Saturday, July 31, 2010

artist spotlight: ballookey klugeypop

Once again, it's down to the wire with the Artist Spotlight, but the monthly Q & A is indeed here, with one day left in July to spare. Man oh man is summer zooming on by, huh? Well, enough of the small talk, 'cause I've got a treat of an interview for you, with an artist they call Ballookey Klugeypop. She belongs to the Moleskine Exchange I'm in, she lives in LA and makes some beautiful, dreamlike images. Check it out and enjoy!

1. Q: What first made you want to become an artist and illustrator?

A: I remember exactly the moment. I was in 2nd grade, and this kid next to me drew a horse on notebook paper. Like all girls, I loved horses, but my family was really poor and never had the money to buy posters, books, stickers, pee-chee folders... all those things girls get at that age that have horses on them.

It was a total revelation for me that one could draw one's own horse.

I was like, this guy doesn't even care about horses! It didn't occur to me that it maybe took some study, observation, talent or skill. I just started drawing. And then he laughed at me because my horse's fetlocks were absolutely absurd.

2. Q: How would you describe your style to people?

A: I'm crap at actual drawing, but I'm pretty darn great at graphic design, so I think of my work more as graphic art. Most of the time, rather than setting out to paint or draw something, I think of a THING I want to make and then design it. If that thing requires an illustration of some kind, then I make that illustration, but my usual mode is thinking about the thing.

So, lots of vector art and the inclusion of typography. I make poster art, trading cards, stickers, iPhone wallpaper… Art though? Maybe sometimes.

Oh. I was just proofreading this and I realized that my favorite stuff to create is exactly the sort of colorful ephemera I didn't have as a kid. My dad always did tell me I could make my own!

3. Q: What inspires some of your subject matter?

A: I'm inspired to draw things like that original horse: Things I can't have, or wish I could have. Environments or places that I wish I could be in. I'm always trying to recreate a scene from a dream I just had, re-draw something the way I wish it was, or craft a vignette that I could crawl into. I almost never succeed, but that's usually what I'm thinking of. Lush hillsides, moonlight, and flowers.

4. Q: Any artists or illustrators alive today who make you pay attention?

A: Number one, my friend Lee Bakofsky ( He's the first person I ever met who could actually paint. Works of art. I really love what he does and it's so inspiring to actually know a real person who's an actual artist. I feel embarrassment over my own attempts when I see his stuff, but also he serves as physical proof that humans actually do art. Of course, he's actually gone to art school…but I don't let that keep me from trying.

Jonathan Ball of Poked Studio ( it crept up on me, but one day I realized I had more of his pieces in my house than by any other artist. I love his use of a variety of digital media, and his vector art is a level of complexity that I wish my own were at.

Audrey Kawasaki (, of course. I used to draw figures a lot more than I do now, but I got discouraged by the fact that I would draw a portion of a person and be really happy with it, then I'd try and finish it and end up ruining things. She's had the utterly brilliant idea of only doing the best part. F#@k the rest of it! YES! Why didn't I think of that? Because if I'd done it, the first time someone challenged me as to why my figures had no arms & legs, I would have caved. I would have been embarrassed and decided I was Doing It Wrong.

I love the graphic posters of Michael Paukner ( He makes graphic designs mapping out crackpot theories and wacky mythologies that are SO gorgeous - right alongside some about actual, you know, science!

Tara McPherson (

Buff Monster (

Catalina Estrada (

David Lanham (

d'Holbachie Yoko (

Alberto Cerriteño (

Oh gosh, there's so many. I'm going through my iPhoto album dedicated to other artists, and it's all precious gems.

5. Q: What's your take on the art scene out your way?

A: The what now?

I'm SO not involved in any scene. As far as I'm concerned "the scene" is something I peer at through the Internet. I go to the occasional show where one of my friends is involved, or Crazy 4 Cult because I'm lucky enough to live in the city where it happens. This is the extent of my involvement in the local scene. I have no idea if it's vibrant, frustrating, fraught with controversy, or the land of opportunity with mentors and craftsmen willing to teach you a thing or two.

6. Q: What bugs you most about the art and/or illustration world these days?

A: Oooh, nothing that I'm aware of, but again, it's not something I'm a part of. I'll tell you what I LOVE about it. That any person who wants to can set up shop online and there's no barrier to entry for someone who just wants to share their work with everyone and there's lots of opportunities for them to try and monetize it. I love that I don't have to settle with MAYBE a 99¢ postcard of some obscure artist's work - I can usually buy a nice giclee right from them.

