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Monday, January 30, 2012

Glen Brogan: Insight, Fortitude and Outstanding Faith

Just kidding about those things in the title, but if you've been following the blog for the last few weeks or so I've been writing about the phenomenal work of Glen Brogan. Glen has taken the time out of his busy schedule of freelance illustrating and pulling off great pieces to answer a few questions for TTDILA.

Jonathan: Let's start off with your latest piece Ye Olde Mario World now called Ye Olde Dinosaur Land , as I stated in a earlier post, I believe this piece with such details are wasted on a shirt and would only work as a poster. Doesn't matter , because it's available as both. May I ask what the process for this piece was? I mean did it take you a while, with research or staring at the maps online? Why make it look like ancient?

Glen Brogan: When I was a kid I loved going through video game instruction booklets and making little level maps and drawings of enemies. In fact I would say I enjoyed that as much as actually playing the games themselves. So I see this piece as sort of the ultimate extension of that little hobby I had as a kid. As with just about all of my work I did quite a bit of research for this piece, finding lots of reference photos. I didn't want to draw the map exactly as it appears in the game because there's not much fun in that, so I think I gravitated towards the ancient map look because it's a style people will recognize and it's cool like an old treasure map.

For the recent Adult Swim show you did three pieces based on three different cartoons? Did those shows really impact you? I loved the Harvey Birdman piece and the Space Ghost one almost makes me want to cry. At first I thought the meteor in it was heading towards Space Ghost to crush him like that one episode.

I was so excited to participate in the Adult Swim art show. I love so many of the Adult Swim shows that I knew I would never be happy if I limited myself to just one, so I did three pieces. I did the Harvey Birdman piece and the Venture Bros piece because I'm a big fan of those shows, but creating the Space Ghost piece was important to me because I do feel that show impacted me growing up. I was a fan of Space Ghost Coast to Coast right from the start in 1994 when I was in 5th grade and staying up until 11 to watch a cartoon was a big deal. I loved its bizarre humor which was like nothing else I had seen up to that point. Also, it seemed like not too many people knew about the show at that time, so it really felt like I had "discovered" it in a way, like I had found something really unique. I think that's the same feeling lots of people had when they discovered the Adult Swim block years later. Everybody had that one night where they couldn't sleep, turned on the TV and saw a cartoon milkshake yelling profanity at a meatball and thought "What the heck am I watching?" It really felt like this underground thing that you were lucky to know about.

Do you watch cartoons anymore? Favorite cartoons from the past and now? Any animation you’re looking forward too? Any animation you wish to work on?

Of course I still watch cartoons! It's hard to list my favorites because I'm such an enthusiast of animation in general, to the point where I do nerdy things like research famous animators and watch documentaries. When I was a kid I watched Ren and Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life, The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, all the usual stuff that people my age grew up with. I especially liked these particular shows because they didn't really pander to kids and threw in some adult humor. I think kids appreciate it when they're given credit enough to handle some mature themes. Even if they may not get all the jokes they can still tell. My Favorite animated shows from current television are the Adult Swim shows as I mentioned, and things like Adventure Time. I also still like Family Guy, even though I know a lot of people have kinda turned on it recent years.
I look forward to just about any animated movie coming out that looks decent, and I see way more kids films than somebody my age probably should, haha. As far as working on animation, I'd love to have a job working on any creative cartoon show today. The actual job of animating is a tough gig, though. I've messed around with it a bit and I believe that the ability to make a character move in a believable or funny way is very under appreciated as a real art form. I'm still confused why the history of animation isn't taught along side all the other things you learn about in a typical art history class.

 What is your entertainment? What nerdy exploits are you into right now? Or is there anything fascinating you in life right now?

Usually video games, movies, or reading, and on a larger scale I take a couple trips every year, usually for nerdy things like comic book conventions. I really have to make time for that stuff, though. I almost never just sit and actually watch TV anymore. When you work for yourself there's nobody sounding that end of the day whistle, so you often work right up until the minute you fall into bed.

My life right now and over the last few years has been very fascinating in my view. Even though I just sit at my drawing table most days, the art projects I've been involved in recently have been beyond anything I would have expected even just five years ago. I've had art in books, magazines, and galleries all over the world, taken on local projects like completing a mural in my hometown, worked for companies I thought I'd never be mentioned in the same sentence as, met artists I admire; It's really been amazing.

Back to your work, is your process, maybe an idea popping in your head or you looking back at many different notes or just telling yourself you want to do something for a certain subject?

These days I consider myself lucky when I have a moment to sit down and actually draw something for myself, but thankfully because of the kind of artwork I do I tend to get hired for projects based around subjects I really enjoy. Usually my process is foremost to meet the criteria of whatever I've been asked to do, be it a magazine illustration or a gallery show with a certain theme, etc, and from there I try to push myself to be as creative and clever with it as I can. I try to make myself incorporate new ideas into every piece I do, and make something that I think people will enjoy.

