1. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you began your journey with drawing and making art?
Greetings earthlings! My name is Bernardo Maldonado Morales. I was born in Chile, but spent my forming years in England. I´ve been in Germany for a while now. I live in Mannheim, Germany, spent some time in Heidelberg too, and I still think in english.
I started drawing when I was a small child… I felt a connection to the act of drawing almost instantly I suppose. I remember being struck by the visual impact of cartoons and was really happy and eager to get a hand painted T-Shirt by my aunt with a cartoon character. when I was four. It was Chilly Willy by Walter Lantz. I distinctly remember the smell of the paint too! That really grabbed me. Just like when children open christmas presents and smell the plastic of the wrapping and toys themselves. Those memories stay with you. We used to watch a lot of cartoons as children so that had me hooked… Then at the age of five I ended up in England with my family… Fitting into a new society wasn´t easy, but drawing made life bearable for us children. It still does today.
I witnessed the arrival of Hip Hop to Europe in the early eighties, so the transition into that sphere was a natural thing, especially being of latin descent, it was a bonding thing when we hardly ever saw any latins around. My brother Gonz really made a name for himself in the hip hop and graff scene, but it took a back burner for me because my heart always lay with the cartoons and comics. The fascination was grand.
2. Do you have a classic graffiti past, or how did your connection with this culture come about?
I also went to England to study and that rocked my world again, making my connection to comics even stronger! They didn´t teach you comics at art school, so you had to teach yourself! Meanwhile the whole German graffiti scene started its development. Heidelberg playing a major role thanks to my brother. I spent most of my time in England so I followed it first hand, but comics was my realm.
I always liked the artists in Mad magazine. They were astounding! As a child though I had read superhero comics, Spiderman being a favourite (in the 70´s). My parents didn´t really buy that many comics for us so we just copied what we had. My brother, sister and I used to draw all the time, but me and my brother Gonz really had battles with the art so we would buzz off each other. We became our own best teachers. That hasn´t changed I still look at his work and I feel the depth of his talent. I read Asterix and Star Wars and regular war comics. And of course the Walt Disney animation films were influential. The real big step was trying to draw my own comic at the age of eight. Then this girl friend told everyone in my class and my project just died…
3. What was it that motivated and inspired you? How did this obsession manage to take hold of you and allow you to successfully bring classic typography into the mix as well?
We had always read Peanuts by Charles Schultz when we went to buy the Sunday Newspaper for our parents… I didn´t understand the jokes but they were just the best thing around! Still are… In school we were given an assignment to draw a whole comicstrip. I did that and got an A+. The rest was history as they say… At least then I considered it as a legitimate career. I had always liked the act of reading comics and also the lettering of comics. That is a discipline in itself! Personally I was never satisfied with my own results with a spraycan. I wasn´t in control of the nib. With a brush I could let it do the talking. I spent a lot of time painting the alphabet with a brush and chinese ink. I was influenced by the chinese art of typography and the simplicity of the letters. Then I started to get into old signage and the way the letters worked along side each other. That was great.
The colours just hit me in the face like a cruel slut with a lesson to teach! I gave in! I was still bopping off the colours from comics! Kapow! Kazing!
I respect `classic typography´ and typographers, but I understand letters because they act like cartoon characters in my eyes. They speak to me in their own way and they can bounce and stab. That´s the interesting thing about graffiti letters too. I love signage work though because it´s alive and hand painted. The whole process is a project in itself. You then form a relationship with your art form.
4. I noticed on a technical note you make a lot of use of a Mahl stick (painting stick)? Can you tell me a little about this tool for the people that aren’t aware how it’s used.
The `mahlstick´ / Malstock is what I need to rest my arm on so I don´t smudge the wall or paper. I can use it like a guide for straight edges, plus when I hold it like a walking stick I feel like a 19th Century nobleman / artist on my way to pick up Miss Penelope before we go on a wild night of gallery visits and drunken debauchery.
My favourite art materials are pencils, inks, water colours and I really do enjoy working with acrylics too. Oil painting is nice, but the smell of the oil and terps just got on my nerves after a while. I´ve always enjoyed using pens and brushes more than anything! That´s where I feel home. And I´m not being a creep here, but those new Montana Acrylic paints… Nice stuff! I prefer to paint with brushes, so the colours they have are perfect, and those Sketchliners… they´re good for painting over corrections!!! They don´t fade either!
5. What are your preferred materials to make artwork with and what surfaces do you like to work on? Have you painted on any unique surfaces?
The surfaces I like to paint or draw on are canvas and drawing paper and wood too. Mostly paper and bristol board. When I do signage work the surfaces are all so different, so I have to get used to and accept anything… plastic, metal and stone. Glass is fun to paint on. You have to be an athlete sometimes to reach certain areas to paint! Without breaking your neck.
I´ve been called a puritan for drawing in a very classic comics style, but it´s the only way I know how… Sigh! I loves it! Yes, I do!
Bernardo was born in Chile, now he is living and working in Mannheim, Germany