Born in Kingston, Jamaica, he now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, United States. He studied graphic design at The Jamaica School of Art, now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. Also known by his Flickr profile FREESTYLEE: Artist Without Borders – http://www.flickr.com/photos/freestylee
Themes of the anti-apartheid movement and the struggles in Latin America were evident in his earlier designs, drawings and paintings (1970s – 80s). During that period, he won two successive poster competitions, which gave him the opportunity to participate, with the Jamaican delegation, in the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Cuba in 1978, and in Moscow in 1985. He describes his visit to Cuba as “an amazing experience and a tremendous opportunity.” There, he was introduced to the Cuban poster designs created by ICAIC, (Cuban Film Institute) OSPAAAL, (Organization for Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and Casa de Las Américas. Michael’s visit to Cuba, and his exposure to Cuban posters created by these organizations greatly inspired his poster design aesthetics.
Michael uses his art effectively with social media to stimulate awareness globally, and to spark conversation about many social and political issues. He uses poster art to express solidarity or protest issues that he feels passionate about: war, global poverty, racism, peace, justice, “One Love,” and the environment. He also designs posters celebrating and promoting his historical and cultural Jamaican heritage, such as Jamaica’s popular music, Reggae
Michael’s creative expressions are influenced strongly by Jamaica’s popular music and culture, primarily from the golden period of the 1960’s through 1980s. His Reggae poster project on Flickr is an effort to reawaken a sense of greatness and celebration of one of the world great music; the richness of this genre being a deep source of inspiration for his art. Over the years, he has designed numerous posters covering Ska, Rocksteady, Dub, Roots Reggae and Rocksteady captured with an exuberant and colorful style. Michael’s posters have drawn much international attention and have been exhibited in International exhibitions. His Reggae posters are now on tour in Europe with the Reggae Movement Exhibition.
This contest is dedicated to all the pioneers, great musicians and institutions that created this wonderful music.
Maria Papaefstathiou, from Athens, Greece was the first one who embraced the idea for an international Reggae Poster Contest and accepted to partner with Michael in creating the contest. Maria has been a practicing graphic designer since 1996. She graduated and received an award for poster design from the Faculty of Fine Arts and Design of the Technological Institute of Athens. A professional graphic designer who currently works as an Art Director at publishing house Stamoulis Publications S.A. Maria specializes in the field of coffee-table books, book-cover design. She is the curator and art representative of Freestylee (Michael Thompson) (www.freestylee.net). Maria is also the volunteer Executive Administrator for Green+You, a non profit organization that spreads awareness for a green mind through creativity, and the sustainable life of nature and human beings alike.
Currently, she is focusing her research on social design. She is also the creator of www.GRaphicART-news.com, a blog for graphic designers and photographers, focusing on high quality designs and art photography.
Maria and Michael firmly believes that Reggae music has the power to bring generations, nationalities and communities together. This international calibration drawing creative people from around the world to participate in the contest; an excellent example of the global “One Love” message that Bob Marley sung about.
We believe that poster art and Reggae music is a perfect marriage to stimulate and inspire designers from around the world to create amazing art that will become iconic visual masterpieces for future generations to admire and to learn from. It is a wonderful way to show the global appreciation for the powerful music.
Others who made significant contribution to the contest are:
Audrey Headley, a talented graphic designer and photographer who lives in Jamaica. http://www.coroflot.com/aheadley
Kazuyuki Yoshimura, a Japanese graphic designer from Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka-ken.
Susan Lee Quee, is a Digital Design Consultant and Lecturerin Visual Communications and Digital Design at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. She is member of both the EMC Rex Nettleford Conference 2011 and Jonkanoo Journal editorial and design committees. Born in the United Kingdom, Susan is passionate about creating memorable and engaging design and new media projects that focus and promote her Jamaican and Caribbean arts, culture, history and heritage roots. She studied at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. She has created , graphic design, corporate identity programmes and publications for Jamaican and International companies. She is Creative Director of Lee Quee Creative – a design agency based in Kingston, Jamaica. Contact: http://www.