Throughout the years, the Smash community has grown to be more than just the players, housing others who contribute in different but equally respectable ways. The art community is growing and with last week's spotlight being on a graphic artist, we went and conducted an interview with a man who is part of MuffinBros Graphics. This group does their art in a different form, so today in this Smash Art Spotlight, we will be talking with Muffin_Man, one of three "muffins."
BluJay: Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Muffin_Man: Well, MBG was not what it is now a year ago. I (Muffin_Man) had just graduated with my bachelor's degree in Music Ed in Fall '14 and was in preparation for my grad studies in performance. Pete (Mr. Pert) had just had his newborn son with his fiancé in January. In the beginning there was the two of us. My passion to finally have the time to be a part of the Smash community and Pert's drive to do something more with his bachelor's degree in multimedia and graphic arts. I had started to dive my technical interests into controller repair and maintenance as Mr. Pert began to bring ideas regarding my repair area with a website for servicing controllers. Very quickly however, we were then asked if we did graphics which sparked the creativity and path that led us to doing controller skins.
BluJay: Nice to meet you!! How many work for you at the moment? Is there more than what you already mentioned?
Muffin_Man: Well, for starters in the beginning there were only the two of us. But then around the same summer of 2015, we had met our third and last addition to our staff Dalton. Dalton was our first artist that I had communicated with when I visited the Classic Game Fest 2015 event in Austin, Texas. With the content that we're trying to provide, it's a graphic since we figure that people would really enjoy having other people's artwork on the controller, thus was the new beginning of MBG. Currently on our staff there are only three members: Pete, Dalton, and I. Dalton is our graphics supervisor who maintains orientation of works that you see on our site. He also assists me with advertisement files and promotions with the presentation of what we provide. Pete is our production manager where he's in charge of all production, regarding graphic skins as his priority. I am the Networking Coordinator giving assistance to advertisement, website orientation, communications with eSports organizations and our Muffintastic featured artists.
BluJay: That's actually really cool! The business sounds small at the moment, Is there ever a moment where your team seems overwhelmed? Do you think you may have to expand when you gain more popularity?
Muffin_Man: That's actually pretty funny you ask that. With Mr. Pert and his newly started marriage and family, business can get a little on the crunch side due to him needing to meet the needs of his family, his daytime job, and then of course MBG. With Dalton, he's able to provide the team with assistance for what we need for trying to build popularity with the giveaways and just overall presentation of who we are. For me, it does get a little bit on the crunch time trying to balance out my graduate studies versus the graphic business we have. It took us about a year to get where we are now, with trial and error, trying to figure out how to provide graphic skins to the community at an affordable price. A lot of our customers have enjoyed our products and since last year, we've been supported on the entire premise of affordable graphics. With major players like Kage and ESAM owning their very own graphic skins, it's really brought in quite a bit of popularity from the past two months.
With our now newly started partnership with FX Game Exchange and Tourney Locater, we've been invited to this year's Let's Play Gaming Expo in Plano, Texas. A major step for us and what we do best. Our vending and online business has attracted a lot of attention and we aim for it to build even more from that point on. Not to mention one of our new artists is a major figure in the Smash community and a graphic entertainment. Among our section of artists, we now have a contract with JisuArt and plan to bring all of her works to the graphic skin area.
MuffinBros Is Partnered With Several Groups
BluJay: Well that is fantastic to hear!! Even with the small amount of people you seem to find a way to bring everything together! Have you ever thought of expanding your company to do other things with digital art outside of controller art?
Muffin_Man: Well actually, both Pete and Dalton have brought numerous things to the table regarding things that we can do outside the controller area. The creativity that they have with both of their expertise in the general art area and interest in decorative graphics and/or designs have brought some pretty interesting opportunities. With Dalton, his expertise lies in logo design and very clean and crisp presentation of orientated works in general. His specialty is actually poster design where we have a section of all his posters on our site and people love to buy them when we vend. With Pete, he actually holds a lot of knowledge regarding the automotive area applying decals, spray painting, and his 3-D modeling skills he holds from his degree. What's really interesting is Pete, from scratch, created our very first graphic skin for the GameCube controller and has the ability to pinpoint links and dye mentions to where he can pretty much master it on the second or third try. It's actually quite easy to do!
