Opti: Fellow researchers, let's make some noise and salute King Bomba a member of the h2g2 community artists.
King Bomba: Thanks very much. I feel a bit like Elvis taking the stage now.
Opti: Hello King Bomba, for those not in the know: how would you describe the role of an h2g2 community artist?
King Bomba: Well, our job is to provide all the colourful images you see around h2g2 (apart from the photographs). We do a few different things. There's producing blobs for Edited Guide Entries, which is one of the biggies. We also produce new smileys every time there's a new collection released. Incidentally, the new ones will be with us before long1! On top of that we can create banners or pictures for all the clubs and societies that exist in and around the site.
Then there's the new initiative Malabarista started. Anyone who hasn't submitted a Guide Entry to Peer Review in the last year can have their very own picture to illustrate it when it hits the Front Page - no matter how mind-boggling the subject is to illustrate. So get writing and give the artists a headache! .
Opti: What drew you to being a volunteer in this group?
King Bomba: I've always loved the pictures I've seen on Hootoo. Colourful, unconventional, slightly off-the-wall – they seem to go hand-in-glove with the kind of researcher and writer we seem to attract! Providing illustrations clearly isn't central to what the site does in the same way as writing Entries is, but it's always been an important element in the whole atmosphere of h2g2. (I'd talk about 'look and feel' and 'branding', but I have a nasty allergy to such terms. )
I play around and do a lot of drawing anyway, so I thought, "Why not throw some of it in h2g2's direction?"
Opti: When did you become an h2g2 artist?
King Bomba:Oooooh, not that long ago. Around the beginning of the year, I think.
Opti: In recent months the h2g2 artist community seems to have shrunk, why do you think this is?
King Bomba: It has? I hadn't noticed that. I think there was a bit of a lull for a while about a year ago or more - as a site user, not an artist, I noticed that pictures were becoming less common - but there seems to me to be a bit of a resurgence going on at the moment. There's certainly a buzz about the volunteer scheme right now that's fun to be part of.
Opti: What can be done to draw people into becoming a fellow h2g2 artist?
King Bomba: That's a good question. I'm not so sure! I think it's something you have to decide to do yourself. Sometimes it can be time-consuming and there's no pressure to do anything, so unless it's something you actually have fun doing, you might not get much out of it.
If anyone reading this is interested in creating art for the site, have a look at the Community Artists' Homepage, have a read and put your name forward!
Free beer at weekends and holidays might be a good incentive - there are plans afoot to raise it with the italics. They don't yet know that.
Opti: So the future looks bright then?
King Bomba: Oh yes! As long as there are pixels left to colour, we'll be poking, prodding and tormenting them with our virtual paintbrushes!
The future for the free beer and holidays looks slightly more dim, unfortunately.
Opti: Thank you, King Bomba, for revealing some of your mystery to us today. May h2g2 continue making you happy each and every day.
King Bomba: And yerself! Nice doing business with you.