Mike Geiger talks to us about bridging traditional and digital art forms, Ren and Stimpy, animation, and more.
How would you describe your profession and your practice?
I’m an animation artist, creator and director. Currently I work as a Supervising Director, mainly for an animated series.
Has your work changed over the course of your career?
Over the course of my career, there has been a significant transformation in my work. I began in general arts and quickly honed in on animation and design. But since becoming a professional in this field, my artistic scope has broadened considerably. This expansion is evident not only in the variety of projects I’ve engaged in, from television to interactive media and design, but also in my adoption of a wider range of creative roles. The core of this evolution has been a shift toward a richer blend of creative expression across a spectrum of art forms.
This progression has provided a comprehensive overview of many art disciplines. Because of this, my personal approach has become more integrated, bridging traditional and digital art forms. Take, for instance, my piece ‘Nature’s Child’. This installation — a playful tribute to our bond with nature —captures the essence of my artistic journey. It’s a piece that fosters a light-hearted and optimistic interaction with our environment, ironically mirroring the diverse and sometimes playful paths of my artistic career.
What was your “eureka!” moment that made you realize that art/design was the route you wanted to take?
Reflecting on my formative years, my ‘eureka!’ moment crystallized very young through my passion for skateboarding. Within the vibrant culture of skateboarding, art is an intrinsic element—there’s a raw creativity that breathes life into everything, from the bold graphics on boards to the inventive ways we would reimagine urban landscapes as our playground. It was an exciting convergence of dynamic visuals, music, and movement. The way these elements shaped my view of the world eventually made it abundantly clear that pursuing a career in art and design was a natural path forward.
Is your work inspired by anything in particular? What turns you on creatively?
I find inspiration in just about everything. The timelessness of a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon, a spontaneous piece of street art, the craftsmanship of everyday objects like a sofa, or the pure creativity in my son’s drawings—all inspire me to create. As I age, I am finding more and more beauty in the small things we often take for granted.
Which designers or artists inspire you and why?
I draw inspiration from many artists and designers, but what really attracts me are bold colours and simple designs, which brings me to my greatest inspiration: my son. His free imagination and pure enjoyment of creativity reminds me every day that art should be, above all, fun.
What is the name of your 2024 DesignTO Festival installation, and what can attendees expect to experience?
‘Nature’s Child’ is a whimsical tribute to the vitality and harmony shared between our city and the natural world. The 12-foot-tall inflatable draws inspiration from the heartwarming idea that, while Mother Nature diligently tends to the grandeur of the natural world, her sprightly young child is ever-eager to explore in Earth’s most enchanting and lively nooks and crevices.
How long have you been involved with DesignTO? Why is DesignTO important to the creative community, here as well as abroad?
DesignTO has been a source of personal inspiration over the years, providing me with the opportunity to witness firsthand Toronto’s thriving design culture. On each occasion I’ve attended, I’ve left inspired. Beyond personal enrichment, I feel DesignTO plays an important role in the wider creative community. It’s a platform where innovation and connection are encouraged and celebrated.
Through this experience, DesignTO has been instrumental in bringing my art to life and exposing it to a broader audience. It allows local creatives like myself to gain visibility and for our work to resonate on a larger stage. DesignTO feels like a celebration of the city’s vibrant creativity.
Do you have any memories from past DesignTO Festivals you want to share?
My memory is a general sense of community and steady stream of inspiration. It’s the kind of atmosphere where the excitement for design leaves everyone invigorated and recharged.
Lastly, what random fact about yourself would you like to share with the DesignTO community?
One of my first jobs in animation was animating on the Ren and Stimpy show.
‘Nature’s Child’ is just one of over 100 free window installations, exhibitions and events at the 2024 DesignTO Festival, January 19-28, 2024. Visit the Festival Schedule to learn more about ‘Nature’s Child’ and other projects.