Athens artist — and owner of Goodboy Grooming — Brody Rowland is the man behind Phobia Dude, Academia Brewing Company’s mascot for its Paraskevidekatriaphobia 13 percent imperial stout. With the third iteration of Paraskevidekatriaphobia slated to be released on Friday, July 13, the Akademia crew thought it high time to spotlight this talented Night Owl in this new occasional blog series.
How did you get involved in art?
Accidentally, I think. I’ve always doodled, but I started working for a tattooer doing desk work, and I didn’t have any ambition to do anything art-wise. When I was little, I used to try to copy the cartoons, but I wasn’t serious about it.
[After my daughter Avery was born] I realized I’m going to have to do something to make money. I went to art school because I thought being a graphic designer was maybe more of a real-life job than working in tattoo shops as desk help.
I was still drawing cartoons. People told me 2D designs, as in like, animation, was dead — it’s either CG work or 3D, and if you don’t want to do 3D, there’s no point in doing it at all. I dropped out of that, and just started doing it on my own. I was doing murals and little designs on my own, just throughout the whole time, and I liked that a lot more than school.
How would you describe your style?
It’s kind of a combination of graphic design and cartoons. It’s mostly just static things, like sticker designs. It’s all based off of old cartoonists that I grew up watching.
I’m heavily influenced by 1930s and 1920s cartoons — people like Tex Avery and Max Flesicher. A lot of the images going around now are continuations on that; all these old-school cartoonists, like people who were competing with Walt Disney when he started.
Some of the work is a little bit racist because of the timeframe, but there’s other stuff there. And to see where cartoons came from, and compare that to all the 3D animation and the Minions and popular cartoons now, it’s worlds apart but it’s still insanely impressive for the time.
So how did you get to be the artist behind Phobia Dude?
Morgan [Wireman, Akademia co-founder and head brewer] kind of came up and said, “Hey, can you make a Friday the 13th design that kind of looks like me?” and he said something about a mash paddle. When I was doing it I was sitting in his basement drawing all these old Max Fleischer-type designs, like the old-timey cartoons. He didn’t even tell me what it was for, but I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do it.”
It was the least specific commission ever. I drew it on a piece of watercolor paper, like a scrap piece of paper, and handed it to him.
Once you realized what it was, how did you react?
It was cool. My honest reaction was, “Man, if you told me what it was for, I probably would’ve tried a lot harder, but I would’ve been way more stressed out about it and it may never have gotten done.”
You’ve had the beer that Phobia Dude represents, correct? What do you think of it?
It’s an awesome beer. All my friends are in love with it. I stay more in the IPA section or pale ales, but Morgan broke me out of my cheap beer, PBR and Newcastle phase and said, “Hey, you should try all these other beers that are not $1 a piece.”
Art’s not your day job, though, so what do you do?
I groom dogs all day, almost every day. I dropped out of art school partially because I hated it, but partially because I lost my part-time job. I was looking on Craigslist, just scanning for opportunities, and this place advertised that they needed a dog grooming apprentice.
How do you manage to pursue your art when working a full-time gig?
Right now, I’m doing just like T-shirt and sticker designs for myself and grooming. I’m putting out grooming shirts — it’s just like from old punk bands, like you make a really cheap and easy shirt that’s free advertising. I’m just translating that into being a dog groomer.
Your kids, Avery and Rigby, are big influences in your life. You even named them for artists and cartoons that inspire you. Are you honing their artistic skills as well?
Avery’s almost been learning along with me. She’s way more creative than I am. Her skill level isn’t as good — she’s 9 years old so she’s not doing these crazy elaborate things, but just the ideas and the places she’s trying to go with it are way more creative than anything I could ever do with it.
She’s so pure and uncontaminated by media and all these other things, and I’m trying to make these things that are funny and might piss people off.
Brody’s Phobia Dude mascot will be available on limited-edition Paraskevidekatriaphobia Vol. III release koozies on Friday, July 13, while supplies last. The koozies will be $4 each or free with the purchase of a Paraskevidekatriaphobia take-home crowler. For more details about the Vol. III release, see the Facebook event.