Local artist/promoter Byron Brown has for years been indoctrinating friends and celebrities into the LOOP, a group lucky enough to be gifted one of his small pear-shaped custom character sculptures. Brown has just completed the landmark 3000th sculpt in the series (on our suggestion it is his self portrait) and to celebrate is having a party at Myth nightclub downtown this Saturday. MOVEMENT caught up with Brown to find out more about the history and process of his unique fusion of art, music and pop culture.
1. What inspired the Phukheadz movement and signature character style?
I guess the main inspiration in the Phukheadz movement is music, art, animation, comedy, just the things that have inspired me personally growing up in all fields of art and pop culture. As far as character style, it’s kinda just based off of doodles I would do in my notebook in the early 90s just messing around, that’s about it.
2. When was the first Phukhead born?
It’s actually broken into three parts. The first sketch that I did was in December of 1993. Then from there I started adding that character on the cover of the self published PCP Comics in 1995-1996.They were never characters in the stories, but they always made it on the cover. Moving on from there, in 2005 my godson was working with polymer clay and I was like, “let me make a Phukhead out of clay”. I took a picture of the original sculpt, made stickers of that and started handing them out at The Blue Room in the Summer of 2006. A lot of different people fell in love with that sticker, so I started bringing the sculpt to the club and took pictures with everyone for about three months. Everybody wanted to take him home with them, but I turned them down since it was a personal piece of mine that I made with my godson. In September 2006, I went ahead and made four Phukheadz not thinking much of it, but I numbered them on the bottom of their feet. I numbered them with four digits. I don’t know what made me do that, but it started with 0001, 0002, et cetera, et cetera and I just went from there. That’s the third phase where The Loyal Order Of Phukheadz was born, because it became a community more than just the character itself.
3. How long does it usually take you to make one? What’s the process?
The least amount of time is about 15 minutes and the longest, so far took about two and a half weeks. The process varies for each one. It be as simple as making a quick one or it could be where I have to do one where I am really studying the character and try to look at every aspect and detail.
4. What was your biggest learning curve in actually making the characters? Any techniques/tricks you learned along the way that helped?
Learning that I could work in layers. Realizing I could do one layer, bake that, making it a solid piece to work with and then just build and build on top of it. The very first ones that I did, was just one run, clumps of clay. The detail was there, but it was rough. It has gotten easier and smoother as time goes.
5. Do you have a favorite Phukhead? (I’m sure they’re all like your kids and hard to choose, just curious if there is one you’re most proud of)
I do love them all, but the one that always sticks with me is 0666. I made that one for Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy based on one of his stage costumes. The reason I am so proud of it is that it’s the first one that made me go beyond and to different places. There was clay, splattering it with acrylic paint through a straw, flour thrown on it, running it under a water faucet and two removable masks. It is the one that made me feel like I turned the corner as to where I could go with making them. I have a mad love for 666.
6. Who would you say was your biggest score to indoctrinate into the loyal order (most famous and/or most important to you) and fill me in on the story behind it.
It’s kind of a tie. One, the biggest score would most likely be Willie Nelson hands down because it’s the one where most people are like, “Wow, he’s in there!”. The story behind it is that I wrote to his management, and they said they would love to see the sculpt, but he is not meeting with anyone because he was not feeling well. At the show, I went ahead and waited outside of the Florida Theatre in hopes of passing it on to his management, but there was a huge crowd also waiting to meet him on a cold and wet February night. The police and security made a wall making it seem impossible to do, but as soon as Willie walked off the bus, he looked over, walked pass the security and met with every single person there. He’s just a very fucking humble man and I will never forget his kindness. It also means a lot to me because it connects me to my mother and the love we shared for the Outlaws. Two, the most important to me was getting all five members of The Kids In The Hall because in the late 80s and 90s, they were comedy gold to me and they inspired me in so many ways. The fact that I was able to get them and in return have Mark McKinney personally message me, telling me he loved his sculpts of the Chicken Lady and Head Crusher and thought they were hilarious. Just to have one of my heroes write to me and tell me what my art means to them means the world to me.
7. 3000 is a huge marker for the brand. What are your plans for the project in the future?
It’s always plans that I’ve had that I’ve never forgotten. I would love to work with an animation team and some writers to come up with something that is fitting for The Phukheadz. I would also like to do a coffee table book filled with L.O.O.P. photos. I wanted to do that one last year when I hit ten years, but it’s a struggle trying to have the funds for everything I have in my head. Besides that, I would love to make the Phukheadz a name within the industry that managers and publicists recognize as soon as they receive a request.
8. You also do customs, what’s the strangest/weirdest/most complicated custom you’ve gotten a quest for?
I don’t know about strange or weird, but as far as complicated, it’s one of those where I will work on something and I will put it on the back burner because there is just something that holds me up on them. One that has been holding me for a couple of years and I don’t know why is Spy vs. Spy. It seems like it would be a very simple one. I don’t know if it’s working the sharp straight lines with the curves of a Phukhead or the very clean and minimal black and white contrast. The heads are done, I just don’t have the clothing. For some reason it is a road block and I want to make sure I nail it and make it work. Most of the work I do is not as complicated, it’s more of a fun study of fitting a character into the shape of a pear. I will do a base layer and look at it for weeks trying to figure how I’m going to build on top of this and where am I going next. Then I go there and it just pours out of me. I don’t think about it too much at that point, it just seems to come very natural to me. I don’t like to think about art too much, because when I do it becomes my biggest block. The less I think and just do it, I’m making it, my brain and my hands are working together, then it’s done.
9. Where is the best place for fans to follow the Phukheads into the phutur?
Currently my main posts are on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/phukheadz/, which is then shared to my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ThePhukheadz/, Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I hope to have a web store opened soon to make ordering easier on both sides.
Celebrate the Phukheadz landmark 3000th creation this Saturday at
The LOOP 3000 pt II at Myth Nightclub
Join the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/129982294347425/