SuperEmoFriends (otherwise known as jsalvador) is an artist with a unique spin on your favorite fandoms. His popular series of sad pop characters offers a look behind the curtain into what makes them, and us, tick. TeeFury offered him a chance to curate some great new designs for the SuperEmoFriends Takeover and we got him on the line to give us some insight into his own work, and what kind of art shakes off his sad.
TF: Could you tell us a little about yourself and your process?
SEF: Yeah! I was a graphic designer that went to film school and jumped into the LA art scene. Painting became a form of therapy for me giving me an opportunity to vent my feelings and rest my eyes from computer screens! Most of my paintings are acrylic and watercolor, although lately I’ve been drawing on my iPad a lot while I travel.
TF: SuperEmoFriends is a viral sensation! Why u so sad?
SEF: Ironically I’m not as sad as I used to be and I have to thank the success of the SuperEmoFriends for that! But as for why the art is sad, I just needed an outlet while I was in a little depression. I chose to normalize my feelings by exploring the sadness of my favorite super heroes, with great results!
TF: You started out doing motion graphics and animation for movies. What was the journey like from there to become the undisputed king of cute emo pop?
SEF: Well, for one, I didn’t take my job too seriously. I didn’t love it and I had very little control of what I developed. After work I would visit art shows and toy shops just to soak up the creative vibes. Eventually I was invited to start showing my work and I was surprised to find that people wanted to own it! A friend suggested I show the SuperEmoFriends at a comic convention and they were such a hit I quit my job and put 100% of my energy into them. It’s hard to believe I’m still at it.
TF: When coming up with your next design, do you work from a happy character and define what would make them sad?
SEF: I don’t usually go after the happy characters and try to bum them out. It’s more like, “wow this feeling I’m having is really sad, who can relate?”. Ideas also hit me when I’m watching a movie or show. Some moments are obvious, but others are more subtle. I try my hardest to be clever and really shine light on the tragic subtext at play. People usually get it, and have a good laugh. It helps that I stick to fictional characters, but if light hearted enough, I can SuperEmoFriendify real people too.
TF: You’re a regular on the convention circuit, do you find engaging with your fans face-to-face rewarding? Any stories?
SEF: Yes! Being able to engage with fans at conventions is very rewarding. If I didn’t get to see or hear their reactions, I would have a hard time knowing what to do next. Many fans have suggestions too and a few commissions go on to become part of the SuperEmoFriends collection. I’ve got many interesting stories. From people who use their SuperEmoFriend as a form of therapy, to those who pick up girls with them too. It’s always an emotional experience at the SuperEmoFriends booth. Although, I have seen my share of folks who can’t see the humor. They can keep walking!
TF: What kind of art makes you happy?
SEF: I love art that gets me to think twice especially if it’s beautifully done.