April 3, 2022

Robb Mommaerts, Illustrator, Cartoonist, Dad

Robb Mommaerts, Illustrator, Cartoonist, Dad
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Ever wondered if that funny or weird drawing you made on the edge of your homework in school could lead to a job as an illustrator? Hear how Robb Mommaerts did just that thanks to his own determination and some encouragement from THE Jim Henson!

Follow Robb on Instagram - @robbmommaerts 

Check out Klawde and other books Robb has illustrated! 


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Whenever I get a nasty comment on Instagram, like a cruel comment or a racist comment or something, it's always somebody that's hiding behind a different name or, you know.


Welcome to another episode of Chewing the Fat. I am your host, Big Robb. Thank you so much for downloading the episode and listening in. I certainly do appreciate it. Thank you for the folks that have bought me a coffee at ChewingtheFatbr.com. I appreciate the help and keeping the podcast rolling. And I am so excited about my guests this week. All right, this is gonna be a treat for all of us this time because this, my guest this week is someone I barely know


other than a probably four paragraph conversation back and forth via Instagram. Please welcome Rob Mommaerts. Correct. Yes. Right. I was, I almost, I almost doubted myself as I was saying your name. Robb is an illustrator, an amazing illustrator. Robb, just to gush on you for a while. I have followed you for quite a while on Instagram. It's


I followed another illustrator and he followed you and I saw your stuff and it's just, I just love your style. I love Thank you the your your I love your line work and colors Your style, uh, it's just it just it's there's so much emotion and joy and In the work that you do so so, uh, thank you. Yeah, I I am I am so pleased to have you here talking to me today


Robb, and it's funny how we kind of started the conversation. When I say that it literally was like a four paragraph back and forth over Instagram, I think I had liked a design that you had done and posted on your Instagram. And I don't know if maybe I commented on it or whatever. And you wrote back because we were both Robb's with two B's. Yeah. Yeah.


conversation started over double B double B double B club. That's right. Robba. I've heard that many times throughout my life. Yeah. Yeah. So Robb, where you're calling in from Green Bay, Wisconsin. So is Wisconsin home for you? Is that where you grew up? Yes. I grew up in Green Bay and still live here. And, uh, yep, I've, I haven't ventured out too far.


Um, yeah, um, it's right now we're experiencing the early spring. So it's been, you know, 50, 60, one day and the next day it's 20. And, you know, so that's been interesting. But I just got back from my, my son started playing soccer in this one league and he had his first outdoor scrimmage today tonight. And it was on a pretty nice field, um, our artificial turf,


We were out there and the wind didn't rain and it was, it was pretty miserable. Standing up there for an hour, but it was about, I don't know, about in the 30s, but. Oh wow. Yeah. That does sound miserable. Uh, how old is your son? He's 11 and a half, sixth grade. And so this is his first foray into, into soccer. He played soccer a little while back and then he stopped playing for awhile. And then last fall he started up again and he's getting a little more serious about it. He really enjoys it.


So, yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome. So as far as like you're you getting your start in illustrating and graphic design and drawing, was that always from a from a young age? Were you a skirmisher? Yes, very early age, two or three years old, I started drawing. And I was always very


been a huge fan of Jim Henson and all his stuff. And I was exposed to that at a pretty young age, Sesame Street and the Muppet Show and other cartoons that were on at the time, Looney Tunes and all that stuff, comics. And when I was a real little, I recently was going through my mom saved a ton of old artwork and dropped it off at the house. I had always huge bins full of art. And most of it, I was surprised. Most of it was all like, I don't


80% Sesame Street drawings. Oh, wow. Young age, it was it was kind of funny because I could I could tell who was who in the kit and the images, you know, Big Bird with the big orange and pink striped legs and but they're all pretty scribbly drawings. But but yeah, young age, I always from a very, very young age, I knew I wanted to be a some sort of artist illustrator or cartoonist or whatnot. But yeah, since very young age, either that


I either wanted to do that or be an astronaut. When I found astronauts didn't have lightsabers, then I lost interest. Yeah. I mean, if you can't have a lightsaber. Or laser guns. Yeah. Oh no. Yeah. But yeah, drawing was always a, I think I might have had attention deficit when I was younger, because I know I always got in trouble a lot in school for drawing during class and drawing on,


sheets and that sort of thing. I recently found a bunch of old papers from math tests, which I usually did pretty poorly on, of course. But there was always monsters drawn in the margins and the teacher would always write, this is not art class, this is math and that kind of thing. So that kind of plagued me. My whole life was always doodling and getting in trouble for it.


those kids that have that type of stuff inside and you need to get it out. I mean, you know, at least you were just, you know, you're drawing on your math homework or whatever, but you know, it's not like you were disturbing the rest of the class. It's like, yes, you may not have been getting the education, per se, that the teacher wanted you to have. But, you know, there's something magical about taking those things that are inside and making them real


outside by, you know, drawing or writing music or poetry or that type of stuff. I was a pretty quiet kid growing up in some ways shy. And but I always could get people to laugh by doing funny drawings. And sometimes that would get me in trouble. You know, I would do a drawing and send it to one of my friends across the classroom and or someone would ask me to draw. They'd say draw this, you know, or draw the teacher or something like that. You know, that kind of thing. I, you know,


I get in trouble, but yeah. And so obviously that that bug, that natural talent, you just you kept you kept up with. You kept going. You went into school for art. Yes. Yeah, all through high school. I took, you know, every art class I could take. And well, I started actually freelance doing freelance illustration when I was in high school. Oh, wow. Yeah. So


I did quite a bit of, I mean, I had a part-time job that I worked at OfficeMax. I don't know if you have them down by you, I'm assuming you do, or Office Depot. Yeah, Office Depot, I think, yeah. And I worked there throughout high school, but I mostly did that as just to get experience working with others and getting out of the house. And I used to, for a short period of time, me and my friends would kind of get in a mischief,


nothing harmful, but my mom, you know, my mom and dad wanted me to go and get a job. And I was about 16. But the freelance illustration was great because, you know, I got to do something I love doing and get paid for it. And I did quite a different, I had some different clients I had. I was drawing for a, one of the weirder ones was this was pre-internet, but it was a


mail order catalog. So I was drawing all these like handmade soaps and like random things. It was kind of fun candles and stuff like it wasn't the most exciting work, but it was fun and just, you know, all line art that would go in these one color catalogs. And some of the more fun stuff, I was doing conceptual art for a few different smaller like marketing


