Ever wonder what Bruce Bickford is up to these days? Read along as we bring you the latest from Leisure Class Productions.

Bruce Bickford : Sacred & Profane Solo Exhibition

Bruce Bickford "Sacred & Profane" Solo Exhibition
March 3rd 2016 5-9PM


"Sacred & Profane" an exploration of plasticine parables. Creation, destruction and transformation. Clay, line, cardboard and film innovations by animator Bruce Bickford.

Please join Bruce and Flatcolor for the opening of this exhibition.

This Exhibition will run through March 26th.


About Bruce Bickford

"Although Bruce Bickford achieved some notoriety in the 1970s through his work with Frank Zappa, he has remained working in relative obscurity ever since, continuing to create ingenious, baffling and mesmerizing line and clay animations.

Bickford's animations are incomparable and indescribable. There is no one like him in animation. The closest comparison might be found in the free jazz of Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler. Nothing is stable in Bickford's universe. Heads, humans, and landscapes form, re-form, transform. It's like observing a child blissfully lost in play. You don't have a clue what is going on, but you're mesmerized by the sheer inventiveness and wonder of it all. You don't comprehend the world of Bruce Bickford, you experience it, you savour it."

-Chris Robinson Ottawa International Film Festival 2015


From his home workshop/film studio in SeaTac, famously reclusive and idiosyncratic Pacific Northwest animation artist Bruce Bickford has for three decades produced undeniably visionary art films.

Although self-taught, the enigmatic and esteemed animation pioneer -- once deemed "the world's greatest animator" -- has earned a worldwide following of animation aficionados enthralled by his ingenious, disturbing, lysergic, phantasmagorical, often violent, eye-popping, and mind-bogglingly unique work. Acquiring a film camera as a teenager, Bickford began experimenting with modeling clay and a primitive stop-motion animation technique (what is called "clay animation") -- a labor-intensive process that Bickford is rightly considered both a pioneer and master of. He gained his initial cult-status fame by animating various 1970s Frank Zappa films (for which Bickford is considered a father of the subsequent music-video revolution), but his most highly regarded piece is the masterful and award-winning 1988 feature Prometheus' Garden.

Bickford's work has also been highlighted in Zappa's 1990 The Amazing Mr. Bickford film; exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum; and featured in the 1994 history book Clay Animation: American Highlights 1908 to the Present, the 1995 film The Clay Spirit, and two bio-documentary films, 2004's award-winning Monster Road and 2008's Luck of a Foghorn.

In 2015 Bruce Bickford released the animated DVD Cas'l', exhibited his creations in Seattle featuring a retrospective at the Northwest Film Form entitled "Perpetual Motion Machine", screened his work at Zappa Week, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), Takamatsu Media Art Festival and headlined Toyko’s Georama Festival.

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Mask of the Dead Brain

A DISCLAIMER. Gus Reeves, Publicist.

Bruce Bickford is currently caught up in trying to complete a graphic novel, that so far has added up to well over 500 pages of drawings, and many pages of writing besides, but he's rather eager to get another project going. It's a much shorter graphic novel called "Mask of the Dead Brain"  The ultimate goal here would be to get the story worked-out enough to be a potential movie or screenplay, but it might be awhile yet before Bickford can devote himself full time to that task, and he'd like to involve some other artists in The Mask story. At this point he has so little infrastructure that any contributions from others would have to be voluntary, because it's complicated enough to work out a good story, and beyond him to consider this a money-making venture.  So any who wish to be involved here would be doing it merely out of the interest in working on such a project,
whatever entertainment they might derive out of a story as grotesque, and to many, repugnant, as this one is.  Now in defense of the material, it must be said that the main emphasis of much of it is humor, which might seem absurd, but its absurdity is the whole thing, Bickford hopes there might be some fun found in working on this truly morbid and insultingly irrevent tale. Despite how gross this all is, the main goal is entertainment.

It would be best if any contributor were to choose what scenes or images they like best and can relate to and create most easily. Suppose a particular artist is good at depicting the finer details of classic early sixites go-karts, which The Head, the main character in the story, rides around on.  Or the absurdly clunky and powerful cars which the secret police in the area drive around in, the trucks from the rendering plant which haul bodyparts and bones around, or the demon sleds which transport huge effigy heads, sleds which move with their own mystic power, or the x-ray machine which discovers the inner workings of The Head...

Bickford hasn't had much experience at all working with other artists, but he realizes that most artists like himself are control freaks, and would be greatly offended if anybody altered any of their work, but that is exactly what would be expected in this situation. Bickford might want to change certain pages, or designs, or images which are
submitted. He works usually from rough sketches which he has done that are then put on a lightbox and traced with a finer point pencil and the use of a magnifier so he can work out the detail. Basically he can take some very simple or complex images done by others , put them on his lightbox and fix them up, making very simple things into things very detailed and finished looking, or taking something quite evolved and well-worked out and maybe adding or subtracting a few details, or altering it someway to make it more stylistically consistent with the story. He would not be bothered by a number of different artistic styles being used in the same story, as long as he could segueway them together with the right images in between to make it all go together well.

The end result of any particular thing submitted might not look much like the original, the bottom line is all images must fit in and contribute to the whole, all details are scrupulously scrutinized so as to ensure an overall coherent ethos and infuse the story with the gripping effect of believability, obviously this is a bit presumptuous and asking a lot, but that's Bickford's attitude. Anyway, fair warning, any contributions of images may end up enormously altered, even past recognition. But that is not to say that many sequences couldn't be used exactly as submitted, it all depends on the particular situation.

As of yet the story is about 40 pages of writing with a few illustrations, and the manuscript is strewn with bad puns, some of them might be part of the vernacular of the particular locale of the story, an area known as the uplands and the casl area, where people talk and act a lot different.  Bickford has made an outline of the required scenes that can be examined by contributing artists, in addition to scanning the pages his original notes into a digital format that can be explored by artists looking to discover portions of the story that appeal to them.  Bruce Bickford has never tried anything like this before, and doesn't know whether it will work, but thinks there's a good chance that it will.

All contributing artists will be allowed to retain ownership of their own sketches or paintings and if high resolution copies are available send those first. This way the artist can use the original art for other projects etc.