Flip Flop Flying

15 years of Flip Flop Flyin’

with 11 comments

Fifteen years ago today, I got home from working at a record distribution company and as I’d done quite a bit in the previous six months, sat down in front of my (first generation) iMac. After a couple of months of reading a book about HTML and drawing stuff in ClarisWorks, and animating stuff in GifBuilder, I was ready to put my Web site online. I’d chosen the name Flip Flop Flyin’ (from a Beach Boys song), I had a Virgin account which came with a wee bit of Web space, and thus – hurrah! – I put the stuff online. That Web site was live! Live at http://freespace.virgin.net/craig.robinson1. Snappy URL. And then I emailed some friends to say, hey, go look at my stuff. Please. And a few of them did. And after a couple of months, people I didn’t know started looking at the site. And then more of them. Then I started drawing small pixellated popstars. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Blondie, Kraftwerk. And I kept on doing them. The more I did, the more people started looking at them. My Web site was a little bit popular.

Back on the 12th of May, 1999, the site had hardly any content. But it did have a splash page. A splash page for each section, in fact. Splash pages were a thing back then. And it had a clunky navigation system.

It’s interesting (for me, anyway) to look back at the work I’ve done here in the past decade-and-a-half. I’m way better at drawing now. But I have less patience for animation. Last night, I watched the Pete & Bob series that I did between 2002 and 2006. It seems to be a perfect example of everything I’ve done and still do. It’s a bit silly and a bit melancholy. For anyone else looking at 15 years worth of drawings and stuff, it must just seem like a fairly large amount of content. For me, it looks like a diary. Looking at the stuff totally takes me back to where I was, who I was, and who I was with at those points in my life. I can see the points where I was happy, and the points where I was really miserable.

I can’t really say that I’d want it any different. A few tweaks here and there. Fewer wilful destructions of popular things. Stopping doing Minipops, for example, was entirely about being contrary. This is popular: kill it! I think the biggest regret, though, of all is the way this blog has developed. It was going swimmingly in 2006, then I posted something about my dislike of a popular British artist. It got a load of comments. A lot of them assumed it was just professional jealousy. (It wasn’t. Banksy was and continues to be a shit artist.) That post soured me a bit. And after a couple of months of only posting sporadically, it took a while to build it up again. Things were going great when I was doing my travelling around the Americas in 2008. That was when my blogging was actually quite good. I was writing long posts virtually every day. It kept on going well until the middle of 2009 when my then-wife and I split up and, well, there was a horrible time when I was on a train between Portland and Seattle, and got to my friend’s house and saw that there were 50-odd comments on a post I’d written about that split. It wasn’t pleasant. That experience, without really making a conscious decision about it, soured me to the whole idea of writing about my life. The blog slowly got less personal. Then I had another “I don’t wanna do this anymore” mid-2010. Sporadic posts again, mostly just promoting other stuff I’d done. That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of it being an active blog, where there’d be comments on every post. Since then, and to this day, I’ve neglected the blog. I put up drawings, write the occasional thing, but it’s being kept alive purely out of habit. Twitter and the Facebook page have also made the blog less important for letting people know about new things. I regret this. And right now, it feels like it’d be a shame to throw it all away just because Twitter and Facebook are easier.

Looking again, as I did yesterday, at a ton of my old work, I’m kinda proud of what I’ve done. And I want to keep doing it. And that includes blogging more. I used to enjoy it so much, and I want to enjoy it again. And after looking at the Pete & Bob stuff, I want to get more fun stuff going, too. It’s possibly a coincidence, but the stuff that happened in the middle of 2009 was at the same time as I started really doing a lot of baseball-related infographics. I wonder if infographics were just a way for me to keep doing stuff, having ideas, but without having to put any heart into it. Statistics don’t hurt you or make you think about how your life is going. Right now, I’m a wee bit bored of doing infographics. I’ve done some really good stuff at Flip Flop Fly Ball, the baseball offshoot of Flip Flop Flyin’, and I’d like to keep doing it. But really, it’s time to get back to doing more of the stuff that I love the most. Arty silly stuff. So fingers crossed I can keep all of this in mind.

