In the fourth interview as part of our review of the year, Mr Bingo shares his thoughts on the campaign behind his new book and new found skills as a rapper.
“Take me seriously and look me in the eyeball, when I say this could be bigger than the motherfucking bible,” rapped Mr Bingo in a video that announced his Kickstarter campaign this year. Although the artist might not have produced a tome that rivals the most read book in the world, the success of his project confirms a global love affair with one of the most uncompromising, abusive and entertaining illustrators working in the UK.
Launched in July this year, the project had a relatively modest target to raise £35,000 to fund a book called Hate Mail: The Definitive Collection. The artist selected 185 of his works to create “a pretentious art book but without the pretentious price tag.” The Kickstarter completely smashed its targets, raising over £135,000 drawn from 3,752 backers. It was not just the book and personalised hate mail that people sought after; the list of rewards included a personally abusive telephone call on christmas day, a boozy train journey and a Wetherspoons date. Since Mr Bingo initiated Hate Mail in 2011, over 980 offensive postcards have been delivered across the world and the book compiles the best of the barbs.
“I stopped doing commercial work and managed to survive as an ‘artist.’”
A well-directed obscenity is a skill that is particularly lauded in the UK. Consider the profane conversations of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as Derek and Clive, or the genius of the putdowns delivered by Peter Capaldi as foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker – it’s a mode of interaction that Mr Bingo has committed to paper with an inimitable energy and panache.
Below, Mr Bingo tells us about his busy year.
What was your creative highlight of 2015?
I learnt to rap and made a rap video.
What was your lowlight of 2015?
Misjudging how hard it would be to deliver a Kickstarter and almost having a nervous breakdown doing it.
What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?
I’ve no idea really? I guess it depends on the individual.
Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?
The rap video.
Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?
The rap video.
How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?
I stopped doing commercial work and managed to survive as an “artist.”
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?
Don’t underestimate how big an undertaking a Kickstarter is. I had 3,752 backers for my project, which was an incredible number of people. 2,769 of those people bought a reward that involved some kind of personalised input from me, ranging from telling them to fuck off on the internet (with a personal drawing) to meeting up and getting shit-faced on a train with them. All of this stuff is really fun, but I ended up selling more stuff than I was capable of producing in the time limit, so some of the promises of reward delivery I made won’t be fulfilled in time. If I did the project again, I’d give myself an extra four months of time to deliver the rewards. The whole experience has been a massive learning curve actually! A lot of people think that because my project over funded by £100K, that I made £100K profit from it. The truth is that almost all of that money was ploughed straight back into the project, so the immediate profit from the project was tiny compared with people’s perception!
Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?
I know this is going to sound weird but I really don’t look at creative people. I live in my own little bubble, work all the time and just put stuff out there. I don’t have time to see what other people are doing and if I do have any spare time I do something dumb like watch Come Dine With Me.
Describe 2015 in five words.
Rollercoaster, exhausting, lonely, learning, rewarding.
What are your hopes for 2016?
I want to continue doing as little commercial work as possible and just do my own thing and be more of a self-supported “artist.” Hopefully at some point, I’ll come up with a new ‘big idea’, but I’m not going to put any immediate pressure on myself to do that. I haven’t had a day off in months, so I’m going to start the beginning of the year with a fucking month off.
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