And I know there was one, you know, I live in Green Bay, so Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers, there was always like different events going on or promotional stuff. And I remember doing some stuff for a company where they were promoting one of those, you know, those, those jet packs you see on, I don't know, you don't see them as much anymore, but they're like, these weird, I don't know what they're, how they fly, but you'd see them at sporting events and


70s and 80s. Yeah. Like the, like the compressed air jet packs, like the guy flying around or whatever, you know, I remember doing a thing for, for that once for, I don't know, I can't remember who the client was, but it was, um, I had to do that. I do like the, the, who's the, the bud man of the superhero, the Budweiser guy and, um, I think what else? Well, they did a few of them different for different client for, um, the prep to use to, um, as proposals.


Yeah. So that was that was that kind of stuff was a lot of fun to do. And one of the most memorable freelance work I did when in high school, my local newspaper, the Green Bay Presquizette, it had a pretty good circulation, but they had they started a team page. So they were looking for artists in middle school and high school to to write articles, do reviews, etc. etc.


all from, you know, teen perspective. But I did a lot of the artwork for that, for editorial articles and yeah, so that I did a ton of work for that. And for a while I had like a comic strip in there. It was kind of, kind of not the best comic strip, but. But it was, it was, it was a, it was great experience. I still have all that stuff today in a binder. I've saved all the clippings. This was in the nineties. I mean, you're, but you're, I mean, you had a published comic strip in high school.


That's pretty cool. It was fun. I think I only did like seven of them, maybe tops, but yeah, it was cool to see that in print. I got to do some more work for them when I was in college, which was really fun beyond that, beyond the team page. Is it cool now to look back at some of that stuff to see how far you've progressed? I can't draw stick figures.


I don't know exactly what that process is like, but to be able to look back and go like, man, I remember sweating over that, trying to get that out. Whereas now, I'm sure you're still sweating over stuff, but it comes so much more fluid and much more natural for you to be able to get into that rhythm and get into that zone. Yeah, it's fun to look back at that stuff because this was all, like when I started school, it was when it was kind of


design world was transitioning and using Macs. So all like Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and all those programs. And I, you know, before, before college, I don't think I think the only computer I ever touched was like the one in keyboarding class in high school. So when I did all that stuff for the newspaper, it was all, you know, traditional hand rendered art that they would just scan and print in the paper. But, you know, as time went on, it was, it was, it was fun learning.


to use those Adobe software and in college and moving on to college. Yeah. Did that did the advancement in technology? Did you do find that freeing in a way for your style or helping you define your style of art for like maybe what you're doing now? Yeah, pretty much. I mean, because I mean, that was years ago and I obviously still working. I still work.


50, like half traditional hand-readered art, and then versus I do all the colors digitally and text and that sort of thing. But yeah, it was really cool. Because at the time, I thought, jumping to doing things on a computer, I thought once I saw my art on an actual computer screen, it was very real to me. It was just kind of, before it was previous, it was always everything was on.


on paper and it just seemed more professional seeing it up on a computer screen with, you know, I immediately changed the colors and everything was a lot quicker to do digitally. And it was, you know, it was exciting to see. Yeah. Is there somebody that you're a big fan of right now that maybe is completely different stylistically than you? An artist or illustrator or somebody like that?


Well, there's, that's a thing and there's so many of them that just blow my mind. I go on, I get lost when I go on Instagram and flipping through all the amazing stuff that pops up. And the worst part of is when, when I look and I see something and I find out that person's like half my age and they're like, like in college or like, I'm like, what? You're doing that at that age. It's kind of insane. But yeah. But yeah, there's, I mean, I have a, I have a, I have a, I have a, I have a, I have a,


have folders on my Mac at home that I have, like all my favorite artists, there's hundreds of them. But I just whenever I find discover a new artist, I just I just grab whatever I can from there, what they have posted online, and I throw it in a folder and I look at it for inspiration while I'm working or if I'm thinking of like, if I'm doing a character design, I'm thinking, how would this person draw, you know, a 90 year old man, whatever, you know, I go back and I kind of look through


I was trying not to copy it of course, but just for inspiration and just to spark new ideas. But in Instagram, it's such a nice, I mostly stick to like artwork on Instagram. I don't really go around looking for other things, but there's just a real nice supportive artist community on there that's great and everybody leaves nice comments. Yeah. I was going to ask.


in that world of illustration and design, if it's a supportive community. It is, yeah. And it's a lot of like-minded individuals and lots of mutual respect. And if you're looking for advice on something, if it's technical advice or career advice, there's always someone on there to guide you in some way. That is so cool. I had a friend that he saw I had commented


a printer and he went and he shot this whole video at home. It sent it to me through Instagram. I was like, wow, thank you. He's showing me how to use the printer and it's that kind of stuff I just love. That's awesome. Yeah. And so again, cause that's not a, I like to look at the pretty pictures, but it's good to know that the people that are creating that art are, you know, that type of community as well. That makes me feel even better about the appreciation of it. I know you've got a book series


Claude Claude. Yes. A L A W D E Claude. Yes. Claude Evil Alien Warlord cat. It's a series through Penguin Workshop, and it's written by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth. And the sixth book came out this past August and the final book. And and I started that series a few years back. And it was a it was a huge deal for me because I always wanted to get


like a middle grade chapter book series. And this was like my first time working with one of the bigger publishers. So this was a dream job for me basically. And the last two books I did when the pandemic started. So it was kind of weird because, I have a day job, I work for Cryptozoic Entertainment and I work remotely.


