Travis Millard | Talks at Google

Heathrow: Good afternoon, my name is Heathrow,
and I’m a volunteer with the local [email protected] team.
We have a speaker we have today called Travis Millard, and he’s done a lot of different
stuff under the rubric of “Fudge Factory Comics.” Relatively recently a book which you have
called “Hey Fudge,” published by a local publisher Narrow Books based in LA.
Travis is based in Echo Park, and he has done a lot of different media work. He has done
mini-comics and zines. He’s done fine art; he is represented by the Richard Heller Gallery
right here in Santa Monica. He’s done illustrations for Chronicle Books, like “How to Speak Zombie,”
which just came out yesterday, and another book called “Farts,” which I just wanted to
say so I could say the title. [laughter] And we’re here today, it’s an interesting
mix of stuff, when you have a chance, and he’ll talk about his work and show a lot of
samples, a lot of raw and rough stuff, but also really polished stuff, and so he is going
to talk about his work; he’s going to talk about his work across the different media
and forums. I hope you like it. Travis. [audience clapping] Travis Millard: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.
Thanks for having me here. I appreciate the chance to come speak here.
I looked your website up last night, and you seem pretty successful. So it’s an honor.
[laughter] So, I guess I’m going to start out by assuming
that you don’t know what I do. So I’m going to show you a few of these drawings and talk
a little about my process. Primarily, I kind of tend to work with just
the basics. I like pen and ink. Or I like an inkwell and brush. And keep it really simple.
I also tend to work kind of small. I’ve worked large before. I’ve worked really large, or
painted on a variety of different things, but I tend to, I think it comes back to my
workspace. I don’t have a whole lot of room in my house, so I can’t afford the space to
work large and store it really, because it takes up a lot of room. So I just have drawers
and boxes of tons of little drawings. I also, I’m just kind of into the process of exploring
with just a pen and paper. And just being able to, like, see what I can pull out of
that. I’m way into sketchbooks. I kind of don’t
work in sketchbooks quite as much as I used to. I eventually got to a point where I wanted
to just start tearing the things out of there. But the sketchbook was sort of too scared
for me to rip it out, so I decided to just abandon the sketchbook and sort of just draw.
But I like the sketchbook because it allows you to just generate ideas. There is a lot
of exploring. And I think that’s probably the biggest theme
that my work involves, is just exploring, and experimenting and trial and error, and
not realizing what failure is until you see it later in print, and trying it different
the next time around. Um, I also like humor, I like jokes and I like, um, sort of like
the rawness, I tend to do drawings of people fighting a lot and people ask me why I do
drawings of people fighting, and it’s not because I’m really agro or anything, but I’ve
seen a few fights and I think that they’re sort of funny in the way that nobody seems
to win or lose, they’re just tugging at each other and hurting each other both, but nobody
really walks away a winner. And, um, I also like to work with mirrors
a lot. I think mirrors, there’s something really special that happens in the mirror.
I think it was also, somewhere a long time ago, somebody told me that if you looked into
the mirror at night, then something weird would happen. So that kind of like, that myth
stayed with me. I’m also into just really, like list making.
I, like um, the things that you kind of, that are out there, that you maybe don’t see right
offhand and you know just, there’s a book called “Zoom,” where, you know, you zoom in
really close and then you zoom out really far. And so sort of the idea of that, and
um, tigress chugging beer, that’s an element that happens too. Anyway, I’ll just go back
to some background. I grew up in Kansas City and my mom was a self-taught artist. She did
a lot of painting when she was pregnant with me and my brother. And, um, so she didn’t
really paint otherwise, she would mostly was just, ah, kind of do it for fun or relaxation,
and so their basement is just littered with these old paintings that she did and they
are really sweet. But this was around me all the time and she really encouraged me and
my brother to draw a lot. And so, ah, these are some drawings from a sketchbook that I
found from maybe ’85, maybe 1985. And I was drawing influences from pretty similar things
to what I am today, I you know, into skateboarding, graphics and horror movies. And ah, this is
a girl I had a crush on and it’s drawn from her school picture. I was also into, like,
slapstick comedies with, you know, anything with cussing or cheap nudity or something
like that that I could get away with outside of my parents house at a slumber party or
something, you know. You can kind of see the little Led Zeppelin logo back there. I was
into comics and, you know, rock ‘n’ roll and rap and heavy metal and punk rock, and sort
of what I cut my teeth on. That should have come out actually but, I left the comfort
of my parents home when I went to, decided to study art in KU. And so, um, I included
this slide because it’s my first art show in maybe my freshman year at college. I studied
illustration in printmaking and ah, I also, well one of the professors there, she was
in book arts and she showed a few students on, these little tips on how to make these
handmade books and I also discovered the zine rack at the local record store and was like
“ah, that’s how you do that” and so I decided to try and make my own. This is probably from
maybe ’96 or so. And, I just made a handful of these and passed them around to some friends
of mine and it got some laughs and so it kind of encouraged me to try another one and, ah,
so I did another one and tried another one after that, and you know, mostly it was just
to entertain myself and my friends. And it seemed to, you know, it was like a life for
a lot of the drawings I was doing in my sketchbook to, you know, I dunno, just kind of spread
it around a little further. And, I was also really interested in just trying to get published.
