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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Process: Mallory C. Hodgkin

by Peter Hammarberg

Mallory C. Hodgkin is an artist in the truest sense of the word. She is honest, hungry, uncompromising, and totally prepared to hop on the bus to stardom. Her work is vibrant, edgy, and extremely fun. Mallory has the chops to go toe-to-toe with anyone, from Tex Avery to Ralph Baksi and John Kricfalusi. If I were not a poor bastard, I would buy all of her works and hang them in every house I entered. She’s that good. The only problem I can foresee homeowners having is that I would also use their bathroom.

Oh! She loves handlebar mustaches too…
Vital info, that.

How would you describe your art?

I would describe my art as a mash-up of cartoon, graffiti, and caricature influences wrapped up into a strange, strange package. I tend to pick and choose what I love from each and smash it all
together and see if it works. If it does, then I learned something, and if it doesn't, I learned even more. I've recently taken on the motto that "beauty is boring" and try to implement it. This isn't to say that I throw the rules of art, color, and composition out the window; you'll just see angular old guys, fat monsters with human ears, and mutants more than you'll see the traditional smooth-rendered female nude.

When did you begin making art, and what made you pursue it on a
professional level?

I honestly never thought any different. I toyed in high school about majoring in life sciences like biology for about five minutes, but art was just so much more fun and I figured if I couldn't make it in art, I didn't want to make it anywhere else anyway. I've always been dedicated to it. As long as I can remember, I've been doodling during school lessons and spending my free time drawing monsters and cartoons for years. Every year for holiday gifts I got sets of pencils and sketch pads and had run through them by the next holiday. I drew on my mom's old receipts when we were out somewhere and I was bored. It's always been there as entertainment, as therapy, and now as my future bread-winning tactic.

On the other hand I always knew I had to learn to make money out of art so I went to Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and was so sure I was going to make it into the nations top art school that I didn't even apply anywhere else. I lived by the "go big or go home" philosophy when it came to education to do my very best to figure out how to turn my own self-fulfillment into wallet lining. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm on the road to Successland and hoping I don't run into any light posts.

Who are your inspirations?

One of my biggest inspirations is Andy Howell. I discovered him about 4 years ago and it just completely shifted my work in a new direction. He's an incredible artist based mostly in graffiti and skateboard-type work that I just can't get over. His linework, shapes, and colors just absolutely blow my mind and I love that he paints "ugly" things and makes them so incredibly interesting to look at.

Another one would be Alex Pardee who paints mainly surreal situations with monsters and grotesque people and injects weird cartoon ironically happy guys into it. I love his lines, incredible color sense, his sense of structure is fantastic and his intense imagination
is unbelievably endless.

The third portion of my trilogy of inspirations is former Ren and Stimpy background and concept artist Bill Wray. Lately he's been doing more realistic work, but his work in the animation industry (including Samurai Jack and The Mighty B!) blows me away. I adore the way he
takes something flat like a cartoon character or background and adds a touch of rendering to it making it look tangible and wacky all at the same time.

Have you been compared to anyone?

In school, I was compared a lot to John K who created Ren and Stimpy. My latest work has been a little of a departure from that, but I adore the shapes and motions in John K's animations and have since I saw the cartoon as a kid and just never stopped. In fact, I take inspiration
from a lot of things I saw as a child and that's usually cartoons like the stuff they used to play on Nickelodeon. When kids in my grade school art classes were copying anime and Pokemon, I was copying Powdered Toast Man and Rocko. More recently, I've been taking inspiration from less well-known artists so it's usually general terms like using heavy elements of caricature and I was even told once that I held elements of cubism in my work which just completely made my

What is your process in creating a piece?

First is always the drawing. If I have a preliminary idea or not, it's always the drawing. I tend to doodle random things when I'm searching for my next painting, but more recently I've been drawing directly on canvas with no preliminary sketch. This can actually be a big drawback
if your composition looks out of whack, but I love the energy my original sketches retain and when I copy or trace a drawing, it never holds that same energy.

Next step is usually a background color of a mid-tone. I usually use a tan or yellow ochre color because it works with a lot of different color schemes. I'm usually choosing my color scheme by then and I try to keep the colors very limited because I can go a little nuts if I let myself use more than a few. Then I go in with outlines, usually black, then darks and darker mid-level colors. The outlines are done with a super thin brush but the colors are most often painted on and then smeared with my finger. It's sort of a weird practice since it's usually used with dry media like pastels, but I've found that it works really well with a quick drying paint like acrylic.
After that, I go in with light colors then white. I usually go back at this point and see what the painting needs and usually I need to deal with the background differently than I originally planned. More often than not I take care of it in a semi-abstract or flat color way instead of creating a scene. My work is usually focused on the characters in the image so I try not to take away that focus with a convoluted background.

Where do you get inspiration?