I mean, up in Green Bay, totally different weather, of course. And but I've been working for them for 11 years. And it's if that's a dream job, it's so much fun to work for those guys. And we do, you know, a lot of fun stuff together. But on the side of publishing, I do like picking up freelance job for like children's publishing. Yeah. And and this series came about my job with Kripozoic did not didn't slow down


pandemic, because life didn't change for me at all, because I work in my little dungeon basement here, where I don't see anybody except a dog all day long. And the last two books came out when the pandemic started. So I was kind of like cranking on those, trying to get those finished. So it was kind of weird because I saw I had people that I knew that were not working and they were just kind of like bored at home. And I was kind of stressed out at that time because I had a lot going on.


it was kind of a very weird situation. But, yeah.


But yeah, it's, um, this project came at a good time for me, um, because it was just, uh, like I, I, it was something I had always wanted to do. And I hope it leads to more work. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. How do you, how do you find work? How, how would, how would someone coming along, you know, you know, find work? Well, most like before I, I joined DeviantArt. Are you familiar with DeviantArt? Yeah. Um, I, I joined.


them, I think maybe about, I think it was right before my daughter, I have a 14 year old daughter also, and it was right before she was born. And that once I got on an online art community, that like changed everything for me because I was mostly doing, for me, I worked as a graphic designer for 15 years before I was an illustrator. And I worked in an agency. So I did, I did some illustration there. But getting online and joining, you know,


illustrators and meeting people at comic conventions and that sort of thing. That was just like the world opened up for me then. And I'm not too active on, I'm not really active at all on DVN anymore. Mostly just Instagram. But yeah, because I was mostly doing, working for local clients. And then when I started putting my stuff online, it's my work kind of got out there. And I started picking up freelance from different companies throughout the country and the world.


and whatever. And then on Deviant, or on Instagram, someone from Penguin saw my work. And that's how I got the clawed the job. And well, actually, that's how I also got my job with Kripozoic, is the work I had on DeviantArt. Oh, wow. He was back. And they found me on there and they hired me for a freelance project. And they offered me a position with the company because they were just like a year old at


which was pretty cool. But I started working with an agent just a year ago with Jill Grinberg Literary Management and my agent, Jessica St. John. And we've been slowly picking up projects here and there, and it's been going really good. But starting with Cryptozoic back,


years ago, I started working with them. They hired me for a game they were doing called Food Fighter, or Food Fight. And it was designed all these really crazy, like fast food characters, like weird, like trying to think there were a kind of militaristic, like food characters, like a pizza with a bazooka, chicken nugget with a bandolier on or something. Yeah, there's some pretty crazy


like, you know, parodies of certain characters, but that and that was a card game. And then from there, yeah, I I've ever since been working with them full time. I left my my job at the as a graphic designer. And that was it was a life saver for me because I had always wanted to be a full time illustrator and yeah, and they and they keep me busy with lots of cool things, fun things. That's awesome. So yeah. So so the so the lesson is, is if you are


an artist and you are an illustrator, put your art out. Don't keep it in a folder. Put it somewhere where people can find it. Yes, definitely. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I tell that to my son who plays piano all the time. I was like, you know, you want to do this, you have to be out where the work is. You can't stay at home and play in your room and write and compose your stuff. You've still got to put it out, you know? Yeah. So that somebody


And if you're not in that atmosphere on a daily type basis, whereas I mean, you were in an ad agency, you were doing some stuff, but it still wasn't the stuff that really made your heart sing and it was you putting that stuff that you really loved doing out that allowed people to find you. Yeah. And chat with other artists. And there were some artists that I admired


before I was even, before my work was online. And it was kind of surreal because when I worked at the ad agency, I used to go through the illustration annuals and on my lunch break and I would like cut out different illustrators I really admired. And I had a folder that I kept at my desk and I put all these different portfolio samples in there. And a lot of those guys I met years later on DeviantArt or Instagram and


And it's kind of surreal to go back and to think that I would be talking to these people like in a few years and trading comments or tips or that kind of thing. And it's pretty surreal. Do you ever tell them that, hey, I have your picture in my lookbook folder of inspiration? Yes, there's a few of them. Yeah. But once in a while, once in a while,


that I, you know, they'll leave a comment and it's someone that I didn't know that knew who I was. And it's kind of like, what? You know, I'll see their name in my feed or something like that. And it's pretty exciting. Yeah, that's so cool. That's so cool. And I mean, I can just, I can tell by your face as we're talking over Zoom, you know, that you are really, you know, you are loving what you're doing. And I mean, you are,


You also seem very appreciative of the place that you're in right now to be able to be doing what you're doing and what you love. Oh, yeah. And Krupazoic, they do, there's different properties I got to work with like Rick and Morty and I don't know if you've ever seen that show. I mean, I've heard of it. Yeah. I did some games with like some of the Cartoon Network shows and some of the some DC Comics stuff. And there was there was one project that had to work on that was really, really, really


really exciting for me because I was a huge friend, a friend, fan of the Super Friends cartoon I was growing up, the 70s one. And I got to illustrate in the style of the original show, I had to kind of match the environment paintings and that like Paul of Justice and all that kind of stuff. And then the way that they drew Batman and Robin and the Flash and all those characters in that same style. And it was kind of surreal working on that. Cause I'm like, man, I was watching this cartoon as a little kid.


And now I'm, you know, I get to work on an actual official, uh, super friends, get hard game. And it was, that was pretty exciting. That's so cool. I'm going to sound real geeky and a little stalkery when I say this, but I think it was a illustration you put around, around 2017. You did a, um, Christmas carol with the, with the, um, uh, with, uh, screwed sitting in the chair and the ghost of Marley, but it was like kids. Yeah. That was.


That was one of my Christmas cards. Every year I do a card design. I've been doing this actually since 1995, hard to believe. Every year I do a card and when my kids were born, I started theming the card around my kids. And then that one you're talking about was, I had my daughter as the Marley character, as the ghost. My son was in the Scrooge and then my dog is sitting in the image too. But yeah.


