Artist Spotlight: Tommy Harbour

Tommy Harbour…AKA “Spooky Boy”….AKA “Oregano Tommy”….AKA “This Fuckin’ Guy”. I’ve know this dude for…..over a decade or so? Jesus Christ. 

thisfuckinguy

This Fuckin’ Guy

 

Tommy surrounds himself with toys, posters, comics, movies, video games…..NERD CLUTTER. He is ALL UP IN all that stuff. He tattoos nerdy things upon himself. He probably has nightmares about being in an empty room while wearing khaki pants.

Tommy doesn’t only enjoy the nerdy output of others, he also contributes. He’s been drawing weird stuff for as long as I’ve known him, and I’m told even longer than that. Not long after we became acquainted, he started doing a comic entitled “Stuff in my Head”, where he took stories from real life, drew friends as ducks, made fart jokes, ya know, the usual. This hand-drawn affair looked like a real pain in the ass to do, and I couldn’t help but admire the dedication. I had to move in with the fucker to get into the comic myself. Worth it? I’ve asked myself that question countless times.

 

Cool booth, bro.

Cool booth, bro.

Tommy’s art has taken different forms over the years, one of those ventures being pixel art, a medium that has become quite popular in recent years. I tracked down Tommy at the Retro Gaming Con in Portland, OR, where he was selling some of his mess, and we farted out an interview:

  • Me: “Ok…Tommy Harbour…what are you DOING?!?!”
  • Tommy: *laughs* “What are ANY of us doing?”
  • Me: “What’s the purpose of you being here today, Tommy? What are you accomplishing? What good are you doing for mankind right now by being here with your…stuff?”
  • Tommy: “Alright, well, let me answer the last question first: Absolutely ZERO benefit to mankind. Alright, let me sound professional…Typically, what we do is we like to engage in the gamer culture. It’s been a big part of my life. I like taking paintings and making pixel art out of them. Also, repurposing paintings. Finding them at yard sales, thrift stores, repurposing them by putting pixel art in there somehow, or incorporating a scene into  the right game element. If I find a wood scene with a trail in it…*BAM* Final Fantasy characters right then and there.”
  • Me: “Do you learn anything about the guy that painted the original painting before you put shit on his shit?”
  • Tommy: “Nope!” *laughs*
  • Me: “He’s probably dead anyway, right?”
  • Tommy: “Yeah, probably. Most of the paintings I typically find have like an 80’s or 90’s date on them.”
  • Me: “But you’re doing him (or her) a favor. You’re elevating his shitty painting from thrift store status to being featured at a convention. He’s getting like a little boost after his death.”
  • Tommy: “Yeah. Now granted, if it was a valuable painting, I’d probably look into it and see if I can just re-sell it, but most of the time, if I pick something up for 5 or 10 dollars. I’ll shove some…blah, buh blah blah….that’s my answer”
  • Me: “Blah buh blah blah? Can you spell that for me so I can transcribe that later?” *laughs*
  • Tommy: “Typically, I’ll just splice some pixel art into it to make it look all fancy.”
  • Me: “What about spooky stuff? I’m not seeing as much spooky stuff these days.”
  • Tommy: “I mean, I still do my illustration stuff. It just doesn’t sell as well.”
  • Me: “Spooky Boy has become pixel boy!”
  • Tommy: “Oh, dear lord. Oh no! NOOOO!!!!!”
  • Me: “Spooky Pixel Boy!” *laughs*
  • Tommy: “I still do the spooky stuff. I still illustrate and draw that stuff. Actually, uh, a comic that Jesse and I might be working on pretty soon is the four horsemen where it’s done in that ‘cutie-esque’ style, but essentially it’s about the four horsemen AS they’re causing the apocalypse.”
  • Me: “Yeah? Cool!”
  • Tommy: “Yeah, it’s way cartoony…way silly.”
  • Me: “Do you have any artwork from that here?”
  • Tommy: “Nah, it’s all in my sketch book at home. Right now it’s just in concept. I’ve got the first comic sketched out. I’ve still gotta put some ink on it. Jesse, my art partner, is gonna be doing all the coloring. We’ll probably share doing the lettering.”
  • Me: “Are you writing together?”
  • Tommy: “Right now it’s just me writing, but it will probably transition to both me and him writing.”
  • Me: “Will this be in print or online?”
  • Tommy: “It will be online first and if it develops a following, we’ll switch to print. It’s cheaper that way” *laughs*
  • Me: “So how long HAVE you been doing the art thing? How old are you?”
  • Tommy: *laughs* “For quite some time. Had I started doing the pixel paintings when we lived together? I don’t think I had.”
  • Me: “I think you started to ease into them…maybe right after.”
  • Tommy: “Yeah, it’s probably been a good 8 or 9 years since i’ve been doing the pixel paintings.”
  • Me: “Now a lot more people are doing them and cramping your style.”
  • Tommy: “Yeah, I can’t really complain. The whole thing that started me on this style was seeing a couple of examples on the internet, and Ryan (Zimlich, hetti guru) started doing it”
  • Me: “Yeah, well where’s HE at now? He’s washed up!” *laughs*
  • Tommy: “But yeah, I’m all like ‘math and color matching?’ That’s easy! Then I find out time after time that this is definitely NOT easy. But I think a couple of things that I do define me from the other pixel artists in there. I make the wood cut-outs in addition to having paintings with foam board cut-outs that pop off, giving it a 3-D effect while still maintaining a 2-D effect.”
  • Me: “Still doing comics at all?”
  • Tommy: “No, this stuff eats up most of my time, and having a full time job kills an artist unfortunately.”
  • Me: “What’s the full job? Is it artsy?”
  • Tommy: “Nope!”
  • *He doesn’t wanna say anything more about his job. I’ve decided to show mercy upon his shithole of a soul and respect those wishes.*
  • Tommy: “If I didn’t have that job, I’d definitely be doing more comics and illustration and that’s where we’re gonna start with the Four Horsemen thing. We’ll start out slow, doing 1 or 2 page spreads….
  • *Announcer interrupts on the loud speaker*
  • Me: “Come on guy! We’re doing a fucking interview here!”
  • *Guy doesn’t hear me cause he’s like…way far away.*
  • *We pick back up after the long announcement and Tommy remembers exactly where he left off…impressive!*
  • Tommy: “So, yeah, we’ll start with 1 or 2 page spreads, cause I would REALLY like to get back into comics. There are still projects that I have on hold that I constantly think about, but I just can’t get around to doing it. Real life sucks!”
  • Me: “Yeah, working an actual job, I mean, people try to butter it up…’Yeah, it’s pretty good, I get to…’ Nah, it fucking blows dick cause it ain’t what you wanna do” *laughs*
  • Tommy: “It’s definitely not what I wanna do and it prevents me from doing what I wanna do.”
  • Me: “You can keep working the not cool job until Tommy’s Spooky Emporium opens up, maybe not the Spooky Emporium, but the the Pixel Emporium, but then the Spooky stuff sneaks in and it’s all Spooks and Pixels.” *laughs*
  • Tommy: “It’s there. Lying dormant. Ready to unleash upon the world its darkness.”
  • Me: “So what’s the endgame here?”
  • Tommy: “The endgame right now is to try and get the toy business up and running to where that’s supporting me online and that becomes my day job and I can still keep doing the art and stuff.”
  • Me: “Yeah, merchandising is really where it’s at, huh? And then you get to play with toys of things you made!”
  • Tommy: “Yeah! And one of the cool things about selling toys and stuff, cause I have to be an adult about certain stuff, I have to narrow down ‘ok, I’m collecting this, I’m not amassing all this other stuff’ but I still get to enjoy it for a little bit before I get it to the people who are really gonna appreciate it more than I am.”

The rest of the interview was conducted telepathically. I’m not sure how we achieved that feat, but I can’t ignore the fact that we both ate from the same bag of spooky Skittles!

Here's some stuff that I want.

Here’s some stuff that I want.

 

Check out Tommy on his “Pants McSpooky” Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ArtofPantsMcSpooky?fref=ts

 

Author: Tony Lambert

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