7. Q: Your work is very detailed and looks as if lots of time and energy went into it. How would you describe your own personal working methods?

A: Some pieces are I guess, detailed, but I would say not in comparison to those whose work I admire. I do tend to like my more detailed pieces and I wish my efforts were even more detailed, but alternately, I think I'm a fair hand at a minimal aesthetic.

All of my work comes down to essentially the same method: Get idea, obsess about it for whatever length of time until I get a chance to work on it. Could be hours, could be months. Sketch idea so I don't forget about it. When I have a bit of time, usually on the weekend, hole up in my office and work on it until it's done, or I reach a spot where I feel good enough about the idea to leave it and spend time with my poor husband. I usually work on a piece as much as possible in Adobe Illustrator, but sometimes I finish them in Photoshop if needed. The nice thing about working in the computer is that I never have to be done. I can always go back and re-work something if I feel the inspiration.

None of my work is so detailed that it really impacts how much time it takes. I can just get into a real zen mode with things like that. I put on a Netflick or a Recoil album and just do what needs to be done. By far, more energy and time are wasted by people admiring the problem rather than just buckling down and getting it sorted.

8. Q: Any good books you're reading lately?

A: I'm finding Sherlock Holmes to be surprisingly readable and delightful.

I'm knee deep in the skeptic's trifecta of authors: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Carl Sagan. I know they probably aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I unreservedly recommend Sagan's Cosmos, and The Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark to anyone. Sagan's work is such a treasure and joy to read.

I'm also trying to find time to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson before I see the movie. I hate seeing movies before I've read the book. And I'm catching up with Neil Gaiman. I didn't get into his work until maybe three or four years ago, which is actually a delight because that means there's a nice backlog to keep me busy for a while.

9. Q: Any grandiose or small plans for the art of Ballookey Klugeypop?

A: Just trying to keep making it. One of the reasons I joined up with Moleskine Exchange was to change up the way I work. I hoped it would challenge me to create new pieces each month and work more in traditional media - making actual things rather than digital files. And if I wasn't 100% happy with the way they turned out in the books then at least I'd have the beginning of an idea for something I could bring into the computer and rework. That's exactly what's happened, so at the moment, I'm working on nearly a dozen spinoff pieces based on Moleskine work. I'm going to have to gather them together and send off prints to everyone who allowed me to experiment in their book! :)

I'm also finding a lot of satisfaction creating graphic posters based on music tracks and albums that I love. I did a series based on Depeche Mode's Violator, that I'm really pleased with and I'm working on a series of Recoil-inspired ones now. The supply of inspiration for this project is endless, and is supremely enjoyable: listening to favorite albums over and over pondering just the right imagery? Yes, please!

10. Q: Ballookey Klugeypop - tell me more about this name, if you could please?

A: My husband says it sounds like Jack Klugman and Iggy Pop had a love child.

Ballookey Klugeypop came from a book I read as a kid. I can't remember much about it except she was a girl who was digging in the dirt with a spoon and possibly found elephants? I only clearly remember her name because my dad spent a maddening but probably character-building amount of time getting me to sound it out instead of just telling me how to say it. So I feel it's been with me a long time, it suits the type of artwork I do, and I guess the book is somewhat obscure because I've never found any reference to it on the Internet.

When I first got onto the Internet in a social way, back in 1994-95, I had the prescience not to use my own name right at first. This didn't stop me from picking up a weirdo stalker online, and since then I've remained reluctant to use my real name in online forums unless I'm really familiar with the crowd. In recent years, companies are increasingly doing searches on current and prospective employee's names to see what they've been up to and it's really NOT my intention to frighten off prospective jobs with my anti-Twilight rhetoric.

I guess what I'm saying is that I have a circle of trust, and the Internet isn't in it, LOL! René Magritte wrote something along the lines of "An object is not so attached to its name that one cannot find for it another one which is more suitable." My real name is not a big secret, just an ungraceful blob of consonants. Ballookey, on the other hand, is fun to say, fun to type, and looks cheerful in just about any font.

Ballookey blogs , Flickrs and has a shop as well!