I'm a huge like Christmas Carol fan. It's like I'm a huge Christmas girlfriend. And I saw that and I think it was just probably one of the most I just just striking pieces that I'd seen. And I just loved it so much. I mean, if I happen to give you my address and you put me on your Christmas card list, I would definitely ask that after the show. See if I can get your address, put you on the list. Shameless, I would be shameless. No, I would ask you anyways. Oh, I appreciate that.


something that's on the horizon that you are really stoked to be working for or doing that you've got coming up? Well, right now, I don't have any... Right now, I'm basically working on some portfolio pieces just for to see if I can get more chapter book work. Oh, awesome. So, I'm working on some fun images of...


One of my all time favorite books, of course, is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So right now I'm working on some sample illustrations to put like a cover design and some some of the classic scenes from that from the original book, the Roald Dahl book. Yes. And trying to stick. And I had I'm trying not to watch the the I wasn't a huge fan of the I was kind of a little I hate to say a little disappointed in the Tim Burton version. But I love


the original Gene Wilder movie. But I'm trying to, I haven't seen either of those in a long time. So I'm trying to stay away from watching those. And so I'm trying to stick to the original. To the text itself. All text, you know, obviously. But and there's so many little details in that that I did not remember since I was a kid, like how they describe Willy Wonka. He's actually like a smaller, like almost child-sized man.


and I'm used to the big tall, June Wilder there. But like some of the other, the character descriptions and is kind of interesting. I just reread the book again. And I think I hadn't read the book since I was maybe about 10 years old, maybe, or eight or something, I can't remember, but yeah. But that's been so much fun to work on, just designing the characters. And I'm trying to do something


different with them and seeing what other artists have done in the past and just trying to take a different spin on it. By while still being faithful to the original text. But and I'm also trying to slowly, this is, this is where I get frustrated with myself sometimes. I have all these different ideas of things that I want to put together like creator owns things. I'd like to do, there's so many different ideas I have that are


evolving, but just some a few different like fantasy or sci-fi graphic novel ideas based on some just different characters here and there. I'll put stuff on Instagram like different character designs like wizards and that sort of thing. Yeah. But I really want to get serious about putting something together. I'm not the best writer in the world, but I'm okay, but I'd like to do something for younger readers.


And, you know, graphic graphic novels with kids right now are so huge. Yeah. And there's so much cool material out there that's just so inspiring. And it's it's there's there's a story inside of me that I just want to get out. And and but I just have a hard time getting all those details to make sense. You know, I have like sketchbooks full of weird random character designs. You know, and I keep real messy sketchbooks with.


I work with cheap tools like ballpoint pens and highlighters and that sort of thing. So all my ideas are very random. But one of these days, I'm going to just finally solidify them into something that's a little more concrete. That's awesome. It's funny you talk about wanting to do something, that kind of graphic novel realm. I remember growing up.


This is probably, I don't remember if this was like middle school, early high school or late elementary school. There were these pocket classic books. I have a bunch of those. That are these illustrated versions of classic books. I have two stacks of them over here, right here in my office. And I love these things. And these are how I was introduced to those classics. They were how I wanted to learn to read.


those, you know, The Call of the Wild, Frankenstein, Dracula, all of those great classic books. And it's just, it's black and white line art, you know, panels. The art in those are beautiful. I have a little story about those because my grandpa used to work at a St. Vincent of Paul and he used to bring back comic books for me. And he was legally blind. So sometimes he didn't, he didn't know what he was bringing back. There was a few times where I got some kind of interesting comics. They were like of the 1970s.


are crumb, but far worse than that. Oh no. And yeah, and I learned some things pretty quickly, but if he would have known that, he would have freaked out. But he gave me a whole set of those, and I still have them. And I actually, I think in middle school, there was a few times when I forgot to do a book report. So I would grab one of those and read one of the classic stories and I would do the book, quickly do the book report,


off of that. Yeah. But, oh, none of my old teachers hear this. Well, I mean, what are they going to do? Fail you now? I mean, it's like you're outside the realm of being able to do anything about that. But, but yeah, I same way, I love those things. I thought that's what a great gift to give to children to be able to make it into a way that's very approachable to them because it's something that, you know, they're already reading comics. Oh, it looks like a comic, but it's


these classic novels in that type of realm. But being able to do your own and creating these new universes and, you know, molding things that they might, you know, that they can then, you know, latch onto and stuff, and they could then inspire them to draw and illustrate, but also to read, you know. Well, there's a, I remember just a couple years ago,


Sometimes I do school visits once in a while. They're mostly around this area. And it mostly at my kids' schools. And it's been a while since I've done one, since the pandemic started. But I did a reading and like a little workshop for some kids for the, I think it was up in Door County, which is north of me. It's really beautiful. If you look at the state of Wisconsin, it's the thumb of Wisconsin. It's a really beautiful vacation area.


It's just a 45 minute drive from where I live. And I went up there and I did a thing for a group of kids at an after school program. I think it was with the Boys and Girls Club. And there were these two or three little boys after that walked up to me. And they had this homemade comic they did. And they were showing me all the characters and they both collaborated on this. And the look on their faces, I'll never forget that. They were so excited about it. And it was so inspiring.


see that. And it actually kind of choked me up a little bit. But they were telling me about the different characters. And, and, but these two kids have been working on this after school together, you know, at this program. And, oh, man, it was, it was, it just brought me back to when I was a kid, when I would do that with my friends. And, and, but they were, they were very enthusiastic. And it was a really fun story too. The artwork was really cool.


