Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

“I will always be a graphic designer at heart.”

Mike Bowers

Alumni Profile:
Mike Bowers


Mike BowersHometown: Champaign IL
Year graduated: 2001
Currently working at: The Proprietary Division of advertising at Hobbico, Inc. (Champaign IL). Hobbico is the largest retail and wholesale distributor of radio-control hobby products in the world and one of the most progressive companies in the Champaign-Urbana area.

How does it feel to be a professional designer: Being a professional designer is wonderful. No matter where life takes me, or whatever station I will ever be in my life, I will always be a graphic designer at heart. Once the graphic design bug really grabs a hold of you, it is forever.

How do you like your job: I am actually one of those few people who really do love their jobs. One of the reasons for this is the myriad of projects I work on in a normal work day. I may create a new ad, design a mock-up web site, update a Flash movie, work on a large remote-controlled airplane box, stop to greet a vendor from Japan, work with a printer locally (or one in China), work with our photographer on a new project, attend a market strategy meeting for some innovative product, make corrections to a header card or work on decals for a new high-end radio-controlled truck. It is also very rewarding to walk into a hobby store, or increasingly into Wal-Mart, Target, or Toys R Us, to see my finished work. To top it off, I work with a very talented group of people. My fellow co-workers are artists, computer specialists and print specialists. I am still learning from them, and I hope they sometimes learn from me as well.

How did you get this job: I worked hard while at Parkland, and one of my instructors took note of my work, and offered me a job following graduation. Parkland instructors are designers themselves, and have a network of fellow designers. It is important to remember they are probably one of the most valuable resources at Parkland. So remember, any design job a new designer applies for in the area is probably going to begin with a call to one of your former instructors. Take my advice, be an excellent student.

What was the most exciting project you've worked on since graduation: I have worked on many exciting projects since graduation, but one does stand apart from the others. A couple of years ago, Great Planes (a division of Hobbico) wanted to make a scale-size replica of commercial and air show pilot, Matt Chapman's Cap 580 airplane. I had to study the intricate trim scheme of his actual plane, and fit it to our scale version. It took a long time, but everyone was pleased with the final results. I was even asked to go out the airfield to actually meet Matt Chapman for the photo shoot. Then, he took to the air and showed off the aerobatic skills which made him a champion. I think it was the most exciting simply because it was such a departure from what I usually do.

What were some of the most important things you learned while at Parkland: I learned to soak up any knowledge around me I could. If I saw something an instructor had done, or even something a fellow student was working on, I wanted to know how it was accomplished. I also learned the importance of proficiency in all of the software tools. I learned to work and work hard. If I hadn't quite grasped a lesson, I went back and did it again and again until I mastered it.

Who is your favorite designer and why: I really don't have a favorite designer. Though I found the work of designers like Milton Glaser impressive, I don’t like all his of work. As designers, we are partial cannibals in that we "borrow" elements we like from every designer we have ever known. Whether a designer realizes it or not, that brilliant design you just realized was probably a reflection of a concept from another designer. I think the greatest compliment to a designer is that their concepts are heavily "borrowed" from.

What is your favorite typeface and why: Although I have a fondness for Adobe Garamond because I researched him for my typography class at Parkland, I find that I like the clean contemporary look of Eurostile and tend to use it for many of my projects.

Last updated: 1/8/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young