People popping into Island Grind for a hot beverage recently might have noticed some whimsical art on the wall.
The colourful prints placed around the café digitally combine a pair of animals into one in playful ways. A whale with a rhino’s face dives, a capybara with a moose head grazes, and a pair of eagles with hyena faces lock claws.
They draw one’s gaze instantly, and it’s not just local coffee drinkers who have taken notice.
Martin Bullocks Instagram account, pixelmatedanimals has more than 23,000 followers worldwide, including a number of celebrities.
“That was what made it take off a bit,” he said, chuckling.
“Amanda Seyfried – who was in Mean girls, and Les Mis – was super stoked on it, and she posted a whole bunch of them that I made for her.”
Bullock has bright blue eyes, and a mischievous grin. He said he used to create fake movie posters with his friends’ faces on them, and began the Instagram project as a lark during the pandemic.
“Everyone was stuck at home, so I was able to reach a lot of people that probably wouldn’t have been sitting around on Instagram at the time,” he said.
“People suddenly took an interest in it, and because of that I kept going.”
Since starting, Bullock said he has probably created over a thousand of the conjoined critters. Many have been custom orders fans have requested of him; often including their pets with wild creatures.
While his online store, and the commissions have been successful, he is still working as a commercial fisherman, and doing some graphic design work.
While making websites, he came across the editing software Pixelmator, which he uses to create the images, as well come up with the name for his popular account.
Inspiration comes from many places.
“The killer goose,” he said, pointing to a print with a goose body, and an orca head. “I made because I’ve been attacked by them several times, and they’re just vicious.”
Bullock also created some political images when Donald Trump was in office, turning his whole cabinet into Dr. Moreau-esque monstrosities.
“That got a whole bunch of people riled up,” he said.
Food might be the next frontier for the creative Campbell Riverite.
“Yeah, like thorough-bread horses,” he said. “Half horse, half loaf.”