That's pretty funny. That's awesome. That's awesome to be able to... It's stuff like that that really inspires me. Yeah. Yeah. Is there... In your... You're looking ahead. You know, is there a brass ring that you want to grab? A client? A character? I mean, I know you want to do your own stuff, but is there like... Man, if I could get a contract with this company to be able to do this character or


that that you're always have in the back of your mind? Well, I mean, I would love to develop something with some of my own characters, but I mean, I would love to do, just do another book series. And I guess if it was a, trying to think if it was a previously created character, a well-known character, it'd be cool to work on something


that was with the Henson company, because I've always been a huge fan of the Muppets. When I was a kid, I actually wrote, I still have the letter, but I wrote Jim Henson when I was a kid and I got a letter back from him, which was awesome. And I have it, it's framed in my office. And he in the letter, this was in 1985, a few years before he passed away, but in the letter, he encouraged me to keep drawing.


enjoyed looking at my art. I'm assuming he actually wrote it, but it's signed by him. That just was a huge inspiration for me because he's been a hero of mine since I was a little four years old, since I knew who he was actually. And he also sent, I was a huge fan of the great


He sent me an autograph photo of Gonzo that was signed by Dave Goals, the voice of Gonzo. So the performer. So I still, I have those in my office, but yeah, but, but yeah, I always want to do something with the Muppets, but I'm on a big list of people that want to do that. There's, if you go on Instagram, there's, there's tons of awesome Muppet fan art on there. So


the one right person to see what you've done. So, you know, keep hoping, you know, talk to your agent, hey, if you could slide this across the Henson Group desk, I'd appreciate that. And you mentioned, and you mentioned a Christmas Carol. That's like my all time favorite story. So, and to me, there's a million beautifully illustrated versions of that book, but some, something, a project like that would be on a base on a classic. Yeah.


Yeah, classic literature that I would love that. I'm gonna say a title because as you say that, I'm gonna say a title and see if you've ever heard of it. If L. Frank Baum, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Yes, yes, I love that. I have a, I'm trying to, I'm drawing a blank on his name. He's a wonderful watercolor painter. I think he just passed away. I have a,


of that book. And I don't know if it's the original, it's a picture book, but it's pretty, you know, thick picture book. And I don't know how much text was in the original, but I think they actually did a, did they do a stop motion movie of that years back? Yes, there was a Rankin Bass. Yeah, it's one of the lesser known ones though, it kind of takes the backseat to root off.


favorite ones. It definitely diverges from the original text, but just as much as The Wizard of Oz diverges a lot from the original text of the book, too, if you're looking at the movie compare. But yes, they did have a stop motion or whatever that process is called. It's not a claymation, I realize that, but yeah, the stop motion, rank and bass of Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Usually, you can find that on like, you know, on Amazon,


or something around the holidays. I always put it on my list of watch. So. There's a lot of Rankin' Bass films that I, there's some that pop up that I haven't even heard of, which is weird. I mean, I thought I had seen them all and there's, like there was that one I just saw recently. It was a Leprechaun film and I didn't know that existed. Trying to think of the title, it's a Rankin' Bass film from, I think maybe from the early 70s.


What kind of Christmas gold? Okay. Is that the one you're talking about? I think so. I think it's got that tie in it with Christmas. Yeah. It's got the banshee that's like buried under a tree and, you know, the sailor comes to get a tree on the boat or whatever. And then the release. Some of those visuals are kind of nightmarish when you think of them like the time when I was a little kid. Some of the stuff was kind of kind of creepy in a way. It was cool, but it was... Well, that's like the, you know, Rankin Bass did a animated... Was it?


I always mess it up. Was it Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit? I remember watching one of those in school, an elementary school, and being kind of freaked out by it. Like it was kind of intense for that time. I was used to seeing cartoons like that, that where you actually felt fear. Yeah, especially like when it was a Gollum, he's trying to throw the ring back into the, and he bit his finger off in the cartoon. And it's like, what? Oh, I didn't know they actually showed that in the cartoon. Yeah. Well, I mean, it's like,


He bites. I don't think there's any blood or anything, but he comes up and there's no finger there. And it's like, he just bit his finger. Here's your cartoon for the day, kids. You know, well, I had an old. I still have it. My grandma gave it to me, but she had in this old kind of thing. I don't have it in front of me. It's on my bookshelf over there, if I can see it, but it's great children's stories. And I can't remember the name of the illustrator. He's from like.


turn of the century. And it's all the old school fables, you know, like three little pigs and big bed or, um, um, like kind of mud or roost or, or build a goat's gruff and all those stories. Oh, grim fairy tales. And these are like from turn of the century. So they didn't really hold back on creepy visuals and, and they didn't, you know, try to make it more kid friendly. It was these cautionary tales. And, yeah. And I remember my


I'm not reading those to me. And I remember I would just silently stare at those images and they creep me out. And they just the way they drew people, these creepy, you know, sugar bowl haircuts and you're dancing around in tights and pointy shoes. And just weird, creepy stuff in there. But I remember, I think it was the Billy Goats gruff that freaked me out the most. Where, you know, if they were gonna, you know, if a character died, they actually, you know,


or something like, some creepy like that. But my grandma gave me that book years later and it kind of has a joke. And I think maybe when I graduated high school or something like that. And but yeah, I still have that on myself and I always go back and look at it. It's for nostalgia. Scar tissue from your youth. Yes. Yes. Well, Rob, what is


of illustration and work and things like that. What's bringing you joy now? Well, I mean, I'm a dad, so I have two kids and spending time with my kids and seeing how they seem to be like, you know, every parent says this, but they're growing up so quickly and my daughter's gonna be in high school next year, which just really freaks me out. And just thinking all that,


how quickly that time passed on, like me and my wife this past weekend, we were going through some of their old toys and just kind of packing things up and finding better spots for them in storage and in our basement. And it just kind of made me sad going through all that stuff. And you had a, I think it was the Jonathan Cook episode that you had on your podcast. He had mentioned something about keeping a lot of his kids old toys for nostalgia because they had, you know, connected with different memories. And that's how it is with me. And


It's funny because, yeah, it's like I can't, I don't like getting rid of anything and it's hard for me to do that. But yeah, like spending time with my kids and now that things are getting warmer outside, you know, nature and going for walks. And yeah. And the one thing that's, I guess it's a good thing and a bad thing, but having my hobby


actually do for a living. Yeah, that brings me a lot of satisfaction and for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You ever illustrate any sunsets, sunrises, that type of stuff or is that that like paintings out in nature, that kind of thing? Yeah. Um, not often. Once in a while, I'll do that. If I'm on vacation, I'll, if I'm during the day, I just want to be outside and do something creative. I don't feel like


like that or something, you know, I'll have a, I always have a sketchbook with me whenever I go on vacation. And I know we stayed up at a lake last summer. I did like a pen and ink drawing off the, off the dock and of the lake. And it was really beautiful setting. But in a lot of, you know, do a lot of photography with my iPhone now that, you know, you can take some pretty nice photos with iPhones. And, and I really enjoy that. I keep lots of reference materials. So I do a lot of photography for,