It can be from anything, really. Good movies, tv shows, and even things as innocuous as commercials. I've always had an enormous respect and love for animation so watching cartoons (especially old ones I saw as a kid) really helps me think of things to paint. If I get block, I look at artwork made by people I admire in museums and in books and on the street. A major subject in my work tends to be faces so sometimes even an interesting face at the grocery store can spark
an inspiration.

When did your fascination with handlebar mustaches start?

That I do not know. I have had a fascination with mustaches for a while now, but I'm going to try and sound deep and awesome and say it stemmed from my first exposure to the the mustache on the Mona Lisa in Marcel Duchamp's dada masterpiece "L.H.O.O.Q.".

If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do?

I would have to say Dan Akroyd. I really would just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee (or glass of wine, he seems to be into that) with him and have hilarious chats about existentialism and its effect on UFOs or something. I mean sure, I admire tons of artists and writers and creative minds but most of the ones I admire most are/were misanthropes and would probably just hate me anyway. Dan Akroyd seems like not only a funny guy, but in his latest alcohol
manufacturing endeavors he's come up with some interesting philosophies so I think it would be a blast to pick his brain.

How you you work around artist's block?

It's tough. About 9 or 10 months ago when I was finishing up school, I was so unsure of my style that it crippled me. I tried to make work that people wanted to see instead of work that I wanted to do and it showed. I went way cartoony when my inner voice told me I should scale it back and throw some more wrinkles and rendering in. It was basically one step at a time. With that kind of obstacle, I had to re-evaluate what I liked in others' artwork and use those elements in
my own while still keeping my own style.

For normal every-day artist's block, I try and look for things to illustrate like poems or articles or even just single words. If that doesn't work, I actually have a "List of Awesome" where a friend of mine and I have compiled a list of about 100 awesome things like "slugs", "eyebrows", "briefcases", "goldfish" and "sandwiches" and if you pick a few at random, it makes for weird but interesting compositional elements.

What is your ultimate goal?

My ultimate goal is to be able to get up at the crack of noon and illustrate in my pajamas and be able to support myself on my artwork. There's no major goal of global fame or crazy fortune, I'm just want to be able to make a living off of showing my work and communicating a message to an audience that appreciates it.

Any new projects in the works?

My projects in the works are still in the beginning phases. One major project is to get my illustration mailer designed and out there so it can be seen by art directors. As far as paintings go, I want to start a few different series soon. One of which is a series of simple illustrations of various types of nerds like sci-fi nerd, literature nerd, band nerd, video game nerd. Another one is a series called "Internal Monologue" where I paint a person and in the same image I paint what they are on the inside, like say I paint a businessman and rendered a little differently in the same image I paint the same character in drag.

OK, now for the fun stuff...Who would win in a fight...

Captain Kirk or Captain Jean-Luc Picard?

Picard for sure and he'd probably only need to hit Kirk once, but he'd have to catch him first. Kirk's pretty good at dodging nothing and rolling on the ground a lot.

Charles Bukowski or Leonard Cohen?

Bukowski, he's got nothing to lose so he'd get that crazy drunk man strength...or I guess he might just walk away.

But doesn't that make him the better man?

Jhonen Vasquez or Paul Reubens?

Paul Reubens. I refuse to believe Vasquez (who I imagine is the
real-life incarnation of his brittle skinny characters) can beat up
the 90s weird television god that is Pee-Wee.

I bet Pee-Wee's got a mean uppercut.

Shameless Plug Time!!!

Legit site: http://mhodgkin.com
Store: http://stablercake.etsy.com
Blog: http://stablercake.blogspot.com

Actually, Googling "stablercake" will usually lead you my direction.


  1. Hell yeah, Mallory! I'm lucky because I have her original work lining my walls. I almost tripped on one the other day.
    Being roommates does that.
    She is a rad artist I admire and like to live in the same vicinity with.

  2. Those are some great pieces, especially the sinister toothpaste man (that's just what I'm calling him). Now I just want to know who is slugging Spock.

  3. PS: Ever think about illustrating comics? (Had to ask)

  4. Thanks Jonathan! I have thought about doing comics, but sadly I'm not super good with plots and I tend to get tired of drawing the same character over and over. I do have a gaggle of circus characters I might turn into a comic one day, but at the moment it's just a pipe dream,

  5. Just a comment to thank the Write Club for the feature and Peter Hammarberg for digging my work so much he needed to write about it! Thanks!

  6. ANYtime, Mallory! If you ever want us to showcase your art on the site again just let us know. You make us look good.

  7. Mao, you know I've sent you a comic script or two in my time...

    Hint hint....

    I've even taken the boinking scene out of the one with the zombies...


  8. And besides, it was a pleasure to interview you. I've been a fan since day-one.

  9. Lol, we'll collab one day, Pete, I promise, I just don't think I have the patience for a comic book at the moment :c

    hmm, I think I might have an idea...

  10. An idea you say?

    Email me when you can.