When he was in high school, Mike discovered he had a real gift for drawing and creating three-dimensional art forms. Even so, he planned on pursuing an engineering career. Ten years later, however, he shifted to a career in art. After graduating from Colorado Institute of Art, Mike moved to Dallas and worked as a Graphic Designer for one of the largest systems and financial application software companies, UCC/UCCEL Corporation. Seven years later, after a brief stint at General Dynamics illustrating F16s, Mike started his own graphic design company, MWL Design, Inc. During this time, influenced by aviation artists like Keith Ferris and Frank Wootton, he created his first World War II aircraft pencil illustration.
Illustrations during this period typically depicted colored aircraft in flight without the pilot. But Mike wanted to take his aviation illustrations to the next level. He envisioned the WWII pilots as “latter day gladiators,” and felt it was important to show the pilot with his aircraft. To maintain the nostalgic look and feel of 1940s photography, Mike created highly-detailed black and white pencil illustrations. Over the years, Mike’s aircraft illustrations have been a great source of enjoyment for him, and include commissioned projects for the 386th B-26 Marauder “Son of Satan” crew. Original art was donated to the Colorado Air Force Academy and Corsair pilot Burt Avedon (who flew in the Marianas turkey shoot). Prints of Mike’s aircraft illustrations have also been marketed at local air shows.