We caught up with illustrator, toy creator, music maker and self-proclaimed ‘monsterist’ Pete Fowler, the man behind the Monsterism characters (and Super Furry Animals artwork), ahead of the launch of his new range of platform toys for Dudebox.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m in my studio off Brick Lane, emailing my mum whilst doing a million other things! At present I’m sculpting, painting, and making music. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just do one thing! I’m also about to start making wedding cake toppers for my mate Dan Joyce from Dirty Sanchez. Those guys are good friends of mine.
Really? Did you ever make an appearance on the show?
God no! I can’t even watch it! I only ever saw one episode, and it was very disturbing! I thought, what are my friends doing?!
What exactly is a ‘Monsterist’?
I wanted to invent my own job title that reflects the diverse nature of my work and the inspirations behind it; it was a reaction to becoming an illustrator, in a way. I never had plans to become one, till someone called me and said, “Is that Pete Fowler, the illustrator?” and I thought, ‘Oh, okay, I’m an illustrator!’ I create monsters, but I do humans too. We’re all monstrous when you scratch the surface – but not in a bad way!
Talk us through your new range of toys for Dudebox.
I’ve been making toys for years, but took a back seat for a bit to do other things, and then Dudebox approached me. It was the right time to start making toys again, and the right people were involved. I’ve done some one-offs with others; for the 2000AD comics, I redesigned one of their characters, which was fantastic as they were a massive influence for me – though Dudebox is a long-term project.
And you recently directed the music video for The Horror’s single ‘Changing The Rain’, right?
Yeah. I’ve done a couple of music videos, and I love doing them. The Horrors were fantastic; really challenging. I’ve worked with some fantastic animation companies. My dream is to do an animated series one day.
What was it like working on the Kia Picanto car adverts a few years ago?
Creatively fulfilling – and well paid, which was great! They were an absolute dream client. I created a huge range of characters for them to choose from, and they said they liked them all! They commissioned four ads in total. It’s rare for a brand to do that.
Are there any ads you wouldn’t do?
Good question. I’m happy to speak to anyone really, apart from the BNP! No fascists, racists or destroyers of the planet…
Tell us about your cosmic yacht rock band, Seahawks.
Seahawks is me and my friend Jon Tye, who also runs Lo Recordings; it’s great fun, and a way for me to work with my love of music. I’ve been DJing and collecting records for years, and used to put on parties in Stoke Newington. I’m not a musician – well, I do play guitar really badly – but it’s intuitive. We’ve remixed The Horrors and Badly Drawn Boy, amongst others, and we’re currently working on a new album. The goal is to do live shows, which is very exciting!
If you could start working on a completely new project of your choice, what would it be?
I would love to do a hot air balloon. I saw a Pokémon jet in Japan, and thought that was so cool! But I’m lucky really, because I’m doing what I want to do all the time. I’ve got a really peachy job!
What’s next for Pete Fowler?
I’m looking forward to the Dudebox figures release, and I’ve designed a hole for the mini golf course at Nova festival. It’s rare that one project is the same as the next. From toys to golf holes to illustrations to paintings, it’s always something different, but with the same creative thread running throughout!
Pete's Dudebox range, Pete Fowler and Fiends, will be available to buy from September 2012 to April 2013 – check out www.dudebox.com for details. You can see more of Pete’s work at www.monsterism.net.