Mike Lin Workshop

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    Chad Crutcher

    No judgement regarding your personal level of tolerance…my remark was a general complaint about the tone of the conversation that was developing. Comments such as “mental masturbation” again prompt me to request we be civil and adult.

    So he told weak jokes and imparted his personal philosophies (some Christian, some from Confusious [spelling?], some popular Americana) that, to him, were at the root of his “be loose” concept. If things were that offensive and of so little value to you, I suppose you could have requested a refund and left.

    Reading your latest post, the thought that entered my head was this: Mike’s techniques are very simple and straightforward to impart intellectually. They do require lots of practice to master. If I have any complaint about the weekend course I took, it would be, as he warned, to little time to actually practice under his mentoring presence. This is obviously an effective means to generate interest in his 2 week course. In retrospect, I’m wishing he would have chattered some more so I had more time to relax and practice what he was demonstrating.

    One other thing I find amusing here…his primary directive was to not attach much value to what others think…he would say something akin to this in response to some of the harsher commentary: “So you don’t like my class? Think you can do better? Well then, show me yours!”

    Do well doing good.

    david j bockman

    That’s very interesting, I don’t see how pointing out the fact that you were engaging in the very behavior you condemn is a ‘stretch’, however I am very open to an explanation supporting that assertion.

    I find it interesting that when this fact is pointed out to you suddenly ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’, which is very different that your original condemnation of any critique of Mike Lin, which you labeled ‘mindless bashing’.

    I too have precious little free time, however I do try to fully verse myself in the topic of a thread before contributing.

    Brandon Olson

    I understand that everyone doesnt learn the same and can sympathize with someone if Mikes teaching style wasn’t conducive to their learning style. That being said I have taken Mike’s Workshop and been a teaching assistant for Mike and I can safely say that the negative experiences that i have read are really in the minority and find if discouraging to think that a few people that didnt share the immense change in their drawing abilities that i have witnessed to be the norm in the workshop would discourage others from going to it. First of all in addressing the 2 day workshop Mike touches on a large range of materials in 2 days the 2 day workshop helps people see what they do not know and offers them a basis to build upon. those who truely want to take their graphics and attitude to the next level really should take the 7 day or 12 day workshop. the atmosphere of this intensive workshop really give you a different outlook on rendering. you are in an environment surrounded by people enthusiastic about drawing for 12 hours a day, that combine with mikes positive outlook and unique tricks to making drawing wall and fast possible. I am sorry to hear that there are some ot you that did not have a positive experience but as for me the workshop have changed my graphics and outlook on life for the better and am very thankful that the workshop continues to help people

    Trace One

    Brandon, I agree with you totally, I got an enormous out of our 3-day workshop..Really a lot, plus I admire him an an LA who has created his own world., and profitably, I hope..But there does seem to be a common theme regarding his sense of humour..Perhaps someone who knows him (who worked for him, such as yourself?) may want to mention to him that he may want to set some parameters on his language..I don’t know..On the other hand, people really don’t change..I don’t recall being offended by him at all, just thrilled at all the drawing..I wish the profession of LA had as much creativity and drawing as Mike Lin’s world..

    David Pilkenton

    I took the 2 week workshop two years ago. I have taken illustration classes with other “masters” and while they are all really nice people and I learned from them, Mike’s class definitely stands out. While in the 2 day, you have less time to practice, Mike breaks everything down step by step. When learning from other teachers, you yourself often have to interpret what they are doing before you try and copy it. Mike shows you how to copy, first and foremost so that you can build upon it and develop your style later, after the workshop is over.

    Regarding his jokes, I mean, look. He’s an old, funny, Chinese man who likes to have a good time. If he had no jokes, there would be more people criticizing him for being a good illustrator, but terrible teacher. His jokes are how he relates to the class and loosen up the class and make them relax. Personally, I’m grateful for his anecdotes. You really get a sense of who he is, and well, I’m young, but I’ve learned a lot from him. His jokes are designed to keep the class awake and remember his tricks. When I draw trees I still mutter to myself, “ahhh can I touch you?” Despite the fact that he rocks the boat a little, he is purely genuine, as are his goals for his class. You can practice drawing and perfect your trees anytime. Learning the tricks and being in the positive atmosphere he creates is priceless. Worth every penny.

    “I am happy, you know why? I wake up this morning and say, SHIT! I am breathing. Ahhhhhhhh thank you.”


    I attended a two day workshop back in the 80’s. I found it informative and entertaining. The thing that impressed me the most is the speed at which a person can generate color renderings using his method. Using Mike’s techniques helped a lot of people to clearly communicate their design intent. My only problem with his method is that it became so popular that several LA drawings were looking the same. But with a little effort, creativity and experience designers can develop their on style using Mike’s method as a foundation.

    One important thing that I admired about him is that he helped me to realize that as a designer you should have fun doing what you do. You could see that he really enjoyed himself while he was doing his “thing”. I believe that staying loose and enjoying your work makes you a better designer.

    For all of you “Anti-Mikes’ out there lighten up. Mikes method should be one of many arrows in your quill. I’m a big believer in having several different techniques and methods to communicate my ideas. Besides his methods continue to work when the power goes out.

