Making a name for yourself in any industry is pretty difficult, but simultaneously staying relevant in multiple arts is a hard balancing act. It takes time, intense scheduling and drive. But for San Francisco based artist, Doctor Popular, breaking into multiple mediums is just a way of life. He’s an artist, comic creator, musician, and game developer all rolled into one, and he might be the busiest artist around.
With all of that going on, he’s managed to become one of San Francisco’s more interesting artists. Just a few months back, he made news after he went to Kickstarter to fund the comic God Hates Dinosaurs, a satiric take on those pamphlets religious fundamentalists hand out from time to time. He even handed them out on street corners. Before that, he made a name for himself by creating an album that can be remixed on a Gameboy. He keeps himself busy, and does a pretty good job balancing it all. “The key for me is routine,” says Doctor Popular, who spends three days a week doing freelance work, one day a week programming a game, and another day working on other personal projects.
For the last few weeks, his personal time has been dedicated to completing his latest comic, Far Away. The story takes place in the Star Wars universe and follows a lost Imperial probe droid. For Doctor Popular, it’s something new and different. Instead of creating something for laughs like God Hates Dinosaurs, he’s tackling themes of loneliness and isolation. “ It’s my first attempt at ditching humour,” says Doctor Popular. “It’s not going to make anyone cry, but in the end people will care about the characters.” He plans to do this with little to no dialogue. It’s a 32 page mini comic, mostly images, with only a small bit of writing. The concept stemmed from a jam he attended three years ago. The idea behind a jam is to work on a project in a certain amount of time. When the limit is reached you’re done. Much like his last published comic, he hammered out a story with images in 24 hours. But it faced on again off again production. After the initial 24 hours, he left it. He didn’t start penning the comic until two years ago, and it wasn’t until recently he decided to just finish it before the next Star Wars movie releases.
Unlike God Hates Dinosaurs though, he’s still unsure if he will go to crowd funding to up the scale of this issue. In theory, it doesn’t need to go to Kickstarter, but he has some ideas to work with artist Mike Hales to fix up some of the artwork and use a risograph to give the comic a different look. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a less expensive photocopier that burns holes into a master copy, and uses that on a printing wheel to lay out pages. The colors for this style of printing are different to that of a conventional ink jet or laser printer, so he’d need to run through the comic again before he gets to that point in printing. But the price of an artist and a printer would require crowd funding.
Until he comes to that decision, he’s managed to keep himself busy with other works. As an artist, the Doctor admits inspiration isn’t hard to come by. It’s actually finishing his ideas that he finds the most challenging. That’s his issue with his other project—a mobile game called Sweet Ride. The idea is to deliver pizzas on a skateboard. You’re dropped in an endless world and you have to navigate the skateboard through it. The way he pitched the idea was by putting a finger skateboard over a screen while playing spy hunter. And that’s almost what it looks like. It’s designed in “trixle art” which looks pixelated but with one less corner. Everything is made by triangles. Early in development, it was only in 2-D but Doctor Popular thought changing it to 2.5 D would add an extra layer to the game. “There’s something really baller about seeing your super flat 2-D skateboard go nose first towards you,” says Popular. But with those changes, the team started to notice more issues. It’s at a point where they’re making a decision to keep with the Unity Engine, or go a different route. And since there seem to be more and more issues the further they go, scrapping their original engine for something that fits with their idea seems like the next step. Even with those issues, he posts regular updates for the game and his comic on twitter and his blog.
In the meantime, he’s honing his trixle art skills by making T-shirts. It started when he posted a design inspired by the Joy Division album Great Pleasures. The band actually lifted the image from an artist who recreated the first pulsar discovered. Popular thought it would be cool to redo it with trixles and a fan asked if he would make a t-shirt out of it. Now, the artist has tons of ideas, many involving his new trixle art style that he wants to bring to teesprings.com, a crowd funded t-shirt platform. “There’s something really cool about bumping into someone wearing your art,” says Popular, “It’s pretty amazing to see that they use that every day… it feels like you’re sort of transcending art.” He says he can make a few different designs every month as long as there is enough of a market. He even has ideas for a knit shirt with a glitch design.
But it isn’t about making money for the San Francisco based artist. He’ll be open sourcing God Hates Dinosaurs for reprints as long as he’s credited. It’s more about getting things out for people to enjoy. He attributes his success to luck and just making a ton of content, so don’t expect him to slow down any time soon.
Breaking through is always the hardest part for an artist, and finding that big break takes a lot of time. But Doctor Popular’s plan of just creating tons of content means his style is in almost every medium you can imagine. From music to comics and videogames, he’s everywhere you just have to keep your eye out for him.
Find Doctor Popular on his blog or follow him on Twitter.