Beach Meets : Rob Flowers Illustrator & friend of Beach , Rob Flowers brought some of his huge toy collection to the gallery for an Anorak magazine launch a while back & we thought it was high time we caught up with him, see what he’s been up to lately & find out a bit more about his collection
Rob’s work has been described as ‘trippy…. as if you took a whole load of acid, ate too much candyfloss and went on the waltzers at your town’s local fair. It’s all a bit much, borderline grotesque, but you had a brilliant time.”
Check out the interview we did with him below, and shop our favourite Rob Flowers products.
Hi Rob, What are you working on at the moment?
Hey Beach! It’s been a pretty crazy busy few weeks, I’ve got a number of projects on the go at once. I’m drawing a poster for The Museum of Witchcraft in Bostcastle, Cornwall, which has been loads of fun – researching into their collection of artifacts has been brilliant. I’m also in the midst of a big project for ASOS (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you any details!), I have to do around 50 images for them so it’s been pretty manic. I’ve just finished a few projects that I’m really excited about too . Firstly, I drew my first comic strip – it’s about young Henry VIII & Greenwich Armour for the next issue of Anorak Magazine. I’ve wanted move into doing more narrative led illustration for a while so it was great to finally get to doa strip. Secondly, I did a whole load of illustrations for House of Holland’s next collection, which i’m really ;ppking to see walking down the runway. Thirdly, I drew a Hellmouth themed poster for Skull & Heart’s upcoming show at Boxpark, a theme which I’ve been wanting to do an illustration on for ages.
Your work is very heavily influenced by mass-manufactured and commercial product design – toys, packaging, McDonalds graphics…. where does your fascination with that stuff come from and how does it inform your practice?
I collect a lot of stuff (but mostly Garbage Pail Kids, early McDonald’s advertising merchandise and 1980s gross out toys), which I have all around me at my studio, and that definitely bleeds into my creative consciousness; I find myself constantly referring to them when I’m working on something. Character design is a very important part of my work, so it’s a great resource. I’ve always been really into toys (I’ve got two older sisters, & I think my dad was overjoyed that he could finally buy all the Masters of the Universe toys that he secretly wanted) & I guess I’ve never really grown up!
You’ve worked with some really exciting clients and your work applies really well to a diverse amount of medium. In that respect, what would be your dream project and client?
As a toy collector, designing a range of my toys would definitely be my dream job. I’d actually really love to do some work for McDonald’s – imagine how cool it would be to redesign the Happy Meal & bring back the glory days of 1980’s Maccy D’s advertising? I’m not sure, in reality how awesome it would be to work for them, being a massive, facless corporation and all that but, in my head, it would be the greatest thing ever.
Your toy collection is fucking epic: what’s your favourite item and why?
Aw thanks! That’s a tough one, it’s hard to pick out one thing in particular but if I was pushed it’d have to say my 1973 Milton Bradley Officer Big Mac puppet because, after years of searching, I finally picked one up on eBay, a couple of ‘Whirling Eyes’ squeezy rubber toys that I got from a flea market, which I love because they’re really crazy looking, or the Hopi Kachina dolls I picked up in America last year. Kachina dolls are beautifully carved from wood, by the Hopi people, to embody Kachina, the immortal beings that control aspects of the natural world and society, and act as messengers between humans and the spirit world. They’re stunningly made & I hope one day to have loads of them.
What’s coming up?
I’m creating a series of classic McDonald’s advertising inspired characters for the awesome burger joint, Burgershack – which although, it isn’t quite designing Happy Meal Toys, is probably as close as I’m gonna get to that dream. I contributing a Blemmyes (a legendary race of headless monsters who had eyes and mouths on their chest) themed wooden diorama to Ed Cheverton’s Toys exhibition in Bristol, which as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about. I’m also doing a print for Art & Sole’s screenprint series & doing a hula hoop themed fabric print for my good friend, Marawa the Amazing. Oh and I’m also contributing to the next issue of the awesome snack themed magazine, Snacks Quarterly.