Flip Flop Flying

3,322: 18 years old

with 6 comments

Eighteen years ago today, I transferred some HTML documents, GIFs and JPGs to my little bit of space on freespace.virgin.net, and Flip Flop Flyin’ was born.

Eighteen seems like an important age. One of those ages that is important in your own life. In terms of a Web site, though, 18 is actually pretty ancient, innit? Flip Flop Flyin’ is older than MetaFilter, DeviantArt, CollegeHumor, and Wikipedia.

The first version of the site is a bit of a nightmare to move around. It’s archived here. Annoying navigation, and a pointless splash page with a basic animated GIF for every section. There were some digitally fucked-with photos I took in New York the previous year, some scans of Polaroids, digitally coloured scans of sketchbook doodles, something called People (which was just a photograph chopped up and made into a few GIFs that faded in and out lined up next to each other), and a links page.

The links page seemed important on Web sites back then. The Internet was a lot smaller. And once you’d found your little corner, you linked to the things you liked, and hoped some of those people might like and link you back. Pre Web 2.0 is something I look back on fondly. I still have links on my homepage specifically to keep that spirit alive.

In the early versions of the site, I really thought that redesigning the whole site every month was a good idea. Looking back, that was a lot of wasted time that I could’ve been using doing other things, but in a way, it was important. I started a site because I was I wanted to do something online that I was doing already in sketchbooks. Drawings, photocopies, collage, Tippexing and Letrasetting over those things. Designing every page of a sketchbook. I think that only settled down once the Web site became the blank sketchbook itself, and the layout was just there to help people find specific chapters. And just like culturally the Sixties didn’t start or end at the start or end of the actual 1960s, it took a couple of months for Flip Flop Flyin’ to start to become what it should be.

I’ve marked this anniversary on the blog four times before. In 2005 I wrote about wanting to do bigger, longer, more substantial things. In a way, not much has changed since then. I still feel that desire to do that without the concentration levels to actually do it. Very specifically, there’s one picture story/comic strip type thing that I’ve been slowly planning on and off for about a year-and-a-half. I’ve got it pretty much planned as a bunch of notes and a fairly solid story outline. The stumbling block in this plan is drawing the main character. Once I know what that person looks like, I think I’ll be off and running. I do fear, though, sitting down and actually drawing that person is a self-made block that allows me to continually put off starting the project.

On the seventh anniversary in 2006, I looked at a few of the things that I’d done that I liked the most. I still like most of them, actually, which is a good sign. I need to re-do some of them one day, though, cos they are Flash animations and those don’t seem to work too well on mobile devices. (This is a general thing about the site, actually. It’s long overdue a redesign. I last did that in 2009, before mobile devices became such a big thing.)

In 2009, on the tenth anniversary, I made a wee comic strip with 1999 Craig having a chat with 2009 Craig. I think I will revisit this strip and do a sequel in 2019.

On the 15th anniversary in 2014, I wrote something that was a bit more reflective. The kind of post I would do today, frankly. One good thing is that the regret I expressed about letting the blog slide away eventually turned around, and now is running better than ever. Less readers, but that’s life. I am well aware that the Internet has changed, and people are less likely to read blogs nowadays. Not to diminish my role here, because I really did neglect it for quite some time. Here’s to you lovely people that are still reading! [raising imaginary glass of champagne]

I’m happy now, though, that the blog is properly back as a thing. For my own enjoyment, really. 205 posts since I committed to doing it properly again on 5 October last year. 205 posts in 220 days is something I’m pleased about. As for everything else, I’m glad to be doing Minipops again. I have weird feelings about Minipops. Some positive, some negative, but on the whole I’m glad I had the idea. They’ve been good to me, and I’m glad I appreciate that again.

I need to look at what I’m doing, though. The main thing is deciding how I want the site to exist in the future. I put new things on Instagram and Twitter before I put them on the blog, just because it’s easier. And sometimes it’ll take a while for those to appear on the main site. The modern Internet dictates that that is probably an okay way to go about things, but at some point, when a redesign is getting going, that will be addressed.