I wanted to, you know, see if I could get paid to do an illustration job, I thought
that was kind of the wildest thing I could think of possibly doing. So I, well I didn’t
know what the hell I was doing at all so I, I put together, I knew that you had to have
a portfolio when I got out of school and I saw all these people had these black portfolio
cases, so I thought I don’t want to do that. And I also didn’t have, I mean I didn’t send
an email until I was like out of college almost, and just had no clue about any kind of savvyness
of getting my stuff around. So I built this clunky box. I built two clunky boxes. And
I had my stuff shot on, you know, 4×5 transparencies and the box unfolds and you know there’s this
little light box in there. And ah, so I didn’t know what to do so I literally got the Kansas
City yellow pages and I looked up “advertising” and “design agencies” and just cold- called
and, ah, said, “Hi, could you see a portfolio?” and I’d just go show up at their door and
show up with this weird box and nobody knew what to do with me at all. This is, um, I’m
taking some shots you know, just holding this up to the sunlight but this will give you
an example of some of the things that were in there, and they didn’t know what to do
with me. But there was one, one company, one ad agency that said, “Hey let’s, can you be
a designer at our company? Do you know Illustrator and Photoshop?” And I was like “Yeah, Yeah,
no problem.” And didn’t know that stuff at all, so I, after about 3 months they politely
fired me. And, ah, so I moved back to, I was living in Lawrence, Kansas, and ah, I was
also sending those zines out a lot and sending ’em to, I would go to like bookstores and
look in the magazine rack and you know find a magazine that I liked or there was a record
that I really liked and I would just look up the address and copy it down and find the,
you know, find the person to send it to. And so I floated one to, there was a magazine
called “Bunny Hop,” that started out as a, it started out as a zine and it started to
kind of get a little more steam, and they eventually started printing it as a magazine
and I got a call from this guy called Noel Tolentino, cold- called, and I also like,
my business cards and stuff I had my parents phone number on there so it just didn’t, you
know, I was really low-tech. And so I just got a call from this guy and he said, “Hey,
I got your thing, you know, can you do a comic for a magazine?” and I was, like, “Hell yeah!
Definitely.” And I was, like, I had no idea how to do a comic for a magazine, I don’t
know how to, but I figured it out, you know so, just as far as printing it and, you know,
all those issues with Photoshop and, you know, how to scan things right. So I got that done
and I sent it to him and then, around this time, this is like ’90, 1999, some friends
of mine were in the Get Up Kids and they were some guys that I grew up with in Olathe, Kansas,
and they asked me to do their record cover. They asked me to do a 7 inch at first and
then they invited me out to this bar and said, “Hey, about that 7 inch, can you do our full
length?” And I was like, “Yeah sure!” and they were like, “Hey cool! It’s due in a week!”
