About Michael Graham

My illustrations reflect the characters and landscapes in my imagination.
— Michael Graham

Education & Experience

Michael Graham lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his lovely wife Christine. He has worked as a full-time illustrator since 2005. Prior to that time, Michael held full-time positions in the local graphics industry and also freelanced on the side. His projects have included children’s books, role-playing games, video games, T-shirt designs, book covers, album covers, character designs, logos, puzzles and comic book projects.

Completing a project and bringing each client's individual ideas to life provides immense satisfaction for this illustrator. Since childhood, Michael has felt a deep fascination for art and the creative process. He has drawn from imagination for as long as he can remember. As a youngster, he was enthralled by the animated imagery of Disney films, the creations of Hanna-Barberra, and the colorful Looney Tunes characters. Another tremendous influence was having a father who worked as a professional watercolor artist. Though the styles and mediums of father and son were quite different, his father, Ted Graham, was a talented draftsman and watercolorist who was an important role model in Michael's artistic development.

As a teenager, the artwork of Frank Frazetta and literary genius of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy provided Michael the initial impetus to follow in the footsteps of visionary dreamers. Other artistic influences include Brom, Bernie Wrightson, Michael Whelan, The Brothers Hildebrant, Carravaggio, Michaelangelo and Dali.

Additionally, music and literature have long fueled the fires of his imagination. Songs from bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Rush and Led Zeppelin fill his studio and inspire his imagery. The literary works of Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, Karl Edward Wagner, Michael Moorcock and Terry Brooks have added both words and imagery to his creative reservoirs. Michael explains the influence certain imaginative works of literature had on his artistic inspiration, saying, "These authors' bold descriptions and use of language painted vivid pictures in my head. Then one day I came across Frank Frazetta's artwork, and I realized, those look like the pictures in my head!" 

After graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in physics, Michael journeyed for a time into corporate America. Not surprisingly, he found that corporate life did not feed his creative hunger. In the fall of 1993, Michael decided to study commercial art at Guilford Technical Community College, where he earned his degree in this field. While studying digital art, Michael acquired his first taste of Adobe Photoshop's magic. This discovery opened his mind to the full creative potential offered by the computer. The majority of his color work is now done digitally. All sketches and preliminary work begin with pencil drawings on tracing paper. The sketches are then scanned into the computer, where applications such as Photoshop and Painter—along with a drawing tablet—are used to turn his sketches into finished works of art.