Have you ever wondered what life would be like if your school-mates that excelled at doodling doodles in their workbooks stuck it out, and even went on to achieve artistic fame?
David The Robot, real name David Marie, is an Instagram based cartoonist and illustrator out of Perth. Dave’s crude drawings of willies and other-worldly misadventures have taken Instagram by storm, netting him over 100,000 followers, and even a few account suspensions along the way.
A tradesman by day and notebook illustrator by night, Dave’s work has come to life off the page in recent times, landing on tattooed skin and inside the walls of gallery exhibitions.
We had a chat with the artist to get a sense of what makes the creative within him tick, and how his poo, bum and wee art fits in with the world around him.
What would happen if that kid etching dongs into school desks never stopped? Behold the crude magnificence of David the Robot, Instagram’s dirtiest illustrator.
HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about how you got started as an artist? How long have you been keeping drawings for?
DAVID: I pretty much have drawn my whole life, or as long as I can remember, really. I don’t think I was drawing vaginas when I was six, but my school books and files were always full of drawings – some really heinous drawings, I was scared to let the teachers see. But now I draw in journals, and I’ve probably kept them for about six years.
HAPPY: What’s influenced your style the most?
DAVID: Hmmm, I feel like skateboarding art really influenced my drawings. When I was a kid buying skate mags, my mind would explode at the graphics on the boards [and] just how nasty and raw a lot of graphics were; skateboarding is always ahead of the pack when it comes to design, fashion, music, and even in the early 90s there was some fucked up shit on boards. So, I guess that influenced me the most.
HAPPY: When did you realise you wanted to take your art and make it public?
DAVID: I always loved drawing. I went travelling and started keeping a journal with doodles in it, I’d show people in hostels and they would really respond to the rude drawings, so I thought, ‘hey people like this shit, a drawing of a dick is universally funny,’. It made me feel good to see them laugh, so I decided to try and make something happen. That was probably around 2011.
HAPPY: I’ve seen you post about running into a bit of trouble with Officer Instagram a few times. Have you encountered a lot more issues with censorship and reporting as your audience has grown to almost 100,000 fans?
DAVID: Fuck da police. Yeah, that was upsetting, one day I opened Instagram and my account was deleted, but I managed to get it back, now my account is on private. Since I made my account private, all the trouble with censorship and getting my drawings pulled down has stopped.
HAPPY: Have you ever had a bit of an awkward time after someone you knew unexpectedly stumbled on your art? I’d imagine it’s tough to pass around the Marie family table.
DAVID: Yeah, most of my stuff is pretty rude, so it makes for some interesting conversations. My mates like them, my partner Renaee laughs, but people have said to her that they imagine us doing all the freaky shit that I draw. Sometimes I meet people who have seen my work, and they are just like “what the fuck, dude,” but generally it’s a good reaction. Mum’s proud, but she can’t really show her friends.
HAPPY: I see you’re a member of the infamous Shade Gang. What can ya tell us about these rough n tough blokes?
DAVID: Shade Gang, just a coupla hard hittin’ homeboys who like skateboarding, but generally sitting in the shade at the park drinkin’ beers and throwing shade. Sometimes we accidentally land smith grinds, too.
HAPPY: How does it feel when you see a fan having your work tattooed on them? The Big Bird hand-jammer was pretty mental.
DAVID: Man. The first few times people got tats my mind was blown. They seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but it’s sick to know that one day these peoples’ grandkids will be asking them why they have a foreskin tattoo on their leg. That Big Bird was pretty mental, though. I still don’t know who that person is, some absolute savage.
HAPPY: Do you see yourself getting much of your own work tattooed on yourself, or is it too strange?
DAVID: I have a few of my own drawings tattooed, but it’s a bit weird. I don’t think I’ll get any more. Sometimes I get sent photos of people’s tattoos, and I have the same one tattooed on me, that sucks.
HAPPY: How do you keep pumping out fresh ideas? Does a big night out on the dingbats help?
DAVID: Ideas just come when I’m doodlin’ in my pad. Sometimes they just fly into my head, sometimes it’s something that’s happened during my day. The ideas just present themselves. People say that I must be really stoned to come up with this shit, but when I’m blazed I just wanna eat lollies on the couch. I suck at drawing when I’m smoking. Beers can help the process to a degree… like when you play darts, and you’re slightly drunk, but not too drunk, and you’re just killing it. That little sweet spot of beer buzz.
HAPPY: What’s a stand-out memory that’s come about from your art and made you step back and go “whoa”?
DAVID: I’ve done a few drawings for skateboard brands and stuff like that. Just being able to do that blows my mind. Also just my following on social media make me think ‘wow’, all these people are vibing on my crude art. It’s sick, I love it.
HAPPY: How do you think emerging artists can or should gain exposure? What’s worked for you?
DAVID: That’s a hard question, it’s really hard to get some momentum and exposure. For me, social media has allowed me to get out there, but it was a hard slog. I almost gave up a few times, but just trying to get people with big followings to post your stuff really helps. I would spend time drawing pictures for people with big followings, maybe one in five would repost stuff. But that helped a lot. Once you have lots of followers, it’s easy to get more, it’s definitely a snow ball effect.
HAPPY: Your work has now taken you to the world of exhibitions through shows like Stool Samples. Can we expect to see more of that in the future?
DAVID: Yeah hopefully, I want to make a book and do a solo show, maybe do an east coast solo show. Maybe international. It’s hard to find time, and I am pretty unorganised, so doing shit like that is tough for me. I just like drawing at home.
HAPPY: What’s been your experience in pursuing art without going broke?
DAVID: I’m a tradesman and work full time, so art isn’t my job. Making art as a living is pretty hard, I think I could probably do it if I really wanted to, but I don’t really want to be a starving artist. I do make money from commissions and stuff like that, but I just use that as extra cash on the side.
HAPPY: Separate to the ol’ notepad, what’s another medium you’d like to exhibit your art in? Could we expect to see more animation?
DAVID: Maybe I could do some interpretive dancing. A cartoon would be so sick, but I don’t have the knowhow. Any animators reading this, slide into my DM’s.
HAPPY: What do you want to see more of in local art, or art in Australia?
DAVID: More vaginas would be good. I just like looking at people doing their own thing in art. That’s the best part about it, it doesn’t matter if you suck, if you’re having a crack then that’s groovy in my book.
HAPPY: Who are some of your favourite Instagram artists?
HAPPY: What’s next for David The Robot?
DAVID: A big poo. thanks!!!