A group of Midtowners were eating Otter Pops on a sunny summer afternoon when someone casually mentioned that local artist S.britt had done some drawings for the Otters’ packaging. Inspired by the promise of a popsicle celebrity in our midst, SN&R went hunting for this mysterious artist (first name Stephan, last name Britt, though he’s more commonly known to his fans as S.britt). He was easily findable at www.sbritt.com, where dozens of his sweetly cartoonish, fairy-tale-inspired drawings can be viewed, along with his artwork for outlets like The New York Times and Bust magazine and a series of Groovie Ghoulies album covers. He accepted the e-mailed invitation for an interview almost immediately.
Then things got slippery. Pleading a severe case of camera-shyness, he insisted on illustrating his own portrait for this article. Then, citing looming deadlines for various freelance-illustration projects, he opted for an e-mail interview rather than meeting in person. At this point, we have no proof that S.britt the person actually exists. It’s possible that his cat, Edsel, or a band of tiny gnomes with a knack for illustration is running the whole S.britt operation. In any case, the answers we received were entertaining enough to print. Thus, we present to you the mysterious S.britt.
Are you genuinely busy, or are you too shy for in-person interviews?
Good question, Scoopy, and might I say you are not the first person to ponder my trademark disinclined nature. Why, just this morning over breakfast, I was asked the very same question by my good friends and fellow unsocial butterflies Salman Rushdie, Ted Kaczynski and Jimmy Hoffa (Ted’s championship albino ferret).
Do you make a living solely from freelance illustration work?
That and what superhero work I can pick up here and there. I once filled in for Hong Kong Phooey until the ACLU stepped in. That was a relatively short gig.
What projects are you working on now? Which excites you most?
Apart from the animated short (Disney), children’s books (Penguin Putnam, Chronicle Books, etc.) and various freelance projects I’m currently working on, I’d have to say I’m most excited about this interview!
How would you describe your art?
Well, at first glance it may appear rather shy and reserved—an amateur wallflower of sorts. But once it starts talking, it never shuts up! It’s been in my den for months now, and for the life of me, I can’t seem to get it to leave.
What inspires your work?
How should I know? Like it talks to me anymore.
Your Web site says you’re a Buddhist. How does this influence your art?
I am reassured that every time I make a sub-par drawing, it will come back as a better one.
How does Edsel figure into your creative process?
A lot of fans and other artists have asked, “How do you achieve some of the technical effects in your drawings?” I smile sagely, spouting off a tangled jargon of jibber that leaves them as confused and frustrated as I am. The truth behind my success is Edsel, my morbidly obese cat and trusty companion for the past 10 years. I feed him, he draws pictures, I sign my name, we split the profits 86-14.
What is your connection to Otter Pops?
Who told you about that? I was cleared of most of those charges! I did hundreds of hours of community service! I was young … and they were so zippy and flavorful. When will I be able to move on and just live my life?
What do you do when you’re not drawing?
Well, I consider myself a rather cultured fellow with interests far and ranging. I enjoy gluing things to other things, muttering to myself in grocery stores, reanimating corpses for dance parties, discovering new ways to make myself sound interesting, listening to test-pattern records, staging one-man plays for houseplants, and occasional fraud.
What do you hope to communicate to the world?
That you can change the world with art. Just ask my neighbors. I’ve lowered property values in the last three neighborhoods I’ve moved into! That and always ask for ID, folks.