and in the art. Let them shine through so to speak.

Who do you really dig these days, follow on Instagram? I keep my Instagram feed almost entirely devoted to artwork and artists as much as I can. One of the positive aspects of social media is seeing such a breath of artists from all over the world, with so many different voices. Brandon Ragnar has always been a massive influence on my work. I also love what Tom Whalen does. Those two artists, more than any other, have achieved the sort of graphic illustration that I continually strive for.

Triston Eaton , Orlando Arocena , Eric Tan , and Phantom City Creative are some other artists who I would say are also at the top of my list.

I’m represented by The Poster Posse , and the wealth of creatively that resides in their roster of artists is impressive. I’m always inspired when the other artists reveal what they’ve been working. It’s also nice to have so many other artists that I can reach out to with questions and/or advise. I feel artists are always better around other artists. It inspires you and pushes you to up your game.

What advice would you have for budding artists today? Get your work out there. Art is meant to be enjoyed so let others see it. It will only make you grow as an artist, even if the initial reaction isn’t what you’d like.

For a long time, I was resistant to show my work to a wider audience. I just didn’t have that much confidence in my work at the time. I wish I would have gotten my work out into the wild earlier than I did. I grew significantly as an artist once I did.

What should we be looking out for from you in the future? I have created three books containing my illustration work, and I just started planning my fourth. This one will be more of a concept book featuring a small narrative than will take you through the book filled with artwork centered around a specific story. The story of an old, haunted manor and the grounds surrounding it.

I am also finishing up a tribute series to Ian Fleming’s classic 007 novels. I tasked myself with creating a full book jacket design for each of the books in the series. I’ve made it through Goldfinger so far.

Recently I’ve partnered with Sideshow Collectibles to create artwork for some skate decks, artist prints series, and some officially licensed work for everyone’s favorite superhero IP.

Being a fansite, we have to ask you… What are some of your favorite movies/TV shows of all time? That’s a big list.

I’m a child of the 80s so Lucas and Spielberg are my movie gods. The original Star Wars trilogy, and Raider of the Lost Ark remain two of my all-time favorites. LOST stands as my favorite tv show, along with Batman the Animated Series.

I’m also a James Bond nut and the film series is one of my all-time favorite franchises. Craig’s era was outstanding. It’ll be hard to follow, but I can’t wait to see what they do with it.

Lately, I’ve been swept up, like everyone else, in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The interconnectivity of what they’ve been able to do is so much fun. The Captain America movies and Wanda Vision are two of my favorites.

As much as I love the MCU, Zach Snyder’s Justice League kinda blew my hair back. I’m a sucker for big sweeping epics, and I felt that is just what we got. Count me in the camp that thinks it’s a crime if they don’t build upon what they’ve got there.

Besides the superhero genre, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson are always interesting filmmakers that I’m drawn to. Another would be Denis Villeneuve. His catalog of films from the last 8–10 years is remarkable. Arrival and Sicario really stand out for me.

Scroll down to check out some of our favorite art pieces from Mike as we continue to follow his journey across his Website and social media hubs: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / DeviantArt / LinkedIn / YouTube / Pinterest / Store

Bates Motel

Batman ’66

The Eternals

Ford v Ferrari

Ghostbusters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The Invisible Man

The Legion of Doom

Live and Let Die

Mad Men

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Mary Poppins Returns

The Matrix

The Shining

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Star Trek

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Stranger Things

The Thing

Toy Story 4

Wonder Woman

The X-Files