I had an email recently from a woman called Emily. She said that she and her brother “absolutely loved Flip Flop Flyin’ when [they] were kids.” It was genuinely heartwarming to get an email like that. It’s very nice to think that people like what you do.

Anyway, thanks for reading. And should you fancy looking at what Flip Flop Flyin’ looked like fifteen years ago, here’s that first version of Flip Flop Flyin’.

Also of note, the incredible Saul Steinberg died on the 12th of May 1999. One can only dream of being as good as him.

Written by Craig

May 12th, 2014 at 6:25 am

Posted in Blah blah

11 Responses to '15 years of Flip Flop Flyin’'

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  1. Happy Birthday Flip Flop Flyin’
    Please keep writing and drawing on your blog, you have so much talent dont let it go to waste.X

    carol

    12 May 14 at 09:39

  2. I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog!
    Keep on writing.
    L

    Lars

    12 May 14 at 12:43

  3. Happy Anniversary!

    Dan

    12 May 14 at 13:35

  4. Hey Craig
    Having borne witness to your very first Gifs, pre-animation and all,back in the 3mv days, I’m glad you’re still at it and think it’d be a pity if you were to wander off and stop doing it.
    Keep it up matey boy!
    peace and love
    Andy

    Andy Davis

    12 May 14 at 16:28

  5. Been with you almost all the way from the beginning – I submitted several minipops I was immensely proud of.

    Please, let’s have some more Pete ‘n Bob. I love those guys so much. The perfunctory bows at the end get me every time.

    Brilliant website, always entertaining, charming and at times hilariously funny.

    Keep it up, Craig. You’re a genius.

    Stephen Jackson

    13 May 14 at 14:01

  6. Thanks, mum.
    Thanks, Lars.
    Thanks, Dan.
    Thanks, Andy.
    Thanks, Stephen.

    It should be noted that I didn’t just copy-and-paste the word “Thanks” there, so I really mean it.

    Craig

    14 May 14 at 07:09

  7. And, Stephen, I do have a desire to do some more Pete & Bob episodes. Mostly it’s about taking the time to prepare the music, but I am thinking about them having a comeback. Maybe at Glastonbury or in Hyde Park or something.

    Craig

    14 May 14 at 07:12

  8. Congrats on 15 years of FFF, and yay bring on the silly stuff! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your work since spotting ‘What If…’ in that magazine(?) 10 years ago, and I look forward to whatever you do next. You’re an inspiration and I’m really glad to hear you’re rightly proud of your archive when so many folk won’t allow themselves that. I love dipping back into it too: just last week ‘Can’t sleep’ popped into my head for some reason…

    As for the blog: it’s been noticeable that you haven’t written so much lately, but that’s the way these things go. I don’t see it as neglect, just evolution. You might come back around to it or you might not, but don’t sweat it. As long as you are enjoying your creativity in one form another, that’s what matters.

    Big fangirl hugs to you Craig x

    Kat

    14 May 14 at 11:22

  9. Loved the long text blog posts…do more…!!! get travelling!

    …keep it up..

    Steve

    14 May 14 at 13:50

  10. I loved reading this. Even though I discovered FFF when it was mostly just drawings and animations and I still love seeing your new work, the blogging has always been my favourite part. You’ve got such a lovely way with words and I really enjoy reading your everyday observations from different places in the world. You’ve made Mexico, America and Berlin feel much much closer and real to me than it actually is. Thank you!

    Jennifer

    15 May 14 at 16:15

  11. Thanks for looking back!
    I found an old calendar from school two weeks ago where I had glued in pictures of lots of printed out minipops. I used to guess who they are with my friend who sat next to me in school.
    I enjoyed reading about your life in Berlin (having moved there shortly after you) as well as your travels.
    And I would love to read more!

    (Sorry for the late comment, I’m waaay behind in my feed reader…)
    Cheers!

    Anne

    17 Jun 14 at 11:31

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