So I hammered this out like really fast and I was literally blowing it dry on the way
to FedEx and I didn’t know how to scan something this big so I FedExed this big painting to
Vagrant in Santa Monica and then three weeks later it was released worldwide. And also
around that time my friend, Brock, who was a friend that I grew up with and he helped
me, he said, “You need a website.” He said, you know, “Just come up with a name,” and
I’d done a few different comics around that time, just weird little panels, you know,
zine comics and stuff. And so he said, “Just come up with a name.” And I figured, well,
Fudge Factory, I guess, and I looked into “Fudge Factory” and it was all porn sites
and candy stores. And then I just put “Comics” on the end of it and it was free, so I thought,
yeah, all right, you know it fits in there somewhere. But, so I had an email on there
and I started getting emails from kids in other countries, and I was getting emails
from different magazines or people, you know, just meeting people through doing that and
they said, “Hey, I know a friend over at this magazine, you should call them up.” And so
these are some earlier illustrations I did for “Mean Magazine” and Camille Rose Garcia
who’s a really successful artist and a friend of mine was the art director of the magazine
at this time, and, ah, it was really cool to work with her and just talk to her about
these kind of things. And, ah, I, this is a cover of “Slap” magazine. Skateboarding
has been an influence in my life since I was a young kid. So it was a real honor to be
able to do this and this was only the second time that they had an art cover that wasn’t
a photograph of a skateboarder. Anyway, little bits and things were kind of happening and
I had, you know, I was working two part-time jobs and, but, you know, I started to kind
of get a little money trickling in from different illustration work so, I got a random email
from the editor from “Spin” magazine and she’d seen the “Bunny Hop” spread and said, asked
if I’d like to do a comic on their last page. So I did one, and it went well, and she asked
me to do another one, and then that went well, and she asked me to do another one, and that
eventually it started to develop into, you know, I was never like a solid thing but I
would kind of have, you know, maybe a couple of weeks of silence, and not know what I was
doing, and then I’d get another email and say, “Hey, you wanna do another one?”
And this was, it paid enough money, it paid more money than I’d seen in Kansas for a while,
so I, and a friend of mine expressed some interest in moving to New York and I just
figured like, what the hell, let’s do it. And so I packed up and moved and moved to
South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and just continued doing these comics for “Spin.” And that kind
of continued on for a little while and I did a few writing things for them, but I worked
out to get my website on the bottom there, which they don’t normally do, but I was sort
of persuasive enough to slide it in there and that started to get a lot more activity
and, you know, so that was a cool thing that it brought in other things.
But I lived in this piece of shit apartment and the kitchen was just roach-infested and
I, ah, I couldn’t really eat there, or cook there so I started going over to this cafe,
this little cafe like on the corner, and drawing at the counter. And this guy Andreas, who
was the cook, he was like, “I want you to draw my menus” and I was like “I’ll trade
you for lunch,” and he was, like, “Alright, deal.” So I did his menus and he didn’t charge
me for like six months. Like just kept breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I eventually got to
the point where I had to put a halt to it and pay the guy. He’s a really sweet guy and
he was like my best friend actually, a 55-year-old Mexican dude. But I was also doing a lot of
stuff for the “New York Press.” That was kind of a regular client at the time, and various
other things. But then I’d been there for maybe six months when 9/11 happened. Everything
stopped. I mean literally like, there was, obviously there was no work at all and I didn’t
know what would happen after that. And so everything was uncertain and it forced me
to just kind of spend more time at the desk, and I started, you know, I wasn’t like looking
for work and, you know, job-wise, and I just focused on drawing more, and I dunno, just
exploring what I actually do when I’m just sitting around my house with no work coming
in. So these are some shots of my work space around that time. And I was also walking around
the city a lot and riding the subway and just looking around a lot, and you know graffiti
is something that, there’s obviously a culture of graffiti all over the country, but New
York, there’s a whole different energy about it, so I was really inspired by just walking
around and just participating along with that and just drawing no big, you know I didn’t
really work with spray paint or anything, I was more into just like pens and drawing
on subway posters and pasting up. I was in, you know, I liked to paste things up every
once in a while. Max Fish was a bar that I hung around at a lot and there are a lot of
artists and graffiti writers and skateboarders and just, and there’s a really good energy
and it has a rich tradition of art and drunks. So their bathrooms were something that I would
just go in there and paste something up in the bathroom, and then eventually I kind of
got to be friends with the owners and they would let me in, in the daytime and I would
just like put just bigger things up and then at night they would just get crushed you know
with all the writers and stuff. But they offered me, they eventually, you know, I did maybe
three or four installations in there and just pasting up around, and they offered me a show.
Because they do great shows there. And they offered me a solo show, or I could do a split
show or I could curate it and so I kind of wondered, well, who would I want to do a show
with? And one of the art directors at “Spin” was a mutual friend of Shepard Fairey and
she said that he liked my thing. So I just dropped him an email and asked if he would
be interested in showing and he accepted and we did this show together. He designed this
card, and it was a great show. He was a really good guy and it sort of put me on the map
a little bit I think as far as shows went after that, because I started to exhibit a
lot more and I just wasn’t used to like having people show up at an art show, you know? So
that was a big thing. I was like “Wow, there’s people in the room, this is pretty good” But
I started really just focusing on just making art and putting things into shows. I was really
excited to just have things on the wall and be an artist in New York. But at the same
time I just completely neglected any kind of work that I was getting, that I had coming
in. So I was getting pretty assed out and I knew that I needed to make a change. ‘Cuz
my rent was just bleeding me and work wasn’t really happening all that much and so I just
felt like I needed to make a jump. And I got a call from my friend in LA and he said he
lived in these two big houses on a 2-acre hillside in East LA and he said the rent is
super cheap and “You should come out here, it’ll be really fun. There’s 11 roommates.”
