Tony Bui has dubbed himself as a fusion of Kanye West and Justin Timberlake for small business stationery. You will enjoy his art. You will laugh at his jokes. Or you will not, but that is all good.
The always hilarious Tony Bui recently dove into our DorkUp questions, and the results are below. Check out the interview, along with some of his amazing (and funny!) works of art. (Click on each picture for a closer view)
Where are you from? Growing up, what did you geek out on? What books, comics, tv shows, movies, characters were you into?
I am from the San Francisco Bay Area. I actually hate that term. I usually say Bay Area but so many people add “San Francisco” to it now that I do it too. A part of me hates myself. To be more concise, I grew up in Milpitas, which is the next town over from San Jose. As a kid, I loved: Voltron, He-Man, TMNT and Ghost Busters. Those were just some of my go-to cartoons. I loved the intro to Thundercats for that amazing theme song but I really wasn’t into the show. I don’t even want to talk about the cartoons I watched from the ages of being a teenager to young adulthood, it would take way too long. I grew up on a healthy dose of The Disney Afternoon, TGIF, SNICK, and scrambled porn.
What are you geeking out on now?
At the end of every year, I like to rate my favorite TV shows. 2016 just started so it is easier for me to rate my favorite things from 2015, which include: Daredevil, Rick and Morty Season 2, CW’s The Flash, Fargo Season 1 (I still haven’t seen Season 2 yet), and Walking Dead Season 5. So, entertainment-wise, I am geeking out on those shows and can’t wait for the new things to come in 2016. I just saw, “Zootopia,” last weekend. I was debating on watching, “Batman V Superman,” but I truly hated,“Man of Steel.” “Zootopia” was nothing short of amazing. I want to get all the toys from the Funko blind box collection, they are so cute.
How long have you been creating your designs & illustrations? What made you decide to start creating them?
I have been making art since I was a toddler. I been making somewhat decent art when I was 12 or at least that is what my 6th grade teacher told me at the time. In college, I was making concept art because I thought I wanted to be in the gaming industry. It wasn’t until three years later after college that I started really finding my own voice. The six years after that have been making my art and growing it.
How did you learn your craft? Is this something you taught yourself? Or did you attend school for it?
School taught me the basics. It taught me about anatomy, color and rhythm. More importantly, it taught me how to work hard. It is safe to say that everyone that walked through the San Jose State Animation/Illustration program is instilled with that same work ethic. The thing you have to teach yourself is how/where to find your passion. I see a lot of artists that dream about being working artists and once they attain their dream, they don’t draw for fun anymore. They draw whatever their art leads tell them to draw and once their workday is over, they are too burnt out for anything.
You have designed some incredible movie-themed Halloween & Mother’s Day Greeting Cards for Fandango.com. How did that come together? Did Fandango reach out to you for designs?
Whoa! You did your research. I got connected with Fandango through my friend, David, who I kept seeing at conventions and pop-up shows. He followed me on Instagram and little did I know, he was an art director with Fandango. It is crazy whom you meet when you sell art at shows or when you upload it online. I am a firm believer that you never know who is looking at your art, so make good art.
You also have t-shirts on TeeFury.com. How many designs do you have there? How did you decide on those designs for t-shirts over other designs?
I only submitted one design based on one of my favorite 80s movies, “Big Trouble in Little China.” I actually made it from specifically for TeeFury because I wanted to wear a shirt like that. I think it did really well. Other than that, I didn’t really submit anymore mostly because I don’t like how thick the shirts used to be. I felt a recent shirt, they feel a lot softer so I might submit in the future.
You might be best known for your amazingly hilarious Greetings Cards. I have picked up several myself at various Comic Cons & Wonder Cons (including “Let Me Enter Your Dark Side” and “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Doggie Style” LOL!). How do you come up with your Greeting Cards? Do you write them all yourself?
What? Why didn’t you mention this to me when you bought it? I usually give a greeting card as a gift to returning costumers! My cards are based on my humor. I will usually have a funny idea for an illustration; it always starts with the illustration. It is finding the words to match the illustration that is hard. I usually base that off personal mistakes or mistakes that my friends have done. The more funnier it is, the more likely one of my friends did it because I don’t want to put out my stories in the form of greeting cards. I am saving those major mistakes for the one day I get to pen my own Lifetime movie special.
How many conventions do you attend every year? Do you travel all over to attend them?
I average about six shows a year. However, they are not all conventions; I usually do about 3-4 conventions a year. The rest are craft fairs or pop-up shows.
How has your experience been at Conventions? Positive? Negative?
It’s been positive. I do something different compared to all the fan art out so my stuff definitely stands out to people who aren’t looking for conventional con gifts.
How long do your designs take? Does it vary depending on whether it’s for an art print, t-shirt, greeting card, ect?
It is tough to say because I usually juggle crafting a couple different designs at the same time. I do that so I don’t get bored while working on one piece, and it keep my eyes fresh. A greeting card illustration from sketch to finish can take about six hours of work in the span of three days. As for the copy inside the card, that can take up two weeks until I come up with something clever. If it is a print, that takes me about 20 hours of work
What’s the hardest or most challenging design/piece you’ve ever created? What made it so difficult?
Off the top of my head, my X-Men print was a tough design because the composition changed several times. Combining various characters for any illustration is difficult. I have to find a balance where every character has a chance to shine but also have a focal point.
What has been your most favorite design that you’ve ever created?
I been waiting for someone to ask me this question, no one ever does. My Alphabot poster, which was made in 2012, is one of my favorites. I tend not to like my older stuff but I think it is a great interactive piece when speaking to fans about. I also like the X-Men poster because of the bold shapes. I have never seen the X-Men stylized like the way I have done it so I am proud of that. For greeting cards, my favorites are: Hug Life, Hang in There, and You are my World.
Where do you sell your work? And do you accept commissions?
I have an online store but the bulk of my stuff gets sold at conventions. I really don’t take commissions unless it is a very serious and something I would want to draw. To date, I have only done one commission and it was for a wedding invitation. It was a pleasant experience but I do not want to do it ever again.
What are you working on now? Can you give us hints to what your next creations will be?
I am not working on much art as I am trying to promote the greeting card business. I am trying to get into more retail locations so I don’t have to hustle as much as I do now at pop-up shows and conventions. I am working on a new screen print poster, I am excited for that b/c I don’t get to work on that medium often. So that is very exciting!
Do you have any upcoming exhibits? Or art shows? Or conventions?
I will be at San Diego Comic-Con! This will be my second year. I had a good first year, but this time, I plan to kill it. If SDCC is a game, it is Mortal Kombat because I plan on performing some fatalities with the way I am going to kill it.
You’ve been very generous with your time! Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to seeing your next creations!
Be sure to check out the various Tony Bui’s websites: