The Face Behind The Faces
Note: This article was originally published on October 2014 by CanUX which provided background to its audience about myself and the process creating the speaker avatars.
Michael is an designer and illustrator born and raised in Ontario Canada, his only complaint (politely filed, of course) is that there are never enough pencils in the office.
The product of a tiny hamlet in Southern Ontario, called Nelles Corners, Michael is Dutch by blood but as Canadian as they come. One of seven children, Michael spent his days frolicking through the wide open spaces of the family farm. That’s right, Michael was not only one of seven, he frolicked; deal with it. When he wasn’t out and about in nature, he could usually be found holed up in the house watching his favorite shows “The Friendly Giant” and “Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.”
Michael loved to draw and create from a very young age and couldn’t understand why something artistic wasn’t incorporated into every class in school. He just knew math and science would be so much better with a little drawing or painting mixed in. He carried this certainty and love through grade school and high school and settled into Illustration, and New Media Design at Sheridan College.
After working in Toronto for several years, Michael met a beautiful Michigander and left his homeland for West Michigan. He worked at several design firms in Grand Rapids before going out on his own, “I was exhausted from trying to play the political game and do the design work” Nÿkamp says.
Michael has combined his experience, direction, design, and illustration to create mkn design. Michael regularly works with companies of all shapes and sizes, be they profit or non-profit, e.g., Herman Miller, Steelcase, Thesis:, and Hospice of Michigan. His design and illustration work has been recognized and awarded by Communication Arts and he was recently a finalist for his interpretation of the American Flag on behalf of The University of Baltimore, AIGA Baltimore and AIGA Blue Ridge.
Perhaps because of his Canadian roots or his general pleasantness, Michael is genuinely excited about being a part of his community and creating spaces for other designers and illustrators to connect. He’s a member of the AIGA and IxDA. And as if that isn’t enough camaraderie, Michael is also a member of Citizen Project and a founder of The Illustration League. When he’s not helping with one of these organizations, you might find him volunteering at or attending an event like Design for Good or Midwest UX. Michael is either the world’s most giving individual or too Canadian to say “no” to anyone. He’s not sure which either.