Michi Mathias: Illustrator and Comic Creator

It’s that time of year again, when I invite my clients to blog about themselves on my website. The first of this summer’s bumper crop is Michi, who I first met when she came to my home to play Cashflow 101. When we met at my front door, she had her hands full of fresh cherries! Here’s Michi, in her own words:

Michi MathiasMy name is Michi Mathias and I’m an illustrator and comic creator, drawing in the good old-fashioned way by hand in pen & ink and watercolour. I enjoy making a complicated concept clearer through illustration. I’m particularly happy if I can do that for a business doing good in the world (I spent many years working with an environmental organisation), or to help a small creative group or social enterprise.

I am also a fiddle player, banjo tutor, mother, veggie sushi-maker, off-and-on marathon runner, and recovering perfectionist.

It’s hard for me to believe I started drawing again only a few years ago after an unintentional lapse of decades, really just to see whether I still could, as I had done so constantly in my early life. To my genuine amazement, people said they liked my style when I was completely unaware I even had one!

Greatly encouraged, in 2013 I went on to produce a booklet of graphic recipes (pictorial diagrams on making some family favourites, originally for my 18-year-old son) which then led to my first illustration commissions. And then one day when I saw a product for sale which I felt strongly should never have been made, I suddenly thought of drawing a comic about it. I think I must have secretly always wanted to make comics as I immediately wanted to do more. Further comics then resulted in further illustration commissions.

Clients don’t usually give me specifics like “I want a picture showing ‘x’, with a big ‘y’ in blue and some ‘z’ in the background.” Part of the fun is in the problem-solving: working out how to show what I think they want to get across and there’s always lots of bouncing ideas and drafts back and forth by email. For a website banner for one-woman clutter-clearing business, I drew in “before” and “after” scenes on either side of her name. A poster about recommended foods for dementia sufferers started with a list of 32 foods and developed into foods on shelves in a pantry. Other recent work has included an ‘About Us’ picture for an eco-business/natural health website… cartoons of teachers’ interactions for an e-book on improving leadership practices in schools… a funny business card for a funny start-up theatre duo just out of school… a comic-style website graphic for a lawyer showing her innovative methods of helping people through difficult times…

Although I’ve been self-employed for many years, doing all sorts of random jobs (jewellery-making, building work, Japanese-to-English translation, catering and more), it’s a real unexpected joy to now find myself doing what I loved as a child. Back then I didn’t even know you could be an “illustrator” when you grew up, and I had wrongly assumed that an art job outside of the fine art world would necessarily mean working in advertising. But I could never have mapped this all out in a plan; it’s been a case of letting go of the rigid realism I used to attempt, being open to just trying things, being pleasantly surprised sometimes by the result, and seeing what happens next. And it’s still like that: being in the right place, meeting the right people, being found on websites where I’ve forgotten I had even set up a profile…

What I’m most looking forward to at the moment is finishing and printing a sort of choose-your-own-adventure-type book, entitled Just a Normal Day, which I started when I first came back to drawing but which had been an idea in my head for about twelve years before that! It involves choosing options and turning to different pages to navigate through a day with small children while trying to get some freelance work done, and all the silly little mishaps that can occur, many from my own experience. I recently re-drafted the whole 40 pages into comic form instead of normal illustrated text, which means a lot more drawing but a more interesting and possibly unique product. Completing this (in a reasonable time) would show I’ve developed better work practices and can balance my commissioned work with my own projects. Which would be wonderful as I have further project ideas and half-drafted comics on the back burner, all of which are fun in themselves and also seem to inspire more illustration commissions.

Find out more about Michi at her website: MichiMathias-Illustrator.com

Enjoy Michi’s illustrations on her Facebook Page: Facebook.com/MichiMathiasIllustration

And follow her on Twitter: @MichiMathias

Michi is a member of my coaching community called Small Business Big Magic which is designed to support work-at-home solopreneurs, start-ups and those wanting to jump ship from the Day Job. Until 31st August membership costs just £50 a month or you can snaffle a year’s membership for the price of £450. Building a business takes time. Plan to join SBBM and be with us for at least a year.

This series of guest blogs is designed to draw attention to the price increase on 1st September. After 18 months at these very low rates, prices must rise (for new members only) to £75 a month and £675 for a year’s membership. Join SBBM now to grab the best ever price for the full life of your membership.

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