Getting Bold with Bagger43

Artist and designer Bagger43 grew up bouncing around different parts of Asia. With his dad in the Air Force, he was always looking for ways of entertaining himself while he and his family travelled from one city to the next. It wasn’t too long before he picked up a pen and paper and began to lose himself in the possibilities that a blank page could offer.

The now San Francisco-based illustrator worked tirelessly to establish himself as a designer, while maintaining his own devoted personal practice. Inspired by a range of cultural and nostalgic influences, his work can be seen through an array of different mediums such as acrylic, collage, pen and ink, and more recently, tangible branded products.

How were you first introduced to drawing and illustration?

I used to ask my dad to draw things for me all the time, like I would tell him to draw a car and I would watch him do it and then try to emulate whatever he drew. Finding a pen and paper was an easy and cheap way to keep myself occupied. I also collected hip hop magazines that showed graffiti from around the world, which I used to look at as an inspiration.

“It started off as just a challenge to create a drawing a day throughout October, but at the end I just committed to this drawing-a-day practice for about a year where I really started to explore different themes and imagery.”

Faces and people come up in your work often, what about faces intrigues you the most?

Drawing faces started out as a way to challenge myself and build my visual vocabulary. There are so many characteristics I can play with: the actual details of the face, the hairstyle, the accessories a person is wearing on their head.

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Can you tell us about the neon colored circles that appear throughout some of your pieces?

I would mess up while inking and would try to find ways to edit. I thought, “What if I just use stickers to cover up the mess ups and use the splash of color as a happy design element?” I realized the stark contrast between the black ink and white paper, coupled with this highlighter color, added a whole other layer to the pieces.

“When it comes to making money and creating art commercially, it’s inevitable, that there will be some type of compromise.”

What are you doing now that will shape your later?

I try and practice my craft and experiment with art mediums now with aims to be ready and flexible to adjust for whatever art making opportunity that may present itself later.