Do you have a steady job or is it all freelance work now?

It's all freelance work, though I have a few companies I can rely on that give me pretty regular work.

I might have seen one of your earliest pieces “Fanservice” at the Street Fighter Tribute Show at Nucleus.Were you heavily known yet then or were you just starting out at that point?

The Fanservice piece was featured in the Autumn Society's 90s themed art show, and that was one of the earlier shows I was invited to be in. Around the same time I became involved with the Autumn Society was when I started having people reach out to me about being in different shows or hiring me for freelance gigs.

Your part of the Autumn Society and have been featured in multiple shows, how’s it been as part of the group?

It's been amazing. Back in college I felt like a bit of an outsider as far as my art was concerned because I wanted to do cartoon and pop-culture related stuff, which isn't always looked upon favorably in traditional art classes. So being in a group of very talented artists that all do the same type of work I do has been incredibly rewarding. Heck, just discovering that there were so many people out there who are successful at this was really a turning point for me. The Autumn Society is really an amazing thing because it gives artists so many opportunities to be involved in great projects.

Seth Martin and Friends grabbed me from the Autumn Society page. What do you actually do for the show? Views aren’t high, does this discourage your friends and you?

As I've gotten progressively busier I haven't had as much of an active role in Seth Martin and Friends, but my main job is usually any kind of illustration work that needs to be done for the shorts. And since we're a small group everybody lends a hand with just about every job, whether it's puppeteering, writing, set design, etc. At it's heart the show is just a group of guys having fun and exploring a unique creative outlet (not to say that it isn't a lot of hard work!) My personal opinion is that you can't get involved with something like this unless you really love to do it. It has to be something you'd be doing regardless of whether or not you make money or get tons of attention, otherwise your heart isn't in it and you won't get very far. The guys who are the real talent behind the show constantly amaze me with the stuff they come up with and accomplish, not the least of which is a catalog of outstanding songs by a puppet named Trace Cherokee. In my possibly biased opinion, they're better than just about anything you'll hear on the radio these days.

Favorite video game of all time and what are you currently playing.

Favorite video game is a hard one to answer. I love just about anything in the Mario or Zelda series. I used to feel that Ocarina of Time was my favorite game, but I think some of the latest Zelda adventures have surpassed it. In the last few months I've finished Arkham City, Skyward Sword, and I'm slowly working on getting 100% in Super Mario 3D Land when I have the time to play.

Favorite childhood movie and why.

My favorite movie of all time, which I first saw when I was a kid, is Back to the Future. I tend to be pretty logical in my thinking and the way the movie is so well thought out really appeals to me. The thing that stuck out to me the most as a kid was how the time machine couldn't teleport through space. In other words, in most time travel movies you'd have a guy saying something like "Let's go back and meet George Washington!" And he hops in his time machine which not only takes him to colonial times but conveniently to George's doorstep. I love that in Back to the Future they set logical rules and follow them very well, and they even have a lot of creative fun with little details you may not notice at first. Also in later years I've come to appreciate how the main relationship in the film is the friendship between Doc and Marty rather than a stock love interest. Most movies feel they need to have boy gets girl as part of the main plot, so to replace that with teenager befriends crazy old man is pretty unique, haha. Not sure I've seen it anywhere else.

Hidden talents other than illustrating?

No! Haha. Something I like to say as a joke is that I'm good at drawing in exchange for being bad at everything else, especially common talents. I can't play any sports or do anything athletic, I have no musical ability whatsoever, I can't swim, cook, snap my fingers, whistle, hula hoop, and to be honest I'm not even all that good at video games.

What do you want to get the most out of your life right now? Any plans for your own show?

Honestly I am pretty content right now. Not too many people can say they get out of bed, don't go to work, and do something they love all day long. I'd like a bigger apartment at some point and I'd like to own a DeLorean one day, but aside from that I'm pretty set. I even have a girlfriend who's a doctor and actually bought her late-twenties boyfriend Mario Bros curtains to hang in his apartment!
I'd love to do my own art show at some point, but I just have so much on my plate at any given time that it's hard to start large projects of my own.

 If you've been to LA favorite spot, if not, what do you want to see here?

I've been to LA once and it was one of the best trips of my life. I mostly did all the touristy stuff so I'm not sure I've seen enough to list a favorite spot. However, during the three days I was there I attended my first show at Gallery 1988 where Seth Green bought my art, I had lunch on the roof of Cartoon Network Studios where I stood in line for a hot dog behind the creator of Dexter's Laboratory, and I went to Disney Land on a whim with free admission thanks to my best friend's employment at a Disney owned company. It was one for the books.

Thanks to Glen again for taking the time to answer all my question. I can't wait to see what he does next.