Anyway, seeing as though the site is ordered chronologically, I figured on this coming of age anniversary, I’d have a look at my current favourite thing from each year. Self indulgent? Yes, of course. Necessary? Not at all. Fun for me? Indeed it is.

1999: Minipops
It would be churlish to choose anything else from 1999 even though the Minipops of that year were quite crude and, in my opinion, only started to get good (as in the actual drawings) around 2002-03. It really was (in my own head and in terms of response) what turned Flip Flop Flyin’ from a little side project on the Internet to the thing I thought about all the time. The first reference to Minipops was on 18 July. On the home page, writing about the new content, I said “First there’s Minipops. Absolutely nothing to do with the slightly dodgy TV programme, it’s just some tiny pop stars.” It is genuinely bonkers to think I’m still drawing tiny pop stars. Here’s a brand new one. And seeing as though we are now 18 years old, let’s get a little bit after dark with Minipop No. 1,311. He’s not a tiny pop star, though. Well, I guess he is in one sense of the word “pop.” It’s pornographic actor Ron Jeremy.

2000: Fun fun fun
Fun fun fun seems like a pretty crucial moment in the development of what I was doing. The Minipops style was making me happy, and Fun fun fun was a nice way to expand on that, bring more my brain into it.

2001: George
And this one is the other side of my brain. The melancholy sentimental side. George was my grandfather’s name. And the woman looks a bit like my grandmother. These weren’t intentional choices, but I guess it must say something, right? (It’s a looping animated GIF, you will notice where the start and end is.)

2002: Pete and Bob
Two dancing owls that I will always love. Possibly the thing that brought me the most joy while actually doing it.

2003: Uibbles
There wasn’t much good stuff this year, but these little animated GIFs are still kinda nice, I think.

2004: What if…
Very self-indulgent, imagining lots of different possible lives up until that point in my life and into the future. None of the future ones are actually close to being accurate. Some closer than others, though. Others still seem like a nice idea. The more realistic ones.

2005: Witham and Woodhall
This is one of those things where I wish I’d put in more effort, cos I really like the idea. It’s simple, silly, and had lots more potential. In my head it’s still an ongoing project, but in reality, I’ve not touched it or the list of unused ideas in a decade.

2006: FFF pictorial atlas of the world
This was the beginnings of what became the Atlas, Schmatlas book. The book has many flaws. But I’m still proud of it. For its relatively tight deadline, the decent amount of writing and drawing that was needed, it turned out okay. I’ve often thought of George Lucas-ing the whole thing, doing a second edition online. One day, maybe.

2007: Die Wunderbäume
Weird looking back to imagine there was a time when I didn’t enjoy living in Berlin. I really didn’t appreciate it back then. I had had enough. I can’t change that. I wish I could, though. But there was always Mauerpark. Mine and Billy’s park.

2008: The real Paraguay
Really solid idea, I think, which is kinda lost in the poor execution. Another thing I’d happily do again if I found a way to stop time for a few months just to focus on those things.

2009: Sleeping laptops
This year was probably the worst year of FFF. It’s probably not a coincidence that it was also the year I started doing Flip Flop Fly Ball, my baseball-themed site, which took up way more of my time and creativity. That last sentence neatly glosses over the personal stuff from that year which also had a fair amount to do with things. This was a nice light moment, though.

2010: Where do I belong?
A year of quite a lot of change. Starting in Berlin, ending up in Mexico City via a few months in Toronto. Main focus of that year was working on the Flip Flop Fly Ball book. I think the best thing on FFF, though, was something from a less-upbeat time in Berlin: a snow globe spray painted entirely black which seemed to perfectly express how I was feeling in the immediate aftermath of 2009.

2011: Hungry man
A drawing done with the Brushes app on iPad, which has been my tool of choice for most of the decade so far. I’ve switched to using Procreate now which is probably better on the whole, but in lots of ways, Brushes is still my favourite iPad app.

2012: Beastie dots
After four or five years doing sporty infographics, I kinda liked the idea of doing something that was closer to data art, and these two graphics and Beastie Boys songs are probably the best non-sports things I did.

