Betty Turbo, American Illustrator – Maker Profile
One thing we’ve learned on our World Tour… Insta-BFFs are TOTALLY a thing. Some people, you click with the moment you meet – or “meet” in the case of Betty Turbo.
We first spied her work while researching an artist for our 2nd World Tour Gift ::
“Betty Turbo (aka Agnes) is an illustrator with mad style – we knew we were kindred spirits when we saw the word ‘rad’ in her bio! We totally dig her mix of colors and typography, the all-out ENERGY that just jumps off the page.”
Over the past four years, that instant connection has grown into a fast and firm friendship. Agnes may be the only person as obsessed with pizza as we are (so much so that she created two pizza-themed coloring books).
And to this day, we still grin BIG whenever she creates new work. (I mean, check her Instagram. Her mad skills reign supreme!!) It’s about damn time we interviewed Betty Turbo for a Maker Profile!
RAH – We LOVE LOVE LOVE that you created a hilarious card based on a video that Hen shared. What typically inspires your work?
Food, powerful women, outer space, signs and packaging, pop culture, things people collect and save…
RAH – You’ve lived in Alaska, Nashville, Oregon… wide range! Did any place particularly shape your style?
I hope all of them have! Though some effects might be buried deeper than others… Living in Portugal made me a lot more conscious of how surface patterns describe a sense of place. In a more blatant fashion, my years letterpress printing in Nashville directly influenced how I handle type and lettering. I think cultural impressions of Nashville also shaped how I approach storytelling, and the relationships between pop culture and everyday lives.
RAH – Your work is filled with so much FUN – grubbin’ food and badass women and general silliness. The art world can feel so serious – was it a conscious decision to focus on happy things?
Goofiness is definitely a natural Way of Being to me, and I’m a firm believer that you can be serious about issues and concepts without taking yourSELF too seriously. I feel like humor is a useful tool because it is an access point to invite more people into the conversation. We can tackle intense, hard things and still find moments of joy and positivity, and there is a place for laughter in activism and protest.
A BIG bootyclappin’ thank you to Betty Turbo for takin’ the time to answer our questions. Shop a selection of her goods on RAD AND HUNGRY, and check her Etsy shop for more rad work. And BONUS!! Download the special pen wallpaper she created especially for RAHstrs!
1 - First, the basics: pencil or pen, ruled sheets or grid?
Pen! Be BOLD! I do love a luscious pen. Ruled sheets if I can’t choose blank! And it better be college-ruled or freakishly small international lines – wide-ruled paper gives me hives and sends me into a panic that I’m wasting space and I’ll never have enough room to get down all my ideas.
2 - What’s your favorite food to grub on? Drink to sip (or guzzle, you know how we do)?
I know I front like all I eat is ice cream and candy, but I really do love Japanese and Thai food best! I think I could subsist on some incarnation of veggies and tofu forever and ever. As long as there are some jellybeans hidden in my desk.
To sip? I like weird sodas which I find in the wild or make at home. Drinking vinegars are my jam! Shrub a dub dub.
3 - Describe the Portland art scene in 3 words.
Cooperative, self-referential, weirdos!
4 - What’s the one thing everyone should experience in Portland?
Eat at food carts!! Their variety and abundance is sure to delight you. A great way to sample different cuisines on the cheap, satisfy a group of friends with varied tastes, and explore different neighborhoods.
5 - You have a jet all fueled up and ready for your own personal World Tour. Where you headed?
Oh my gosh, how much fuel do I have? Can it last forever?? My dream World Tour (if I do have to come home eventually) would include Japan for food and art investigations, Hungary for the ancestral research aspect, Iceland, because I come from the ice and snow and will forever dig on Arctic climes for good times, and Brazil to put my Portuguese to the test!
6 - You know we had to ask – favorite pizza topping?
Pineapple is the best pizza topping, let it be known to all and sundry. Also, leggings ARE pants.