PlayOne aka Neil Phyfer is one funny fucker, the only thing better than his jokes, are his illustrations. His work is one of those things that will wys you “jou ma se p*es” when you look at it. This is why we really proud of getting and interview with him. A master of grafsprays, a monster in illustration and will literally “school you”…
Aweh! please introduce yourself.
I am Neil Phyfer aka Playone aka Phyf Dawg, aka Kaydens Dad, aka Tanjas Husband, aka Fat Fuck aka Dance moves like a cross between flash dance and some MC Hammer shit.
You probally get this question all the time, but how did you get into illustrating?
I been drawing since I was started watching cartoons. When it came time to study something, graphic design was all that was available. I got a shit dtp jop for 5 years. I’d been illustration for the hell of it, teaching myself through flash tutorials. Then one night I get a call from this huge jewish whitey named Jeremy, “Yo Phyf Dawg I got your number from Drock he says you can illustrate?!”, “And now?” “We need an illustrator for the weekend, where do you live?” “Are you serious?!” Not trusting Drock, cos he would take me for a poes to the bitter end for a lag. But I let them come over anyway, a whitey, an indian and black homie rock up at my joint – like a bad etv sitcom. I’m makin excuses from the get go, cos I want to paint on the weekend… “I don’t think I can work all weekend…” Karlind the indian bra pipes up, “We can pay you this amount…” “Fuck yes, I’m in!” I made double my salary off them takin me hostage for a weekend. We hardly slept to get the job done, but I got paid draw, which was like a joke. It still is a joke when I think about it.
Give us a breakdown on a normal day as Neil Phyfer.
Wake up at 4, which Kaydens new wake up time. We then have a choice between watching anything with a lion in it, spiderman and barney. Drag myself outa bed, make coffee for me and Tans. Pack Kaydens bag. Convince him to get dressed once he chooses his clothes. Chill for 5 mins and drink cold coffee. Get everyone into the car. If I’m workin a contract we drop Kayden at creche. And then head to the office where I illustrate, color and work like a man whore while makin fun of the people in the office. If I’m workin from home, I clean up, switch on the pc and start rockin, check emails, draw, illustrate and listen to monatge music. Kayden and my wife get home after 5, we get an hour of family time, bath time for our monster, we put him to bed, supper time for us, then series, movies or standup, kiss my wife goodnight, go early to bed to wake up at 4 again.
What do you enjoy the most about illustrating?
The things in enjoy most is the sketching stage, I do all my sketching with a wacom I don’t use paper anymore. The best part has to be when everything is done and last hour of just adding fx and make to the final design.
If you could choose any other job besides being a illustrator what would that be?
One that pays a steady income maybe?
Name your five favourite cartoon characters and why?
1. Eric Cartman, for too many reasons to name. He is the best character ever invented I reckon. I can quote cartman for days.
2. Zim from Invader Zim, he screams everything all the time, also that style make me go a big fat rubbery one.
3. Wolverine, I know everyone loves logan, but he’s the best super hero homie to date. I suppose its not too cartoony?!
4. The Devil from Lucy the daughter of the devil, he’s always wearing Bill Cosby tshirts and he abbreviates shit so much you can’t even understand what he’s saying.
5. Lastly there’s a selection of old cartoons I love equally, Widget, Marsupalami, Hammerman, TMNT, Bionic Six, Thundercats, Heman, Smurfs, Gummibears, Gargoles, Beast Wars, Tales Spin, Ducktales, Freakazoid!
You do online illustration tutorials, how did that come about for you ?
When I started off illustration I bought tutorials from www.cartoonsmart.com and learnt to illustrate using flash. As time went by I taught myself Illustrator and Photoshop illustration using the same principles. The dude Justin that runs Cartoonsmart was very helpful when I was doing illustration and animation jobs answering all my dumb questions. We kept in touch over last 8 years, he has discounts and new tuts monthly, which he started sending me for free, after I sent him some digital graffiti steez. He asked me if I ever thought of teaching for online tuts, he had been getting guest instructors to lighten the work load. I downloaded the software(camstatia) and started recording my digital painting process in poposhop, I sent a few clips to Justin, he loved that shit. Since then I’ve done 2 more. The response has been huge.
