From ESPN to Global Initiatives: The Career Journey of Michael Mikulec

Photo of author
Written By Charlotte Miller

Few individuals are more passionate about their work than award-winning creative director, designer, and education leader Michael Mikulec. From his early tenure at ESPN to widespread success as an independent creative, the Connecticut native is a veteran of over two decades in broadcast, digital, film, and print.

Mikulec’s illustrious career has seen him build successful brand stories with a global presence. Now a self-employed creative and art director, writer, and designer, his 20-plus years of professional excellence began at Savannah College of Art and Design. Shortly after graduating, he joined international sports broadcaster ESPN.

University Studies at SCAD

Michael Mikulec studied at Savannah College of Art and Design between 1995 and 1999. The Chatham County, Georgia-based private art school has additional locations in Atlanta and Lacoste, France. Founded in 1978, SCAD offers more specializations and degree programs than any other art and design university in the United States.

With that, the university uniquely prepares talented students such as Michael Mikulec for myriad professional, creative careers. A young Mikulec graduated from the Georgia-based institution with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

Early Tenure at ESPN and Troika

SCAD graduate Michael Mikulec joined cable sports channel ESPN in July 2000 as a broadcast designer. He worked on numerous across-network initiatives at ESPN, including SportsCenter, ESPN International, X Games, and ESPNews. During his early tenure at ESPN, the designer traveled with the NBA Finals as the broadcaster’s on-site animator.

Elsewhere, he art directed the Sports Emmy Awards-winning program This Is SportsCenter, a live, behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the famous ESPN show. Mikulec remained at ESPN until late 2004, departing only to begin an exciting new role at entertainment, media, and sports brand and communications consultancy Troika.

At Troika, the young designer and animator was responsible for developing projects for clients like Fox, HGTV, NBC, ABC, and MTV. He also worked on projects for his former employer, ESPN—another high-profile Troika client—while based at the Greater Los Angeles Area-headquartered consultancy firm.

Notable projects overseen by Mikulec during his three and a half years at the firm included designing logos for TRUtv, Access Hollywood, The CW Network, and NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics.

2007-2017: To New York via Rome

Michael Mikulec left Troika in 2007 to join the acclaimed Italian visual effects and post-production house Frame by Frame.

Based in Rome, Mikulec served as Frame by Frame’s art director until September 2009. During this period, he developed projects for clients across Europe and the Middle East. These clients included Canal+, NBC Universal, Nile TV, Sky, and Mediaset – the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy.

Between 2011 and 2015, he also worked for the Boston Red Sox as a consulting creative director; Launched the largest American cannabis brand Curaleaf in Simsbury, Connecticut; collaborated with the design studio Loyalkaspar in Venice, California; and the Los Angeles, California-based advertising services firm, BPG.

Between his roles at Curaleaf and Loyalkaspar, Mikulec returned to Frame by Frame for almost four years in a new capacity. This time, he would open and subsequently oversee the Italian visual effects company’s brand-new New York office. Here, he managed clients such as Showtime, FX, CBS Sports, and, once again, his former employer, ESPN.

Return to Savannah College of Art and Design

In 2020, Mikulec returned to his former school, Savannah College of Art and Design, as its associate chair of graphic design and, later, the college’s primary chair of graphic design. That followed several years working as a freelance art director and designer for Fox Sports and a school year as an adjunct professor at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California.

As Savannah College of Art and Design’s chair of graphic design, Mikulec oversaw and supervised every aspect of the world’s largest academic graphic design department. That included managing and leading over a dozen faculty members and almost 1,000 students. He remained at SCAD until 2023, leaving to pursue new opportunities as an independent creative.

Independent Creative Michael Mikulec

Michael Mikulec established himself as an independent creative in 2015 as a freelance art director for Loyalkaspar. Fast approaching a decade later, he now focuses squarely on his responsibilities as a creative and art director, writer, and designer for an ever-growing roster of global clients and initiatives.

The self-employed creative and art director, writer, and designer has worked on 360-degree approaches for brands including Amazon, Apple, Marvel, and MGM. He’s also worked closely with globally renowned gaming, sports, and entertainment sector names, including League of Legends.

Elsewhere, alongside his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, Mikulec holds a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the world-renowned Ivy League institution of Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

From Connecticut to Italy and back via California and New York, Michael Mikulec now happily resides in Georgia. Away from his work, he’s passionate about international travel, photography and being a father. He maintains a constant desire to learn, reveling in every new experience he encounters.