PMFKA logo works

Styrofoam MP3 ghettoblaster&Tokyo graphics

Tokyo is full of bleeding edge international visual creators. The kind that cool-hunters would love to get a hold of years before their work gets filtered through the visions of ad agencies and local clients. One of such is PMKFA: Michael Thorsby, a 26 year old Swede currently residing in Tokyo doing some interesting contemporary design and illustration work.

Written by Ian Lynam

Thorsby’s work is Tokyo NOW. It is anachronistic, iconoclastic, and also very much of it’s time. It is unique, yet shares a vibe that many designers working today share- a melange of retro influence, innovative form-making, and more than a bit of humor.

His work makes me think of:

• 1970s Jean Larcher OpArt display alphabets
• faux airbrush
• old Letraset display typefaces existing in three dimensions
• a bit of 80s minimalism
• graffiti, but ironic

T-shirt/sweatshirt-design for the store/label Hooha based in Copenhagen/Denmark
logo designs by PMKFA

I caught up with Micke PMKFA the other day and we did a freestyle téte a téte back and forth about his work, influences and the state of hip-hop today.

What does PMKFA stand for?

It is a shortening of a Swedish thing but since some years back I just use it as letter combination and never think of the original meaning. It’s a thing between me and a couple of friends.

PMKFA tee shirt

How did you start out doing design?

It started around 1998. I sort of wanted to make music but I’m not very good at that so I slipped into making graphics to express my interest in it. It started through music and I’ve kept a big foot in the music industry ever since, both on major and independent levels of the industry.

Graphic and details for the shop WoodWood

The same graphic applied to a T-Shirt


Any notable recent projects that you think were particularly fun or intriguing?

Hmm, I have a recent one that I got a big bag of good energy from. I co-worked and art-directed the album for Stockholm-based band Lo-Fi-Fnk (they’re big in 2006) and worked together with a great photographer. It is probably much cleaner than I usually work but I think it turned out well and it was a first good step for me to move towards photo-based artwork, something I have planned for a long time but so far didn’t really got the right project to start that transition.

CD packaging for Lo-Fi Fink

CD packaging for Lo-Fi Fink
Lo-Fi Fink graphics

Los Angeles stylish art magazine Arkitip asked you to contribute ten (!) pages. Well done!

Sample of PMKFA’s collaborative piece in Arkitip’s new issue

You do interesting product and packaging design as well – is that a natural extension of your graphic work?

Yes. Making things and products is something I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I’ve always been excited to work with paper in three dimensions. I like the idea of putting something very flat on a object and creating depth.


Do you have any more planned forays into these realms?

Yes, a lot. But as it is harder to produce it’s not the easiest thing to do spontaneously. I would like to make some more earrings, and the styrofoam ghettoblaster that you can see at my site is something that I’m planning to improve so that it actually works and can play music using a source such as a MP3-player.

Styrofoam boombox

Yo! I’d love to have such a boombox for sure. Talking hip-hop: Biggie or Tupac?

I dont really rate any of them to be honest. Other people that deserves to be mentioned is Wiley, the most restless producer and MC in the world, always moving, Trim & Scratch, Newham Generals, Slew Dem, Digital Mystikz and last but not least 19 year old Skream, the biggest wonder-kid coming from the London-scene the last couple of years, new dubs all the time and he never dissapoints.

other logo
The wrinkled. Treatment gets 5-0 gives scent others Daiquiri kinds shower work a.
designs by PMKFA
Details of one of PMKFA’s typographic illustrations for the CMYK magazine conference, Tokion Magazine
Details of one of PMKFA’s typographic illustrations for the CMYK magazine conference, Tokion Magazine

What kind of stuff are you working on at the moment?

I’m doing CD-jacket and promotion-material for a LA-based band called 8bit. Working with Ubiquity is nice too. Having talks with a Swedish indie-label to do stuff as well so there is a bunch of music stuff at the moment that makes me excited.

You are also working on some huge walldrawings?

A friend wanted something on his wall, so I said yes and thought it was a lot of fun to see the graphics blown up that big. I would like to work more on how I could really affect the room and make a drawing that had a better connection to the wall.

Copenhagen wall drawing
walldrawing detail
Illustration made in the office of with assistant, Shinjuku,Tokyo. Measures approximately 2,5×2 meters and is made using a pilot felt pen and acrylic-based color for the filling. Made during some hot days in late July 2005

Did you use a projector to draw or were those freehand?

So far, projector only. The graphics I have used have been very strict and precise using repetetive patterns, so I kind of had to. I’m also looking forward to stop using a projector and work a little more random.

Typographic illustration for London-based magazine Hit & Run. Nang = very good so this is a heavily good version: PURE NANG

How did you come to work with Sweatshop Union in Osaka, exhibit there and produce apparel graphics for them?

It’s Our Thing – logo

Tee shirt design from PMKFA exhibition at Sweatshop Union in Osaka (Japan)
Thorsby at his exhibition at Sweatshop Union in Osaka (Japan)

We came together through a common friend and then Matthias at Sweatshop Union asked me if I wanted to make a exhibition and I was up for it. Now we are just about to start our own little t-shirt label called It’s Our Thing. Proper images soon on my site.

Thanks a lot for the chat and good luck for future projects!

  • Olltta

    i like the wall drawing so is a kind of moving emotion.Michael Thorsby depicts things coming outside from our minds and will be amazing way arriving to the bright side.

  • X-NoIsE

    amazing works!!

  • Robert

    awesome stuff… really hot… very hot indeed. Do you do motion graphics work at ?

    contact if you do.


    Dont really do animation myself anymore, still doing motion visuals for a club in Sweden every month though. Will do music video though but then I will pass the motion bit on to a friend as I prefer to stick to the graphics at the moment. Used to do more conceptual animation before but havent really come up with any ideas of that kind the last year to bring me back into that field again.

    Best, Micke

  • Pingback: PMKFA

  • James


  • Matthias

    Great stuff.
    His t-shirts are awesome.
    Lookout for ODB King.
    You know what I mean if you see that shirt.

  • http://bossegrafika bosse

    love it! but no dalahorses :(

  • Anders

    Beautiful stuff Micke!
    You make Gustav Wasa proud.

  • petter

    ohh! Wicked. it’s nice. I likt the “pure nang” text. the stone letters. The letters for wood wood. (especially the black ones with white lines) and the colourful picture for the Lo Fi FNK album are also nice, as well as the rest of the stuff. Keep up the good work!

  • ypuciad digxktl

    txzcvmie jqmszi tjzircux gmtz kxbhaf pvmkbdwfi brhkwoln

  • e*rock

    I love the boxy 3D type!

  • Emericalady

    Very nice.
    Love that stuff.
    Good Job guys!

    Greetings from Germany!

  • sam

    brilliant work!!
    Keep it up- great graphics

  • kurye

    Very nice.
    Love that stuff.
    Good Job guys!

  • Egzersiz

    Typography I am dealing with for a long time,
    But never I guess I will not do so well typographic studies: (
    It seems very easy but very hard to do

  • calmiva

    The Japanese site Ping Mag recently made a interview with me and you can view it if you follow the link here

  • goruntulu sohbet

    hayat beni neden yoruyorsun anlam veremiyorum

  • christian louboutin

    I really would like to learn more information about your business, what is it and why is it important.