By Britt Appleton
Introducing HOUSE/guest, our monthly interview series where we showcase an artist who has impressed us in the digital world. They might not be local, but their effects are felt here in Portland.
L/h: Who is Hombre McSteez? MC: Hombre McSteez is your friendly neighborhood hombre.
L/h: What do you, Marty Cooper, do? MC: I am a storyboard artist for animated movies. I have worked at Blue Sky, ReelFX, and Rovio. I also make pickles, play golf, and ride my skateboard.
L/h: How did you get the idea for this? MC: You can actually see the progression of the idea on my Instagram from over a year ago. It started with a whiteboard drawing of a fish in my dad's workshop:
Then I thought it would be cool to try to make it look like the drawing was existing in the environment. I found a plate of glass and a dry erase marker and began experimenting with that, erasing the drawing each time. Then I remembered how the classic animators would use acetate cels and paint on the reverse side and overlay that on the backgrounds... So I basically did the same thing that animators have been doing since the beginning of animation.
L/h: How does it work - do you always have transparencies with you? MC: I carry a backpack with my sketchbook, transparencies, pens, and whiteout. Then I basically just walk around aimlessly for miles looking at things and trying to find a good setting. Once I find an interesting place I sit and draw in my sketchbook until I draw something that makes me laugh. This takes 4-5 sketchbook pages sometimes. Then I draw and paint the cel on the spot and take a bunch of pictures. It's a lot like a treasure hunt only I have to create the treasure. Usually when I go on an expedition like this I get 5-6 images and usually only post one or two of them.
L/h: Do people around you notice what you're doing? MC: People are always really nice! They ask me what I'm doing, then I show them the picture and sometimes they ask if they can help hold the cel or something. Sometimes people won't let me take pictures in their store. I got kicked out of the movie theatre once for taking a photo in the theatre. I won't try that again. Also gyms won't let me take photos inside, which is a bummer because there could be some funny ones in a gym. If there are any gym owners out there that want to let me take photos, let me know!
During the shoot for the little butter guy jumping on the pancake, the IHOP staff thought I was crazy. It took me 3 tries to get it right, and each time I would order a stack of pancakes then smoosh them down with my fist to get the bounce effect. So I ended up with 15 pancakes that were smooshed and didn't eat any of them. I don't know what they thought.
L/h: What is your art background? MC: I studied animation/illustration at San Jose State University. Shrunkenheadman animation club for life! SJSU's animation program was awesome because they teach you how to animate traditionally (with pencil and paper) before you ever use the computer to animate. At the time it seemed archaic to not use the powerful animation tools we have on the computer, but it was tremendously helpful to learn how to animate on paper, just to get a feel for flipping the paper and understanding spacing and timing...and now I use it everyday!
L/h: What blogs do you read? MC: I frequent the cartoon brew, fecal face, Toby Shelton has an amazing blog with his storyboards. So good. John K stuff, Leo Matsuda, Erik Benson, Rad Sechrist, LAIKA's own Grickle, love his work. PES, and a lot of skateboarding websites.
L/h: Who should we be following on Instagram? MC: Jay Howell - @punksgitcut - rad cartoons in old books; Ed Templeton - @tempster_returns - pelicans and chicks with skateboards on the Huntington Beach Pier; Jerry Hsu - @internetfamous - strangeness and oddities in the daily life of skateboarder Jerry Hsu; Artrebels - @artrebels - fresh art/design from Denmark and Europe; David Choe - @davidchoe - legendary artist/hitchhiker/billionaire; and Lindsay Olivares - @lindsayolivares - best chicken drawings ever.
L/h: What do you think about social media for artists? MC: I think it's awesome! I love having an audience that sees my work everyday. It motivates me to make more stuff and try to entertain people.
L/h: If you could be any animated character, who would you be? MC: Flint Lockwood from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but I will always aspire to be Roger Rabbit.
Thanks, Marty! Keep being awesome.
Photos by Marty Cooper (Hombre McSteez)