"In the beginning it could be quite frustrating trying to get work that I thought could do well, featured on sites. But basically it’s all about hard work and patience."
Michael Buxton, who goes by the username DinoMike is an artist with a special talent for creating designs that are guaranteed to give you a belly chuckle. With a background in design and illustration, DinoMike has taken the leap to a meaningful freelance career.
Please share with us how you got started in freelancing.
Well a couple of years ago I was in a bit of a rut with my job at the time. I’d become a manager of a design studio for the company I was working for, which sounds great, but it meant I didn’t get to design stuff myself. So I began submitting stuff to various t-shirt websites out of frustration really. Then I began to get a bit of success and eventually I was making a decent amount each month. So basically for a couple of years I worked my day job and then came home to work another four or five hours to build up a presence online.
I was very tired.
Once I’d saved up enough money for it not to be a massive risk, I decided to make the leap into freelancing and luckily for me it’s been going really well so far.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned while creating a successful career in illustration?
I’m very lucky now that I’ve managed to build up some really nice relationships with the various websites I deal with, so getting people to take a chance on my designs is a little easier now. In the beginning it could be quite frustrating trying to get work that I thought could do well, featured on sites. But basically it’s all about hard work and patience.
What advice would you love to have told yourself five or ten years ago?
I think I would have told myself ten years ago to get into the online game sooner, but honestly I don’t think I was good enough back then. I’d also probably tell myself to invest in Facebook.
In what way has Redbubble been a part of your artistic journey?
Well with Redbubble I was always impressed with the interface and the overall feel of the site. So while I didn’t initially earn as much from RB as other sites, I could see that getting established on here was going to be really beneficial in the long term. And over the last few months that’s really started to happen. Plus the quality of the products is so, so good.
What has been your biggest takeaway from using social media like Instagram & Facebook?
That I still need to put in a lot of work there! I think I’m using Twitter okay these days and I’ve got the basics of Instagram down. I just need to work more on the Facebook side of things and making sure they all talk to each other. It’s very easy to just concentrate on making designs, but building a following on social media is really important too!
Please tell us the story behind your favorite artwork.
It’s really hard to pick a favourite, but one design that means a lot to me is ‘Attack’. It’s one of first designs I submitted online and it’s one that kind of lit the fuse to start pushing myself to create more stuff. I still get sales from it now which is always puts a smile on my face.
What advice would you give to an artist starting out?
Just work really hard and be prepared that success probably isn’t right around the corner. It can take a long time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Also, don’t rely on a computer to make your designs, try to use them as little as possible.
"...work really hard and be prepared that success probably isn’t right around the corner. It can take a long time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t."
What is your weapon of choice?
I’m a big fan of getting my ideas down on paper with a Tikky pencil, as it saves me having to keep sharpening a pencil. Once I’m happy with it I’ll ink it up using some PITT artist pens, then I’ll throw it into Photoshop to hopefully try and make sense of it.
If you weren’t making art, what do you think you would you be doing now?
I’d probably be some kind of huge science nerd. I love that stuff.
What is your dream project?
I’ve always wanted to write and illustrate my own children’s book. I’ve been very lucky recently and had the chance to illustrate one, which is due for release next year. That’s been an amazing experience, so hopefully I can take the next step and write something too.
Other than that, I’ve always loved Mondo posters, so to produce a piece for those guys would be a ridiculous dream come true. Or if Pixar read this, then I could maybe make some room in my diary to help those dudes out.