Captain B Studios specializes in production and recording, artwork and posters. A lot of his recent visual art has featured short, quick, and captivating bios for the drawn characters and the worlds they inhabit. We talked with Brooke Penrose (Captain B) about the background of his electric visual art, his inspiration for his art for kids, as well as some upcoming content he’ll be releasing.
How did you first start drawing?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. My mum is artistic so I suppose I got it from her. I went to Uni to study Painting, but I’ve always felt more of an affinity with drawing.
When would you say you found your style?
I think it came about in the last year or two. I’m nearly forty and I’ve been drawing my whole life, but it was only when I did an art show with a collection of artist musicians last year, that I really saw my style coalesce. Before that I have felt a little like I’m just doing the style that was needed for the project.
Besides when you’re working with someone, do you have any specific goal in mind for the art you create? Like how the audience reacts?
I definitely like the idea that there is some reaction. An emotional response is important, but it doesn’t need to be huge. I usually go for chuckles, trying to make people laugh. Sometimes I try to be gross or nostalgic, but I after years of trying to make cerebral conceptual art and losing confidence in it, I realise I’m happier to be going for emotion.
How did your monster series start?
When I was young it was all monsters, aliens, skeletons and things. I got a lot of influence from comics and gaming. Then I got older and studied art at university and my work got all serious. Just recently I’ve definitely returned to that early love and I feel like I’m old enough not to worry about feeling uncool for being a bit of a geek. When I saw the Dungeon Degenerates guys setup the Monster Drawing Club for their kickstarter, it just struck a chord and I just started doing it without really thinking too much. I think that’s what I really like about this lowbrow geeky stuff is it’s all gut not head.
Did you create the background stories or the visuals for your Halloween monsters first?
I think the stories usually start forming as I’m drawing. I don’t think too hard when I start. I like the idea of just picking up a pencil and making the first mark and seeing where that takes me. It feels really meditative to draw for me, like the creativity comes from some other part of my brain and I can switch off while I’m working. So as the image forms, the stories also start coming together in the same sort of non-thought. That sounds really wanky, but it’s kind of my process.
Where do you find inspiration for your characters and their stories?
Lot’s of other instagram artists have been big influences. Comic books, fantasy art. Not sure. Most of it has some connection to me. Like the rock’n'roll and punky aspects owe a lot to me being part of the music scene in Melbourne. For the stories I usually just hook into some character aspect or a visual cue and start expounding on that. I try to adopt a bit of a voice while I’m writing, like trying to sound like a classic story or be conversational.
Pieces in your “Art for Kids” section isn’t necessarily catered to that audience but the content’s not inappropriate. Why did you start your Art for Kids?
Well my day job is as a Kindergarten teacher and almost all of that stuff is things they’ve asked me to draw. It’s usually absurd or scary or gross, cos that’s kind of kids! Again I try to be funny. Most of that stuff is really rough, on scrap paper using kids materials. They’re like exercises to keep me drawing, but I’ve found that drawing everyday has been really good for me.
What’s next for Captain B Studios in the realm of art? Would you consider doing some collected projects or comics?
Well from the studio side I’m working on some album covers at the moment which I love doing, especially now that everyone presses on vinyl. On the art side I’m planning on putting together a print set of a new series I’m working on. I’ve also got plans for a whole pile of other stuff like badges, stickers etc. I’m also hopefully going to be putting together a little book of some of my favourite monsters and their stories. The response to my stuff has been so strong I just want to ride the wave of interest in my silly drawing as long as I can. If people like my stuff I’m very happy to keep making it!