And I went, “All right!” But anyway, but while everything was kind of like, I mean my account
was draining and everything, but then I would go, my friend Rich worked at this record store
Sound and Fury. I went in there and he was like “Hey, did you see this magazine, this
Japanese magazine cover?” and I’m like, “No, I didn’t, that’s pretty cool.” And Nat Owens,
another friend of mine, owns this gallery, he got this, he’s like “Hey, I got this Taschen’s
‘1000 Favorite Websites’ book and that crappy website you had up has somehow made it into
the pages of that.” So I was like, “Hey, thanks for the note Taschen!” [laughter from audience]
But anyway, so I knew something was going alright. So I bought a minivan from a soccer
mom in Kansas and I pasted a couple of skulls on it and painted it black and drove it to
LA, where it died as soon as I pulled into this compound. And these are the houses that
I moved into. And there was 11 roommates and sometimes there were as many as 14 people
living there, you know, there was a guy in a tent on the hill. But there were a lot of
people from Savannah College of Art and Design who had moved out and they were involved in
film and photography. I was kind of the only visual painter, or, yeah you know visual painter.
But it was a good group of people. And, you know, there’s a pool back there. It was just
a whole new weird thing. I didn’t do a lot of swimming because there were some suicides
in the pool. [laughter] But I had this outdoor studio that I was working
with and was totally foreign to me. I mean I grew up in Kansas and winters in New York
and stuff and so palm trees are, you know, still kind of foreign to me. But I had this
outdoor studio that I worked in and I was pretty broke. But my friend took me to this
bar called Little Joy the first night that, or first week that I was in town. And I met
this guy called Joe who was the manager there and he was also from Kansas and he’s a good
guy and he mentioned that he needed somebody to wash glasses and I was, like, “I’ll wash
glasses right now.” And so he gave me a job there, and I pretty quickly got promoted to
bartender. I’d never bartended, I faked my way to that, too, so people would come up
and say, “Hey, can I get a Kamikaze?” and I’d say I can give you a rum and Coke, or
I can give you a beer or a shot. And anyway after hours I would just go in
and just paste my stuff around the bathrooms and eventually just kind of started covering
the hallways and the bathrooms of this bar. And that kind of like got me, it just got
me planted socially. I started making some friends around the bar, it was kind of a place
that I could go. You know, it was just sort of a home, it felt like, you know there was
also a bar in Kansas called the Eighth Street Taproom that I started out by pasting stuff
on in their bathrooms and then I went to New York and started pasting stuff up in the Max
Fish bathrooms and then I got to LA and then I sort of felt like Little Joy was like, all
right, this is where I’m going to paste my stuff up. But at the time, also at that time
I was really exploding in my sketchbooks; I was drawing all the time and just, it felt
like I was drawing in a different way. I sort of feel like I can look back at sketchbooks,
I have them since I was in second grade, you know, all the way up until last week. And
I can say that even like a year ago it seems like I don’t even draw the same, you know,
and it seems that I’ll figure something out along the way with each drawing and kind of
get a little better and I’m just pretty hypercritical of my own stuff. So I feel like I’m always
sort of running from doing something kind of the same way I did it before. Around this
time I also kind of discovered this gray-wash technique that I’ve since kind of really held
onto. And so these are some images from the sketchbooks around this time. I also started
to, I was doing, you know, little mini comics and you know, just little bursts of humor
and things like that. And I kind of wanted to, I really wanted to try to do a longer
form story. And so around this time the allegations of Michael Jackson, you know, doing what he
did kind of came out and there were rumors of it going to trial. And I was just talking
to a friend of mine and we were talking about celebrity justice and sort of like, what do
you do? So a celebrity can commit a crime and kind of get off, or whatever, so I went,
“So what do you do when the most famous person in the world commits like maybe the most heinous
crime in the world?” and then I said, “Michael Jackson in exile,” and he was, like, “Ha Ha!”
So I just did a drawing, this first drawing of him sitting there at the table and I showed
that to him and he was, like, “Do another!” So I started trying to, like, I had no idea
what was going on, or what I was aiming for. But I just tried to like, what’s gonna come
next, what’s gonna come next? So the whole thing was written just visually and completely
with no plan.