2013: Ciudad de México
For a while I’d had this idea. I began it in 2010. I wanted to do a digital drawing like a mural. And when I saw Diego Rivera’s mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central, the idea sort of clicked into place. A modern version, just with the impressions of a foreigner who’d been in Mexico City for a couple of years. I also did a London one in 2014, and I’m currently working (slowly) on a Berlin one.

2014: Flower
While I’d never stopped doing pixel drawings, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I had in the past. That all changed with this. A tiny drawing that grew into a massive drawing. (The first version is below. Much more more at the link.) It only grew so big because I’d fallen in love with pixels again.

2015: This season’s flags
I went into the reasoning behind this on the blog at the time. Basically, though: treating flags in the same way sportswear companies treat football kits.

2016: Mein Berliner Würfel
A sentimental drawing of the city that I think of as home more than any other.

2017: Nature thingies
This was something I did over the course of a weekend. A quick idea, quickly executed. I’m not sure it’s the best thing I’ve done so far this year, and I hope it’s not the best thing I will do this year, but it’s the best thing that is on the site as of today.

The best thing from this year is, I think, the painting I’ve been doing, getting to a place where I was happy with what I am doing. I had an idea of where I wanted to be with it, and it took a few months to get there. And now I’m at that point, having done this process on paper, I’m ready to (and working on) producing a series of works that will all be bigger acrylic on canvas pieces. I hope to show you those later this year.

For now though. Thanks for reading. Thanks for visiting Flip Flop Flyin’. I really do appreciate the comments, emails, tweets. If I die tomorrow, Flip Flop Flyin’ is a decent thing to leave behind. In the grand scheme of things, I’m well aware that it’s not really that important, but it has made me quite happy for 38.6% of my life.

Other business
As well as being the day I started this Web site, 12 May 1999 was also the day that Saul Steinberg died. An absolutely incredible artist. It’s still my dream to one day do a drawing for the cover of the New Yorker, and a big part of that is because Steinberg did such great work for them. Here’s lots of his New Yorker work. And here’s a New Yorker article about him from 2014. Here’s another New Yorker article about his love of baseball. And here’s the Saul Steinberg Foundation site.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Live While We’re Young by One Direction

On this day
Foul ball, 12 May 2011

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Tragedy of the commons

Flip Flop Flyin’ Flip Flop Fly Ball
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Written by Craig

May 12th, 2017 at 2:11 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah

6 Responses to '3,322: 18 years old'

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  1. What a nice excuse to pour a glass of champagne here too, to toast this site which I’ve followed for over 50% of my life (since before minipops got picked up by Radio1, which I think was when I was 15?… and I turned 30 a few months ago). I still use an RSS reader and I’ve enjoyed the recent burst of activity from you on the blog. I really like the paintings of Mauerpark as I’ve mentioned before, as that was one of my favourite places to walk when I lived there.

    Strangely it’s the little things you remember, for example from a previous incarnation of the blog I recall you saying that you have reached a milestone in life where you can afford a cleaner and you’re in your thirties, and I put off getting a cleaner for my housemate and me until I was 30, on the basis that you had set an acceptable precedent.

    Well anyway, thanks for all the stuff and I’m looking forward to the next 18 years.



    12 May 17 at 05:57

  2. Thanks, Ed.

    My memory is the R1 thing happened in 2003, so that sounds about right.

    Thanks for sticking around. 18 more years sounds like an even bigger task that the previous 18. I’ll be 64 years old then.


    13 May 17 at 04:02

  3. Hello,

    I was on my usual hunt for sites with that great nostalgic feeling, and came across your site.

    Usually websites with layouts with yours haven’t been updated since 2002, so was surprised to see you had updated it 2 days ago.

    -So I am here to express my appreciation for your work. Absolutely love the layout and the content is so unique. I’ll be spending the next few days going through everything.

    Congratulations on the 18 years.


    14 May 17 at 21:27

  4. Thanks very much, Tom!


    15 May 17 at 02:35

  5. I’ve been visiting this website for years. For some reason it helps me cope with sadness whenever it strikes me. Thank you for keeping it going!

    thankful dude

    17 May 17 at 19:27

  6. Thank you, thankful dude! Glad to be of help.


    18 May 17 at 01:23

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