Why the name Turbo Bambi?
I was eating a poutine at the Village Idiot one night and I met Sarah J. Spurr and we started talking about art and stuff! It’s cool how passions bring people together. I didn’t know she was an awesome writer at that moment, but next thing you know, we met again at the Mountain Colab as she interviewed me for the “Featured Artist” of the March 2018 issue of the Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Here’s what it said:
Welcome to Bambi Land
Claudia Bambi and the real Turbo Bambi
By Sarah j Spurr
That feeling when sunshine breaks between storm cycles and sizzles with its brightness over your trembling eyelids. Out of the woodworks all the happy little colours prance by, lighting up the world again with their shooting high beams. Your squinting face melts into a cheesy smile. Delicious, vitamin feelings sink in. It’s all hot laps for breakfast and “Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere” up in your earbuds.
This is Bambi Land, a world animated from the inside out by visual artist, graphic designer and illustrator Claudia Bambi. You may know her more officially as Turbo Bambi — a mythical creature who rocks tube socks and is fueled by maple syrup and poutine. She describes her art as “influenced by the flamboyant Pop Art movement where overly happy creatures meet some of her favourite pop culture icons.” Curious about how she came to be, I met up with Claudia at her workspace in the Mountain CoLab (a cushy lair to nurture design productivity).
When was Turbo Bambi born? How did she get here?
Long story short, in 2006, two friends who I studied graphic design with and I decided to enter an air guitar contest and named our air band Turbo Bambi. Being graphic designers, we made ourselves a logo and printed T-shirts for our friends to wear at our show. We ended up winning with a rendition of Le Tigre’s Deceptacon — with no guitar in it — well it had a keytar. T-shirt sales skyrocketed after our victory and we randomly got invited to participate in an iPod battle. We won the first battle so we made it to the next round, and the next, and so on … until we got to the final battle up on a stage downtown Quebec City during the Carnaval de Quebec and ended up winning against 2 local DJs. The next day, our faces were on the front page of the paper and people started calling us the Bambis. A few weeks later, I got a call from the mountains so I moved out West — bringing only my boardbag and my new nickname. It was such a fun and memorable experience that I wanted to keep the band name alive forever and decided to name my graphic design company Turbo Bambi. The end.
How did your career find Revelstoke?
The love of snowboarding is what initially brought me to the mountains. My first stop was in Whistler about a decade ago, where I slowly started building a clientele for Turbo Bambi Design. Throughout the years, I accumulated enough work to sustain myself as a full-time freelancer which also meant that I could work from anywhere with a wifi connection. As my passion for snowboarding shifted from riding park to riding champagne powder, Revelstoke seemed like the best place to be! I knew there was amazing snow here, but I didn’t know how tight-knit the community was, which makes me appreciate this place even more. Everyday, I catch myself thinking about how stoked I am to be here.
I spy yummy food, kitties, music and brains. What’s inspiring you?
Everything! Words, colours, landscapes, cuteness, pop art … but I also like black and white, hip-hop and skulls. I have a bipolar aesthetic: it’s cute or badass. My most favorite colour of all time is seafoam (aqua). I see it in all my favorite places: the ocean, glacial lakes and I also grew up in a seafoam coloured room. Anything that goes well with seafoam is part of my favorite colours!
Your work oozes energy and a sense of work ethic. Can you share any tips for ambitious freelancers or creative entrepreneurs reading this right now?
Being a freelancer requires a lot of discipline and time management skills. As awesome as it sounds to work from home in the comfort of your PJ’s, I prefer to work from the Mountain CoLab because I’m more productive when I wear pants and, also, I strongly believe that human contact and daylight is essential. Also, a great tip to all my fellow perfectionists out there: perfection is the enemy of productivity. That’s easier said than done. (I’m writing this as I’m re-reading this for the fourth time to perfect it).
Do you have any mentors or artists whose work motivates you to create?
I really like Gary Baseman for his weird, cute and creepy creatures. I have a soft spot for pro-skater Ed Templeton and his Toy Machine graphics. I recently discovered Killer Acid on Instagram and really connect with his colourful style.
Recent highlights or cool places your work has ended up:
Actually, I got a lot of great feedback from the Ford ads and the Canada 150 cover I did for the Mountaineer! I’ve had a few random requests from people seeing my work in public places. For example, a movie producer from LA commissioned me a piece after he saw my art in the Alexander Gastown pub. Sometimes I’ll do work for people I’ve never met but they’ve found me through Instagram. It blows my mind to see how easy it is to connect with people with mutual interests on social media these days. It feels like possibilities are endless! “Bambi Land” extends beyond her graphic design brand. She speaks to a playful lifestyle, a sense of humour and personal love for colour, kawaii, music, retro, food and an affection for helping things look a bit more shiny. Off the digital, she is passionate about breathing life into creations she can touch — exploring fine art applications including oil blended portraits, acrylic on canvas or wood and using available materials as they present themselves. If you are looking to flaunt one of her most popular designs, she contributes to Society6, an online shopping platform that brings consumers and artists together by offering a wide range of customized products. Each purchase is printed to order, ships internationally and pays the artist directly.
Last Fall she stepped out with a three-dimensional installation for the downtown premiere of Luna, Festival of Nocturnal Art and Wonder. The idea was adapted to fit the Explorers Society Hotel lobby. ”The Drifters” were linear painted driftwood sculptures floating above plush hand-sewn river rocks. The piece was inspired by the smooth curves of mysterious drift wood shapes found beached along the Columbia River. From this she mobilized a collection of wide eyed ghostly characters you could wear around on your back. This combination of Bambi style with objects shaped freely by a river, gave us insight into some fresh harmonies at play and added to the overall success of an event where out-of-the-box thinking was encouraged. She contributes work regularly to fundraise for the Kovach Park skatepark and showcases paintings in exhibitions like the recent Anything Goes silent auction at the Revelstoke Art Gallery.
Need something? Ask Bambi: Illustration, Logo design, Branding, Packaging, Signage, Digital Art, Custom Paintings — I personally recommend the conversation. As we leave the CoLab, downstairs Claudia picks up a plastic dinosaur from the window at neighbouring Dose Cafe and I catch her mind switch into Bambi mode. “You know they should really have a toy dino design contest here”… Endless possibilities for collaboration in this town lurk, waiting for your high beams around every corner.