    Brandon Olson

    Oh and to further address the 2 day workshops, I know that Mikes jokes and stuff make it seem like a very relaxed atmosphere but that is actually the point, he is trying to get you to loosen up and relax while you draw, it is to lighten the mood. In reality however Mike has a very specific curriculum that he follows it is just that he has been doing it for so long and he is so good at it you dont realize it. its funny that people think learning and being funny cannot happen synonymously, in the 2 day workshops Mike very specifically covers one half day on just 1 and 2 point perspective, the rest of the time is spent covering 40 graphic tricks, rendering techniques on pencil, colored pencil, marker technique, and other details like people and trees. it is amazing that people criticize the way they do, teachers get entire semesters to try and teach these things to their students and in the most part still fail to get people to grasp the concepts as effectively as Mike has been able to. The 2 day workshop is intended to put you on a path of understanding just how much you don’t know about graphics and gives you the tools to build that knowledge. what you choose to do with those tools is up to you. there is no pleasing everyone

    Mike Lin

    Amy, just to clarify, after 35 years of teaching the 2 day workshop, I have worked hard to assure that the curriculum be balanced based on school program and industry standards. Normally I spend half a day on perspective, and the rest of the session on subjects like proper drawing attitude, graphic tricks, how to draw people and tree, and techniques in pencil, color pencil and marker.

    When I teach a workshop, I’ve found that it is important to sprinkle in a bit of humor to keep attendees entertained which makes the learning experience more energetic and stimulating; not stagnant and boring like some other workshops. As you will realize once you start working in the design field, attitude and character is just as important as good graphic abilities. Of the countless students and professionals that have taken this workshop, there are always a few individuals that feel the workshop is not for them, which is fine. Again, I appreciate your feedback.

    debra phillips

    it has probably been 5+ years that i went to kansas for the 2 week workshop with trepidation.
    1) as a design professional with a serious handicap……..i could not draw
    2) i had heard stories and rumors about mike’s personality…….would i be able to endure this?

    at the introduction i learned to clear my head of preconceived notions, be willing to learn via mike’s methodology, truly change my mindset; ‘ be loose’ and open.
    i believe that attitude adjustment allowed myself to fully learn the techniques of graphics while seeing the world in a new light. a truly winning combination that guides me to this day.

    one year later i organized a two-day workshop. for me personally this was the optimum path; a great refresher. others were introduced to mike for the first time. did i cringe a few times at a joke? yes i did. as i looked around the room i could tell that those texting, slouching and rolling eyes would later complain. those that dedicated themselves to the process were effusive with praise.
    nothing compares to the total immersion of the two week and it’s life changing experience.
    debra phillips

    thomas jefferson

    Dana Worthington

    I first took Mike’s two week workshop in 1991 as a Junior in College. Perhaps because of the way I was brought up – in a sarcastic, joking, accept-everyone kind of family – I loved Mike, his humor and his style from the first moment we met.

    I am a Landscape Architect and frustrated artist…as I was when I met Mike. The difference is, back then I allowed my frustration to impact my confidence. Mike’s “tricks” coupled with his jokes/attitude lessons helped me learn to loosen up and laugh at myself…and my “mistakes”! I believe that attitude change is what enabled me to have the confidence to apply for and get a job with Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).

    Attending Mike’s workshop, TAing with him 3 times over the years and working for WDI have all been life-changing experiences that i wouldn’t give back for anything. To this day, I still mutter Lin-isms to myself… “chisel the point”… “piss yellow all over the paper” (reminds me to start with light colors first)… “I’m so damn good” (don’t hesitate; go with your gut)… “don’t let trouble trouble you until trouble troubles you” (stop worrying!)

    …and last…”life is like a tree…the bigger you grow, the more wind you’ll catch” And to that I say, congrats Mike. You are one of the biggest trees in my forest of mentors! Thank you for everything you have done for me…you’re so damn good. My life would not be what it is without your influence and I am greatful!!!

    shengyi yue

    I really don’t agree with you. Drawing, especially quick sketch, is the elegance of a designer. It is the characteristic designers distinguish from each other. I believe what Mike is teaching is not just drawing itself but how to design through drawing and the attitude of drawing. Seriously, I know most of the computer programs but somehow I feel that these computer generated drawings do not have the soul. My professor once tells us that do not stop your pen even if you don’t have cue what to design. As long as you are still sketching on the paper, the ideas will suddenly appear in your mind. Drawing is a way to help you design and is the way to give your design a soul. Personally, I think it is a shame for a designer not able to draw out the ideas directly to the clients. A good designer should be ready to work both on hand drawings and computer drawings, right? Sorry if I offense you. Just to share my thoughts 🙂


    The workshop is good because it forces you to draw for hours and hours on end. It takes a lot of discipline to do this on your own. Plus youre there with 50 people who can’t draw well (which kind of takes embarassment away). Its worth while, but you’ll never get to a professional level just from a 2 day course, you need to put in the hours everything. The course is great for confidence and learning new tricks, you’ll meet some cool people too.
    Mike’s timing can be weird. When you pay money for someone to teach you, you don’t really want to be put to sleep by hours of chit chat. I remember getting really anxious sometimes thinking “come on lets go”. All and all its worthwhile.

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