Personalities

Flip Flop Flyin

It’s been two years since Flip Flop Flyin started, and the web hasn’t been the same ever since. Craig, the man behind the tiny man, joined our writer for a short conversation and helped him understand the beauty of small things. Note: Craig does not have a ‘Beatles’ haircut. He is very serious about this.

It’s been two years since Flip Flop Flyin (FFF) started, and the web hasn’t been the same ever since. Craig, the man behind the tiny man, joined us for a short conversation and helped us understand the beauty of small things. Note: Craig does not have a ‘Beatles’ haircut. He is very serious about this.

TMN: Dear FFF,

FFF: Yes?

TMN: When did you start FFF? What were your ideas behind the site?

FFF: May 99. Simply to do something with the HTML I’d just learnt.

TMN: Has FFF always been about the drawings and artwork that currently live on the site, or has there been other work? Have you been making art outside the web?

FFF: Not really; when it first started it was some ‘real’ pencil drawings and photographs, but pixels came into it about a month or so later. Before web stuff I used to make sketchbooks of various silly drawings.

TMN: Where did the idea for MiniPops come from? How about MiniMOMA?

FFF: A bored Sunday night, drawing the Beach Boys, and making them as small as I could. Same with minimoma.

TMN: MiniPops seems to have always been about the music, about the people behind it, etc. And I think some of the pleasure people receive is caused by seeing people they’re used to recognizing in magazne layouts suddenly reduced…at the same time, it’s taken a lot of work and dedication on your part to keep it going. Does it still excite you?

FFF: I go thru phases, really. Sometimes I don’t enjoy doing it, and I’ll leave it alone for a while, and other times, it’s ace, and feels cool when I get someone right, from their hair to their footwear.

TMN: Can you describe your work process a little?

FFF: Have an idea, draw it really small. It really is that simple.

TMN: How about the time involved? It seems that a project like MiniMOMA took a great deal of research and tweaking.

FFF: Yeh, miniMOMA does take a while. Something like the xmas Funfunfun took about 2 weeks of evenings to complete. It’s the animating that takes the time. The ideas usually come out fully formed.

TMN: Your art frequently depends on story (e.g., Boy Meets Pixel, Fun Fun Fun) or at least some reference to character (MiniPops, Kraftwerk Kam, MiniEuro)…do you find yourself attracted, in terms of inspiration, to story as a starting point?

FFF: I prefer doing the story stuff, it’s nicer to let something happen and follow it to a conclusion. Fun fun fun I adore doing cos it’s all about thinking about the cool stuff that you do in life that just happens. And boy meets pixel is just my own version of a nora ephron film. I’m a fan of romantic comedies for some reason, so, this is my version.

The other way of doing stuff is one liners really, like kraftwerk kam and swimming in coffee boy. Kraftwerk kam was just a thought on how boring a webcam watching kraftwerk take 15 years or so to make an album. And Coffee Boy came simply from using the phrase swimming in coffee when I’d been drinking way too much of it.

TMN: I had a client once ask if they could steal your drawings to use as bio-pictures for the excutives on their website; I said no, but it’s kind of interesting that some big cable executives would be so drawn to your work…have you found that you have a wide audience outside of the web design world? Have people approached you for commercial use of FFF?

FFF: Yeh, there has been interest from a few people. And there have been instances where my work has been very inspirational, for want of a better phrase.

It’s a strange situation, because so many of my friends think I’m stupid for not making money out of it. And I think that occasionally, but I like the fact that FFF purely exists for my own—and other peoples’—enjoyment. Not to sell stuff or promote stuff. I’m sure I’ll regret that when I’m living in a gutter…Or maybe someone’ll offer me obscene money tomorrow and I’ll become a corporate whore….Who knows.

TMN: How do you feel about the web design community, of which you seem to be a part? Has it ever been, for you, anything more than inside a computer?

FFF: It’s nice to know there are cool folk out there doing other cool stuff, and it’s super to get to know some of these people too. Some of the best people I know I’ve met thru having a website, and have met them in the real world too. It’s also good to know there’s more to the internet than bloody TV adverts for huge companies who’ve found another way to sell us their rubbish.

TMN: How did your affiliation with k10k start? (they’ve mentioned you as inspiration for their site as well as the new Pandaemonium Piece installation)

FFF: I got to know them when they asked if I’d do an issue for them, which turned out to be ‘fun fun fun,’ and they liked it, and it was a huge boost to flip flop flyin and opened things up to a bigger audience. And I guess we just kept in touch, they seem like nice boys and they’re good to their mothers.

TMN: What’s your take on other stuff going on around the web? Any stuff that excites you, depresses you?

FFF: The things that excite me are generally personal sites from people who don’t necessarily know superspecial dhtml or java stuff and just do their thing. Seeing some 15 year old kid’s site is far more inspiring than a design/coding genius who’s got nothing to say.

TMN: In reference to your preference for story work, as well as the distinction between a 15-year-old’s personal site versus a DHTML site, what exactly is it that appeals to you? The voice? The personality? The lo-fi?

FFF: It’s more to do with someone having something to say, be it words or images. Like it doesn’t have to be earth shattering or anything, just saying something. Rather than ‘ooh look at me and my special vectors and crazy fonts.’

For example, ken-c-rix.com.

This is one of my favourite sites simply because there is a huge amount of love involved. Ken killed himself and his friend put a site together full of ken’s thoughts on life and various other stuff. None of it really *affects* me, but the knowledge that someone loved ken so much is so amazing, and that is the true beauty of the internet.

TMN: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

FFF: My friends, the beach boys, harry nilsson, gene kelly and most other stuff that exists really.

TMN: For all the ladies out there, who is Craig outside of the computer?

FFF: Non-german-speaking berlin dweller who likes bowling and being with his Friends.

TMN: What are some future projects you’re working on?

FFF: More Flip Flop flyin stuff which hopefully will be fun to do. The continuing story of boy and pixel, more funfunfun and something new which is a secret, but introduces as yet unused elements to flip flop flyin. And if my wishes were to come true, a hollywood adaptation of boy meets pixel with me starring as boy opposite meg ryan.

TMN: How’s the smoking going?

FFF: Not bad as it goes. A pack a day. Giving up will be occuring in the next month or so, though.

TMN: We hear that. Thanks, RB

FFF: Cheers, Craig
 

biopic

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin