Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.
This month I’m happy to be chatting it up with Artist Marty Bruckner! I simply can’t enough of his super fun illustrations of children’s sayings! Marty first started creating these for his Spaghetti Toes Facebook page in 2014 after a funny dinner conversation with his wife and daughter. He has been drawing custom prints for his family and for parents all over the world ever since. His first book I Love You with All my Butt comes out on April 4th, 2017 (That’s today!! Hooray! Congrats, Marty! Buy it here now!) Marty lives in Omaha with his wife Michelle, his five-year-old daughter Harper, and their three dogs. You can view more of his artwork here!
Q: You have a fabulous new book out, I Love You with All my Butt, that is a hilarious collection of illustrated children’s sayings that you have been creating and sharing for many years. Dish with us about how it came to be from inspiration thru creation, all the way to discovery & publication.
A: A few years ago, when my daughter was two, we were having a spaghetti dinner. My daughter, Harper, was goofing around and had begun to play with her noodles. Eventually those noodles had made their way down to her toes and my wife was not having any of that. She playfully, but sternly, said, “Please don't put spaghetti between your toes!” and an idea that would change our lives was catapulted into my brain. I decided to take all of the silly, gross, funny, adorable things that were being said in my home and bring them to life through my artwork. After a few months of me putting all of these illustrated musings onto a Facebook page, people started to take notice. I was soon being contacted by the Huffington Post, CNN, the Today Show, Buzzfeed and many, many more. It was around that time that I started talking to a literary agent and he put my book out there for potential publishers to see. The amazing people at Workman Publishing would soon change our lives once again. We teamed up to create the book and it has been a true joyful experience from beginning to end.
|So sweet! I love the little tools!!|
Q: The artwork in your book represents a range of different art styles and looks. Give us the scoop on how your day job as a creative director/freelance designer influences your diverse approach to illustration and typography.
A: I've been a creative director for about 15 years now and started out mainly as an illustrator. I was mainly a pencil artist for the first half of my career but slowly started to acquire different styles. They are all based on the same idea—fun, loose, whimsical almost child-like drawings but I have about five to ten slightly different interpretations that come out to be visually distinct. As far as the typography, I just scribble out my letters right in Photoshop with the brush tool. Some of the "fonts" are super quick and easy and others take me quite a bit of time depending on how I want them to look.
Q: Art, design and inspiration is a family affair in your house. In what ways do your wife and daughter both inspire and challenge you?
A: They inspire every single thing I do, and more than inspiration, they do half of the work for me either with their words or their ideas. I get stuck a lot and my wife, Michelle, always comes to my rescue. Sometimes I fight her on it, but she's always right. (Don't tell her that I said that!) Harper, my daughter, is now giving her ideas as well and I love it. She'll hear me and my wife talking about what to do and she'll say, “Why didn't anyone ask me what I thought?” It's so sweet and innocent and then she'll go into a five minute rabbit hole of brilliant five-year-old thoughts.
|I will! And I'll play it over and over and over in my brain for forever!!|
Q: Last year the world lost a great number of cultural icons and you began creating a series of stunning illustrations of them. Tell us all about how/why you were moved to create them and if/how you see the series continuing.
A: This project really started as me doing something for my wife just like Spaghetti Toes did. When Gene Wilder died it crushed my wife. She has loved him forever and was so sad so I did a little drawing of all of his characters for her. She cried when she saw it, but it moved her. After Carrie Fisher died late last year, I did a drawing of her and put it on my Facebook page and people loved it and thanked me for doing it. It was then that I realized how many amazing people we had lost and I wanted to do a piece for all of them. I got a handful done and reached out to some people I have been in connection with out in the world of social media and Buzzfeed agreed to run all of my pieces. It was such an amazing project to work on and it's something that I would love to do every single year. Movie stars and athletes and musicians and all sorts of public figures mean so much to us and help shape our childhoods and adulthoods and I was just trying to pay tribute to them the only way I know how.
Q: There is a bit of lovely serendipity paired with your own motivation to share and create that resulted in Spaghetti Toes becoming an Internet sensation and now a fabulous book. Talk with us a bit about what advice you would give fellow creatives about daily work habits, inspiration, creating community and success.
A: Just be yourself. If you are good at something and have passion behind it, it will eventually turn into something that can become a huge part of your life. I never really thought that Spaghetti Toes would turn into what it has, but in the back of my head I knew there was something there. The best part of it for me, is that it's 100% a family idea. It would not exist without my wife, my daughter and then me. It has become something that I hope will last the rest of my life and I know it can because I will always have my family with me forever.
|It is, isn't it?! Vanilla with vanilla frosting for me, please!|
Daily work habits is a tricky one for me. I work all day long and then I come home. I play with Harper and our dogs. I help with dinner when I can. I play with Harper some more and help put her to bed and then it's back to work to do Spaghetti Toes. The weekends are tough as well because it's normally two-full-days of work to catch up. Being a dad and a husband, it's really hard to give up so much of that time. I'm lucky in that I work in my basement and while I work, Harper is right there dancing to her music, the dogs are playing and my wife is always there helping me with Spaghetti toes or working on her Etsy shop. . .so I'm never alone and I'm never neglecting anyone. It's hard, especially after a long day of work and play, to sit back down at my computer at 9 p.m. at night, but it's necessary. There are many nights I will sit down with my wife to watch t.v. and relax and before the opening credits even run I get up and walk over to the computer and tell her, “Watch what you want tonight, I can't relax until I finish this project.”
The community that has followed me through all of this is nothing short of amazing and inspiring. I have gotten daily messages for three years now of people telling me funny (and sad) memories from their lives. A lot of people just want to tell me something gross or silly that happened to them earlier that morning. I have parents who have lost children and children that have lost parents come to me to help them capture memories. I sometimes post pictures of Harper or tell a little story about something she's done and the comments that I get are so amazing.
|Ooo! I wonder if the bellybutton fairy grants wishes, too!|
Q: Describe your most perfect day.
A: A few years ago I took the day off from my day job. I woke up, took Harper to school, went and got a coffee and came home to work on Spaghetti Toes. Harper gets out of school at 11am so I went and picked her up, and she, my wife and I all went out to lunch. We came home, walked the dogs, went to the park and returned home where Harper relaxed and played and I went back to work. Now, while I still love my day job, that was a perfect day to me. The perfect mixture of "work" and play, because in the end, Spaghetti Toes is far from work to me. It's a visual history of my family. It's memories, both good and bad. It's a chronological list of my daughter's first years and it's something that we will all look at for the rest of our lives and laugh, cry and relish.