Almost exactly two years since I put on the Burgermat Show with Burger Monday, I'm pretty freakin' chuffed to be able to say that the book of the project – a 50 page paper placemat pad complete with burger recipes – is finally printed and ready to launch via East London publishing company, Nobrow...
The book includes all 24 Burgermat artworks as tear-out paper placemats plus four killer burger recipes varying in difficulty from my Super Easy Cheesy, Byron's signature Byron Burger, Opera Tavern's mini Iberico Pork and Foie Gras burgers, to Fred Smith's attempt-it-if-you-dare Double Cheese Stack – all of which were shot specially for the book by London's most dedicated burger photographer, Thomas Bowles.
The Burgermat Show book is set to launch at tomorrow's ELCAF (East London Comics & Art Festival) among a host of burger-themed activities that include a burger-themed nail bar hosted by the world's only burgers-and-nails blogger, Nailburgerlar...
And if getting your nails did ain't your thing, choose from a host of specially designed burger-themed tattoos and illustrator Damien Weighill will hand draw them onto your arm for you – using non-toxic water-based inks...
And as if that wasn't enough burger bang for your buck, Street Kitchen will be on hand in a silver airstream to serve up burgers - including a specially devised ELCAF burger - essentially a tweaked version of its AWESOME Buffalo Bill that includes a tomato, caper, gherkin, shallot and parsley compote:
Here's the poster for the event which is by Philadelphia-based illustrator Andy Rementer - who is also ELCAF's artist in residence AND one of the 24 artists who contributed to the Burgermat Show:
I know it's Ribstock tomorrow and there's a million and one other ace things happening in London BUT, if you can come to ELCAF, it's at York Hall in East London from 10am to 7pm there'll be LOADS of great stuff going on! Find out more at www.elcaf.co.uk
PS Super thanks to Lydia Whitmore for the Burgermat Show book photography.
It's high time I introduced y'all to the burger-toy collecting illustration-genius I've been happily encouraging to create burger related products. Folks, meet Rob Flowers and allow him to acquaint you with some of his prize possessions...
Rob Flowers in his studio – check the toy-laden shelves!
Burgerac: How long have you been collecting toy figures?
Rob Flowers: I've always had a bit of an obsession with toys but I guess I got serious about it around ten years ago. Being the youngest and only boy in my family (I've got two older sisters) I got a bit spoiled, toy wise, as I think my dad was a bit relieved that he could finally buy all the Masters of the Universe figures he secretly wanted.
Meet Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac
B: How long have you been collecting burger stuff - you've got a particular obsession with old McDonald's collectibles, right?
RF: I've been a big McDonald's fan since I was little. It was always a treat to go and have a Happy Meal and sit in the plastic train at the restaurant.
I became much more of a collector seven or eight years ago. I collect mostly 1970s to late 80s McDonald's merchandise: the Officer Big Mac / Mayor McCheese era. Which, in my opinion, was a bit of a golden age for children's products and advertising more generally. I mostly collect the McDonaldland stuff – toys, postcards. My prize possession is an original McDonaldland poster from the mid 70s (below). I'd love to get my hands on some original restaurant decorations but my dream purchase is (would be) a Mayor McCheese fibreglass costume head, which they used for pomotional events and ad campaigns.
B: What is it about these things that appeal? And tell us about their effect on your own work - you aspire to create these kinds of items yourself, right?
RF: I love the slightly odd tone of Maccy D's advertising at the time. The Hamburlger, for example, has a weird face and only seems to be able to say "Robble, Robble!' Then there's the Grimace – an evil, milkshake-stealing, five-armed menace, and both McDonaldland's mayor and its chief of police have hamburgers for heads...
Actually this McDonald's McDonaldland campaign was hugely influenced by two of my heroes of this period: Sid & Marty Krofft. The Kroffts were essentially puppeteers who made a whole load of amazingly demented children's shows such as Lidsville, and Sigmund & the Sea Monsters. They also created the costumes for The Banana Splits. In fact, the McDonaldland stuff was SO obviously influenced by what the Kroffts were doing, that when the above ad came out in the early 70s the Krofft brothers successfully sued McDonald's for stealing ideas from their amazing H.R.Pufnstuf show. Oops!
