The Original Michael John McIntosh

Introspection helps this motion designer push it to the limit.

In the spirit of having recently announced the ADC 96th Annual Awards-Advertising/Motion jury chairs, we thought we’d share the story and work of ADC Member Michael John McIntosh. The New York based motion designer and director’s name has as much sonic bounce as his animations. A colorful, visually stimulating whirlwind is evident in his montage reel (scroll down for awesomeness). For Michael, creating something original is his benchmark; work that stays true to himself and to his vision. While it may be true that bad artists copy and great artists steal, Michael is invested in making something else entirely. Whether it be designing a logo end-tag for Twinnings of London Tea (one of his first ever projects) or his latest work for a growing list of clients, he reinterprets the world as we know it through a lens of whimsy.

Michael John McIntosh
New York City





Tell us about who you are and what you do.

My name is Michael John McIntosh & I am a fine artist/motion designer/director, with a focus in art direction, 2D animation & editing.

When did you get into motion/animation? 

Upon attending The School of Visual Arts Graphic Design undergraduate program, the option to focus on various niche’s of design presented itself. I chose to double major in both traditional graphic design and motion graphics.

Do you remember one of your first projects?

My first projects were a logo end-tag for Twinnings of London Tea. I was tasked with conceptualizing the creative direction, rendering the assets, animating and sound design.

You have a very distinct style. How did you crack it and how would you describe it?

I’d say that as I became more consciously introspective, honing in on my voice & my overall aim with my art, meditating, spending time in nature, indulging in my passions, art in particular, the more i’d learn about my taste and how to read life purely by what I register visually, regardless of popular opinion, tradition, or origin. The true confidence through understanding gained through introspection, allows me the courage necessary to experiment, push, pull & explore in my work(s).

I’d describe my style, as pop surrealism. The suspension of reality as we’ve been convinced it is, while re-educating the human being on who and what they are, through art, all while melding ancient insights and methods of thought, with contemporary visual language. Intense, vivid, bold, decisive, are all words I’d use to describe my offerings. The reinterpreting of the world as we know it through a lens of whimsy and autonomy of thought & intuition. The suspension of what is thought to be fact.

Fun, clear, inquisitive, fearless.

Looking at your montage, it seems to be a mix of live action and surreal animations, almost like a cartoon. Do you often mash these up? How does one execution lend itself creatively to another?

Not too often, everything is mashed up in the montage because it has to display all of my work. Ideally I make aesthetic decisions based on the brief. Personally, I’m not convinced the executions lend themselves to each other as much as the thinking behind said executions. Concerning myself with how I arrived at a solution, allows me to apply the same thinking, but from a different vantage point, which leads to more questions, the key is to trust ones vision as immediately as you’ve been trained to question it.

Is there any connection to your last name and your love of creating motion/digital art? 

Hmm, very good question, perhaps not my last name by itself, however, the sound of my full name, “Michael John McIntosh”, has a bit a energy and bounce to it sonically & inspires me to be great and to live up to the commanding presence of my family name.

What are your must-have tools?

Notebook, sketchbook, index cards, a PRINT out of the brief, pen(s), pencil, high lighter, 6-inch ruler, hard-drive, cheez its, water/tea, Chinese meditation balls, & what ever magazine/book I have in rotation at the moment.

In a visual culture, how do you stand out from other artists? How do you create something original and keep true to your self? 

One stands out as an artist by knowing who they are, and most importantly the purpose of there art.  One discovers who they are and there purpose, by turning the focus inside. Introspection. Remove what isn’t necessary, spend time to yourself, fast, cater to your interest, change what you watch, what you listen to, whom you spend time with, what you post, what you read, QUESTION things. Record your findings, review your findings. In this fast paced world that we all participate in, seldom do we give our thoughts & feelings the chance to catch up to you. Slow. Down.

Then, develop your taste, be CONSISTENT, consciously & unconsciously explore , be open, and be passionate. Awareness is at the root of all profound growth. Be ever aware of as much as you can, people, culture, task, & most of all, self.

Personally, I create something original by trusting my voice, because it is the pilot of your vision. And yes, there is a difference. In my opinion, your vision can (& should) change. Your voice is a culmination of all of your senses, feelings & personal history. Your VOICE, how you tell a story, your perception, echoes back to who YOU are as the author. It is the opportunity to literally weave your essence into the code of whatever you create. It is a chance to merge & interact with your art, and learn from it, as opposed to simply answer an ask. It is the mystery ingredient that keeps people coming back.

What is an invaluable lesson you’ve learned that has helped you grow in your craft?

“Hands down the most critical lesson I’ve learned came from a conversation that I overheard in art class in high school. As I quietly stood next to my art teacher, Mrs. Warthen, a group of my peers eagerly tried to win her approval as they shoved Yugi-Oh drawings in her face. One student asked, ‘Look! It’s from Yugi-Oh! It’s good, right??’ Her lack of a facial expression said it all, yet graciously, she verbalized her wisdom at that moment. ‘It’s nice, but you’ll never be successful copying other peoples work.’ The lesson? BE ORIGINAL. In all instances, at all costs.”

If you could have a dream show/gallery/party, what would it be called, where would it be, what would you show and who would you invite?

Awesome question. I’d probably have my dream show at The Play Boy Mansion in Los Angeles California. It has more than enough space to host a multi-space exhibition and after party.

There would be 3 main shows, on solo exhibition for my abstract paintings. Another for my pop surrealism work, both fine art & design. Literally, everywhere else on the premises would be a 24 hr party. All pieces available for sale.

There would be another large viewing venue to display all of my motion graphic/ film work, after there’d be a Q & A as well. The event would be covered by all media outlets of note and live-streamed on facebook & youtube. This is not a gallery exhibition, this, is an EVENT.

I would invite all sorts of entertainers, creatives, staffs of enterprises of interest, museum directors, tech industry folk, curators, & businessmen/women, & tastemakers, some must haves being the cast of Empire, Rihanna, Justin Bua, Kehinde Wiley, Drake, Kara Walker, the staffs of magazines like GQ, Details, IDN, Hollywood Reporter, Fader, Vice, Complex, Variety, Vogue, Nylon, V, and Mass Appeal, Oprah Winfrey, M.I.A, Killer Mike, Pharrell, Lucy Rie, Aaron McGruder, Donald Glover, Kanye West, Chance The Rapper, Kevin James, Ice Cube, Louis CK, the Obamas, The Smith Family, Bryan Cranston, Jeremy Scott, The Kardashians, Jay Z, Beyonce, Iman, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, the cast of Entourage.


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