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AEIVA Welcomed Print-maker Michael Tabie
Outfitted in a black t-shirt and jeans, Michael Tabie blended in with the group of students watching him squeegee pale blue paint off of his printing board. Despite his young looks, he has received widespread success in printmaking and graphic design. Tabie has worked for everyone, from Bath & Body Works to Fenway Park.
As a few students lingered to watch him finish a print, while most scrambled to the lecture hall, where Tabie was soon to lecture. Michael came to UAB at the invitation of fellow University of Florida alum and UAB Graphic Design professor Doug Barrett, whom he met while they were students. He was only here for two short days, in which he presented a lecture on the art of print-making, as well as showcase his work and offered a “Pop-up Studio” for amateur print-makers.
Since graduating, Michael has met great success in the graphic design world both as a free-lancer and now under his own employment at Two Arms Inc., based in Brooklyn, New York. He started Two Arms with fiancée Karen Goheed in 2009, and since opening, the design firm has worked on prints, posters, ads, fonts, apparel, and numerous other projects.
Michael specializes in custom illustration and typography. His passion for the craft is evident in the work he presents during his lecture. He begins his talk with a quote from his professor: “It’s not all Rock n Roll.” And while Michael told the audience that, indeed, it is not all about Rock n Roll, Rock n Roll is what he was going to be discussing, because it just might be the coolest client of the print-making industry. As he ran the audience through his colorful and multifarious slides, he listed some Do’s and Don’ts’, and gave his own personal tips on what to consider when designing for a band—“ Reference the lyrics or the general feeling of the band. Whatever you do, don’t illustrate the band name! If you’re making a poster for the Black Keys, do not draw literal black keys on the poster.”
The imagery Michael used is often recycled or reimagined. His posters have a vintage feel to them, and in order to achieve this look, he pours over old magazines, baseball cards, comics—anything he can find that has graphic potential. He calls his inspirations “found imagery,” and encourages other artists to go to yard sales and “look in whatever box no one else is looking through.”
He pulled up his poster for Ra Ra Riot and described how he has taken an old image of a vintage sci-fi rocket ship and added it to his own original composition. The effect is genius—the poster is narratorial, engaging, and effortlessly approachable.
His other big piece of advice: “if you want to work in a place, go there. You’ll figure it out when you get there. Just pack light.”
Turns out Tabie knows a thing or two about packing light. After leaving Orlando, he tested out Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago before finally settling on Brooklyn.
“At the end of the day I always have to remind myself why I got into this thing. I enjoy making s*** and holding it in my hand,” said Tabie, ending his presentation on a personal note. Although the statement may not be appropriate for small children, it sums up Tabie’s essence: Playful, simple, and passionate for his art.