Friday Five With Michael Upton of Upton

For Michael Upton, what started as a love of screen printing as a child grew into a design career based around the art of printing and editions. An artist and designer, Michael is the founder of Upton, a Southern California-based design studio created on the belief that everyone should have the means to live with beauty every day. Producing work that lies in the realm of fine art and home décor, Michael aims to fill a void he identified in the art world for accessible, quality work. Upton currently produces prints on canvas, prints on paper and sculpture – many of which are handmade in the Upton studio in Vista, California. Pulling inspiration from the modernists and materials of the past, their pieces are influenced by architecture, cooking, music and history. While Michael enjoys the process-oriented aspect of design, he explains that his art also relies heavily on feeling, intuition and experience: “I like to think of art as the way I approach all things in life and my designs as the product of that mindset. It’s all intuitive and connected.” Today Michael Upton joins us for Friday Five!

shelves with books

1. My Wife’s Travel Journals
I have a terrible memory, so my wife, who is a writer, keeps a journal whenever we are traveling. When we get home, she types them up, illustrates them and binds them by hand. They are works of art and an amazing way to relieve memories that might otherwise have faded.

Sumi ink

2. Sumi Ink
This is my favorite medium for sketching and creating loose drawings. I love the consistency of the ink, which allows you to have control but is also runny enough to give you some pleasant surprises. It’s also a great compact medium – I always have a little bottle and a brush in my bag when traveling.

cookbook on counter

3. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Cookbooks
Yotam is a true artist in the kitchen, and I find his outlook on food and on life so inspiring. He is always smiling, and despite his incredible amount of knowledge, is always willing and eager to learn from and collaborate with other chefs. He is endlessly creative with his flavors, and I’m always excited to make something from one of his cookbooks.

Balboa Park

Photo via Alpha Coders

4. Balboa Park
Balboa Park, in my hometown of San Diego, is where I go to feel like I’m in Europe. It has beautiful old buildings, museums, walking paths, restaurants and the San Diego Museum of Art sculptures garden, featuring works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Alexander Calder. It’s a favorite spot to let my son run around while my wife and I relax on the grass with a glass of wine.

album in sleeve

Image courtesy of Daniel Romano

5. Modern Pressure Album
Before he released Modern Pressure, singer/songwriter Daniel Romano was well-known for country and folk music. With Modern Pressure, he made a stylistic shift and released an incredible indie rock/pop album. It was inspiring to see someone who was so seemingly defined by something go in a completely different direction, and do it so masterfully. I love that he refuses to be defined by his past success and is true to his current passion.

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.