Sunday, March 4th, 2012 | 7 Comments
The most immediate impressions of Micah Lidberg’s work are of colour, complexity and movement. The whole of natural history finds its way into each of the images, populated by avian and reptilian creepy-crawlies, navigating their way through dense and dangerous wilderness.
There’s a timeline effect created by the flow of entangled characters and environments, kept in sharp relief by Micah’s vivid use of colour. Combined with a deft use of hand-drawn typography and delicate line-work, the stories in his pictures seem to be continually evolving every time you look again.
“Nature is certainly one of the most common themes in my work. Not only is it the most common but it’s also the most fundamental theme.” ~ M.L.
Most of the scenes in your images seem to take place in some strange and frenzied wilderness (more than a few dinosaurs, monster birds, torrents of water and crawling vegetation). Is it silly to ask if nature in general is the main focus of your illustrations?
Micah: I don’t think it’s silly at all! Nature is certainly one of the most common themes in my work. Not only is it the most common but it’s also the most fundamental theme. For me, nature means everything – the universe, reality, all of it. I think the tangible parts like rocks, trees, and creatures are expressions of a deeper nature. That deeper nature is what I’m truly curious about. It happens to also be shrouded in mystery, so it’s hard to draw on a piece of paper. I draw the surface and tangible things but it’s always the intangible relationships between the things that intrigue me.
On a related note, your positively epic panoramic book The Rise and Fall (published by Nobrow) tackled the extinction of dinosaurs, and the rise of their mammalian successors. What guided your choice to do the book as two very long panoramas, rather than a series of illustrations? Oh – and what is your favourite dinosaur?
Micah: Nobrow wanted to do a concertina book with me so that was the source of the idea. I think it’s a perfect format for the story though. I wanted to make something that felt continuous and connected. That’s nature’s way and it’s the basic form of evolution. With time, everything is connected through a flow of change. I decided to punctuate the book with the asteroid strike. That felt like the right moment to turn the page.
I’m not sure which dinosaur is my favorite. It’s a tough call. I might have to go with a sauropod (long necked dino’s). I think they are so elegant. I also like that they were so huge but not fearsome. I’ve never been a big fan of T Rex. He always seemed like a show off and a little rude.
We loved your interpretations of Haruki Murakami novels for Nowness. How did you approach distilling his strange and diverse novels into illustrations?
Micah: I made lists while I listened to each book (listening was easier while I worked). The lists I made were really personal. Any element or character that really resonated with me I wrote down. After I had made my list, I started to visually string all of the things together in a way that felt similar to the story. It was a really intuitive process. The images are familiar and disorienting at the same time. I think that quality is some of the brilliance of Murakami and why I enjoy his work so much.
The lists I made were really personal. Any element or character that really resonated with me I wrote down.
What’s it like working with the New York-based creative agency Hugo & Marie?
Micah: Fantastic! Jennifer Sims and Mario Hugo are an incredible team and they are full of energy and optimism. I think it’s important in any relationship, business or otherwise, to have a sense of mutuality and reciprocity. I lucked out with Hugo & Marie. It didn’t take long to feel like we just clicked. I love their taste and professionalism. It’s deeply comforting to know I’m represented by someone who understands and appreciates me and my work on personal level. Also, the creative world is tough. Business mind is not creative mind. However, both are required. Working with Hugo & Marie makes the business hurdles much easier to negotiate.
Do you have a dream project/client that you’d love to work on/for?
Micah: I don’t know if I do. I think some of the dream projects I have would actually make me wreck as I’m so emotionally attached to the clients. I think it’s good to have some objectivity involved in a project. If Peter Bjorn & John or Panda Bear contacted me to do an album cover, I’d just freak out. Outside of dream clients, I think I’d love to write and illustrate some books… but that’s still brewing.
S&TM: We’d like to thank Micah for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview!
All images © 2012 Micah Lidberg.