BAKEDLAB - The Art of Joe Baker
01 September 2021 by Sancho Murphy
BAKEDLAB is an independent creative currently based in Melbourne. Growing up as a kid raised on a healthy diet of comic books & cartoons over novels, it is clear to see these flavours have become the ingredients to his visual outputs. I discovered BAKEDLAB on the Gram and just massively vibed his work, they are actually so rich in content and meaning, processing situations and realities with humour and childlike imagination.
Through the TCCS Creative Endeavour Grant (2020) I was able to commission a tee design with the loose brief being "Isolation Vacation". BAKEDLAB ran with it and sent me the first concepts last year during the first Melbourne lockdown. At the time he was "having lots of baths and pretending he was swimming off the coast of Little Corn Island" which is what informed the final design.
With the artwork actually finalised last year, the optimistic idiot in me thought it would be kinda cool to release the tee a bit later, as like a souvenir tee - a way to be like, "remember that time when we all went through this thing and now it's over, how wild was that?". But here we are, much in the same position ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyways, in this interview we talk to BAKEDLAB about the freelance hustle, social media platforms to engage client work and what life was like for a creative during the lockdown.
Many thanks to Canberra kids JWOW DESIGNS for putting together a process video and to ZUKO for letting us use the track featured. You can purchase the tee HERE.
Tell us a bit about yourself - you freelance yeah? Give us an insight into your creative journey, are you now doing the creative hustle full-time? Some could say that making things you love for their own sake doesn’t necessarily pay the monthly rent. What avenues/platforms have you been doing the creative hustle on to sustain your practice?
Yo, I’m Joe, a freelance Illustrator and visual artist. I have an over active imagination and I love creating things to help express myself. I’ve been drawing ever since I was given colouring in books as a kid and I continued into my adult life as a full time freelance illustrator. I make everything from t-shirt designs to animations. I say yes to everything and I have been lucky enough to receive so much consistent work via Instagram so that def helps me pay the rent, buy coffee and new pens!
What makes a successful design in your opinion?
When it comes to something being successful. All I have to go on is how I feel during the making of the design. If the idea/concept and aesthetic all look and feel right together from the beginning that’s all I need. Then I make it and move onto the next thing.
What are the major steps in your creative process?
Ideas come to me at random throughout the day so I usually write notes in my notes app. Then I sketch something rough in my note book or whatever paper scraps I have lying around. I then start getting more detailed with my lines on my iPad or computer. Then I make everything look clean and shiny in either photoshop or Illustrator (or a combination of both).
How do you handle disagreements about feedback on a project?
If the client treats me with respect and comes to me with the right attitude and energy, I’m usually very accommodating when it comes to client disputes. If the client isn’t feeling my work I will change everything up. I like the back and forth usually, it motivates me to work harder and grow as an artist as well.
What are some projects you’ve been working on lately that have been some of your favourite?
I recently got to make some t-shirt designs for a gaming/social media based company from Delaware called “Partie” Their whole thing is about playing online games together with friends and like minded people and I had fun developing graphics that worked with that concept.
What do you do to stay up to date on the latest trends? Is that relevant to you? Or do you just vibe your own wave? You seem to have your own audience.
I kind of just do what I’ve always done, which is go to the odd gallery or look though the Juxtapoz website (used to be the mag) but that’s less about trends and just more about staying up to date with what is going on in Contemporary Art. I do my own thing usually.
Who are your design heroes? What designers or brands do you admire?
I have a huge list of heroes but one that sticks out the most would be the Dutch artist Piet Parra. I like how his quirky, sexy, weird, juicy style of art, works so well commercially as well as in a gallery context.
Analogue vs digital – how do you feel about the two? What’s your preference? And what software do you use?
I like them both! I actually want to paint more tbh. Get back into more hand made work. But I love computer software too (Photoshop, Illustrator, Procreate).
Your illustrations are wild & sensory! And so funny – I always have a good chortle flicking through your stuff - is there a message/deeper meaning with your works? How do you get to these themes?
Haha thanks! I’m def a big comedy fan. I read a lot more comics than novels growing up and I always look for some sort of “angle” in my drawings or ideas in which to make something funny, to me anyway.
So freelancing and being based in Melbourne, to what extent has your everyday life as a creative changed during Covid-19 and throughout that hectic lock-down you guys had to go through?
I lost my biggest client last year which was hard (hard for them too!). I think if anything, it just made me hustle harder, organise myself better and I gained some new clients! Which I’m very grateful for!
To what extent does the pandemic influence your art? Does it generate new inspiration? What have you been doing to keep your spirits up?
A lot of lockdown was just me sitting around my house doing nothing and I had an Art teacher back in the day that told me that “you should get bored more often”.... she was right! My imagination goes wild when I’m just doing nothing and drawing for me is also a great form of stress relief!
What have you been listening to/reading during the Covid-19 saga?
I listened to a lot of ambient/easy listening music last year. Stuff that took me out of it and took me on an imaginary holiday. For example a group called "High Tides” reminded me of the beach and “Bibio” reminded me of the countryside.
BAKEDLAB's Dirty Laundry Tee Collab is now available in store and online. Hand screen-printed by Sancho's Dirty Laundry using water-based inks (enviro friendly). Limited to 100 pieces.
If you see something you like but would love it customised or perhaps you want something made-to-order, the artist is available for commissions!
Watch some live drawing here: https://www.twitch.tv/bakedlab