What kine with the fascination with monsters?
Hahahahahahah, I always end up drawing evil shit, its hard to break away from it. Monsters and ugly kids with goiters and worts and fucked up teeth. That kind of shit don’t pay the bills, I been working on some more commercially friendly happy characters, it sucks cos I wanna add blood and guts and explosions to everything. Its the same as graffiti I always end up adding shit that makes me laugh, like what if the kid has an again taped to his forehead. I could draw sifness for days!!!
Please give the newby illustrators some advice? Please wys them.
Well, things I’ve learnt. And this is just me. If you starting out, collect as much reference as you can. I have folders for each year since 2005. Developing a style is important, being able to rock that style in many different ways is important. People want illustrators that can do a bit of everything. If you love that cartoon networky style do it, but make sure that’s not all you can do. Unfortunately there aren’t many if any illustration schools in Cape Town. So you need to teach yourself. Try offer illustration and animation as one package. Even simple animation. The most important thing, is to learn as much about business as illustration, because that side is just as important. You can draw? Rad! Can you handle meetings, market yourself, get new business, art direct? Learn to sell your product. Most important ask for half the cash upfront with every job you do boet.
Drie skelms is probally the best thing we’ve ever seen, how did the whole concept come about?
Shot man, Drie Skelms was an idea born stuck in traffic with my bra Jem, we were chattin as to how there’s no local content that funny and not forced. So we came up with a rough idea. I worked on it some more. Decided to make the characters animals. I got Fong on to help with my vision, his brain takes my concepts way further. We didn’t know in the beginning what it would be, animation, a comic strip. We decided to pitch the whole project to the voice at the time and developed it for them. That’s when it became a comic strip. Which is limiting. The animation came after 5 years of the concept. Fong modeled the characters I did background and really bad animation. I laughed every second of doing those voices. We put it out just to show our friends. I would be happy if 10 people watched it and 5 liked it. The response was great and when there’s time we have ideas for the next 5 episodes. Its gonna be dirty my bru .
You a father now, a lot of peoples claim their work change a bit after getting a kid. Has being a father affected your work in any way? (sorry had to pull out the oprah)
My work ethic has gotten better. When it comes to him I wanna do everything I possibly came to be a good dad. That means taking on any work you get, no matter how shitty it is. You don’t say things like that’s not for me. At the end of everyday, I spend time with him and my girl, he’s mental and funny. Which makes working my arse off everyday worth it. Your priorities change when you have a kid, you don’t focus on what’s good for you, for focus on what’s best for them.
What is your opinion regarding our local design/media/illustration industry?
Smets part of that industry now, so its all turned to shit I guess. The industry is patting themselves on the back for design capital in 2014 or whatever. In illustration loads of people are famous and have tshirt ranges, toy lines and its just commercial crap that people want to see. Homies with talent have to hustle and eek a living, you can have skills and style for days… It doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t look like so and so. I mean someone like Falko should have toys, books, all kinds of shit. My homie Balrog too, he has way more skills than most of the top names in SA. That’s the way it goes I get, unless you prepared to water down you work, you won’t get the cash monies you deserve.
What music do you currently have on rotation?
I have a collection of montage music, local and commercial kak hip hop and underground hip hop. Isaac Mutant, Dokte, bvk, Classics Mixtapes, Grayskull, Snatch Sound Track, Biggie, Pac, Fiddy, The Game, Dizee Rascal, The Footloose sound track, Frank Sinatra, GG Allin, JayZ, C Ray Walz, Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Jack Parrow, Fushnikens, Franky Valley.
If you had to lose your teeth would keep the passion gep or get grills?
Passion gap bra, I’ve had grills, it gets bot in like a week. But with a passion gap would be funny forever!
More on PlayOne aka Neil Phyfer aka Phyf Dawg here