Friday, October 9, 2009

Q&A with Phil Barbato!

If you haven't heard of Phil Barbato yet, where have you been? In my humble opinion, he's one of the best plush artists out there and I am so stoked to have him in our little Market! Okay. On with the interview...

1). What can I say, Phil—I’m a huge fan. I love your monster plushies! Where do you find the inspiration?
It's a cyclical thing. The monsters inspire paintings and drawings and then the paintings and drawings inspire monsters. The general design (like the facial features) is some sort of mash-up of all of the cartoons and comics I've absorbed in my life.

Sometimes I find inspiration by setting a challenge or a constraint. For instance, the Whiskerbears started out each being cut from one 9x12 piece of felt (now they're made of fleece, but I stick to that original size). The size and shape constraint allowed me to explore things like color and texture. On the other hand, the cephalopods (especially the ones with horns) are a challenge I set for myself to push my abilities.

Most importantly, my BFF, Oura Sananikone is a huge influence. We've been making art and music together since college and I can't overstate how much he's inspired me.

2). My personal favorite creation of yours are the Little Apes. (I have a Little Ape hanging out in my guest room!) Do you have a favorite critter to design?
My favorites right now are the cephalopods, especially the Viking ones. I'm doing shapes I've never done before and I really love the way they're coming out.

3). What three words would you use to describe your craft?
warm fuzzy love

4). I noticed you are also a musician. Please tell us a little bit about your band, Now Sleepyhead.
Now Sleepyhead is a group of friends I've been playing music with for a few years now. (I've been playing music with two of the guys in various projects for 15 years.) We've managed to squeeze out one album (which is amazing, if I do say so) despite our glacial songwriting pace. And, there are a couple of single tracks on Benefit Records from Exotic Fever Records in DC. We're all multi-instrumentalists and we all sing. It's lots of fun.

5). Where can we find your craft outside the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market?
My wife, Meghan, and I have been traveling all up and down the East Coast this year trying out different markets and fairs. I'll be at the DC Craft Mafia's Holiday Heist on November 21. I've also applied to Charm City's Holiday Heap on December 5 and the Richmond Craft Mafia's Handmade Holiday on the 12th, but I haven't been accepted to those yet.

On the first Friday of every month (except January) I'm out at the First Fridays Market in Richmond, VA, next to Quirk Gallery.

My stuff is for sale inside Quirk's gift shop as well as the gift shop at Art Adventures in Midlothian, VA, and Hello Bluebird in West Reading, PA. I'm on the lookout for more shops to do wholesale or consignment sales with.

Extra-geeky question: Quick! What’s in your pockets right now?
The key to the garage (I was out there prepping blocks of wood for paintings) and my wallet, which is handmade by the amazing Caitlin Phillips of Rebound Designs from an Isaac Asimov paperback.

Visit Phil Barbato at the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market October 10th (tomorrow!) at Booth #2!