This Illustrator Has Created A Picture A Day For The Last Eight Years

Mike Winkelmann has been creating a daily illustration since 2007. Now over 3,000 images in, his work has started to veer into science fiction territory.

Artist Mike Winkelmann has been making an illustration every day for eight years. As his website will tell you, he hasn’t broken routine for 3,039 days–and over that time his illustrations and process have drastically evolved. In his most recent digital illustrations, he imagines dreamlike futuristic landscapes.


A lot of artists and great thinkers throughout history have had rigorous daily routines that keep them productive and creative, all the while honing their specific set of skills. One of the impressive things about Winkelmann’s practice, besides sheer longevity, is that he switches the tools that he uses to create the images each year. In 2007, for example, he drew all of his illustrations by hand. In 2012 he used only Adobe illustrator. This year Winkelmann used the 3-D modeling and animation program Cinema4D, and perhaps as a result, his images have started taking on a cinematic aspect to them, veering into science fiction territory.

There are drippy, neon-lit underground lairs; eery, wire-connected floating rock formations; and glowing orbs of energy surrounded by delapitated power lines. One image shows a McDonald’s space station-like structure sitting among the clouds.

Many of the images seem to be telling slivers of a larger story about a dystopian future, but Winkelmann says that he doesn’t approach his images with any sort of narrative in mind. Rather, he starts with a “vague idea of composition,” creates the basic shapes and then builds the scene around that. He started his series of dreamy futuristic landscape images after putting a tiny human figure into an abstract image of large shapes.

“I’d never had a sense of scale in my pictures before,” says Winkelmann. “Since then I’ve been playing with these futures where there are these shapes that are part of our landscape years from now. A lot of the pictures are just presenting a mundane depiction of how we might harvest energy [in the future].”

Click through the gallery above for some our favorite of Winkelmann’s images, and click through to his website directly to see his entire, massive archive of daily illustrations.


About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.