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The Boy Fitz Hammond is a professional doodler who specialises in quirky and witty illustration. His finely-honed skills have been jumped on by clients as wide ranging as Nickelodeon, Honda and Computer Arts Magazine. But how does he do it? We wanted to find out…
Welcome to the world of Thunder Chunky. How’s it all going today?
Firstly mister Thunder Chunky, thanks for having me. It’s going good today thanks. It’s a Friday, I’m working the weekend, but It’s all good. Happy days.
Firtsly, so as not to cause any offence, how do you like to be addressed? The Boy, Fitz, Mr Hammond!?
Whatever you like mister Thunder Chunky. I’ll have no doubt been called worse so fire away…
Illustration for .net Magazine
As a fully-fledged illustrator, what are the pro’s and con’s of doodling for a living?
Pro’s. Too many to mention. I get up and draw cartoons all day long and that ain’t too bad a thing to do day in day out. I’m lucky cos all I’ve wanted to do is draw and thats what I’m doing.
Con’s. They’re few and far between (but at the same time they’re pretty major things). At the moment I’m on a pretty good run regards commissioned work but I don’t stop thinking for one minute that it could all come to a grinding halt tomorrow.
My style could be “out” and I’d be facing up to no work. No work = no money. No money = desperate measures. Despersate measures = selling bodily organs. Selling bodily organs = bad news. Bad new = something no-one likes to receive. See what I mean!
Getting paid can sometimes be a ball-ache too. People are all too quick in wanting the work but often all too slow in parting with the cash.
So what’s involved in an average working day of The Boy Fitz Hammond?
I wake up about 6.30 when Ringtail, my monkey butler on loan from Edinburgh Zoo, brings me a drink of freshly squeezed Guava juice. As I sip my drink, savouring the taste sensation and leisurely enjoying Breakfast news, Ringtail runs me a bath and then checks the tyre pressure of my bike…
Ok, so the only thing thats true is that I’m up at 6.30. Then it’s on my bike and in work for about half seven. Then it’s work all the way. I’ve usually got at least a couple of jobs on so there’s always lots to think about. Whilst I’m drawing, Ringtail answers the phone and takes messages.
I stop for a dump about midday then stick my head in the gym for an hour at lunch before strolling back over the road to work and work through till about six (sometimes later depending on what I’ve got on and when things are needed for). Then its back on the tandem with Ringtail and home for a bottle of milk and a good old burp.
Illustration for Front Magazine
How important have Crayola Crayons and Etch-a-Sketch been to your career?
Without the good people at Crayola and the support I’ve had from everyone at Etch-a-Sketch then I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
It’s probably a well known fact that a chance entry into the inaugural Etch-a-Sketch World Championships set the crayon rolling when I was just five years old and from then on I ain’t looked back.
Crayola signed me up to their All-Star drawing squad a year later and I spent the next ten years touring the world and spreading the word through pictures. I stopped touring in ’94 and under the guidance of Sensai Wax I graduated from the Crayola Institue of New York seven years later.
Since then I’ve broken records for baked bean eating, swam in Olympic sized pools and adpoted a monkey from Edinburgh Zoo but Crayola and Etch-a-Sketch will always be my first love.
You draw lots of celebrities, do they ever get in touch with you to let you know what they think?
The only one that has done so far was Phil Jupitus. When I first started drawing people (a couple of years ago) I went through a phase of drawing him, his wee dog Chester and the other guy he presents his 6music show with.
Fuck knows why but I just did. Anyway, he picked up on it, said he was tickled so I sent him on of the pictures which is probably adhoring one of the walls of Chester’s kennel as I speak.
Who’s the easiest celebrity to draw?
Without doubt Andy Fordham the darts player. He’s an Ox of a man. More hair than you could shake a stick at. Big head, massive body, little legs, shed loads of hair, big beard and trainers. Good arrows all round.
What proportion of your work is commissioned, and what proportion do you just do for the hell of it because you want to?
At the moment I’m full on with commissioned work but I ain’t gunna complain cos I know things can change in a flash – I guess thats something I’ve learnt to live with. It’s cool cos all the commission work is stuff that I’d like to draw and in my style. When someone picks up the phone to brief me they know what they’re gunna get (more often than not its some way-out-west guy with a big set of balls) and they seem more than happy with it so long may it continue.
As for my own work, I’ve always got my sketchbook with me and I’m forever doodling dudes and scribbling ideas that’ll one day make it big.
What’s your favourite ever illustration?
Favourite illustration. Good quetsion man. As I’m drawing and going from one thing to the next I start to think the last thing I’ve drawn is my favourite and thats what I’ve gotta beat. I’ve just done a job for Nickelodeon that stands-out, so if I had to pick one it’d be that. It was the biggest (A2) and most detailed (shit loads) thing I’ve ever drawn. Honestly man, the hours that went into that were solid. Day after day and a couple of all nighters but I loved every minute of it. I was drawing in the orange of Nickelodeon for like ten days and by the end of it thats all I could see. It was for a new programme that launched in the new year called The Crunch and it had kids on the loo, monkey’s throwing poo and Spongebob Square Pants swimming in his own piss. Reet up me street I tells ya!
Billboard for Nickelodeon
Humour is very important in your work, who would you say were your comic influences?
I don’t know man. I used to love Vic Reeves Big Night Out but I don’t think there’s too many “Mister Wobbly Hand” influences in my work so who knows! I find loads of things funny. Things on TV, things from everyday life. I guess I just like a laugh which is why I draw stuff thats funny to me. If others find it funny then thats a bonus.
What advice can you offer to any aspiring doodlers out there? Who should they hassle, who should they avoid?
Keep yer head down, yer thumbs up, and you won’t go too far wrong. Hassle as many people as you can and don’t take “NO! FUCK OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE” for an answer. Just try to avoid picking up too many County Court Injunctions as a day in court is never much fun and whilst it’ll give you great reference material for new characters it does go on your Professional Illustrators Identification card which is frowned upon by many Art Directors.
Have you ever tried to draw yourself?
Yeah – quite a few times. I reckon it’s a pretty good likeness but all my mates comment on how it’s way better looking than the real thing.
What music spins on the decks when you’ve got a deadline to hit?
I’m not really bothered what it as long as there’s something on so it can be out like Kasabian, Dj Shadow, Basement Jaxx, Scissor Sisters, Black Lace… fuck knows. I draw a line at anything touched by the Beddinfields though – Bobbins.
Ever been to Liverpool? If not, why not? If so, why?
Aye, Liverpool’s top. I’ve been quite a few times and its a proper spot on place. I ain’t been for a about 3 years and now I’m living up in Edinburgh I don’t know when I’ll get down again. But rest assured when I do, I’ll drop you a line and you can take me for a brew.
What’s on the calendar for 2005?
Ringtail got me a “Just Whippets” calendar for Christmas.
Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?
You can find a ton of TBFH’s mad doodles by visiting his very expansive and totally enthralling site, which is www.tbfh.com.
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