So first up, we have my good friend, design brudda, and the oh-so talented Big Fat Robot. We sat down with Mike in the lounge, over a few mojitos served in stone tiki mugs, and had a chat.....
thickblackoutline: Where do you get your inspiration from?
bigfatrobot: All around me. My room is the Louvre of pop-culture. I have more toys than most spoilt kids (Dunnies, Munnies, Qees, 60/70/80s robots, Star Wars – yep folks, I'm a nerd). Zombie, sci-fi, 60s/70s vampire DVDs are buckling my shelves. Old tattoo art (Sailor Jerry, and the more contemporary Angelique Houtkamp) fills me with lowbrow glee. As do pop-surrealists artists such as Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki, Tara McPherson, Mike Giant, Shepard Fairey, Lori Earley, Tokidoki to name a few. Romance, horror and scifi comics from the 50s and 60s. I'm basically that weird kid, that sits by himself in class (except I'm in my 30s, and I don't go to class). I'm also constantly inspired and amazed by my bubble chums, so much talent, so many generous and wonderful people.
thickblackoutline: What is your design process?
bigfatrobot: I have lots of battered little note books that I constantly carry with me. I love the aesthetics and delightful wankery of going to cafes/pubs by myself as I do some rough sketches in the aforementioned books. Once I have a rough idea of what I want, I sketch out a larger version, playing around with the composition. Pop it into the scanner, open up Illustrator (I'd marry that program if the Catholic church would allow it!) do the line work. I spend quite a bit of time working on the colour palette, trying to limit the amount of colours. Then I don't look at the piece for 48 hours. If I like it, I post it. Or, it ends up in a huge pile of work that I "may finish in the future."
thickblackoutline: When did you decide that this is what you wanted to do with your creative self?
bigfatrobot: I can't remember any Eureka moments. I think it just came from doodling constantly over my algebra and chemistry homework. Teachers cottoned on pretty quickly that I wasn't a likely candidate for a Nobel Prize in Astro physics, so I was encouraged to follow a more creative route.
thickblackoutline: Who are your fav designers/illustrators on The Bub?
bigfatrobot: Looking at my Watchlist I see a big group of incredibly talented illustrators. Such as my Bubblerock confreres: thickblackoutline, (Queen of lines) of course, Tambatoys (I get so much joy from her work, I want to write a children's book with her illustrations in it), Scott Robinson (he's one of those artists that I tremble with excitement when I click on the "New Work" prompt), Jumpy (his Robot v Human is one of my all time faves) and Mikoto (a one-man production machine who never fails to make me smile with glee).
There's also Rhys McDonald, who is not only very talented but also very patient (I've been promising to finish my half of a collaboration for a while now). Caanan (who's "Shirtheads" plus strong coffee has become my monday morning ritual), Sjem (clever!!!), rubyred (brilliant line work, with great messages), bubbleDoll (the mistress of cute and Maestro of marketing) and many more (you know who you are).
bigfatrobot: This little metallic dude came to life after your good self, thickblackoutline, suggested that a few of us put together a band on Red Bubble with our own little characters, called BubbleRock. Naturally my little rock-god had to be a robot. As usual I was too late to pick the cool instruments and the lead singer position (just like in school – I got the triangle! How many girls does a triangle player pick up?), so I decided to choose the piano accordion (an instrument I love – I'm sure I was an itinerant gypsy at some stage in my past). I had been playing Guitar Hero the night before I sketched out the idea. Hence the birth of the Piano Accordion Hero.
bigfatrobot: This scary little guy is based on a birthday card I did for a friend - Lucha Libre . She was crazy about everything Mexican. I'm crazy about those slightly overweight Mexican wrestlers of yesteryear. So I whipped up the Lucha Libre (which translates literally as Free Wrestling or Free Fighting). This is a term used in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking areas to refer to all forms of professional wrestling. This tough dude is based on The Blue Demon, a late master of the genre.
bigfatrobot: ......Soon after her birthday was Halloween and All Saints Day. I decided to play around with the orignal Mexican wrestler design, and eventually came up the skull headed ghost guy. "Día de los Muertos" is Spanish for "The Day of the Dead". It's a Mexican holiday that occurs on November 1 (All Saints' Day) and November 2 (All Souls' Day). It celebrates and honors the lives of the deceased, and the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.
bigfatrobot: The Gort Stood Still This acrylic on canvas piece was whipped up while I was watching one of favourite movies: "The day the earth stood still". At the time I was supping on a cheeky Shiraz and felt compelled to paint Gort, the big robot copper. It's a bit rough, but so was I at the time of painting.
When I was little kid, we only had a black and white TV, so everything I watched was in black and white. I couldn't discriminate between horror/scifi movies made in the 70s and their 50s antecedents – because they were all the same tones to me. I remember mum having to constantly get black and white pencils, because I wore them down to non-existence, while their colourful brethren remained fully intact and discarded. Movies like this, and ancient technologies like the B&W TV, are responsible for the way I look at the world, and how I choose to reinterpret the world in my doodlings.
Thank you so much Mike for spending time with us in the lounge today.
Make sure you check out the recently renovated magnificent site of BigFatRobot now!