5.01.2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH BENJAMIN BAKER

AN INTERVIEW WITH BENJAMIN BAKER

Better known as “fuckyoubaker”. Your favorite digital menace.

When did you get into art? Are you formally trained at all?
I’m a lifer, and as such am unsurprisingly and deeply untrained.

My skill set is developed from creating things from an early age, a decade or so of freelance work for bands and anyone ill advised enough to give me a desk job doing design while I watched YouTube tutorial videos for things I said I could do.

Three years ago I decided to share my personal work online more actively and it’s all I’ve done since.

What does your work aim to say? 
Aim is a generous term but I try to make work that feels genuine, clever and bold while being unshy about being grotesque, uncomfortable and uncommon. Success on those fronts is arguable, but I’m making things that feel as “real” to me as I can.


Your work is full of a wide range of emotions, yet can be summed up as “playfully nihilistic”, does this reflect your own personality at all?
“Playfully nihilistic” hits the nail on the head pretty solidly.

I find myself at the odd crossroads of being a very dark & moody prick with an inability to take anything too seriously.

At times, you'll catch me further down one of those avenues than the other, but you can draw a line between my personality and my work pretty directly most of the time: a discourteous pervert who's ideal to laugh over a beer with provided you’re not entirely full of shit.

...I prefer to be the one full of shit if possible. 

Who are your biggest influences, artistic or otherwise?
Growing up I’d gravitate towards anything brutal, cartoony or that my mum would take issue with me looking at; I was into metal shirts, Rob Schrab, hardcore wrestling and problematic flash cartoons... which outside of Rob are all pretty horrible role models.

These days I’m surrounded by influential artists but I try to avoid absorbing too much of what makes them amazing in hopes of pushing my own work into more rarefied air.

Outside of art I’d credit most of my success to a permanent hangover and unprescribed nootropic abuse.

Your popularity has taken off pretty rapidly, how do you deal with the responses you get from people who are more unfamiliar with your work?
I’m really grateful if it’s positive. If it's negative, I'm grateful in a sick way too, because it feeds my love of publicly ripping the shit out of people.

I try to remain patient answering the same questions everyday because i’m not so arrogant to think people should just know this stuff about my work (yes, you can get my work tattooed), but if you roll in to be a edgy dickhead I will do my best to staple gun a metaphorical dunce cap to your head so at least we all get a laugh out of it.

Is there any specific message you want people to take away from your work?
If you can walk away from an artwork of mine with any sense of commonality no matter how ugly, I’m a happy person.

If not that, I’d settle for people walking away with a shirt, I got bills.

You put out five pieces of work a week, kind of like a job. Do you ever hit creative blocks and how do you overcome them?
As unromantic as it sounds, I try to treat it like a job and make sure that I punch the clock no matter what.
I hit walls as much as anyone does I’d imagine but I’ve found in lieu of out-of-nowhere inspiration, diversifying my style and disciplines gives me room to always expand the scope of my capabilities while making stuff I like. 

I started just trying to make better work and increase my skill set so keeping process in sight over purpose and application has provided me with more art that means something to me than if I was sitting there straining to take a palatable-to-everyone, social-media-changing-art shit.

At the end of every season giveaway, you make a video of yourself destroying whatever is left over. Is this just to get ahead of the “do you still have these” questions or does it serve another purpose?
It was to curtail that, but it doesn’t work.
I think the restraint of limiting the drop gives it value and a real finality to myself and the people who purchase it. Burning the last of the stock is a symbol that we all did something that isn’t happening again, no matter how frustrating it is to people who missed out and a genuinely shitty move from a business perspective.

Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
I share my studio with a black Pomeranian/piss factory mix named Foley. He’s a shitty therapy dog but he’s doing his best.

Are there any plans for art shows in your future?
Not overly, at any given time I have a couple of projects I’m chipping away at. I enjoy the immediacy of directly dealing with people who follow my work but shit, who knows? Ask again in three months… imposter syndrome has a knack for keeping galleries open.


What can you tell me about next season’s run?
One thing that bothers me about the seasons is how impractical it is for me to screenprint them myself, so I offset this by handling as much of the rest of the process as possible and employing people to do a job at a much higher quality than I could when I don’t, but part of me still feels a little hollow about it all.

To combat this, I bought an embroidery machine and intend on making a veeeeerrrry limited run of accompanying pieces, currently I’m looking at things like hats, pennants and hoodies but intend on graduating to one-off jackets and wilder things as soon as I work out how to stop stabbing myself in the hand with it.

Any final remarks, or a message to the readers?
Nah, I’m spent.