Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Interview: Bob Conge

Since 1985, the work of illustrator, monster figure-maker and creator of 3D shrine art, Bob Conge. has been displayed at galleries, museums and events around the world and, in 2004, he started Plaseebo, the figure-making studio and has produced some fantastically creative and stunningly detailed pieces since then. Recently, Horror Shock Lolipop had the opportunity to interview him about art, inspiration and of course, kaiju!

'The Awakening'
First of all, thank you for doing this interview with us.
It is a pleasure to have the opportunity of your soap box. Thank you.

Could you introduce yourself for anyone who may not be familiar with your work?
I am a "tinker" and a work in progress, with hopefully no end yet in sight.

tinker / verb /: fiddle with, adjust, fix, try to mend, playabout with, fool with, futz with; tamper with, interfere with, mess about with, meddlewith.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?
The title of "Artist" is one I avoid, as I believe this can only be bestowed upon one by others. Those, who in my judgment I consider "Artists", have achieved the most meaningful expression of our species. The maker can not deem himself an ARTIST, the audience alone has this responsibility. Making images was not a decision for me, it is the only thing I was ever good enough at in which I could incorporate as subject matter every other thing in the universe.

What are your inspirations when creating your art?
I would not presume that which I create is "ART", the weight of such a charge would be stifling. I make images that are expressions of ideas I am interested in and the inspiration for those expressions bubbles up from past and present life experience, the good, the bad and the ugly to borrow from one of Clint's films. I find if one truly pays attention to life as it happens, you can not help but be inspired. I pity the distracted and detached who live in the empty promise of tomorrow.

Inspiration-wise, is it easier to draw commercial illustrations or those that you have complete freedom with?
While inspiration and easy have very little in common, both bear a greater bounty in an environment of freedom. It is all work, but the commercial arena involves many considerations that are often in conflict with creative freedom, such as time and money. Over the past five years, I have taken only a handful of commercial assignments and have enjoyed pursuing my own crooked path.

'War Masquerades As Innocence'
Some of your work seems to be critical of things such as politics and war. Do you think art is a powerful medium in which to express your views on these topics?
On a ship of fools, one vote can not hope to direct the voyage. In a world dominated by the power elite, greed, indifference and the mass media, my work is my only opportunity to express my views on all topics, including war and politics. I feel obliged by the opportunity of living, to put my views out there to the best of my ability.

Your art has been very well-received internationally. Why do you think that is?
A great investment of time and effort, sprinkled with as much honesty as I am capable of, a pound of networking, a ton of shameless self promotion and a lot of sweet luck.

Your work with Plaseebo often features kaiju. What attracts you to them?
Some sort of childhood connection via the Universal Monsters, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolfman. etc. They were the most interesting stories / movies around at that time. Then in the 1980's I discovered the Japanese versions of monsters and began collecting the 60's and 70's Kaiju vinyl figures from their TV shows.

Do you have a favourite kaiju/daikaiju movie?
This may sound strange but I do not care for the Kaiju film genre. I am only interested in the monsters and some of the related stories.

Each Plaseebo figure often has a backstory to go with it. Do you write the story before or after the character is designed/made?
I do not have a set approach, the backstory can come first, develop while I am building the figure, come after the figure is completed, or some of each along the way. However the kernel of the story is always there right from the first idea sketch waiting to be fleshed out.

What kind of tools and materials do you use when customising?
What ever works that day. I will use and try anything as long as I am confident the final piece will weather handling and time. I have no favorite tools or materials and always try to let the form I wish to create dictate how I should best express it. Most often when I start I do not have a concrete plan of how I will build the piece, but I find if I listen to the process in front of me it will tell me how to take the next step. So the figure sort of unfolds in front of me step by step over time. It keeps the work fresh and interesting because I rarely use the same process twice. Always something new to discover.

On average, how long does each piece take to make?
A few weeks but I am always working on as many as 3 or 4 at a time.

You've done numerous collaborations with other customisers. Which has been your favourite so far?
I love working with other designers and customizers. Each collaboration is unique making it impossible to have a favorite. This willingness to share the creative process with each other says more about the fearless commitment to our craft than the work its self. It seems a wonderful thing to have a group who can comfortably set egos aside for the greater good of their craft. It is also sad at the same time to realize this is such a rare occurrence in our world. Perhaps others could learn a thing or two from this lonely example.

Are there any other artists you'd like to work with in the future?
Yes, too many to mention.

You often describe yourself as a collector. What's your favourite collection that you have and why?
My favorite collection is the one I am looking at at any given moment. I do however have a few 20 century American paintings that I consider friends and I look at them every day.

'Munny Mummy'
What are your future plans for Plaseebo?
To go to work in the studio tomorrow.

Please could you give a message to fans of your work?
Thank you for your faith and support. The collector plays an integral role in the creative process, for without his support through purchasing the work, the process grinds to a halt and doors of opportunity slam shut.

Many thanks to Bob for giving us the interview.

For more details on Bob Conge's work and future creations, check the following websites:


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