Soupy Mash is an artist based out of the U.K. that creates odd, surrealist & humorous pieces that can be hard to describe.
Utilizing their background in both stand-up comedy & underground comics; they create an absurdist paracosm that shows an array of diverse influences ranging from Tex Avery and Terry Gilliam.
Their work provides a glimpse into a world both fully realized and still in development. Their immersive storytelling is completed a single piece at a time, through stills, old adverts, and film.
Presently, they are working on a series of cartoons to add to their universe slated for release in the early fall.
In our interview, they discuss the origins of the name Soupy Mash, the best & worst parts of their job and their diverse array of influences that led to this current project.
Soupymash was kind enough to participate in the following interview:
Why do you do what you do? I am not a hundred percent sure. My obsessive creativity started when I was around nineteen.
I think it was the result of being spun in a centrifuge of Mel Blanc voices, Terry Gilliam and Tex Avery cartoons, soul-crushing factory jobs, unemployed desperation, drug use, and having what felt like weird thoughts and feelings I had to let out somehow.
I always seem to discover more hidden aspects of my own psychology when I create something, whether I like it or not. Does that sound pretentious? It was the centrifuge bit, wasn’t it? Oh well, I’m a moron.
What’s your background? I wrote and occasionally drew for various “adult” comics, during their heyday in the UK, until their popularity dwindled in the late 90s and they disbanded.
I then did stand-up for around eleven years with some minor TV and radio success, but, being a weirdo, I couldn’t handle the other things I had to do to get on in that world, such as radio interviews, hanging out after the gigs, socializing with strangers, and whoring myself out.
All I ever wanted to do was go home. I would do the gigs then leave. I struggle with people in general and I never know what to say. Smalltalk always seems trite and pointless, then panic sets in and I have to get away.
As odd as it sounds I have only discovered recently that people find this rude. I found those aspects of stand-up to be agonizing for me, so I had to let that dream go. Like Dirty Harry said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations”.
Whilst doing stand-up I got a degree in fine art, worked as a mural artist for various community schemes and continued to paint and sell my work through various galleries. It sounds more impressive than it actually was. I was skint.
The name ‘Soupymash’ comes from the food I ate at this time. Take one tin of condensed soup, preferably chicken or tomato, warm in a pan over a low heat until cooked. Slowly pour onto instant mash, all the time stirring, until a thick, unctuous soupy mash is formed. Eat straight from the pan, in front of the telly.
These days I have an amazing and unbelievably patient wife, who has supported me and put up with my constant jabbering mind, and my obsessive, all over the place creativity for the past fifteen years I am also the Artist in Residence/Art and Design Technician in a sixth form college in the UK.
I have no idea how any of it happened. I suppose you just keep doing what you do until something happens; it’s all you can do. Unless you’re a murderer or something, then knock it off, you bloody idiot.
My Instagram page (@soupymash) is an outlet which allows me the freedom to run with my ideas and my, hopefully, funny stuff. I think it defines my own creative voice and tends to show the real me.
I am hoping it may lead to something exciting in the future, although I’m not sure what that could be. This interview is a pretty cool thing right now though.
What do you dislike about your work? It’s useless crap! I have discovered I don’t have the patience to paint an intricate masterpiece that deals with light, colour, depth, and form. I slap various old photographs, magazine cutouts, textures, and doodles together and put a silly slant on them.
What do you like about your work? It’s useless crap! I have discovered I don’t have the patience to paint an intricate masterpiece that deals with light, colour, depth, and form. I slap various old photographs, magazine cutouts, textures, and doodles together and put a silly slant on them.
What role does the artist have in society? Oh god, here I go again… I feel as though it is the role of the shaman, diluted somewhat, but still, at its essence, attempting to heal and bring the tribe together by turning a mirror on itself and using honesty, humour, outrage, beauty, sadness or joy etc. to do so.
The old Bill Hicks bit: “One consciousness, experiencing itself subjectively” seems to fit again. At the very least I think it makes the artist feel less alone when someone gets what they do.
If people enjoy your work those crazy thoughts in your head seem less isolating, stupid or painful. On the other hand, I do seem to be pretentious, so maybe I should just fuck off.
What’s your strongest memory of your childhood? I love how vivid my imagination was when I was young. I remember sitting in the cupboard at my Grandma’s house, pretending it was a time machine.
I would go inside, close the door, press a few pretend buttons, and then walk out into the world of the dinosaurs. It felt like I was really there. The couch was truly a Stegosaurus and the hearth rug was a dangerous, monster-filled lake.
Then one day it became difficult to get myself there. The couch no longer had bony plates, and the rug remained just that. Hmm, there’s a short story there somewhere.
I tend to remember all manner of things from childhood, some from when I was really young.
People usually don’t believe me, which in turn causes me to doubt myself, but, I remember being in a pushchair, going over uneven ground.
I was making a long drawn out “Aaaaaaaah” noise and really enjoying the feeling in my chest as the bumps in the ground made my voice shake.
I have tried it several times since in the car but it does nothing for me, and even less for my passengers.
What’s integral to the work of an artist? Excitement and Inspiration from other sources is the key. Whether it’s gained from crap TV to high-end design, it’s all entertainment in the end. Take it in, let it sit, and then spit out your own version. At least that’s how it feels to me.”
What work do you most enjoy doing? It changes all the time.
I tend to get really excited by particular processes and forms, and then I can’t stop producing whatever that/those are. It becomes all I can think about. Then I get annoyed and scared, usually when the flow of ideas becomes stunted somehow, for some reason.
Then I start to find it painful to generate the work and usually turn to some other facet of creativity, before going back when I’m excited or inspired again. I tend to create things that are personal and honest about me as a human being, or failing that whatever may get a silly laugh, although silliness too seems linked to some kind of honesty.
To answer your question, at the minute I am really enjoying making the parodies of old-fashioned newspaper adverts on @soupymash. They are something that I have always enjoyed doing and found funny. It’s just really difficult to keep finding and matching the right collage pieces to the right ideas.
Sometimes I just go with what I have.
I am currently making some cartoons to put on Instagram. One is a silly advert called ‘Grandma’s kitchen’ and the other is a snapshot of my childhood called ‘Indigestion’. I am aiming to get them both out by September 2018.
They are taking a long time to make as I am doing the voices, the music, the sound effects, the scripts, the drawing, the collage, and the animating all by myself, using a cheap junk shop synthesiser, an old USB mic, and Photoshop and Toonboom Studio to put it all together. Everything is on a shoestring.
I’m a do it yourself punk at heart. I think it adds to the style. I hope people will enjoy them.
You can find the work of Soupy Mash on their Instagram @soupymash