It takes a certain kind of mind to paint the head of Nicolas Cage on a snow monkey, or imagine Frasier as the newest member of the Fantastic Four, or to paint Rod Stewart into a Star Wars Clone Trooper's body… and that kind of mind belongs to artist Brandon Bird.
Bird has carved out a geeky, awesome niche in pop culture, offering up classically-painted mash-ups that are both hilariously conceived and technically brilliant. He has a painting called "Reboot" that features Peter Dinklage in the leather Wolverine suit from the X-Men movies. Another famous painting showcases Christopher Walken building a robot in his work shop. He has a wide variety of Law and Order drawings and paintings that lovingly embrace and satirize the long-running show.
Bird's been giving so much to pop culture, it was time for the world to give back. This month, he is debuting his first book, Brandon Bird's Astonishing World of Art, available for $10.96 on Amazon. He recently concluded a Kickstarter project that will have him touring America painting various Sears stores. And tomorrow, he's kicking off a solo art show in San Francisco to support the book.
We sat down with Brandon to talk about all the Birdness. Here's what was discovered.
IGN: So I got the Activity Book and pretty much it's the best thing I've ever seen in my life… What made you settle on that format?
Brandon Bird: Necessity, really. An art book is something I've wanted to do since forever pretty much, so for the longest time, I was pitching a normal coffee table art book, but there would also be a coloring section or stickers… a fun coffee table book. Two or three years ago there was another publisher who were really excited about doing a book. So that's what I pitched with my agent was a fun coffee table book with some extra goodies in it. They were like, "It sounds great. We love it, we're gonna make this book… Can it be completely different?"
So I kept revising the proposal. They were like, "Does your name have to be on it? Does it have to have so much art?" I think what they kind of wanted was a generic celebrity fun book; like a humor book or a gift book. And then Borders went out of business and they were like, "For right now, we're just not going to buy any books. Sorry."
I was kind of disappointed and thought, "Am I ever going to get this done?" But I started thinking that what they responded to was the activities and the coloring and that kind of stuff. So I said, "I can take all of the stuff I have and make it more of a coloring book/activity book, and if that's what publishers want to put out, that's what I'll pitch." So, that's what I pitched. And then Chronicle took it and said, "Can we put more art in there? Can we add a color section?" And I was like, "Yeah!" So it came full circle and became the perfect encapsulation of all the stuff I do.
IGN: For me, as a Brandon Bird fan, when I got to the sections where there were connect the dots and so forth, knowing the finished work—for instance, seeing the squid facing off against the Tyrannosaurus Rex, it's ridiculous-- but knowing the pieces, it was extra-awesome.
Bird: Those things are supposed to work on two levels. One, a representation of the kind of stuff I do, and two, a joke about the paint-by-number format.
IGN: Obviously, you do a ton of celebrity stuff, and recently celebrities have been seen in your T-shirts and picking up on it. What's the weirdest interaction you've had with a celebrity who has seen themselves represented in your work?
Bird: I would say going to Kelsey Grammer's house and giving him a nice, big Kelsey Grammer print.
IGN: Fraiser joins the Fantastic Four… that's what you gave him, right?
Bird: Yeah. I put the drawing online last December, and I got a Facebook message from someone who said, "Hi, I'm Kate. I'm Kelsey Grammer's wife. I'd like to get him that print for Christmas." So I said, "Yeah… sure."
So she was like, "Can you come by and drop it off?" and I said, "Yeah, sure." And it was a couple of days before Christmas, so I figured I was just going to drop it off. So I rolled up on a Saturday morning and gave her the print, and I had also made a color version that I hadn't put online yet, so I handed her this color version, and she said, "Wow, thanks! Would you like to come in and meet Kelsey," and I was like, "Whaaat?"
And they had just had a Christmas party the night before, so he and the family were just lounging around and eating breakfast. If it were me, I'd be like, "Who is this person in my house who I now have to talk to?" But Kelsey Grammer just immediately switched on, was super friendly, super warm. He did that thing where you first meet somebody and you know their name, so you repeat it a couple of times to make them feel welcome. So I was like, "Gah, I know [what you're doing], but it's working. I feel totally welcome."
I gave him my business card, and it has that picture with Magneto covered in ducklings on it, and I gave it to him and he said, "Oh yes, I was in this movie. [In a low, ominous voice] Mag-neto!"
IGN: That's just amazing, dude. I love that.
Bird: So, yeah. I drew a picture of Frasier and now I'm in Kelsey Grammer's kitchen and I'm hearing him say "Magneto. This is bizarre."
IGN: Obviously, you have certain areas of—I don't want to say fixation, but I will. Law and Order, and Edward Norton and Nicolas Cage. Is it just your love of those things that brought that about or is it something else?
Bird: I think it's a combination of loving something and also seeing something in it that most other people don't. So, with Law and Order, you know, lots of people love Law and Order but not everybody is like, "You know what? If you watch a million of these things, it also becomes kind of funny, and here's why. Here's the underlying—maybe not the underlying humor—but the underlying facts that can be turned into humor. Often times, people will suggest things that I should paint. Like, "Breaking Bad, man! That show is great." I'm like, "Yeah. That show is great, but there's nothing I can bring to it." There's nothing where I look at it and say, "This is how I see Breaking Bad. This is how I see Arrested Development. Like, have you ever thought that this is funny?" Yeah, it's supposed to be.
IGN: It's inherently funny.
Bird: Yeah. So it's sort of like I need the weirdness or kitsch in things that are not intentionally kitschy or silly… or good.
IGN: You did the print of Eric Roberts with the unicorn… and you put it on a lunch box, and Eric Roberts bought the lunch box?
Bird: He didn't buy it. He was at the Doctor Who convention because he plays the Master in the TV movie, so he was going to be at the Doctor Who convention down by the airport. So I thought I'm just gonna go and give him the last lunchbox I have. And I was kind of nervous, because it's Eric Roberts. Half the time he plays like murderers… so is he going to get really mad at me? Is he going to get the joke? I don't know! And instead, he was super excited. He was there with his wife, and clearly they were just having a good time talking to people, hanging out, and he said, "Our daughter told me. You're on a lunchbox! She saw it on the Internet." He was super stoked. He had me sign it for him… and he gave me a big hug and took a bunch of photos. He smelled realty nice.
IGN: That's the important part.
Bird: I was like, "This is great; he digs it." You always worry that people will be overly concerned about their image, like, "Your depiction of me clashes with how I want people to see me." And instead, he was like, "Yeah, whatever!" Why get mad when somebody puts you on a lunch box?
IGN: So you recently closed out a Kickstarter campaign (click here to find out why), and the idea is that you're going to be going around the country painting Sears stores.
Bird: Yep. It's such an obvious and good idea that I'm surprised no one else has done it before. I mean, I'm going to roll up taking pictures and making sketches and people will be like, "Dude, there were already ten other guys here this morning painting this Sears."
IGN: How many stops on the Sears painting tour are there going to be?
Bird: It's a little up in the air. We have a basic route mapped out. A lot of it is going to depend on how long each stop takes… There's a possibility we'll be out for two weeks and be like, "We've seen enough. Let's go home."
IGN: It's a good way to see America.
Bird: Exactly. And it could be that some Sears maybe aren't that photogenic. So there is an element of let's just see what's out there.
Source : ign[dot]com