Around this time I met Christopher Lepkowski, the publisher of Narrow Books, while I was
a bartender at Little Joy and we got to be friends talking about zines and publishing
and things like that. And so these are some examples of zines that I have done over the
years. And I started talking to Christopher about how to get this thing published. Like,
what do the publishers want? Like how do they…? You know, I’m used to doing this myself but
I don’t really know what it means to get a book really published in a professional forum.
And so he was doing, they had released one book called “Two Letters,” and they were going
to the, they went up to the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco and he offered to take
my zines up and put them on their table. And you know, we just continued to talk and I
think he took even a little, a rough outline, or rough examples of the book I’d been working
on at the time, maybe to show it to somebody or what. And so, then, I was also doing a
lot of art shows, this is a solo show that I did in Silverlake at the Jeff Electric Gallery
and I put like all my time and effort, I’d probably spent 10 solid days installing the
show, just painting the walls out, putting you know, the best work that I had in there,
hanging these daggers, hanging like a hundred daggers from the ceiling. The opening was
really great and I didn’t sell anything at all and I was pretty bummed, you know, and
just like, arggg, that’s the way it goes. But the next morning, I got a call from Christopher
and he was, like, “Hey, let’s publish that book.”
So anyway, that’s what brings me here today, is this “Hey Fudge” book.
And it’s, so the book is kind of compiling all these zines and, you know, drawings and
some photographs of, you know, art shows, and just experience that have just kind of
been tossed in there that I feel like is relevant to maybe the last five years or so before
publishing this. And, um, it was a really unique experience
to be able to work with Christopher and Mark Dischler on just you know, having meetings
on, just looking through books that we liked. And essentially what our goal was to just
to set out to try to produce a book that we would want to buy on the shelf, you know,
something that would really like, jump out at us. So we were going and looking at books
and talking about what we liked about certain books and didn’t like about other books. And
you know, those guys get really, really into the minute details of, you know, the stitching
and binding and all these different things, and paper stocks which I never considered
at Kinko’s when I was, you know, stapling and stuff like that. So anyway, that book,
it came out in 2007 and we decided to have a, Christopher got, they got distribution
through Last Gasp and Diamond Distribution, and so it started to kind of hit some shelves
and we decided, “Hey, let’s throw a book release.” So we went back to the Jeff Electric Gallery
where Chris saw that show and we hired a Mariachi band and got some buckets of beer and signed
some books. And it was a lot of fun. I’d also like to mention, my partner Mel Kadel.
She’s an artist and my special lady, you know. How do I say this without being too embarrassed?
Anyway this is Mel, and she’s also an artist and we live together and draw together out
of the same shack and this is an example of a few of her drawings. And she’s a consistent
source of inspiration and humor and wildly talented.
And Mel and I are rep’d at the Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica at Bergamot Station.
And you know, a lot of people ask, like, “How do you get rep’d at a gallery? You know, I
gotta get a rep for my stuff.” You know and I’m like, yeah, we all do, but I don’t know
how that stuff happens. And I think with Richard, you know, I never went and took a meeting
and shared him anything and I’ve tried that before with galleries. And I don’t really
think that galleries want to you to come up and say, “Hey, here’s my bag of stuff,” you
know. I think galleries seem to want to discover you more, and not have you kind of walk in
their door, but who knows, that’s my experience but it’s different for everybody. But I think
that stuff really does happen by just making things and floating those zines out and just
all these little things, the stuff in the bathrooms, you know, a comic that I did for
a magazine that maybe I forgot about years ago. You just never know when somebody’s gonna
come across it and pick it up, so, I think my plan of attack is just to litter the corners
with my stuff for somebody to discover along the way wherever they found it. So this is,
we did a split solo show, Mel’s “New Drawings” and my “Nude Rawings.” We live together in
Echo Park in an old cabin. This was built in the ’20s and ah, yeah we have a little
cat. We enjoy going on for long walks in the street and decorating poles. So I’ll move,
I guess I also, just now, will move onto some work projects because I do a lot of commercial
work as well. So these are some examples of that. There’s just, I guess this just kind
of goes to, like, you know when I first started out thinking that I wanted to make a drawing
and see if I could get paid to do an illustration, there was just a lot that came along with
that that I didn’t expect to find myself in this position, talking to Google, really for
one, or being on the phone negotiating a contract or, you know, having to answer a number of
emails that are, you know, there are just all kinds of things that come up that isn’t
just sitting around drawing pictures and making jokes all day. Which is kind of a disappointment.
