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Buff Monster talks Future Plans, the Renaissance Era and the Unexpected Existential Reasons Behind Why He Paints Melty Things

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Established painter, illustrator and aficionado of melty things, Buff Monster, had just finished up a taxing hour of signing and doodling on several hundred prints and knick knacks when we finally found time to chat. In a lone corner of DesignerCon 2015 – while thousands of enthusiastic design lovers from far and near strolled the aisles scoping out munny, dunnys, exclusive prints, rare apparel and more – we sat munching on energy bars, chatting about future plans, examining how Buff's art is inspired by the Renaissance era and finally, getting to the root of why he has such a disposition for melty things.

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It's really exciting to be chatting with you here at DCon2015. You just drew on a ton of stuff for a ton of people, so thanks for taking time to hang out. Can you talk about the print you have available here through Prints on Wood? It's also worth noting to readers that it's entitled "Self Portrait."

You know, sometimes I just paint sort of blobby, melty guys and for a die-cut piece of that size, I just thought it would be such a strong image. Derric [of POW] and I started talking about working together a few years ago and he hit me up one day to say 'we can do die-cut stuff."

Your expression tells me you were really excited about that.

Yes. I was like 'now you're talking; that just makes sense.' So we've done a couple of little guys and that's been fun, and we'll do a third one soon.

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In August of 2015, Buff released his first POW collaboration with the affable and adorable "Strawberry Terry" over an exclusive three-day timed release. He returned again just earlier this month with the equally lovable "Vanilla Camilla."

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Awesome. I'm glad you were receptive to that. Die-cuts do add another layer of intrigue to the product. You can essentially print whatever you do on anything and it's going to look cool, but die-cuts especially interested you?  

Yeah, because it has to make sense, you know. The means of productions have totally changed to where anybody can make anything: a sticker, a t-shirt or anything. I mean you can print on wood— you can do anything you want. So it's not about 'if you can do it,' it becomes about 'should you do it' and how does each new thing you do fit into what you've been doing. So that's why I feel like with [these collaborations] things have just made sense.

Sick. And you have a third little guy coming out with POW which you mentioned; are you able to talk about what that release might be like?

Yeah, yeah. Actually, if anyone reading this is an avid follower of me on Instagram, they will have an idea of what the third one is. Otherwise, it'll be a happy surprise for everyone.

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That was just like a blatant plug to go follow your Instagram; you just made this so click-baity. You do this often?

[Laughs] Just part of my job.

So Buff, ice cream, blobby things, melty things— can you just tell me a little bit about why you're so keen on these melty substances. What's up with that?

Well ice cream and melting things in general have become a nice metaphor for life.

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Response just got way deeper than I was expecting it to get, but continue please. 

Yeah. Especially with the skulls; there's all these skulls usually in everything I do and that goes back to Renaissance paintings. I love Renaissance paintings because they're just amazing. I have no interest in painting the human figure whatsoever. It's just not interesting to me at all; like who cares. But, I love those paintings from the Renaissance. Those were the masters and that was just like the peak of painting.

And with Renaissance paintings, they always had skulls in there which symbolized the uncertainty and frivolity of life, with the certainty of death. And I think that's an interesting thing.

So usually, the guys that I paint are these ice cream characters that are delightfully unaware of their certain fate.

So that's just something to chew on and digest. What's interesting about what you just said is that I didn't take your work as this obvious attempt to paint something contrasting or conflicting in nature. I'm glad I asked; otherwise, I wouldn't have gone down that road with you. Thanks for taking me on that trip, man. 

You are very welcome.

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What do you have coming up that you're able to chat about; what're you working on these days?

The big thing right now is the book. I have a new book coming out in a couple of weeks and it's my first book in like 6 years. It covers just the last 2-3 years of my work. It's a nice little thing, you know: there's over 600 photos, 224 pages and it's hard-cover. A lot of behind the scenes stuff in there as well. And also an essay by my friend who's a big writer.

Can you drop a name? 

His name is Carlo McCormick and he's been writing about art for probably 30 years. So he wrote the intro and that was just really nice of him. Carlo's great. Living in New York, I get to see Carlo pretty regularly and he's always been a nice guy and really supportive and I appreciate that.

So yeah, it's a good project. It's called Stay Melty and it comes out on Ginko Press, so I'll be posting more info on that soon.

Thanks for chatting Buff. 

You can pre-order Stay Melty right now over at Ginko Press by clicking here. Stay tuned for more on Buff's third release soon in the coming weeks. Stay Melty, friends.

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