Not So Ugly Ink

By Sergio Santos

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A fascinating component of this social media age is that it often provides viewers with a front row seat into an artist’s progression. Sam Moore, of Christchurch, New Zealand, better known as the Instagram user ugly_ink, began posting a post-it note a day (let that statement sink in for a minute) in February of 2016 onto his Instagram feed. The project began with 30-second, black-and-white drawings, and has since evolved into a daily, color-infused, infinite universe of delight and humor. His characters are unique and as an added bonus, each have a backstory to tell.

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Moore’s characters are humorously drawn, but juxtaposed with his storylines, they become hilarious. “I like contrasting a boring story with a crazy character, or a boring character with a crazy story,” says Moore. “Sometimes I plan them [the drawings], and sometimes they’re just totally random. I don’t think about the story until I put them up on Instagram.” This is a pretty amazing daily feat. In the early days of ugly ink (a few months ago), Moore occasionally drew from pop-culture to create deconstructionist characters like Gormby, Gumby’s older, way more interesting brother. At some point, however, Moore delved into a remote universe and each day his Instagram followers are treated to a new and unique character complete with a new and unique storyline.

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“You know how you get these big blockbuster movies and the characters are always sort of invincible and that’s sort of one-dimensional?” asks Moore. “Like Superman is the most one-dimensional character ever because he’s got no sort of hobbies. I want to know what kind of hobbies Thor has or what kind of T.V. shows he wants to watch when he isn’t fighting crime. Or I’d want to know about the guy who makes his metal underpants or has to wash his cape on the weekend.” This curiosity is certainly the impetus of Moore’s daily creations. George Tinglebrax, a comically grisly, horned, alien creature, for example, can’t decide what bagel to choose for lunch, as he holds up the forefinger of his four-fingered right hand and clutches his money in the other.

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When asked about the future, Moore replies, “I try not to think about it, because I think if I do, then it’ll affect what I draw.” Moore does admit, however, that if Cartoon Network gave him a call, he wouldn’t be unenthusiastic about hearing them out. Given the fact that in less than a year, Moore has amassed 13,300 followers on Instagram and the depth and scope of his imagination, the said phone call doesn’t seem impossible. The ugly ink Instagram is just Moore blowing off steam; it would be amazing to see what he could do at full, focused capacity.

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