The Interview Series: Toby Mikle working as a freelance Technical illustrator in USA

A new interview in my ongoing Interview Series with fellow illustrators, artists & designers in various businesses around the world.

Welcome Toby Mikle – Technical illustrator to the Interview series

Toby ​Mikle ​and I are both illustrators. While I was browsing the internet to look for resources and inspiration for my own illustration work the other day, it was really nice to bump into Toby Mikle´s website showing his technical illustrations. I really liked what I saw and found out after a search on the net even more work by Toby Mikle. Like many other illustrators he work with more than one type of work. But this interview is focusing on the technical illustration work and important things like Coffee

Your Name:
Toby Mikle

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Toby Mikle, technical illustrator, 2D Vector illustration

Hi Toby, and thank you for participating in my Interview Series with illustrators from around the world here on my blog.

​No problem, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project.

What type of work do you produce?

​My focus is mostly on Vector Illustration.

Toby Mikle, technical illustrator, 2D Vector illustration, Vegetated Roof Chicago

What year did you start working as an illustrator?

​1999 I decided to freelance for a living and worked many part-time jobs while I built up a client base.​

Do you work as a freelancer or a staff illustrator?

Though I have taken some short-term on site contracts, most of my work is considered freelance.​


Toby Mikle, technical illustrator, 2D Vector illustration, redraw of power cable

Which computer software do you use?

Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator​

Today in our digital world, do you work with traditional medium as well?

I draw on paper for fun, but find that conception sketches can be created and modified much more easy in digital format. ​

What is it that you like with your work?

The challenge of taking source materials and creating a dynamic visual representation that is not only interesting but informative to the end-user.​

What made you start working with technical illustration?

​I offered a variety of Illustrations services when I was contacted by a contractor for Memorex. I created a sample illustration from a photo of a radio and was hired to create them all. ​​Since then I have worked for a large number of clients both large and small.​

When it comes to technical illustration, what do you think is important to think about when you start a project.

​What is the most visually appealing way to represent this and serve its purpose clearly.

If your client for whatever reason give you a limited brief, do you still start working to just get started, and later go back to the client with more questions. Or do you pressure your client with adequate questions so that you know right away what you are expected to do?

​I make it clear that i either have great references, descriptions, and source materials or I don’t. The quality of the direction given and the quality of the sources provided​ will effect the overall quality of the project in both budget and desired outcome.​

Toby Mikle, technical illustrator, 2D Vector illustration, Chain Saw illustration

In the end people will be looking at your technical illustration for a reason. For example if they buy a product. What have you learned through the years to be of extra importance?

Line widths, breaking lines when they fall behind something and are not as import an element. Overall visual communication techniques.​

Do you prefer 2D or 3D tech illustration

3D is beautiful but I only work in 2D.

Toby Mikle, technical illustrator, 2D Vector illustration, refinary factory buildings

Among all the products you illustrate is there any specific product that you feel especially difficult to capture, for whatever reason to portrait?

It is extremely difficult but also a challenge that I love. To create very detailed scenes, like a factory, refinery, airport or the capital in Washington D.C.​

What do you think is the most common problem or mistake a new or seasoned illustrator does?

Underestimating the time it will take to create a vector based Illustration.​

What do you think makes a great technical illustration?

​One that is appealing to look at and communicated effectively with the reader.​

Would you say there are is a different way to how you work today to how it was when you first started out. Business-wise?

Only in that I have different techniques and am now more able to understand what the client and I need to begin.​

Do you like myself go out and sit and work at cafes, to brainstorm etcetera. And if so, do you bring just a sketchbook and pens or do you bring the computer and a wacom tablet?


I bring a sketchbook with me when I go out, but it is more for personal artistic freedom than work. I like to take breaks and creating only technical illustrations would make me feel like a robot if I weren’t able to explore the organic world and perhaps bring some of what I see out there, into the
technical designs. ​


Toby Mikle drinks caffeinated dt pop​, then more coffee


And lastly coffee. Everyone get this question: Coffee or Tea in the morning?
Coffee, with caffeinated dt pop​, then more coffee


Thats the way to go 🙂 Thank you Toby!

Thank you Stefan! 🙂



Stefan Lindblad
Illustrator, graphic designer

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