Oh, well, nature shots and that sort of thing. Yeah. So does that help you like for if you're like, obviously you say you used it for reference, but for like textural colors, all of the above that type of stuff? Yeah. And environments like I had mentioned before, I live just south of the city, the in Wisconsin in this area is called Dora County. And it's Dora County is just a beautiful place. It's lots of like cool rock formations. And it's, it's you're surrounded by the Lake Michigan.


other side is the Bay of Green Bay. So, and they have lots of beautiful parks there, and I go up there and take lots of photos. And I use those for some of my illustrations if I have, like, I love drawing animals. So a lot of times I'll use that as a setting for years back. I illustrated a picture book series called This was almost 20 years ago now. It's hard to believe.


It's called the Solomon Raven series. It was a four book series and it's all based on animals of Northwoods that you'd find around here, North American animals. And it's each book shows a different season, winter, fall, spring, summer. And I, Dorr County, I use that as a setting for a lot of the imagery. I took lots of photos and, and that always helps me just come up with different ideas. And when I'm out in nature, I come up with a lot of different ideas too. I'll see


cool looking trees or rocks or moss or whatever and incorporate that into a lot of my art. I love drawing more organic things. I suck at drawing cars and buildings and that sort of stuff. I struggle at it, but. Is there a, I was going to ask if there's something that you still find difficult in some of your illustrations, whether it be, I have a friend and she will 100% put feet


and she'll put feet, you know, cross legs. So she's just like, I can't draw feet. I can't make them look right. So they're always hitting somehow. Yes, feet are so hard to draw. And I always find myself doing this quite a bit. Like if I'm trying to, if there's an awkward, like a layout of, if someone's standing in a room or something like that, and there's a weird perspective with how like the, like they're in a kitchen or something like the counter.


angle or something like that. I'll somehow find a way of like putting a chair or like a potted plant or something to cover that area that's driving me crazy. So if you see like a weird potted plant in any of my images, like you'll know what I'm trying to do. My dark secret or a pillow or something more organic looking that I don't have to worry about perspective. If you add one piece of advice to give


pursue illustration, something you wish you had known earlier as a piece of advice? What would it be? Just networking, just getting out there and talking to other illustrators and throwing ideas back and forth. And just one of the things I always regret, I know, you can't go back and, you know, hindsight is only 2020, but I always, I always wish that I was a little


it's just at a younger age. I didn't really get the fire to just pick up projects or perfect my craft until I was like in my late 20s. So I still feel like I'm, I don't want to say old I am, but I still feel like I'm starting out. You know, like I always feel like everything, which is a good thing, I guess. It's always a new experience.


for me. And I just, yeah, I guess I wish I would have, I guess, kept more of a focus towards a certain, I was kind of all over the place when I was starting out as an illustrator, I was doing all kinds of, I was working in all kinds of different styles, which is good and bad. I mean, I guess it depends on who you talk to, but I wish, I think I would have, if I would have, I guess,


focus a little more. I think I'd be in a better spot at this point, but, but you know, there's so many things you learn, try new things. And I guess it's different for everybody.


This is the second segment of the show. This is where we dive a little bit deeper into you. When we talk a little bit more about mental health, everybody in the world goes through down days, dark days, has been through something where you feel utterly alone. But the thing is, is everybody goes through those things and you're not alone. As an artist, as a creative, I know sometimes we feel those things, you know, very deeply, because they help to inform


our creativity ultimately, but it's got to be, you got to manage it sometimes. So for you, how do you keep the darkness at bay? Well, I mentioned some of that stuff earlier, like being going for walks, being outside nature and, but like the past, you know, five years or so have been kind of kind of dark. I mean, to tell you the truth, things have been, you know,


more of a struggle with the pandemic and now with what's happening overseas right now. And just the stuff you see on the news, it's very depressing. And I have to kind of train myself to not look at my newsfeed. It's kind of scary. And I guess I'm trying to, and a lot of your past guests have mentioned this, like trying to live in the moment and be present. And that really helps me.


to kind of detach myself from some of my, because I always have all these different, you know, crazy working on different ideas in my head and thinking about the future, thinking of projects I want to work on and all that stuff. And I kind of forget what's, I kind of block out what's happening around me. And I think, hey, my kids are only little ones and they're, now they're already, they're, you know, middle school age. But, and just trying to be there for them as much as


as possible and support the things that they're interested in. And I think another thing to be selfish looking inward, to feel happy. A lot of times, to deal with difficult things going on, I kind of reach back into the past and pull out and pull nostalgia.


I like I watch old 70s and 80s sitcoms like Threes Company and all, you know, they show us like that. Because it reminds me of a happier time when I was a kid and I didn't have any problem, worries or that sort of thing. And I was really blessed to have, I had a really good childhood. And I grew up in a real safe neighborhood and nice kids and my parents were very supportive and


I had a pretty smooth childhood. I mean, I had my problems that everybody has, but I try not to dwell on that stuff. And I also try not to hold my kids back from certain things due to my own personal fears. Like I always worry my kids doing stupid things


I did or having attitudes that I had. And I try not to, I try to give them advice, but I try to not let my personal fears hold them back with certain things. And it's always that new thing like, I guess you're strapped in, I know you have, you have two sons, right? And they're, they're in their 20s, I think you said. And like, I, I always, you know,


always knew this new anxiety and fears that I never had as a as a single guy or or as a newly married guy. All that stuff kind of hits you and it becomes more real. And and somebody's that just is a downer. Yeah. You know, I am always worrying that about them and and and it gets to you after a while. But I just have to remind myself that we're all going to make mistakes and not to be too


harder myself and everybody's different. And yeah, so. And some of those lessons we learned from making the mistakes. And sometimes we, as parents, I think all of us, we want to protect our kids from making those mistakes. But some of that greatest learning came when we made that mistake. And it's the only way they're going to learn is by kind of making it themselves, even as much as we want to protect them from whatever heartache


that's going to be, you got to kind of loosen the grip a little to let them make that mistake so that they can learn. It's funny because I always think back when I was younger and my parents would try to tell me something or warn me about something, and I thought, oh, you have no clue what I'm going through right now. And it's funny looking back at that stuff and it just kind of makes me laugh because it's like, oh my God, they were right. I can't tell them that they were right, but they were right. Yeah. Yeah.


