Michael Waraksa is an artist and illustrator based in Chicago. He has exhibited his work at various venues around the world and his illustrations have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, TIME, PLANSPONSOR and The Los Angeles Times. His work has also been selected to appear in Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, American Illustration and Society of Illustrators.
Michael, where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration anywhere that I can. I find inspiration in many places including travel, music, literature, film, personal interactions with friends and the artwork of others. I think sometimes
inspiration is not so obvious and comes to me subconsciously. At times the stories and struggles of other creative people can an inspiration to me.
Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art/freelance career?
Yes, it has been a long journey to get to this point. I have had to take other part time jobs to supplement my income at some points in my career. My style has evolved slowly over time. It took quite a bit of trail and error to get to where I am now and I expect there to always be struggles and doubts. It also took years to figure out the business side of things like how to promote myself, negotiate fair pay, manage time, develop relationships, etc. I also struggle to understand the relationship between commercial art and personal “fine” art and how these labels can cause confusion or conflict within me.
Which is the relationship and influence between your cultural background (country, studies, etc.) and your artworks?
I think that growing up in Midwest (Wisconsin) USA probably has an impact on my work. I think the time period that I came of age has even more of an effect (1970s, 80s). I was exposed to a certain kind of advertising, much of it from television, billboards and print magazines. I do like to mix old and new images together in my collages. I think with the advent of the internet, that the world has shrunk and people in the Midwest now get the same info at the same time as people on the coasts (or anywhere else in the world where there is access to the internet).
Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learnt from your profession?
That you need to say no sometimes.
“You need to make the work that makes you happy
to be satisfied with what you are doing”
Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?
You definitely need some discipline to be a freelance illustrator as there are deadlines to be met. You need to figure out how best to organize you time. You also need the discipline to be ok with making changes that the client might want if you want repeat assignments from them. Sometimes it is probably best to just say no, however. You should not sell your soul to the devil.
Are you currently work on new projects?
Yes, I am almost always working on something new. I recently finished some illustrations for Stanford Medicine Magazine which included a cover. Between illustration assignments I push myself to create personal projects. Creating work outside of actual paid assignments is important to any illustrator’s development. You need to make the work that makes you happy to be satisfied with what you are doing and make work that is unique and authentic to yourself.
“I think sometimes inspiration is not so obvious
and comes to me subconsciously“
“Sometimes it is probably best to just say no, however. You should not sell your soul to the devil“
Artist Website > michaelwaraksa.com
Instagram > @michaelwaraksa
Facebook > www.facebook.com/Michael-Waraksa
Flickr > flickr.com/photos/mwaraksa/
Tumblr > michaelwaraksa.tumblr.com