[laughter from audience] But anyway these are some examples of Vans.
I did a series of shoes for Vans in 2003, and I did a number of T-shirts and things
for them. And that came about basically by them coming and they saw my stuff at an art
show years ago at the Blk/Mrkt Gallery, and got in touch. Foundation is a skateboard company
that I’ve done a lot of stuff for.
I was actually introduced to Foundation through Michael Sieben who’s a good friend of mine
in Austin, Texas. We made friends through the mail, like old-fashioned mail. I was living
in New York, we were in a show together. And he said, we started kind of sending each other
zines back and forth and he’s a really funny guy, so he says, “Hey, let’s try to do a like
a drawing zine back and forth.” Initially, you know, we just decided that we were gonna,
you know, send these things back and forth, drawing together, and maybe we’d have, one
of us would have a stack of drawings for like two months and then send it on to the other
one and then the other one would hold it for maybe a month or so and then send it on. We
kept passing this back and forth, back and forth for about two years and then decided
that, all right well, initially we were just going to make a run of 200 zines, split the
run and sell them on our sites, but a friend of Siebens from Austin, named Mike Aho, had
gotten a job at Volcom and just saw one of the drawings and was, like, “What are you
doing with these?” He said, “Well I bet we could get Volcom to, ah, I bet we could use
their copy machines or something.” And then, you know, people at that company caught wind
of it and eventually it became this book. And, you know, it’s like a 40-page book. They
printed 65,000, I think, of these books and they went out and in one month they went out
in every issue of “Thrasher” magazine. And like in the cover, it was glued into every
issue of “Thrasher.” They never sold them. Actually our payment was, they were like here’s
a thousand books, you can sell them. And they’re not available for sale anywhere else, other
than with me or Mikey. But to sort of justify that, they produced these T-shirts and they
had these T-shirts that went into the line, and then they also sent us on these, a number
of art shows to kind of promote the shirts and book and everything. You go to the art
show and you get a free shirt and a book. And it was pretty wild, it was a pretty wild
campaign and definitely way further than we expected to ever take it.
And it actually took us to Japan. We ended up going and having a show in Tokyo. This
is Michael in front of Kiddieland. That look on his face is about the look that both of
us walked around with the whole time. “What the hell?”
That’s Mike Aho also in Japan. So I had not done a lot of traveling, and we get there,
and the first, just a little story here of me geeking out, arriving there. But we arrive
at the airport, take a train in to Shibuya, get off the first train and this guy is standing
there with the shoes that I did for Vans. The first dude I see standing there, and I’m
like “Oh My God!” and I’m taking pictures of him and he just freaked out, doesn’t, you
know, I mean I don’t know, how often does a door opens up from a train and someone starts
flashing photos of you? Anyway, he had no idea.
So these, so Michael Sieben also has a skateboard company currently called Roger, but the one
previous to that was called Bueno. This is a deck and a T-shirt that I did for it. Burton
Snowboards is a company that I also do a lot of work for. And this is the first, I did
a snowboard for them, it was a Jeremy Jones signature series board, I think it came out
in 2005. This is a picture of Jeremy hucking himself off something.
And then they came back and asked me to do the, I did all the packaging and hang tags
for all of their products for 2009. So it was largely, it was like the biggest, it was
my entire 2008 was building boxes and just for every product that they had. They were
a great company to work with. They were just like, you know, constantly telling me to just
juice my imagination. They were like, “Man, make this box crazy, this box just really
crazy.” So I’m like “OK, I’m gonna make it crazy.” And then they were like “Alright,
that’s crazy, but for the next one, go off! We’re gonna go crazy on this next one.” I’m
like “Yeah alright, turn up the juice”, and then they’d be like “Oh man, that is sick,
but this next one is [animated sounds] crazy freak out.” “All right!” So I reached new
levels of freak out. [laughter] And produced, you know, several boxes and,
you know, pretty much I got a, you know, if you got anything from the 2009 season it’s
got my stamp on it somewhere. I also do a lot of packaging for bands and avid, you know,
fan of music. And Anton Newcombe is the singer of Brian Jonestown Massacre and I met him
at the Little Joy as a bartender and he was into the vampires that were pasted onto the
wall and asked if we could just photograph those and design a package around that. This
was around the time that the movie “Dig” came out. And so I did that record for them and
then, EL-P is a hip-hop artist that I’ve done a lot of stuff for and continue to do work
for. Um, Megapuss is ah, Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove moved in next door to us in
the cabin and we just met at the mailbox and they were recording this project and asked
me and Mel to do the packaging for it. And so Mel and I tag teamed. She did the waves
on there, and we would kind of, like, swap every page back and forth, and that came out
on Neil Young’s Vapor label last year. I also, you know, got a random call from HP for, there’s
an ad agency in San Francisco called McCann and they asked if I would do work for HP’s
Back to School campaign of 2009. So this is a series of drawings that were like some kind
of Facebook component. And there’s some kind of random like, major generator, like college
major generator, so you’d be like, you know punch these buttons and it would say, “This
is stuff I like,” and it’d say, “You might be a cheese maker or a physics major or whatever.”
