From very early on Mike developed his artistic skills, when the family went out for dinner and Mike would finish his meal early he would be given napkins to draw on to keep him quiet rather than disrupt the other diners. His mother also arranged piano lessons for Mike when he was three/four years old, he started with classical music for the first 12
or so years and then moved onto hip hop, learning loops and hooks. After the 12 years of tuition there was nothing else he could learn from his tutor and she advised him to go experiment on his own. After graduating high school Mike went to the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to study design and illustration, Joe Hahn also attended the college and joined Xero, Mikes roommate was Corey Sandelius who Mike remains close friends with. Despite the stresses of having to take his finals the same weekend as Hybrid Theory were performing a showcase for 6 record labels, Mike graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in Design and Illustration, he was the youngest in his class to graduate aged 21. Mike got a job as a graphic designer straight out of college and thought he was going design CD covers for a living. In 1997 he designed the cover for Styles of Beyonds 2000 Fold album and he also produced the track Marco Polo for the band.
As Mike worked as a graphic designer the band continue to write and record music, their signer Mark Wakefield left and the band found Chester Bennington to replace him, the band was renamed Hybrid Theory, then eventually the Hybrid Theory EP was released in May 1999, again Mike did the cover art for the EP. After another name change to Linkin Park and with the help of Jeff Blue, Warner Bros finally offered them a recording contract (after previously passing on the band three times).
The concept of the Fort Minor artwork was around 10 pieces of art including the album cover, Mike displayed the art at his first art gallery opening held at Gallery 1988, the show entitled Diamonds Spades Hearts Clubs featured a mixture of items including animals, robots and incorportaing diamond, heart, spade and club icons throughout the pieces. Through Mike’s website an art book was sold as well as skatedecks, tshirts and a few replica art pieces.
In May 2007 the third Linkin Park album, Minutes to Midnight was released, this album has less of Mike’s vocals than previous albums but Mike had still worked on it as much as the previous albums, citing that when he wrote stuff, they ended up being singing parts, and he got a co-producer credit alongside Rick Rubin.
Linkin Park teamed up with Busta Rhymes on the single We Made it, with Mike having his own verse and Chester singing the chorus.
As the band toured the world in support of Minutes to Midnight, Mike also started work on another art show, entitled Glorious Excess, he released a film Sirens and Silence via, put together from footage he had filmed himself and other foootage he aquired. The art show was split in two parts (Born) and (Dies) and deals with celebrity excess.
(Born) opened at the Japanese American National Museum on July 11, 2008; and (Dies) opened August 29, 2009. The shows saw a celebrity skeleton character at the height of his fame as he idulges in his celebrity status and his demise.
Mike and Mark Wakefield collaborated again in 2008 as they wrote, performed and made the video for Barack Your World under the band name White Pegacorn, the track shows their support for Barack Obama in the presidential race. They also made a video for the song using rock star puppets.