Designer and writer Michael Sun talks about what inspires him
PEDSTRIAN.TV has partnered with Samsung to inspire your creativity.
Michael Sun is a man after my heart – or, at least, my extremely online brain. The FBi Radio designer, writer, podcaster and host says his average daily screen time is “literally 18 hours”, and he always has at least 200 tabs open in nine different windows at once.
But as a multiple hyphen, he has learned to embrace chaos and harness it in his work, whether essays on being a bitch who can’t read, his pop culture podcast with The Guardian Australia, or his signature design style. Drawing from everything at once, but mostly from the fragmented and ever-challenging stream of the internet, Michael’s work is thoughtful, silly and hyper self-aware – perfect for the range of events and artists who regularly commission him. , of queer reading nights at Evenings inspired by SOPHIE.
Thanks to Samsung’s support and love of creative Australians – as their Galaxy S22 range and Galaxy Tab S8 series provide the perfect tools for thinking big on the go – we spoke with Michael about his work, his advice on pursuing a creative career and how procrastination is unfortunately part of the process.
What is your favorite artistic medium?
Graphic design, writing and everything in between. I love multimedia works that take found photos and text – an old screenshot buried deep in Camera Roll, an anguished Notes app journal entry – and incorporates them into the design. Or vice versa: using graphics/visuals to complement a written essay.
What does creativity mean to you? And how would you describe your style?
Embrace madness, for better or for worse. my style is mlimp – or completely – unbalanced. Simultaneously “many full headed thoughts” and “no empty headed thoughts”. Yassified. Without quoting Bo Burnham, but: everything, all the time. More is more is more is more!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
All over the internet. This is definitely something I should be telling my therapist instead, but my average daily screen time is literally 18 hours, which explains it all about me. As grotesque as it sounds written, I draw much of my inspiration from meme culture: not the superficial aesthetic quality of memes, but rather the way meme language—in all its oversaturation, hyper-irony— and its ability to over-share – infiltrates and defines my offline life.
What are the essential tools you use to bring your work to life?
Noise-canceling headphones, through which the soundtrack of The social network plays at 100 dB constantly to drown out any existential fear. A spoon, so I can swallow peanut butter (crunchy, of course) like a fat rat. And any device with a screen.
What does your creative process look like?
Procrastinate until the last possible second – then a few more hours – via spiraling and/or scrolling. Then have a flash of inspiration and work maniacally until it’s done.
What work are you most proud of? Can you describe the story behind it?
I like this impression I drew last year! I call it my cake print, and it reads like one of those @affirmations – “I can have my cake and eat it too” – accompanied by a series of confessions below, vaguely alluding to my relationship with food, my tendencies to procrastinate and my love of frogs. I did this in a fit of boredom early last year when I decided to challenge myself to create a trio of prints.
It was the last in the series, and my favorite – I’ve always hung it on my wall, and it’s very touching for me when people send me pictures of it in their own space too. My eternal gratitude to anyone who has my stupid little stream of consciousness displayed in their home!
What are the biggest challenges that come with creating?
Myself! I’m someone who has at least 200 tabs open in nine different windows at any given time. I just have no focus or discipline – but I like to think of my hyperactive drinking habits as actually ~research~, even if it only subconsciously gives me ideas for my work.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to start creating visual art?
Make sure you’ve considered the financial viability of it all before you start. Do you view your practice as a purely personal business? Do you plan to create work for others – friends, strangers, clients? How will you balance commercial work with the activities you are passionate about to avoid creative burnout? By asking yourself the uncomfortable questions, you will have an ethical basis to draw on if you feel uncertain or insecure about your decision.
To learn more about other artists and their stories, head over to our Going Beyond hub.
Do you feel inspired? Discover the wide range of devices from the Samsung ecosystem for all your creative needs – so you can be yourself, your way.