So they asked me if I would do do this, what would be, you know an animated commercial,
it never had, well I’d done video for the Get Up Kids a few years back but as far as
animation, like I’m not, in theory I know how it works but certainly with cell animation
I’m not, I don’t have the patience or the skill to do that. But key frames and concepting,
and that kind of stuff I can do so I sort of, I can get it to a point where it’s in
a good working order for an animator. So anyway I ended up putting together a series of six
key frames and those went to a company called Brand New School and they were animated. And
I don’t have the link to the animation on this, but if you go to my site you can see
that, it’s on YouTube. Here’s a couple more of those key frames, but this, that little
head in the back, the little head with the motor board is head banging gloriously blowing
in the wind. So then I did this book, “Farts.” On a more serious note, and this book last
year came out with Chronicle Books. Yeah, I don’t know, how do you say no to a book
about farts? You know, and it’s a sound book. I didn’t write it but Chronicle got in touch
and said, “Hey, this Fudge Factory guy I think is the guy for the job”, and so they would
basically just give me the title of these farts and I would just have to come up with
some kind of image about what the description would look like, and then you can punch the
button and hear what it sounds like. And it did really well. Like in the first three weeks
it sold out of its first run of 30,000 and I think it’s in, I mean, in under a year it
reached over 100,000 copies. I’m not sure where it’s at now, but it’s widely available.
And then, so they asked me to do another kind of sound book and this just came out yesterday
called “How to Speak Zombie.” And it’s another kind of goofy kid’s book where you can punch
the sounds. Like “Hey, how can I order a coffee? I’m in Zombieland.” And you punch the button
and it’s like “Arrrrggggg.” [laughter]
So I’m just gonna wrap this up with a few more drawings, ‘cuz basically what it comes
down to, I’ll go home and just continue drawing today, work or not. But, yeah. I think it
just sort of comes to, comes down to just doing, you know, and continuing to do things,
and not really know, you know, what kind of life it’s gonna take on after it leaves the
desk. But um, I’m just sort of curious to see like, I’m basically just trying to keep
myself entertained and avoid doing something that I did last week and hopefully somewhere
along the way like, communicate with somebody and make a joke or make a point. And, yeah.
So I guess I’ll just, I really don’t know what else I want to say about it. If anybody
has any questions or anything like that, I’m happy to take them. [pause] audience#1: All right well, I really like
your work first off. So thanks for coming and sharing. Um, I see a lot of, maybe there
not there, I do see a lot of graffiti elements to your work. And, you know, with your work
with EL-P and stuff. And I’ve discovered a lot of artists like Jeremy Fish, and you’ve
got the same flora as in run English on you know some magazines like “High Fructose” and
“Juxtapoz.” Have you ever considered, you know, working with some of those to kind of
get the hip-hop culture emergency work as well? Travis: Ah, well, “Juxtapoz” is a magazine
that I’ve worked with before, audience: Nice. Travis: I had a feature in their magazine
last year, and Jeremy is a great friend of mine, I mean he’s a rad dude and I’ve done
some stuff with Aesop Rock and you know, like. I guess, you know, like Def Jux is a, I’ve
been a fan of those guys, I was a fan of Company Flow, I used to have a college radio show
when I was in Kansas and I used to play the Fun Crusher Plush album and like, you know,
I I don’t really know how you insert yourself
into, how do you do a hip-hop record? I don’t know. I mean I don’t know how this stuff happens,
but I just eventually along the way I met Jeremy and Jeremy was like “I really like
your stuff and hey this is Aesop, you know” and I was like “Hey, good to meet you” and
then he’s like “Yeah I like your stuff” and then totally out of the blue I got a random
call and they said, and I answered the phone from a 917 number, and he said, “Is this Travis?”
and I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “This is El-Producto,” and I was like, what? You know.
And he’s like, “Hey, I got your number from Aesop.” So that’s kind of how that happened.