I'll tell my mom that I'm talking to my mom and I'll say, well, yeah, you were, when you kind of warned me about this situation I was getting into where I'm like, yeah, I guess I understand now. Yeah, yeah, I had to deal with that with my oldest Jacob. He's living in Cornwall, England now. Oh, really? Yeah, he moved to England last August, September,


married in November to his now wife that lived over there. And it was hard enough then. And now with the state of the world, you know, I'm like, you're so much closer to the bad stuff right now. Yeah. I mean, you're a lot closer to the bad stuff right now. It's like, yes, it's, it's, you know, I told I was on a FaceTime column. I was like, yeah, it's like, yeah, we're this far from all this stuff here in Georgia. You're this far from the stuff in England.


And it's like seeing that it's an extra level of that kind of dread and worry. But you have to. You got to let them live their lives. So, yeah, you know, as much as you're like, you know, get on a plane, come back here, you know, spring everybody. But yeah, it's it's hard. It's hard. Yeah. And it's it's it's hard because I see my kids too, like with with with.


with technology. I know parents all have this problem now. But imagine growing up with social media. I'm not sure how old you are, but when I was a kid, it's like you would get out of school and you were done. You would get home and that was your safe place. Like say if you had a bad day at school or you were feeling inferior or something like that and you'd come home and I flip on the


And met my day was finished and I could, I was in my safe place, but like now kids, it's like you, you, you go online and you see what all your friends are doing and what they're, and there's, you know, comments online and all that kind of stuff. And it's like, I can't imagine dealing with that at that age. So I always try to think, you know, protect my kids from some of that stuff. But yeah, it's, it's a whole different world we're in now. Yeah, for sure. And like you said, being able to.


You know, you want to try and protect them and let them know that home is still a safe place. And, you know, whether it be the inferior, inferiority complex they may have, because, you know, social media, that's curated content. That's everybody's highlight reel. Nobody's putting, you know, the, you know, stubbing the toe at three o'clock in the morning, you know, trying to get to the bathroom


and their Instagram, you know what I mean? It's like, but they're people that are doing it. You know, everybody's subject to, you know, and so whether they're dealing with like an inferiority complex type thing because of the curated content they see from somebody else, from their friends or whatever, or if it is that, you know, and I hate this part of social media is that malicious hiding behind the keyboard bully, you know, making comments that,


like, you know, they could be people you don't even know. And they always have, they're always an anonymous person too. Whenever I get a nasty comment on Instagram, like a cruel comment or a, you know, a racist comment or something, it's always somebody that's, you know, hiding behind a different name or, you know, that's an illiterate. What's even as adults with, with social media, I mean, we have to be careful that too. It's like, I, sometimes I'll, I'll go on there.


I'll start feeling fear because I'll see all these illustrators that have all these really cool pieces or working on projects. And you kind of like start to think like, why am I not getting that kind of work? Or what? And it's funny because tying this in with the nostalgia a bit. When I was a kid, I used to want another thing growing up in the 80s. I was a big fan of like 80s pro wrestling. And once a while, when I'm eating lunch, I'll go back and I'll watch


like interviews with like 1980s pro wrestlers. And one of the guys, do you remember leaping Lanny Poffall? No. Or he was, I don't know if you watched wrestling in the 80s, but he was... I did. They used to come to the Civic Center here in town, and my grandparents would take us, we'd go watch wrestling. He was actually the brother of Macho Man Randy Savage, the younger brother. And he, I saw an interview with him, and this quote, I always try,


like a, he put this on a, you know, on a frame, but he had a quote where he said that people always ask him, what was it like, you know, living in your brother's shadow? And because he was a pro wrestler too, but he was more of like one of those enhancement talent guys that kind of got beat up a lot. And, and he never got the stardom that his brother got. But, but he was a famous wrestler, well known. And, but he always, his, his motto was that he, he liked living in his


brother, but he always says his motto is do your best and forget the rest, where do, you know, do what you the best you can possibly do and stop comparing yourself to others. And, and I'm trying to remind myself of that. I always think of that. And I kind of tell it to my kids too. It's kind of funny. But, but yeah, like I do that. We're out. I'll be in a bookstore and I'll walk around and I'll see like


different books all illustrated by the same illustrator. I think, what is this guy doing that I'm not, you know, like he, it's kind of, or how is, I mean, it's a very talented illustrator, obviously, but I think like, like, how are they getting these projects? And, but yeah, it's, and I feel kind of inferior. And, but. Which it's weird that that, that inferior complex also sometimes comes along with a,


an imposter syndrome too. That too. That's another huge thing. You know, you kind of, you're getting the bad of both sides of this coin where it's like, it's like, you know, I'm doing this thing. I'm not as good as this other person. Why do they do that? I will get a job and I'll think, oh my God, there's so many people that I know that are far more talented than me that are looking for work right now. And I think, how did I get this job? That kind of thing. So, and there's that little, you know, tinge of guilt that you have, but, but,


Yeah, something I'm trying to work on, I guess. Do your best. Forget the rest. Yes.


All right, Rob, it is segment three now. It is time now for the fast five. Fast five. It's time now for the fast five. So how are you doing on getting that jingle? You were going to get the jingle made? Still workshop. You're like an eighties metal. Yeah, I'm still workshopping that, still trying to get with somebody who really gets the feel for what the fast five is. I just hadn't felt the right collaborator yet on that. But the fast five.


