You never know who you’re going to meet on a night out and this was certainly true when we bumped into illustrator extraordinaire Rob Flowers. Fast forward a couple of weeks and we managed to pin him down to answer some of our burning questions.
You’ve worked with everyone from Nike to the BBC, which has been your favourite project and which company was really great to work with?
It's hard to pick one in particular but a I've been lucky enough to have a couple of long time collaborators that are always a joy to work with. I've been doing illustrations for Anorak, (the amazing kids magazine) for a number of years on various themes from drawing Dandy Lizards to creating a whole cast of characters to populate 'The Anorak Circus', it's always a pleasure to work with them as Anorak always gives me a lot of creative freedom. Secondly is my ongoing collaboration with Burgerac. After taking part in the Burgermat show a couple of years ago, we've made a number of products, including a melamine tray inspired by my love of 1970's McDonald's advertising, tape, stickers & a couple of forthcoming projects that I'm super excited about.
Your illustrations remind us of illustrator and HOH collaborator Hattie Stewart as they’re similarly irreverent and bold. Who/what/where do you take your inspiration from?
I actually exhibited with Hattie at Pick Me Up last year, her stuff is great. I collect a lot of stuff (but mostly Garbage Pail Kids, early McDonald's ads 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. I'm also massively into medieval bestiaries and folk traditions from all over the world, I'm fascinated by myths and legends, especially if they involve fantastical creatures. Costume & fancy dress of all forms are a constant source of inspiration for me too.
We know you have a penchant for random, weird and wonderful toys and paraphernalia, what’s your favourite item from your collection and what’s the story behind it?
Ooh that's a tough question, it's hard to pick out one thing in particular but if I was pushed it'd have to say either my 1973 Milton Bradley Officer Big Mac puppet (which you can read more about on my regular blog on Anorak's website), 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 Katsinas, 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.
You’ve created an alternative film poster for the 80s Youth exhibition at the Hackney Picturehouse. How did the film influence what you created in your version of the poster?
It was a really fun project to be involved with & I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the poster. I watched the film through a number of times & decided the best way to create a poster was to pick out a number of key motifs & quotes from the film and bring them together in one image. I included typography used in the film as well as elements from key scenes. I was pretty pushed for time but I was pleased with the result.
We know that toys and games play a big part in your creative process, are there any other influences that you regularly draw on?
Apart from the ones I've mentioned, I'm a huge fan of Sid & Marty Krofft - they made amazing children's show in the 1970s, as well as Dr.Seuss (my favourite film is The 5000 Fingers or Dr.T), Maurice Sendak, Herge & Winsor McCay. I also love the pop up books of Vojtěch Kubašta.
Was illustrating full-time always the plan?
Yeah, I've been full time freelance for about 5 years now. I always wanted to do something creative (I was the best in my class at drawing Mario and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at school) but I wasn't really sure what it was until I went to university. I worked in lots of different disciplines when I first started the course but gravitated towards illustration pretty quickly and haven't thought about doing anything else ever since.
Find out more: robflowers.co.uk
Tweet Rob: @hellorobflowers