The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Have No Fear, It’s Just a “Mild Apocolypse”: An Interview with Bub

With a mix of dark humor and an impressive skill at creating inviting, yet dangerous worlds, the artist known as Bub has caught our eye. Using cartoonish creatures as surrogates for humanity’s baser impulses, Bub’s world is populated with furry creatures, innocent-looking monsters, and skeevy business vampires looking out for their next opportunity. Bub’s mirror to our modern society, while black and white, is filled with colorful narratives. We asked the artist a few questions about his latest body of work, which goes on view at Roq La Rue in Seattle, on April 6th.   

I’m not going to ask you where the name “Bub” came from or whether it was a given name or a moniker.  As a person with a friendly nick name, I know first hand how some things can be and should be off the table..

BUB: (awkward silence)

Seriously, we don’t want to know. Don’t tell me.

(a bit more of that awkward silence, followed by a rustling sound)

Ok… so, uhm.. there are conflicting dispositions going on in your work. We see smiling characters exuding a childlike innocence and optimism. And yet, there are other scraggly disheveled  characters lurking in the near-distance; seemingly jealous of the first character’s aardvark manatee, which he happens to proudly wear on his head like a hat. Am I reading into this scenario too much?

It’s hard to get a good read on those two scruffy guys! Are they jealous, gobsmacked or just plain ugly? 

Have I prejudged the scraggly creatures, just because of their scraggly-ness?

I’m more wary of the guy wearing a white jumpsuit and an exotic animal as a hat. That fuckin guy…

I asked her to be more careful but she hollered something about her ‘proud heritage’ and tossed an SUV at me. 

In “American Kaiju”, an armed lass  is caught gleefully destroying a suburban neighborhood, like a rootin’-tootin’ Godzilla. That expression of hers; she knows that we’re watching. It appears that she is more concerned with our reaction than the tiny people below. Whatsupwit dat?

I’ll admit that I’m pretty jaded about the US and some unflattering manifestations of American culture have crept into my art…or, in her case, come crashing in. I asked her to be more careful but she hollered something about her ‘proud heritage’ and tossed an SUV at me. 

As with Godzilla, I kinda have a crush on her (what the hell is wrong with me)…

She has a real folksy charm. A real meat n’ potatoes gal. 

In “Team Dirtbag”, there’s a rogue’s gallery of baddies crossing a polluted river. in the group, there’s a witch/warlock, a tiny zen master mason, an untrustworthy-looking muppet-like creature, a warrior orc/goblin, a smirking business man, and more. Where is this parade of unscrupulous characters headed?

I imagined this group on their way to a cheap buffet, someplace that’s got trays of mac & cheese and fried chicken under heat lamps. Plastic water cups and vinyl upholstered booths. Somewhere they don’t get the stink-eye because everybody in the place looks like they might rob a bank or build a Frankenstein. 

Was a work like this fully planned out before you committed pencil to paper? If so, how much?

I usually approach a drawing with a fairly fleshed out mental image, then spend hours n’ hours sketching and fine tuning each component in the composition. By the time I start building a ‘final draft’ I have a pile of scruffy, coffee stained doodles to reflect on.

Do the characters have elaborate back stories (feel free to lie to us, we probably don’t deserve to know)?

I imagine backstories for most of the characters that appear in my work but am always reluctant to share them. I want to leave room for folks to form their own narratives/connections/opinions! 

In “Third Shift at the Gibbet” the too-clean science technician-types have caged a monstrous looking beast. Is he/she/it reaching out to the workers humanity as a plea for freedom? Or, is it for that smart tablet, so he/she/it can see how many likes a certain post received on “the Gram”?

My favorite thing about this drawing is the ambiguity! It seems like a lousy situation for all concerned but there’s a lot of narrative left to your imagination… and I think that’s really fun. 

Does making art for you solve any problems for you or at least make sense of a few of them in a concrete way?

I guess what I’m trying to ask is… There’s alot goin on in your images, The characters and situations signal disparate personalities, differing economic classes beauty vs. monster narratives. So, like, does drawing your images serve as a way to express your outer/inner most conflicted thoughts about the world or something? Still haven’t the right words to ask the question right, but you get the idea, right?

Art making is the best way for me to process stuff and express myself. It’s felt vulnerable but cathartic to explore more prickly personal themes in this latest body of work for “Mild Apocolypse” and build compositions that poke more aggressively at bros, bigots and the bourgeoisie. 

Would working in color just overload you with so many options that it would paralyze your creativity entirely? 

I love color! Charcoal and graphite are just my favorite mediums…so fun, versatile and accessible. Sometimes I use colored media if I’m trying to produce something with an extra cheery vibe or a visual component that won’t land without color. 

It’s felt vulnerable but cathartic to explore more prickly personal themes in this latest body of work… and build compositions that poke more aggressively at bros, bigots and the bourgeoisie. 

Is your work black and white because like our dreams, the world you are creating isn’t real but loosely connected to real things, but presented in a mutated way?

I was raised in a no-television household before widespread internet access, but we had an enormous collection of film on VHS. I spent my childhood gobbling up noir/sci-fi/horror from the 1930’s-1960’s and my love for evocative black and white imagery must have sprung from that pool of femme fatales and werewolves with low blood sugar. I have always been attracted to black and white visuals and the eerie, immersive feelings they can evoke.

Look for Bub’s “Mild Apocalypse” at Roq La Rue Gallery on April 6th. 

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