I love that. It's powered by Poddex. It's an app created by my friend Travis Brown. It's created for podcasters. It's conversation starters. It's interview questions. There's an app you can find in any of your app stores. And also, there are physical decks that you can get as well. Which are great to keep four or five of those in your back pocket wherever you go. If you got to talk to people and you're not used to talking to people, they're really great conversation starters. And if you go to www.chuenefatbr.com.


But the way this goes, Rob, is I'm going to hit the randomizer. I'm going to pick five questions. First answer comes off top of your head. No wrong answers. I've had people think that they're wrong answers. They're no wrong answers. So just whatever you're feeling. You ready? This is what I'm most nervous for. Everyone says that. I don't get it. I'm a slow thinker. Okay. Well, Timmy, you can ruminate while we go over it. Here's question number one.


What kind of pajamas do you wear? Depends. Wait, not like the diaper thing. You mean like... Yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. Frequent accidents. No, in the, it's cold in Wisconsin in the winter, so usually just like flannel pajama pants. And in the summer, I just wear regular shorts. Okay. Like...


Um, yeah, like not cargo shorts, but just like regular like athletic shorts or something like that. Yeah, that's that's pretty much me year-round is you know Athletics, you know, gym, gym short type things in a t-shirt because it's it's georgia t-shirt too. Yeah, it's georgia So it's usually I always have a t-shirt on no matter what In the shower All right question number two


Name one thing on your bucket list. Wow, bucket list. Well, there's lots of travel places. Okay. Australia would be one of them. Ireland is another one. Yes. Jeez, bucket list. Well, kind of what I mentioned earlier, I like to do a creator-owned project. Nice. Like a graphic novel or a children's book series. And I've had


of them that I've developed that just I just could not get to a story to materialize for my crazy drawings. Okay. But I mean, that's, I mean, it's great that it's still on there. It's something to, there'll be a check mark by that at some point. I guarantee you, Rob, there'll be a check mark by that, that piece on your bucket list at some point. All right. And number three.


If humans came with a warning label, what would yours say? Oh, man. Um, contents under pressure. Um, um, gosh, that's a tough one. I think it may be contents under pressure. Um, no direct eye contact. I don't know.


I'm an introvert so no, I'm just kidding. No, no, that, I mean, you know, that, that makes sense, you know. You know, that, that, I feel like, I feel like my, I am one of those weird like, like right on the line introvert, extrovert type people, you know, so it's, it just all depends on the people in the situation, which, which side of that coin I'm going to fall on. Do not expose the sunlight.


Oh, that's a good one. That's a good one. Alright, question number four.


toilet paper over or under over. Definitely. Yeah. And I heard that the episode you had about the spider thing, the spider hiding behind the thing. And then you pull it out and it jumps out at you or whatever. Yeah. I was like, I'd read that online or saw that somewhere. That's that's why they do it the other way. I'm like, still makes no sense. But yeah, it drives me crazy when my kids will, you know, replace what when,


place the toilet paper in the bathroom rarely, but sometimes they'll do that. They'll flip it around. That drives me crazy. It's what I always run into with the child that is still here, the 24 year old child that is still here at the house is usually it's a roll of toilet paper on the edge of the tub. I'm like, oh, yeah, there's a roll right there. There's a place for it. You obviously finished it. It's your bathroom. Why is it on the tub? Why is why is that where it goes?


And it's not like it like it's a new one and he's setting there. No, it'll be it'll stay there And it will go and it will end up being you know completely used never having made it over to the dispenser all thing And I just drives drives me nuts. Yeah Just don't get it. I just do not All right and number five


When is the last time you cried? I wanna admit this. Well, I get like, I tear up easily. There was something, I've may have been your podcast. There was someone was telling a story. Oh, it was the episode, I can't remember his name, but he's I think an actor friend of yours who had a little boy that was, that had a condition.


And he passed away at 16 months. Yeah. And that really, that story really got to me. And I actually, that was this morning or yesterday, I worked on that. And that made me missed up quite a bit. And then some of the sites we're seeing of Ukraine now, that too, it's like, oh my God. For sure. Just heartbreaking. Yeah, yeah. I had to go, it was a random, I had to go out on like a downer quest or anything like that. But also,


Let me say thank you so much for listening to the podcast as much as you have you You you've got you know, I'm a good man. I love this show dude. I appreciate that so much Well, that is our fast five and that is the show Robb Thank you so much for taking some time to speak to a stranger over a web cam. Thanks Robb for an hour or so Double B. I really appreciate your time and your openness and if folks want to keep up with you What's the what's the best way they can do that? well, um, I


I have a website, but I have not updated it. And it's still a placement page. I redesigned it a few years ago and then took it down. And then I am in the process of redesigning the site, but I'm most active on Instagram. So, R-O-B-B, two Bs like you. Mommaerts is spelled M-O-M-M-A-E-R-T-S. And that's where you'll see all my latest stuff. When lately I've been a little dry with putting things up there. I just put up some St. Patrick's Date.


holidays. So I'm always putting holiday art up. So, uh, but yeah, you'll see all my latest artwork on Instagram pretty much. So, well, we will put the link up for your Instagram in the show notes. And of course you can find that on the website as well, along with all of our past guests at chewinthefatbr.com. Robb, it really truly has been a pleasure. Uh, I hope it stay in touch. I, again, I am a fan of what you do. Uh, and I wish you nothing but success in all of


of your current and future endeavors. You too, thanks Robb. I really appreciate you having me. Thank you. If you would like to support this podcast, I'd appreciate it if you buy me a coffee at ChewingTheFatBR.com. And I'll look forward to the next time we have a moment to sit a spell and chew the fat.


Robb MommaertsProfile Photo

Robb Mommaerts


Robb is a cartoonist and illustrator who always hoped that his hobby of doodling bizarre creatures in school notebooks would eventually turn into a career. From his basement dungeon, he’s been hopping between the realms of children’s book illustration, comic books, game art, and character design. He’s recently had the opportunity to illustrate the KLAWDE: Evil Alien Warlord Cat series for Penguin Workshop. Before that he has completed eight picture book titles and provided artwork for several top-selling table-top game projects. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, two kids and a dog.