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Bugs!

I’ve had this idea for many years to do a nature show based on all these creatures that I draw. I watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom religiously as a kid.

I had shot all this slow panning footage on a flip camera in northwest Connecticut at my wife’s family’s cabin, for another project that fizzled out. One night, I began reworking the footage in After Effects, using some toon and trace filters, and came up with something that felt close to my drawing style. I bought a low end camera tracker app, and I liked the way it struggled to capture the jerky camera work and the super compressed video. The tracking errors just felt like a natural fit for the kind of piece I wanted to put together.

A lot of the animation was done on the sly at work, or on Saturdays in one of the reading rooms at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. At the time my wife, 1 year-old son, and I lived in an 800 square foot, 4th floor walk up in Park Slope, and I had no place else to work.

The song is “Rum Bunnies” from my album “The Indefatigable Hulk.” The bass line for that song is definitely one of my top ten favorite things that I’ve ever made.

The Indefatigable Hulk

Did You Ever WorkWay Too Long on Something You Didn’t Need to?

This is the album you should be listening to on repeat while you do that.

Completed in 2006, this album was written over the course of nearly 4 years, remixing and tweaking each track became a hobby, a way to unwind from a long day of pushing pixels. I couldn’t admit it to myself, but I was hating my life, and I thought I was doomed to remain single, and have to move back to Minnesota when the Saline Project finally tanked.

“Indefatigable” was a play off incredible of course, but also an admission that this Hulk would never leave me alone. Whether it was the “Hulking Out”, this over worked album, or the ridiculously sullen beast growing in me. I took everything criticism or set back as a personal affront to my character. I was sick of creating work for other people, but I had also convinced myself I was living the dream. I blamed Somebody else a lot, but I also blamed myself for getting into that place. It was like being in a terrible marriage, and it took me YEARS to figure all this out.

Anyways, I was obsessed with baselines on this album. Catchy, grinding, twirling, breathing. At one point in Track 3 “Casanova Frankenstein,” three separate baselines converge an intertwine. A monster devouring its own delicious self. Track 10 “Fat Lip” is heavily influenced by the movie Fight Club. There’s a scene where everyone is arriving to fight and walking through the bar at closing time and there’s what sounds like a heavy Tom Waits song blaring on a juke box. I tried to capture that.

“A return to the bug, the insect, the worm, rot. Life, in the eyes of artist Jake Guttormsson, is savage and playful, bumbling and sophisticated, cruel and loving. Once we are born, we begin dying, and the bug is our Sherpa, our nurse, our M√ľnchausen by proxy, our gentle downfall. Gregor Samsa. The sacred Egyptian Dung beetle. Flick the ant. The Sand Worms of Arakis. The brood. The Hive. The Queen. Metamorphosis. The blood sucking parasite. The telltale sign of death. The embodiment of both plague and rebirth. And so it is the bug; the target of our cruelty born of annoyance, curiosity, fear, and boredom. Burnt with magnifying glasses. Legs pulled off. Dipped in chloroform. Impaled on pins. The only thing that is certain is that we will all die, and the bug is our companion on this journey. Our guide, returning us to the earth from whence we came. Gaudeamus!”

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