The Art of @gangsterdoodles Features Rappers on Post-Its
Plenty of people toil away at their day jobs thinking about all the other things they could be doing, but few make good on it — then again, not everyone has skills with a Sharpie like Marlon Sassy. The 29-year-old Vancouver, British Columbia, resident is the hand behind the popular account @gangsterdoodles, which features Post-it note sketches of rappers, actors and assorted pop culture iconography.
“Anything people needed, they’d come to me,” Marlon explains of the 9-year stint he spent as an office manager at a Canadian television production company, where he first began the work that is now being celebrated by the likes of Questlove and Tyler, The Creator, among others. “It was menial stuff — make some coffee, make some calls for people. It gave me a lot of flexibility to do what I wanted to do during the day.”
What Marlon wanted was an outlet for his visual art — paintings and drawings — which he made when he came home from work. The film school grad had already had a gallery show and found the traditional art scene unsettling. “Everyone is going, ‘What does this mean, what does that mean?’” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I dunno, it’s a cool picture. That’s it.’ And then they go, ‘What do you mean, it doesn’t have a deeper meaning?’ And I’m like, ‘Not really.’”
He needed something else, something faster and more amenable to his “it’s not that deep” sensibility. Three years ago, using markers and Post-it notes, he began making quick five-minute drawings when he had free time at work. Slick Rick. Nicki Minaj. Lil Wayne. Radio Raheem. Childish Gambino. A$AP Yams. Others. Lots of others. All aquamarine and violets against soft yellow, they were imperfect enough to be amateur, but professional enough to pop.
“I posted a picture every day for a year and a half, not missing a day,” he says. “I still try to do that. I like doing it. It gives me something to do.”
It’s not like he doesn’t have the time. Last October, after selling a handful of prints and releasing two volumes of his collected works through art publisher Valley Cruise Press, he finally had enough money to quit his day job. Now, between commissioned work and the upcoming release of this third book, due in October, he’s drawing new art every day and focusing much more on merchandise — T-shirts, prints and pins.
“I like having control over what I’m doing,” he says. “You can sell your own stuff, make money off of it and you’re not answering to anyone. You make stuff, people buy it, that’s cool; if not, that’s cool too. I’m not making huge money so it’s not like I’m living in the lap of luxury. But I like this better than my old job. That means more than making a ton of cash. For me, it’s a way of becoming free.”
—Paul Cantor for Instagram @music