Bruce Bickford is a true artist, he has a vision, and he has dedicated his entire life to realizing its expression; and while he can appreciate the use of ink, paint, cameras, and clay, Bickford has managed to combine all of these medias to create a world of psychedelic animation.
Bruce Bickford lives in SeaTac, just outside of Seattle, down an isolated forest road. He has lived in the same house all his life, surrounded by objects of his own creation and odd bits of inspiration – a warehouse of grocery bags stuffed with “voodoo masks” cut from dried leaves, miniature “disco castles” and Twin Peaks dioramas, armies of preserved clay figures. Tales of UFOs, bean-pod aliens and other dreamy snippets fill boxes. He has been constantly at work for more than 40s years, and Bickford is incessantly inspired to keep going.
He achieved cult status in the 1970s and ’80s, providing psychedelic claymation for Frank Zappa films “Baby Snakes,” “The Dub Room Special,” and “The Amazing Mr. Bickford.” Since then, Bickford has continued to work, day in and day out on projects of his own that are more like a visual stream of consciousness; bodies melt, spontaneously reproduce, and grow limbs; faces turn into islands into caves into wolves into globes like a phantasmagorical meditation on the conservation of energy. Bickford has said he believes that you can make a story out of anything, and his utterly unique films are like a meditation on this principle.
If you are interested in learning more, a documentary on Bickford’s life and creations was released in 2004 called Monster Road. I have posted the trailer below. And, if you are in LA on December 4th, the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre will by flying Bickford down from Seattle to celebrate his creations to date, including the premiere of Cas’l, Bickford’s finally-finished, twenty-plus-years-in-the-making magnum opus. Pretty rad.