As this month’s recommendation comes hot on the heels of the release of our third issue, it seemed only natural to shine a light on someone from it. One of the most exciting parts of the entire project has always been commissioning illustrators. Checking out portfolio after portfolio, you admire different styles and the effectiveness and attitude with which they riff off or respond to their subject matter. Once you’ve assigned someone to a feature though and sent them the story, there’s just an anxious wait to see how they will interpret things.
It’s usually at this stage of proceedings that I feel Intern’s policy of working with contributors from all around the world really comes into its own. Perspective is very much what we deal with in our print issues and the chance to match illustrators and writers from different countries and cultures is one that I can rarely resist. That prospect is a particularly enticing one when you get to unleash an illustrator as concept-driven as Michael Lester. His visual style is effortlessly beautiful, what gives his work real depth and makes it truly memorable though, is his brilliant communication of ideas. A real mark of just how good he is how easy he makes it seem.
For Issue Three of Intern, I assigned him to a story by Nina Hoogstraate about the dilemmas emerging writers face when trying to make the move into getting paid for their work. Michael produced three brilliant pieces, each one making a tongue-in-cheek reference to the struggle in question. The one we chose to open with, entitled “The Creative Safe” is one of the best illustrations I’ve ever had the pleasure of publishing. Its beauty lies both in its simplicity and detail, if that makes any sense. The writers are each using the tools of their trade (laptops, pens, pencils) to try and force the safe open and get that elusive payment. When I saw the dynamite hooked up to the laptop, I was left with a smile a mile wide.
When working with someone of Michael’s calibre, that anxious wait I mentioned is more child-like excitement. You know he’s going to come up with something great, the beauty is that you’ll never imagine it yourself, despite how wonderfully obvious the final piece seems.
Two of his most recent projects back up my overtures, both in their execution and success. The first, 'Hire the Future Me' asks future collaborators to hire him in various guises (we went for animation) in ten years’ time. Those selected were sent a beautiful IOU and the opportunity to check back in with him in a decade to call in the favour as a thank you for believing in his potential. It was a response to D&AD’s WeTransfer New Blood brief and secured him a graphite pencil.
Having attended Jelly London talk as part of the New Blood Festival, Michael chose to respond to their Making Your Mark brief with the quite magnificent 'World’s Smallest Portfolio'. It won the competition as well, in doing so showing off his eye for wit and beautiful concept execution. The tiny portfolios were sent off to a selection of his favourite agencies along with a signed magnifying card making them legible.
The project went viral and soon passed 6000 views on Behance, eclipsing the other entries. I’d be interested to know who those select group of agencies were, but I can’t imagine that many of them will have wasted time before getting in touch.