Basically, it just seems like there was a lot more freedom to experiment with stuff aimed at children back in the 70s. There's something a bit crazy and off-kilter about the settings and characters – not in a macabre, Tim Burton / Edward Gorey way, but more in a kind of psychedelic, luridly coloured way. I definitely draw a lot on that ethos with my own work.
B: You certainly drew on those influences when you produced artwork for my Burgermat Show project and which we subsequently made into a fast-food style tray!
RF: Ha, yes! Getting to make the tray was a bit of a dream come true really. I'd love to make my own line of Happy Meal inspired toys, you know, with the special limited edition box that houses a burger meal and the toy – that would be so awesome!
B: So, who would your dream collaborator be with regard to perhaps making your own toys?
RF: Well apart from McDonald's, there are a few toy companies that make some great stuff who I would love to work with. Pretty much everything Presspop has ever made is awesome – they do all of Dan Clowes', Jim Woodring's & Chris Ware's toys. Obviously Medicom would be amazing to work with as they have a great track record of translating artists work into 3D objects. Incidentally, they did buy two Burgerac trays recently, so you never know! I love Johnny Ryan Prison Pit toys that Monster Worship did. Toykyo rule, their stuff with Parra is ace. Rotofugi are also making some great stuff, especially their Roto-a-matic project. To honest, anyone who'd let me produce a line of toys would be my hero forever!
B: What's the latest addition to your ever growing collection of er, stuff - and what made you want to buy it?
RF: The last thing I bought… was actually three things! I bought two vintage USSR-made squeaky toys – one of a mushroom man and one of a weird teal-coloured lemon dude. I bought them because I realised I didn't have a good mushroom toy and The Mushroom King is one of my favourite characters at the moment. The lemon dude came with him. I'm a big fan of Russian toys, they have some great character designs & Cheburashka rules. The third recent acquisition was an Ultraman pencil topper, again because I noticed I didn't have any decent ones. Here they are:
B: I notice your collection is in your studio - do you have more at home - or is there a 'none of Rob's clutter' policy at home?
RF: Ha, yes, I live with my girlfriend and she's not quite the huge 80s gross-out toy fan that I am! I have a few things at home but they're mostly things that we both like. The thing is, I'm always referring to stuff from my collection when I'm working, so it's actually pretty important to have it all around me when I'm working. The rule of thumb is if I show something to Amber that I'm considering buying and she looks at it and says, 'yeah, that'll be good for your studio' – then I know that basically means it's not allowed anywhere near the flat!
B: You're going to be exhibiting at next month's annual Pick Me Up graphic art festival at Somerset House as one of a chosen few in the PMU Selects part of the show - are you excited? What are you planning for that?
RF: I'm so excited!!! I've always wanted to do something for PMU, so to be asked was a huge honour, I'm a bit nervous though. I'm gonna be exhibiting a whole load of prints but the thing I'm most excited about is I'm making my own limited edition toys. I'm also going to display of a small part of my toy collection, kind of to show it relates to my work. If it all comes off how I'm planning it, it should be a really busy, exciting space.
B: Beyond the toys and your PMU exhibition preparations, what else are you working on at the moment?
RF: At the same time as doing the PMU stuff I'm working on a mural for Nike's London HQ. They're doing a big redesign & asked me to contribute a mural for their 3rd floor. I'm also putting together a group exhibition of work inspired by the late, great comic book and fantasty artist Frank Frazetta.
B: Tell me more!
RF: My studio mate Tim Stevens and I have got 22 amazing illustrators lined up to contribute to the show (including Kyle Platts, Matthew Bromley, Jack Teagle, and Matthew the Horse) who have each submitted a piece for us to turn into a limited edition screenprint specially for the show. Above is the promo image I created for it when we were asking artists to get involved. The exhibition will take place over the summer – when we finally find time to finish printing them all!
Rob Flowers will be exhibiting as part of next month's Pick Me Up Selects show at Somerset House.
Brand new in the Burgerac shop are these rolls of 50mm width illustrated packing tape – for all your packaging needs...
Printed in two colours, orange and green, each 66metre long roll of tape (£6.50 plus p+p) features a burgertastic repeat pattern conjured up by the ever-brilliant Rob Flowers, enabling you to lively up your postal packages in a super fun fast food style!
Burgers, fries, soft drinks, sauce bottles, rashers of bacon, lettuce leaves and splats of condiment abound. Real nice!
As with all Burgerac products the rolls are made right here in the UK and are super-limited, so if you want one, get involved!