Michael grew up in Brooklyn, NY near Coney Island; the influence of which is permanently etched in his work. After graduating from The Cooper Union he went on to start his own design studio in New York City. His work revitalized the art of hand-lettering by expanding it into areas of illustration and graphic design initially inspiring many imitators, many of whom have moved on to making their own contributions to this art form.
Other than the Coney Island midway, the inspiration for his work has come from such diverse sources as matchbook covers, theater marquees, enamel signs, early and mid-20th century packaging, and various other American artifacts. Currently he operates his studio in Hollywood, California, sharing it with his wife, illustrator Laura Smith.
Recently he expanded the scope of his work to include font design with the advent in 2006 of Alphabet Soup, his digital type foundry.