Bill Maher’s ‘Irritable Bowl Syndrome’ by Fraser Davidson

Interview by Brandon Lori

Tell us a bit about your animated infographic piece for Bill Maher’s book “The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass.” Was it an official promo for the book or an independent project?

Well, it started out as a five-minute rant on Real Time with Bill Maher, the original clip of which is still on YouTube. I later found it in the audiobook version of Maher’s collection of such monologues. I edited it into a tight two-minute piece and started animating from there. It’s only intended as an homage to Bill’s original. The subject matter conjured up some aesthetic ideas taken from Soviet constructivism and 1950’s Americana which I thought might suit the piece.

How long were you working on the piece?

About 12 days worth of work spread over about 3 weeks I think. It’s nice to have something to do around Christmas as work is winding down for the holiday and before things kick off in January again.

Out of all Bill Maher biting rants, why did this one resonate with you so much as to bring it into animation?

I think it just happened to appeal to my political sensibilities as much as anything else. The right wing rhetoric of the likes of Glenn Beck in America borders on hysteria. The idea that something so quintessentially American and above all lucrative could have such an egalitarian foundation might well shock some of those who see socialism as an anti-American curse. I enjoy Maher’s uncompromising polemical approach in general, but I thought this made for a particularly good argument and might sway a few die-hard conservatives.

Much of your portfolio is focused on sports branding. How and why did you steer your career in that direction?

Just being a sports fan I suppose. I played Rugby for 10 years and I’ve always loved contact sports. Branding for sport is unique in a way. People don’t look you up online and write angry rants to you because you altered the local investment bank’s logo. But if you mess with their team brand and they disapprove of it, they will hunt you down and tell you. I recently produced a speculative logo design for the NHL’s returning franchise, the Winnipeg Jets. The design gathered some press attention in Manitoba and people went crazy with rage. I still get e-mails. Team logos are essentially heraldry and carry with them all the baggage that entails. If you’ve worn a particular mark on your jumper every sunday for 30 years, it’s very hard to see that logo get an update. On the flip side of that, a successful brand can win you a lot of fans.

The piece is getting a lot of attention on the web. Has anyone from the Bill Maher camp reached out to you in regards to your work?

Yes, I got a nice e-mail from Bill’s head writer who was very kind about the piece. It’s often very difficult to get hold of writers and publishers and explain an idea for something like this. In this particular instance I took a chance and figured it might be easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Thankfully the people involved were happy with the promotion of the book at the beginning and end. With the massive boost the film got from Motionographer, hopefully they have sold a few extra copies on the back of the piece too. Did I mention it’s a great read and an excellent gift for a friend or relative!?

You’re a London-based designer. With the Super Bowl such a big day for sports fans and those in the advertising industry alike, will you be tuning into the big game?

Yes, I’ve always been a big fan of the NFL. Millionaires giving each other brain damage, it’s fascinating. I would recommend it to anyone — the Super Bowl is a heady mixture of orgiastic pomp, commercialism, mud, chess and war crimes.