BluJay: Wow! This sounds exciting! You mentioned spray painting, have you ever thought of selling fully spray-painted controllers? Or having full controller art done in some fashion?
Muffin_Man: I certainly love this question, as it's always been something that's been asked of us ever since we started. We currently have something in development regarding full-body controllers. There's not much we can release at this current point but hopefully by May we will be ready for something quite unique. We know that certain groups purchase controllers and then decorate them to sell them back to the public…but our approach is a little bit more personal. We aim to have a certain graphic service provided by the customer and us to exchange a healthy and responsive connection. Our goal is to bring the content that we exclusively have and go to the next level. We wouldn't be selling controllers, but instead we would be selling our graphic service for the customer and their personal controller.
BluJay: Oh? I cant wait to see what's in store. It sounds like something to seriously look forward to. So I know you play a big part in this company, but do you do any jobs you manage along side this? Do you have many passions outside of Smash and MBG's?
Muffin_Man: I like to think that all three of us play a big part but really none of this would work without one of us helping another. My graduate studies in music performance requires me to do quite a lot out of my weekday and weekends. Trying to attain the master level of Clarinet performance, it's my job as a graduate student to exceed the expectations of my practice. Alongside my studies, I work in the school music office where I am hired to provide administrative assistance to my supervisors and/or the school of music chairman. This will be my seventh year in the administrative assistance and I love every minute of it. Assisting incoming freshmen and the faculty, copying, paperwork, proofreading music programs...it's all in a day's work for me!
My passion is absolute music. Holding my instruments practicing my repertoire, and performing on stage or in an ensemble is truly what drives me to where I am today. Without the long friendship that I've had with Pete, I would like to think that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. Is drive to play the trumpet what drove me to where I am today? But right alongside with my passion for music also recites my absolute passion for talking to people. So really, performance is my musical way to communicate with the audience as to my natural enjoyment to communicate to new and existing people through the Smash community. I honestly didn't think that this would lead me where I am right now.
Without Pete and Dalton, I wouldn't have had the drive to really throw myself into this mess community and to be able to be a figure, of some sort. The people that I now know today, it's truly amazing...I mean Muffintastic!
BluJay: Wow! I never knew you played music at that level! Loving your jobs is always good, it's still hard work but it's enjoyable. Have you ever had the moment where you ask yourself, "What if this hadn't have worked out"? What do you think you would have been doing as a career instead?
Muffin_Man: Honestly, when I graduated with my bachelor's in Music Education, I was a little hesitant to enter my master's degree. For eight years now I suffer from carpal tunnel and tendinitis syndrome that have peaked in and out throughout the years of my musical career. Throughout my first year of my master's, I was experiencing some physical changes in my upper body with the hands and wrists and fingers that I require to perform on my instrument with. It's a scary scenario, thinking "What if my arms become dysfunctional? What's going to happen then?". But all in all, what's life without a little bit of fear to face when you're chasing after your goals and dreams?! *Laughs at fear*
If my musical drive didn't exist as strong as it does now, I actually would've gone into the film area. Creating movies, creating slideshow animations, or claymation. Flash animation with Pete really brought out the creativity that I've had ever since I was a kid. Watching cartoons and just being a naturally animated person has sculpted me into who I am today. And what's great about the film area is that I could have still used my musicianship to truly carry out my creativity to bring to the audience what I'd wish them to see. Entertainment has always been my main prerogative, and watching entertainment aspects of eSports and Let's Plays still to this day bring me that yearning to create something visual. The same applies to Pete actually but he went a little bit of a different route in the art area. Dalton loves music in general, which actually really surprised me when he started naming big-time musicals and his favorite actors and musical numbers. I've only known Dalton for about nine months but I feel as if I've known him just as long as I've known Pete. Truly a brotherly bond we have formed!
