the illuminators

Finding inspiration in a magical world of Beards and Beagles

Finding inspiration in a magical world of Beards and Beagles

Any Sydney local will be familiar with the bright, eccentric illustrations of Mulga (aka Joel Moore). Whether it's a random inner city wall or a national advertising campaign, Mulga's work brims with colourful character that reflects the man behind them. 

What does your workspace look like? 
We recently moved from a little house to a bigger house and we made a sweet studio slash office space downstairs, I share it with my wife Sarah who runs the product and customer service side of the Mulga biz. My desk always seems to be messy with loads of poscas and lots of other random stuff lying around (although the photo of my desk is a lot cleaner). On my side of the space I am in the process of covering all the walls and roof with brightly coloured animal murals. There is a wall of giraffes, a wall of pink dolphins and the roof is full of half painted flamingos. Sarah's side is boring with white walls but we have hung up some of my framed original artworks so it looks good. It's a real nice space because a lot of sun gets in from the whole wall of sliding glass doors.

What/who/where do you take inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature. Bearded dudes, animals and summer are big inspirations for me. I love summer time and surfing and swimming hitting the beach etc and that comes through in a lot of the characters I create. Animals are awesome because they are so fun to draw and everyone loves animals with all their crazy colours and differing characteristics. Beards are one of my favourite things to draw beca

Briefly describe your creative process and how you generate ideas
It differs depending on the type of project. Yesterday I painted mural on the back wall of a private residence in Alexandria. I asked them what kind of design they were after and they said they liked my colourful leafy patterns and perhaps having some creatures and birds popping out of the leaves as well. I loved that idea because I have done similar things before so I know I can deliver an artwork that looks amazing. I was supposed to send them a sketch but I left it to the last minute and ended up doing my sketch the night before. I sketched giraffes and flamingos popping out of the leaves. The leaves were to be various shades of green which would contrast nicely with the bright pinks, yellows and oranges of the flamingos and giraffes. When I arrived I found out that they had a beagle called Molly and could she be put into the artwork? I said of course and replaced the giraffes with beagles. The resulting artwork turned out splendidly, I was happy but more importantly the client was happy.

I have three kids and for every birthday I draw an artwork for them which we get framed and hang in their bedroom. Sometimes they give me a brief and other times I come up with the idea myself. This year my 6 year old Frankie asked for a fruit Batman so I drew a Banana batman and called it Frankie the Batman Banana. When I am thinking about doing these artworks I try to make the format and design one that would translate well onto t-shirts. Frankie the Batman Banana is now available on the Mulga clothing range. Sometimes the birthday designs go even further, last year when it was Pearl's 7th birthday I drew Pearl the BMX Unicorn and now that design is available as a rash shirt from CottonOn Kids.

What tools do you use to capture them?
When I am doing a new design I will get a nice A4 to A3 piece of paper and get my HB pencil and eraser and get to work. I use Google images for reference images. Once the design is sketched out to my satisfaction I will get some trusty Posca markers and lay the colour down. After the colour I add the black lines with a thin black Posca. Once it is all finished I scan it at high resolution with my Epson flatbed scanner. Then I will open the image in Photoshop and do a little bit of editing. Usually just increase the contrast a little bit and erase the background.

What is your favourite creative tool?
I think it would be Posca paint markers, they are easy and quick to use and the colours look amazing. On the computer Photoshop is a fav. When I was teaching myself to use it about 5 years ago it drove me crazy but now I can do the basics of what I need to do and it is a really handy tool.

What is your favourite piece of work?
It changes regularly but at the moment it is a design I recently released on tees. It's a moustached waterlemon wearing sunnies accompanied by the text Fresh Till Death. Now that I think of it there is another one that I also released on tees and it is a moustached coconut cocktail character called Coconut Joe. I have also got him coming out on some sweet vinyl stickers which I am excited to receive delivery of soon. Whoot!

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Michael & George


Mulga has a pop up shop at until the 29 December 2017 at Westfield Miranda, Level 3, next door to National Geographic at Target end.

He's also at Finders Keepers Markets 29 December 2017 The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve, Hickson Road, Barangaroo

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