The 90s have slowly replaced the 80s as the decade for inspiration in style, art and hip-hop, with most 20-somethings coming from the decade that featured Jordan winning 6 championships—not the Showtime Lakers. A product of the 90s himself, McFlyy is taking inspiration from his youth—from Dragonball Z to Spyro, and putting it into his work. The Young Geniuz who specializes in vector styled animation talked with Mechanical Dummy about his work and his creative process.
words by Nick Sella
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
McFlyy: My name is Paul Shelton (aka McFlyy), and I create art for the 90s. A more vector styled animation and super flat.
MD: Was art always something you were interested in and how did you progress to graphic design/illustrating?
M: Being a visual artist wasn’t always something I had in mind as a career until about 4 years ago when I changed my major from engineering. Ya know growing up in the 90s we really got to touch a lot of culture. Especially the hip-hop arts era and the technology age had a big factor in this whole visual arts persona. People like me were on MySpace designing layouts and making music pages for rappers like Lil’ Wayne—that’s how I really got into Photoshop.
MD: How did you learn to design? Did you go to school for it or was it self-taught?
M: Studying graphic design and studio art at the Florida State University taught me the necessities of art education and how to be successful in the real world. But everything you see now, is all self-taught, for some reason school can’t teach you creativity. I would say this though, no matter how much school you do, you can never get to where you want to be unless you practice your craft every day and take risks. But ya know, most people like to play it safe.
MD: Can you talk about the process of creating? From taking the subject you want to the finished product, and how much time goes into each work (roughly)?
M: My process is pretty simple, I take something you might find familiar and I just revisit that moment in the McFlyy filter. And I always work in threes. Each piece is usually 3-6 hours of work at average, but most of the time I’m working on multiple projects at once.
MD: Hip-Hop and street wear are some of the subjects in your work, what about these subjects and others inspire you to create?
M: Okay so I’m 22, and right now its rise of the young G’z in hip-hop, art and the fashion game. Trying to capitalize on that movement you gotta stay true to your roots and where you grew up at. That’s why my art really speaks to those 90s kids that grew up on Paid N Full, Spyro & DBZ.
MD: What’s the difference in creating around something you’re a fan of (Jordans, Hip-hop artists, etc) and creating a logo for someone, or an unfamiliar subject?
M: There’s a major difference in the McFlyy art, and for example, a logo I would do for a corporate industry. I would usually do whatever I envisioned for that project in every aspect, but it’s not seen as aesthetically pleasing for a more business scenario. You gotta alter your eye to their already existing brand identity and their demographic they are trying to appeal to.
MD: What is your favorite subject to create for/around?
M: Dragonball Z for sure. That’s just my all time favorite anime, I know I sound like a lame but real n!ggaz know what I’m talking about. It just has the formula for a great work of art especially since it was created by the legendary Akira Toriyama.
MD: What was the first work you did that really got a lot of attention?
M: It was that Trap God II mixtape cover I did for Gucci Mane that dropped early 2013. It was seen as blasphemous but glorious. But provocative images are the wave now I guess, so you know the hype beasts gone love it. I even released an all over print tee in commemoration.
MD: How did you get into designing music cover art?
M: I got into designing cover art from my bro Young Lyxx. We kind of started this tag team movement with our brands, he does the music and I do the art type deal. Something really no one is doing successfully now. The art speaks for the music visually—that’s why music videos are so beneficial for poppin’ hip-hop records.
MD: Can you talk about producing? Has this always been another one of your interests or is this something new for you?
M: I’ve always been interested in music. Ya know everybody wanna be a rapper these days, might as well find hustle that’s in corporation with the music industry. I just started looking into producing these past few months. I listen to music all day and I thought I try my hand at it since I got all the equipment necessary. Practice at anything makes perfect, why not try something new.
MD: Where do you hope to take your work in the future and what would be a dream project (someone/something to create for) for you?
M: I want my work to be on the high-art pedestal. No one wants to create mixtape covers and party flyers for their art career. I want to be revered as a household name like Pharrell Williams, Takashi Murakami and Kanye West. My dream project would be with any of those artists I just named.
MD: What advise would you give to young illustrators/designers?
M: Find whatever you’re good at, go to school for it, practice and perfect your passion, and make sure you’re getting paid for it.