Robots have rocked and socked their way back onto the sci-fi scene this year, thanks to box office blockbusters like Disney’s Big Hero 6, Chappie and Ex Machina—the latter of which was a creepy sneak peek at the destructive potential of artificial intelligence.
Local artist Jordan-Alexander Thomas, aka Space Boy Robot, was inspired to create a line of robot sculptures after making one as a gift for a friend. Crafted from wood and recycled parts, his colorful creatures have a look (and spirit) more akin to the 2005 animated feature Robots: quirky and whimsical, with individual “personalities” that appeal to pop culture fanatics. “Robots are rad,” quips Thomas. “I’ve always been a sci-fi geek.”
This is the last weekend to catch Thomas’ artwork in Robot Pop, a mantle display at Roosevelt Row’s MADE boutique through August 17. After that, the mechanical monsters will migrate north for a featured show at Practical Art, October 1-31. Prices start at $150 for smaller sculptures.
In preparation for the upcoming Roboddities invasion, we caught up with Space Boy Robot to get the lowdown on his creative process, nerdy interests and unusual nickname.
How did you get the moniker “Space Boy Robot?”
This is embarrassing, but my AIM screen name when I was a teenager and in college was SpaceBoyJordo. When I chose my website and Etsy name, I went for Space Boy Robot. I have no clue how I came up with [that], but it’s a perfect fit for me and what I create!
Where do you find robot-making materials?
I’m notorious for picking things up off the ground and putting them in my pocket. I also try to buy a lot of robot parts from local businesses. Goodwill on third Saturdays is always a great resource for mixed media and assemblage artists. My absolute favorite is ReStore, the Habitat for Humanity store.
How supportive was your family in regards to your art career?
I grew up in a very creative environment. My grandfather painted landscapes, my great-aunt is a portrait painter, my mom is a clever mixed-media artist and my siblings are pretty artistic. My parents encouraged it.
How did the robots come about?
I started making robots from some old wooden blocks in my mom’s garage and various wood parts from the craft store. When I moved back to Arizona I started selling them in a co-op and showcasing at First Fridays, which opened up some pretty awesome opportunities. The general consensus is that [people] can’t believe the robots are wood. I get a lot of positive feedback.
How geeky are you? If you participated in a pop culture trivia contest, could you win?
I’m pretty good with popular robot names, some Star Wars trivia (Fun fact: I didn’t watch Star Wars until I was in college). I could definitely answer every Futurama question; I’ve seen every episode multiple times. I love to read and I pretty much devour any space-opera novel. My favorite will always be Dune.
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.