Mr Bingo is an illustrator-turned-artist who cut his teeth in animation, publishing and advertising.


Since he consciously ditched the commercial work back in 2015 he has gone on to create his own brand of creativity. He launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish 156 out of his 928 Hate Mail postcard artworks in a book. He then filmed and produced his own rap video promoting said crowdfunding campaign and offered anyone who paid in £75 or more 'a one-off pornographic drawing on an envelope of Queen Elizabeth II, incorporating the postage stamp as her head'.

His success as an independent creative has also seen him find work through his own unique style of motivational speaking. Recently he held a talk at Radley Yeldar entitled 37 Things I’ve Learnt, in which he delivered his advice on everything from getting over romantic breakups to overcoming procrastination.

The Drum sat down with Mr Bingo (his real name is yet to be discovered) ahead of the event in an attempt to understand the mind of a man who managed to make a living from writing and illustrating insults on postcards, and sending them to strangers


The Drum: What was your experience of working in advertising?

Mr Bingo: All clients were different: some treated me really well, some people let me do exactly what I wanted. Some made me draw things I didn't want to draw that I thought were rubbish, and some came to me and briefed me to do things when they should have gone to someone else, which I thought that was lazy of them and stupid.

If a client would come to me with a brief and say: 'We want this', I would think of what I wanted to draw – not really caring that much about what the client wanted – and then persuade them that's what they needed.

My aim with every single commercial job I did was to keep a client happy but also make a really nice piece of work that could stand alone as a nice illustration that people would find funny on the internet. So even though the original illustration would have been some advertising or branding, I liked doing pictures that I knew would just work on their own when you took the context away.

The thing is, advertising pays you lots of money and when you have money you can afford to do things like living in houses and eating food.

In the end, I ended up getting this reputation for doing edgy work so clients used to come to me and say: 'Can you do something edgy? We want our brand to be cool and edgy.' And I’d say: 'Cool, what about this?' and they’d go 'Oh no, that’s way too edgy!'

TD: What was the worst client experience you ever had?

MB: I think one of the worst ones was Dazed & Confused magazine. They asked me to do something and then as I was doing it they said: 'Can you try to make it look a bit more like this person's work?' and I said: 'Well why didn’t you ask him to do it?' Presumably they had and he was too expensive.

I decided to pull out and they agreed to pay me a kill fee. It took me about six months to get paid that money. That was pretty awful.

I actually bought the URL I think I had it for about two days. When you clicked on it there was just a Post-it note with ‘Where's my fucking money?’ written on it.

TD: Were you ever asked to work for free?

MB: I was. A lot of illustrators and people in creative industries get asked to work for free a lot, I don’t know why.

I think that when you’re starting out it's okay to work for free sometimes, but it's important to know exactly who you are working for and why you're working for free and to take it on a case by case basis. Some people will really be taking the piss; if an ad agency gets you in to draw an campaign for free when they should have given you £20,000 you have to ask why.

I used to have a section on my old website called Does Mr Bingo Work For Free? If you clicked on it you got this huge ranting page that said: 'Get the fuck off my website. I can't believe you even clicked on it.' It was really quite angry. But I got respected for being so honest.

Even last year I got this email from a woman representing Game of Thrones, one of the highest grossing TV programmes ever. They were looking for artists to do some artworks to go in a special Game of Thrones gallery. I asked what the budget was and she wrote back saying: 'There isn't any budget because this is an incredible opportunity.' What a load of shit.

I was so angry I couldn't even write a reply so I screengrabbed the email and put it on the internet on all my social media. It blew up. People just went crazy. The public were angry on my behalf and did all the work for me.


TD: What did you hate about working in advertising?

MB: I think a lot of it is stealing good art ideas and trying to turn them into big ad campaigns, which is a bit sad. The most highly paid jobs were always the least enjoyable because you were doing something for a company that you didn’t like, and the campaign would have to appeal to everyone in the world.

It didn't suit me because I don't want to do work that appeals to everyone in the world.


TD:How did you manage to make the leap from illustrator to artist?

MB: I was getting bit bored, a bit complacent about being an illustrator. It went from being a dream job to just day to day work. I was kind of getting bored, and tired of clients. And then I did a Kickstarter in 2015 to publish my book, which raised £135,000. So I had this moment of realisation that if the public is willing to pay me that much money, I thought maybe I can do this forever.

I'm just an illustrator who became an artist who has more fans than most illustrators. It’s because of how much effort I put into social media – it’s down to being attention seeking and trying to make people like me, I guess. I just like to everything as well as possible really. I take everything quite seriously even though it's jokey. I would hate to write to a bad tweet for instance.

TD: Snapchat or Instagram?

MB: Instagram. I don’t know Snapchat, I haven’t got it. I’m too old.

TD: Soho or Shoreditch?

MB: That’s really difficult because I love both for different reasons. Soho’s more exciting now because I work in Shoreditch.

TD: Snog, marry, avoid – Maurice Lévy, Yannick Bolloré and Sir Martin Sorrell?

MB: I don’t know who any of those people are.



Read the full interview in The Drum, here.

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