I was able to catch mcbess right after his Malevolent Melody book went on sale. Here are a few questions I was able to squeeze in on his tight schedule. He's very nice, and cuts straight to the point. I was thrilled just to be able to exchange words because he's one of my favorite contemporary illustrators/ animators/ musicians. Enjoy!
How did the release of your malevolent melody book go? It must be thrilling to have more recognition for your illustration and musical skills.
Well it's like Christmas really , I've never been so obsess , I couldn't wait to get it in my hands . I don't know what people are going to think about the mix between the music and the image , but for me it's the beginning of what I've always wanted to do . So far the selling of the book is surprisingly good so everything's perfect .
Is the music industry the direction you’d prefer going with your work, given all of your expertise in animation and illustration?
I don't really know how things are going to evolve , but what I like about all those projects is that they're all more or less self-produced , I don't need to be signed to record an album , and that way we can play and say whatever we want , same thing for the illustrations . So I guess the direction I'm taking is creating a all thing where I can control every aspect , images , animation , music ... Might not be successful but there won't be any compromises .
Can you explain some of the trends in your work? For example, where did the canine teeth and the boneless limbs originate? I also think the tattoos and symbols on the skin of your characters are interesting.
Well for the canine , it's based on me , I've got big ones and I think it breaks the monotony of nice bracelet of perfect teeth . As for the tattoos , I'm about to get tattooed myself so each time I'm tattooing a character it's a kind of experiment of what's looking good or not , they all have meanings , most of them are pretty stupid but I like it light .
Are you working strictly digitally these days, or do you start drafting by hand before moving to the tablet?
I do start by hand most of the time , but the final thing is most of the time done by computer . I'm planning on having a more traditional approach but I've got a very geeky background .
Speaking of process, what are your favorite tools and materials to ink with?
I really like to use Rotring and those plastic brush with the ink already inside , my only problem is that I'm a mess , there's usually a moment where I screw everything and I have to start from scratch .
The feminine characters in your pieces are wonderful, but they seem to take the role of a sensual muse. Have you ever thought of introducing a female musician the Dead Pirates?
Well it might happen , I draw the Dead Pirates like that because the real band is only guys , but you never know what can happen . For now I like to keep girls as mysterious and sexy as I can .
Your work is extremely versatile, and yet you’re able to stay true to your unique style. Do you have to give a consistent effort to remain within the realm of your technique, or does it just come naturally?
I 'm always drawn to it , even when I try something else , you know we all have our style , you either accept it and make it evolve or you try to change it and then you have to constantly make an effort to stay in the right track , I don't like efforts .
It is a tough economy here in the US for aspiring illustrators- what is the best advice you’d give to a student who is preparing to enter the “real world?”
Rah I don't really know , it's a hard question . What I would do is try not to compromise on your personnal style , try to get a commercial job doing something quite easy and that doesn't require too much time , not to get to implicated in it because it's usually a waste of time , and develop your own things on the side , at some point you'll be able to assume your style and even chose what commercial job you want to use it with since you have another job . That's what I did and it worked out pretty good for me .
Here’s a totally irrelevant, overused, and totally optional question: Who or what would be the one item you would choose to have with you, if you were stranded on a deserted island?
My girlfriend , a guitar with a huge amp , a drumkit and enought cheese to last for a while .