World of Moose is a partnership between Moose and Karen Allain. Over the years, Moose has built up a Twitter following of over 90k, has worked with the BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian and more. In all of their spare time they’ve also published two books, including “Fill-Me-In” a writing, drawing and coloring book guaranteed to spark every part of your imagination. Read on to find out about Moose’s latest book “I Wonder What I’m Thinking About?”.
“I feel the 7-year old me would be surprised and delighted if he’d had a glimpse of the future.”
What is your favorite creative tool?
I mostly draw with fineliners, occasionally dipping pens. I’m not a great one for experimenting with different materials. I’m aware that for me ideas come from simple tools, so I’m happiest with a pen and paper. I know I’m very lucky to make art for a living, but nevertheless, drawing can sometimes be a means to an end – you have to produce something, you have deadlines, emails to reply to. You can lose sight of the thing you enjoy. Recently I have fallen back in love with drawing by using fountain pens. It’s funny how just the feel of a nib on paper can be a source of inspiration. I draw differently, the ideas flow differently.
My other favourite creative tool is actually Twitter. It made a huge difference to my life when I realised it could be a tool, a medium, a place to write jokes and stories, to post cartoons and when the Vine app came along to make animations, which I’d never tried before. There’s something about the immediacy of having a ‘live’ audience out there that means you need to up your game.
You recently had a book published. Congrats! Please tell us about it.
The book is called ‘I Wonder What I’m Thinking About?’ and is probably as close as you can get to taking the lid off my brain and having a peek inside. I have to say I’m very proud of it. It’s a bit like my twitter feed, a miscellany of drawings, paintings, cartoons as well as jokes, bits of wordplay and lots of stories many of which I wrote ‘live’ on Twitter. And all sorts of other nonsense. It’s usually silly, with occasional moments of poignancy in the mix. It’s a big book choc-a-bloc with stuff.
It was published by crowd-funding publishers Unbound who hooked me up with a couple of brilliant book designers who were brilliant to work with (Darren Wall and Leo Field). It really felt special making it, knowing it was primarily for that group of people who pledged for it, many of whom I’d interacted with over the years on Twitter, who were always there in the back of my mind as my audience. Hopefully, a few strangers will stumble across it too, but that never felt like the point.
Moose on Twitter: “There’s something about the immediacy of having a ‘live’ audience out there that means you need to up your game.”
Your wit is pretty much, unmatched – where do you find your inspiration?
That’s very kind of you. Most of the time my jokes – whether bits of wordplay, jokes, etc. or cartoons – tend to just pop into my head, or will be a response to general stuff going on around me. I think I’m lucky in that when I’m drawing the verbal part of my brain is free to wander while my hand does the work, which is often when ideas come. But it can equally be while I’m washing up, walking the dog, washing the dog, etc. I tend to tweet it out ASAP, just in case someone else is having the same idea!
How would you describe your work in 7 words or less?
Elaborate playful sometimes humorous doodles. Two spare!
“…what I’d really love is to be invited into someone’s home to draw all over it, occasionally hiding little figures in unexpected places for them to discover – hiding at the back of a cupboard, running along a skirting board, dangling from a window sill. So please get in touch, I’m willing to travel!”
When is one of your earliest memories of creating art where you realized, “Hey! I might be an artist!?”
I remember ‘doing art’ all the time as a child. My mum and my Grandma were both arty, so I was always encouraged. I remember when I was about 12 or 13 Dad coming home with some Rotring pens, thin black technical drawing pens. This spawned a long period of drawing little figures doing weird stuff (I was into the Surrealists at that age), not so very different from what I draw today. Unfortunately, as I moved towards adulthood the idea of being an artist disappeared. I left school in 1981, I don’t think it would have occurred to my careers advisor to suggest art as a serious job; there was no such thing as the Creative Industries back then. Now I think people realise it’s a huge sector with many opportunities, so going to art school is very worthwhile if that’s what you’d like to do. I was unemployed for most of the 80s but drew and painted all the time. Eventually, I decided I couldn’t be an artist, but I could put my creativity in other directions, so I trained as an architect, which was great for 10 years or so. But in the end, my wife and I gave up our careers in architecture and retail, moved out of London to pursue a life in art by the sea. I feel the 7-year old me would be surprised and delighted if he’d had a glimpse of the future.
Please share some highlights in your artist career.
I was approached by the Tate Britain ahead of their big L S Lowry exhibition to help produce a leaflet for families to help them approach the artworks. I’ve occasionally had my work compared to Lowry (very flatteringly!), mainly I think because of all the little figures. I’d never taken much interest in Lowry, but as I found out more about it him I realised he was a much more complex figure than the popular view suggests. For example, he wasn’t really interested in social justice, he really just saw the industrial landscapes as a sort of British equivalent of what the Impressionists were painting – a subject, not a campaign. He was interested in the aesthetics. Nevertheless, his paintings became iconic because he was also telling stories. So I enjoyed finding out about Lowry and making a little leaflet to explore some of his work and ideas.
The UK’s satirical magazine Private Eye has been in my life since I was a child, my dad was a life-long subscriber and whenever I visited him he’d send me home with a new batch to work my way through. So it has felt extremely exciting to get my cartoons published in the magazine, knowing that they’re a small team and Ian Hislop casts his eye over everything. It makes it feel like you’ve pleased someone you admire, which is a lovely feeling.
What is your dream project?
I’ve done a couple of murals, one for a local cafe Bumble & Bee and another for a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) bird hide education room but what I’d really love is to be invited into someone’s home to draw all over it, occasionally hiding little figures in unexpected places for them to discover – hiding at the back of a cupboard, running along a skirting board, dangling from a window sill. So please get in touch, I’m willing to travel!
Lastly, you mention in your profile that you and your wife Karen make up the partnership that is “World of Moose”. Is there anything you might be able to share with our artist community on creating a great team of their own?
Karen and I both come from business backgrounds, me from architecture, Karen from high-street retail, but we cross over with the design element. I think our career backgrounds bring a certain professional approach and we’re both used to working with clients, to deadlines, etc.
We’ve got complementary skills, but it’s essential to be clear about your roles. Karen handles most of the running of the business, which frees me up to do more of the creative side.
Most of the time working together from home is fine, but it can bleed into your family life. I think it’s good if you can compartmentalise work and home, but easier said than done when the pressure is on.
It’s important to be able to laugh about things too. We have disagreements, of course, but we quickly move on. We’re good at diffusing the tension with a joke!
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(Header image photo credit – Steve Haywood)