I wanted to do stuff for him years ago but I just didn’t know how to make it work, you
know I mean it’s a lot of times, it’s the same with skateboards, you know, I mean honestly
anything I’ve ever, I’ve ever been involved with that I’m really proud of, I haven’t gone
out and tried to scrape my way into it, it sort of like, it seems to come back around
and more naturally work, you know? But yeah. audience: Cool. Thank you. Travis: Sure. audience #2: So I saw your work, you know
there’s the whole skulls that you’ve been doing for a long time and I kind of was thinking,
I mean this is just an association, but I was thinking like Self-Help Graphics, do you
do Dia de los Muertos kind of stuff? Have you ever checked that stuff out? Travis: Um, no. But I, well I have, I’m not
that familiar with it but, maybe a line of self-help books is exactly what I need to
be doing. [laughter] Yeah, good idea. Well, I’m not sure. I mean I’m kind of into, I think
skulls just comes from like, for me it comes from like, Pusshead, you know like early skateboard
graphics, you know like Zorlac Boards and stuff. That’s why I started drawing skulls,
you know, it was just kind of seeing it in skateboard magazines or like heavy metal records
that I was into and then, yeah. There’s a rich tradition with the Dia de los Muertos
but I think I like the, I dunno. I think I was captured by the rawness of just metal
and skateboarding and stuff like that. Maybe if there’s a self-help book for me out there
on that kind of stuff I’d be open to reading it but… audience#3: You mentioned how you went through
a bunch of books to find things you liked about other books to go into the production
of “Hey Fudge.” Could you talk about some of the things that you ended up either putting
in the book or ways you put it into the book, based on that? Travis: Um, well, yeah. I think, well, I think
a lot of, you know there’s certain things about books that was just really fun to go
to the bookstore. I’m a collector of books and so are Mark and Christopher, and so we
all just kind of, and it also gave me an excuse to go to the bookstore and just like spend
a bunch of money on stuff and just justify it that way. But, you know there’s just things,
certain things about some books that we really liked you know, and other things that we didn’t.
And so we tried to kind of take the best of, you know, little bits and try to rip off like
parts of books that we thought were working really well. And then when it came to designing
the book, I think I have a, I think, just you know, I’ve laid out a lot of zines and
I’ve done a lot of you know illustration layout, or whatever I’m doing. But my tendency is
to just full bleed everything, just to throw it in there and really kind of, when I make
zines I like to kind of think of them as mixed tapes. So if I’m, you know, it’s like, this
is what I’ve currently been listening to over the last couple of months. So I’ll pull out
the best songs of, you know, what I’ve been listening to and toss them onto this tape,
in the way that the zine comes together. And so the editing process was a little different,
whereas with the zine I could make a hundred of those things and if it ah, you know, if
there’s a piece of crap in there that I’m embarrassed about later, I don’t really think
about it, you know, I kind of let it float because I’m gonna make another one like in
a month or two. With this book, um, it you know, I’ve looked at, there’s some drawings
in there that I’m just like, “pfff, I had a better drawings than that. How did that
make it in there?” Or you know. But that’s where Chris and Mark kind of helped come in
and helped editing it. And Mel, also sitting with me and going through it, and saying like
“You’ve got a better drawing than that, that can go.” Or one thing with the “Michael Jackson
in Exile” book, that thing has a, you know, my first instinct was just to have that go
full bleed off the pages, and Mark and also Brock advised me on just shrinking those things
and adding a big white border. So when it does go full bleed on a couple of the pages
it becomes a lot more dramatic. And ah, you know, there’s just a lot of different production
things that go into it. And when I make a zine I think the kind of the flash of the
copier and it’s, I dunno, it’s kind of part of the magic of it, is just the kind of crude
nature of how it comes out in the end. But things are different with this kind of production,
you know? I mean the crappiness of it isn’t really as endearing as it is with a handmade
staple thing. So, just adjusting levels, you know, and I had some help with that but, yeah
it was a really good learning experience. For these guys, too, this is their second
single, their first single authored publication and their second book. You know, so. We were
all kind of learning together at the same time, you know. But we’re all, you know, pretty
savvy guys and know what we like so we can just sort of go for aesthetic and see how
that came together. Yeah. [pause] All right, thanks a lot. Oh I have some stickers,
some sticker packs, if anybody wants to get a free sticker pack. Oh yeah, and I also just
launched my website. These guys are going “Website!” I just launched my website. I haven’t
updated my website in a really long time, and I just launched it like within the last
12 hours. [pop noise] All right. Thanks. [Clapping]

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