Bio: A. Michael Shumate

A. Michael Shumate

It would be really chic to say I came from a broken home and had to be raised by gypsy squirrels, but the truth is that I was raised in a happy home by loving parents with my younger sister. I was an “army brat” and we moved around a lot. My dad was a musician and my mom an artist. It was a good, creative home.

Most authors’ bios stress how they loved to read at an early age. Not me. I was dyslexic in a time when nobody knew what that was. I hardly ever picked up a book except to look at the pictures, which probably explains why I went into such a visual career as graphic design and illustration. But I always loved stories. I remember when I was five we lived in Japan and our house had a small stage where my sister and I would give “performances” of our favorite fairy tales. All my life whenever I’d go to a movie, I’d rehearse the story in my mind afterwards and wonder “what if the characters had done something this way instead of that?”

By the time I had finished high school I could probably have counted off the total number of books I had read in my whole teen life (not counting school assignments) on my fingers.

Fast forward to my married life. As a father of eight, I always took care of bedtime with the kiddies including bedtime stories. Let’s see: eight kids times an average of five years of stories each times 365 nights per year. Yikes, that’s a lot of stories! Well, to be honest, story time was a group thing, so each child didn’t get his or her own separate story time, but on the other hand, there usually was more than one story per night. And yes, the kids often had to wake me up to finish their stories. But it’s still true that I love stories. I always told my children that when really I grew up, I was going to write kids’ books.

I taught graphic design and illustration for twenty-five years at St. Lawrence College and I am now Professor Emeritus. I am also RGD Emeritus (Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario).

There are some who say, “Those that can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” That may apply to some teachers. But there is also another old saying, “The teacher learns more than the students.”

While teaching Branding Design I had about 900 students over 25 years and had to grade over 2700 branding projects. That helped me discover fundamental principles of identity design. Those core design principles remain true, regardless of current fads or fashions. I also learned what to avoid in designing a brand.

My visual career included illustration. I have worked in virtually every artistic medium and in a wide variety of styles. Likewise, in my writing, my interests are varied, as you can see on this website. If a change is as good as a rest, I could be called lazy.