Craig Robinson a.k.a. “Flip Flop Flyin’” is an English freelance illustrator/designer based in Berlin, Germany. He made this issue’s cover design and his exhibition is on at “Soso“, Sapporo, Japan in this February.
Do not miss his original cute world made with thousands of tiny pixels. Each pixel has got a big dream of “Flip Flop Flyin'”.
Please introduce yourself.
Born in Lincoln, England to Steven and Carol Robinson, lived a happychildhood in same town. Spent a lot of time watching my dad, an architect, working while I was supposed to be doing my homework at the table behind him as we both listened to Human League or Queen records. As an adult, I’m obsessed with washing the dishes.
Please tell us your background before you established “Flip Flop Flyin'”.
I was working for a record distributor in London. Flip Flop Flyin’ (FFF) began as a small hobby, and ended up taking over more and more of my time and more and more of my brain.
What sort of projects have you done?
FFF is the main thing, with the offshoots, Shakse and Technically Perfect Hair also receiving not a small amount of attention.As for work, most of what I do these days is illustration work, but I’ve done some design and animation stuff too. I’ve done stuff for The Face,Afterhours, Shift (a lovely Canadian magazine), Shift! (an equally lovely Germany magazine), the (British) Design Council, J17, Levi’s, Motor Music,MTV Germany, Richie Hawtin, Sleazenation and Woodchuck.
Many interesting contents can be found within your site. Tell us your recommended content(s) and why?
I guess the most popular place to start is Minipops. It’s the part of FFF that made the site famous. Lots of people also like ‘Boy Meets Pixel’, a love story between a boy and a girl, played by Meg Ryan in my dreams, who is only one pixel big. The things that are my favourites though are probably the quieter less obvious things like a story called ‘George’, about a widow talking to her husband; ‘David mit einem langen Arm’ (David with one long arm), a story about a boy with, not suprisingly, one long arm. I like Pete & Bob too, they are owls who dance.
I am curious your working process when you create pixel works. How do you carry out from forming up an idea to the end?
Almost always I begin on paper. The only time I begin working straight away on a computer is if something happens accidentally and I use it as a starting point. But most of the work I do begins as a pencil drawing, which will probably lead to more pencil drawings, a list or two, maybe a quick sketch in Photoshop, then back to pencils, until I’m ready to begin making something. Once Photoshop is open, it’s a long process of trial and error finding ways to represent objects with the minimal visual details that working so small allows.
Where do you get an idea and an inspiration from?
Things people say, phrases, or things that flash thru my brain for a few seconds. If I’m lucky I can grab hold of them and work them into something bigger. I think the best analogy for the process is it’s like being a potter, making a vase on a wheel: you get given a chunk of clay, and if you are lucky, you can turn it into something beautiful.
What are you careful at when you create pixel works? Do you have any mottoes about it?
In a way, I think the work I do is all about creating the impression of reality. sometimes you could look at some of my things really close and they don’t look like the thing they are supposd to, but once you get down to 100% size, it will have a likeness.
Shift asked you to create a cover design for this latest issue. What did you image and how did you create this design?
The initial spark came from seeing an television programme about antique toys. The older I get, the more I find myself interested in the eras where entertainment was more simple. No Game Cubes or Playstations or mobile phones to play with. So the cover comes from that desire to recreate a child’s way of viewing something, plus also revisit some of the things that interested me as a child. The scene’s inhabitants were decided upon from a very long list of things that also included a Punch & Judy puppet show, a kite flyer, sailors, ET, King Kong, fairground games, a weather vane and someone chopping wood. The process was exactly as described above. Lots of pencil drawings, planning and composing where the various elements should go. For me, there’s an excitement I get from making something where lots of details are on display. And I like to create things that have a slowness to them, too. And I like the nature of web animation, especially GIF animation, where loops are a major device. There is something mechanical and wooden toy-like about looping, I think.
You are also holding an exhibition at “Soso“, Sapporo, Japan at the moment. Please tell us the concept of this exhibition.
I think it must be something to do with missing dogs. When I was a teenager, my family had 4 or 5 dogs, and since I live alone in a flat, it’s not really fair to keep a dog when I don’t have a garden or tme to give it the exercise it would need. I’d also been looking at photos of old British paintings of upper class folk with their dogs, and I liked the austere posing there. So the idea expanded in a Flip Flop way from there, really.
I would like to ask you about Berlin, Germany where you live. Are there any interesting movements there? What do you think about working in this city?
There seems to be a movement towards unemployment in the economy here, but the city also seems very alive with interesting little shops and galleries selling self made tshirts and stuff. Berlin is a very DIY city, I think, cos it’s not so expensive compared to London or Paris to live and make art here.
Please tell us your views about Japan.
Well, I’ve not been to Japan, so the only views I have are from books, magazines, TV and films. Like us Brits, you drive on the left, don’t you? That’s gotta be a good thing!
What are your favourite visuals, graphic designers and sites?
I tend to like stuff that looks like a person has been involved in the process, rather than stuff that is specifically cutting edge. I’m not really bothered what process or styles are used, I just think it is obvious when someone puts their heart and soul into their work, rather than just their talent for Flash or Photoshop.
Please tell us your plan from now on. Have you got any ambitions in the future?
Apart from playing as centre forward for Liverpool FC, which I’ve got to accept is an unrealistic goal, I’d love to make some more nice things, on and off the web. Toys, children’s books, adult’s books, exhibitions, tshirts, snowglobes… I have this whole universe in my head that is quite detailed and growing daily, I’d be happy to just keep on documenting it. Thank you.
Flip Flop Flyin’
Address: Engeldamm 64a, Berlin 10179, Germany
Text and Translation: Sachiko Kurashina