Submarine Channel

Interview with Craig Robinson

Craig Robinson has brought a lot of goodness to the web. He is one of those people whose life gradually became more and more entangled with a personal web project. Craigh’s own sparkling little universe is flipflopflyin.com, where he hosts his many creations: Batman & Robinson, Pete & Bob and the ever so popular (and published) Minipops, to name but a few. In his work, Craig mixes soulful pixel illustrations with British humor, fantasy and heart and the occasional dash of evil wit, which is why we think his work is so utterly irresistable. Though initially famed for his pixel art illustrations, Craig has now also ventured into animation and writing. For SubmarineChannel, Craig created the slightly disturbing animated series the Valley of the Cnuties.

Could you tell us a little bit more about Valley of the Cnuties? How did you come up with the idea for this epic story?
It seems such a long time ago now, that it’s difficult to remember the actual spark. I just remember wanting to create some sort of series that could be viewed as a whole thing and also as snippets in time that reflected the time period of the music. Or rather a decade, which was also reflected by the music.

Music plays an important role in Valley of the Cnuties. Do you work with certain songs in mind?
With projects like this one I’ll have an outline of how the story will work, but I don’t plan any details until I’m working on each specific episode. It would get way too boring for me if I had to plan everything, and have the fun ideas part of the project right at the beginning and then spend the rest of the time just animating. So with the music, I’ll have four or five songs in mind for each episode, then when it comes to doing one, I’ll choose the music that fits the story or mood best.

Talking about mood, your work is quite minimalistic, yet it always makes us laugh or cry, or both.
Thanks. I have no idea how that is done, it just happens. I guess I tend to work with the knowledge that most people viewing the work come to it with a similar set of references. It’s easy to use shorthand when we all know how, for example, a love story in the movies works.

On Flip Flop Flyin’ you wrote that you find the process of animating quite frustrating sometimes.
It’s slow and doesn’t look anything near as good as the idea does when it’s playing out in my brain. I draw everything in Photoshop and assemble it in Flash, so that’s quite a tedious process, going back and forth constantly.

Why do you blog Craig?
I dunno, it’s quite odd, really. When I first began the site, the only text I wrote on the site was stuff like “10 new Minipops today”, really minimal. I was very unsure of my “voice.” But as soon as I moved to Berlin, I began to write more and more on the homepage of Flip Flop Flyin’, but I still only did stuff when I had new stuff to mention, like new animations or drawings. Eventually, I realised that I could actually write stuff most days without having to only do it when there were new attractions on the site. I just started writing. And I enjoy writing now. I think mainly because I work at home, I spend most of my time alone, so it kinda stops me going mad, to have an outlet for the stuff that would ordinarily just sit there in my head.

So tell us, what is your all-time favourite work of art?
I quite like a couple of Christmas things I did, The Yuletide Owls and This Little Doggy. There’s something nice about drawing Christmas stuff that is a happy process.

I mean, from other artists.
O, I really like Yves Klein’s IKB stuff. Just the intensity of the colour. It’s so perfect to stand and bath your eyes in that delicious blue.

And your all-time favourite story?
Mine: I tend to have a slightly sentimental and melancholic preference. The über-happy stuff I do just breezes past me, so it’s the less happy stuff that I continue to enjoy, like George and Harold‘s Diary. Both are small, slight snippets of life.
Other: To Kill A Mockingbird, Naive Super by Erland Loe, and Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan all spring to mind.

Watch Valley of the Cnuties or visit Flip Flop Flyin’, Craig’s home on the web.

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