“My brain doesn’t just think in one way, so I have no choice but to do ‘anything and everything.’” This is the mantra of artist and designer Mike Perry, whose multi-media projects include everything from books and magazines to animation, illustration, and film. It’s obvious from looking around his studio in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood—filled to the brim with works-in-progress both commercial and personal—that Perry isn’t an artist you can pigeonhole.
On the one hand, a democratic, anything-goes ethos runs deep in his work. He recently opened a completely free community exhibition in Brooklyn that hosted workshops, screenings and discussions over a span of three months.
On the other hand, Perry’s eclectic sensibility—equal parts Keith Haring and composition-book doodling, with layers of color and shape piled on top of each other—has gained considerable traction in the corporate retail world. There have been partnerships with big-name brands like Nike (including a limited edition running shoe for the New York City Marathon), Target (a weekender tote bag sold exclusively at the store), and Apple (psychedelic iPhone wallpapers for the launch of the 4G model).
His most significant recent collaboration, though, has been with his new wife, Anna. Married earlier this autumn, Mike and Anna have formed a creative duo that lives and works together. “Mike and I met on a photo shoot over eight years ago and have been collaborators from day one,” Anna explains. Take their latest work on a capsule collection for French clothing label Jennyfer. He designed graphics for a line of flannels, and she photographed the look book.
Their road trip took them through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, then on to Vermont and Maine with their dog, Bass. “We spend so much time in the city that getting out into nature is always inspiring to us,” says Anna. Even there, Mike sought out playful interactions with the surrounding community, hiding dangling wood-and-string mobiles from the trees for others to find. The result: A subtle, artistic imprint in the middle of the forest.
Like her husband, Anna has dipped a toe in the corporate world, shooting campaigns for L’Oréal and Microsoft, but is also firmly entrenched in her own creative universe. “I’m into big production shoots because it’s always something new and challenging, but at the same time I also love taking my camera on a road trip like this and capturing images of my husband and dog on a hike or of friends while we’re hanging out in the backyard.”
This intimate personal and creative collaboration seems to be working, as the new jobs continue to pour in, including an upcoming project for Levi’s (“a dream client”) and the first issue of Anna's very own fashion magazine (“I love that it’ll be my vision from start to finish”), which Mike will design.
As for Mike, the partnership has proved invaluable: “She is my most important critic and has watched my work evolve over the years. She understands the context that I create in. I never knew how powerful it would be to have a partner."