(B.F.A. Communications Design ’12)
Recent graduate Michael Cook (B.F.A. Communications Design ’12) can look back with pride at his final semester this spring when his clever multimedia installation Wild Rabbit—which examines the inner drive that pushes people to the limits of their potential—won first place in a competition sponsored by Hennessy, the France-based cognac house.
Cook received a cash award and an all-expenses paid trip to Paris for the launch of the Hennessy V.S. bottle by Futura, the Brooklyn-based graffiti and gallery artist who mentored him and the seven other competitors. The three top Wild Rabbit designs go on display in Paris on October 22.
When you made your prize-winning Wild Rabbit sculpture, did you already have all the materials at hand in your studio?
With a few exceptions, such as the wood used to create the rabbit's skeleton, all the materials that went into the sculpture were tools that I use to make art—they were literally lying around my studio (or in the case of the spray paint cans organized neatly by color on a shelf).
Were you excited to be guided by street artist Futura?
Just to meet Futura was amazing. I was buying albums and CDs that he'd designed half a decade before I even knew about Pratt. Being able to actually receive feedback from him on a creative level was something I really wouldn't have believed had it not happened. Futura's an awesome, down-to-earth guy and I'm not surprised he has the recognition that he does. He's the real deal.
How did you decide on attending Pratt?
After coming to the college for Accepted Students Day and hearing several professors in the Communications Design department speak, as well as Kathleen Creighton, the chair, my parents asked me whether I wanted to see the dorms or the cafeteria and I told them, no—I didn't care what the facilities were like, or what the housing was like. I would have put up with just about anything to be a part of the program here.
How do you feel about Pratt now, in retrospect?
Before I came to Pratt I actually didn't even know that there was such a thing as communications design—I applied to the Undergraduate Communications Design program for the sole reason that I liked Photoshop and had started teaching myself it in middle school.
Even though I didn't know the first thing about graphic design, communications design transcends mediums, materials, styles, movements—it's learning how to visually convey an idea or an emotion. This is something that has informed everything I've created since coming to Pratt. The program not only taught me to be a designer, it taught me to be an artist.
So my experience at Pratt ended up being every bit as fulfilling as I'd hoped. The staff and faculty are the most supportive, creative, and knowledgeable group of people I've ever known, as were the professors of electives I took in other departments.
Do you miss anything about Pratt now that you’ve returned to your studio in upstate New York?
Being surrounded by so much stimulus, be it friends in different majors, the variety of classes, or New York City in general, makes it very easy to find new ways of working and thinking.
What projects are you currently working on?
The Hennessy project marked the start of a real desire of mine to work on installation pieces, although for the moment that's being superseded by some explorations into unconventional screen-printing methods. My girlfriend and I also recently started building furniture together.
Interview: Kate Ünver and Adrienne Gyongy
Photos: René Perez