Smash 4 Player ESAM Showing Off A Muffin Bros Skin
BluJay: So entertainment in a way still. May not be the same but I think they can fall under the same category. When you mentioned Let's Plays and your animated personality, do you think YouTube is something you would enjoy doing? Would you be willing to try it out?
Muffin_Man: Oh man, if Pete and I ever got into YouTube and doing that sort of thing with Fletes plays, I think that we would bring a pretty unique Phil to it all. When Pete's not hard at work at making graphics in making preparations for production, he has a mind with no filter. In the early years of our friendship, we actually did create animated short or some claymations, and some pretty hilarious snippets of just flat out recordings. He's actually been wanting to push do some sort of entertainment basis of a Let's Play of some sort but we just simply don't have the time as of now. He'd be the crazy one and I'd be the normal and very confused individual. Dalton's not so much of the public type so he'd be just fine with recording us and making thumbnails I think...Don't quote me on that!! Dalton, do whatever you want to do, bro! *Acts innocent and rubs back of own head*
It would actually be fun doing some sort of composition stream area where I can either review performances or discuss musical genres or even do aural analysis of video game scores or film scores. To me, I believe the music really incorporates the gameplay of what we all love to experience within the virtual world. So alongside with the visual aspects of the game itself, I personally would love to just dive into the listening sense of what makes a game exist with the sounds that we interpret from the creator themselves.
BluJay: You should really make a channel! It would be really interesting to see those types of videos! Last two questions! Do you see your business ending up having a physical shop? And how long does it take usually to make the controller art?
Muffin_Man: Having a shop of our own as a physical location is something that we're definitely considering some point in the near future years. Currently our business is a home business but for what we bring to the community, our website is actually the yard or premise of professional business. When we first developed what we would be able to try to do, we decided that we needed to start from ground zero. With small support from our loved ones alongside our own personal investment with time and funding, we finally have the equipment needed along with the ideas that he routed into what we have now on our website. We do have a base of operation but it's more personal than it is public, which is why some point in the next few years we would love to actually have an official base of operation but for now we do what we can to get by. I guess technically you can count our vending as our shop where we produce graphics skins and provide posters decals on the spot to the Smash events that we are able to participate at. Something about producing freshly baked graphics on-site during a Smash event is what brings business and brings us more attention from all the attendance. Our aim is to provide presentation to allow the customers to feel invited and to see what we have to offer and nine times out of ten we always receive an interest and what we do best, graphic skins!
Producing graphic skins really doesn't take that much time for us thanks to the equipment that we have. Providing a professional city product, it's our job to ensure that the graphic is indeed HD quality and is finely-cut for the face of the controller. With our new featured artist program, we now have content exclusively for our graphic skins that you cannot find anywhere else. With contracted artists like Armando and Edgar, we were able to build a great assortment to choose from in our shop. With our new additions like DreddStar, Punksthetic, and the world-renowned JisuArt, we plan to really step up our area of graphic assortments to provide the exclusive content that we wish to provide to the audience that we cater to. The Smash community has grown exponentially throughout the years and we intend to exist side-by-side to be interactive with the community with what we love and have to offer.
So really, doesn't take that long! Finding the content is what takes the longest time!
BluJay: Well I know your business rises to do great things! Is there any last words you would like to say?
Muffin_Man: I guess to sum this all up, I have to say that I love being an individual that has a chance to be a part of something extraordinary. To know that I have Pete and Dalton, side-by-side, making the dream come true together is truly inspirational and life-changing.
We love what we do and we aim to take all of this further with a Muffintastic service! We are the MuffinBros and we're here to provide all the best in graphics and more!
BluJay: Thank you for your time! It was a pleasure!
Muffin_Man: Thank you for the Muffintastic interview!
A special thanks to Muffintasticman for agreeing to this interview. MuffinBros is available on MuffinBros.com or via social media on bother Twitter and Facebook. Also take a look at this new thread for more info on their work right here on SmashBoards!To meet another artist in the Smash community, please check out last week's Smash Art Spotlight on Wolfiisaur.