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Sunday, January 24, 2016

An Interview With RobRoy Menzies – Crypto Artist
A Forensic Animator and Native Alaskan’s Art And View Of Bigfoot
By Dorraine Fisher

We all love our crypto-artists. In a world where we have mostly our imaginations to keep us fueled and inspired, our artists put a face and a shape to it. And I’m not sure they realize how important that role is to us. But even if they aren’t getting it exactly right, as we don’t really know for sure yet, they’re paying close attention to what witnesses are saying, and working hard to bring our imaginings to life.

One of our favorite bigfoot artists, RobRoy Menzies, of Juneau, Alaska talked a little about this when I spoke to him recently. And he explained how his life in Alaska has shaped and influenced his art. And he shares what may have been his very own bigfoot encounter before bigfoot was even a thought in his head. And he also talks about how his work as a forensic animator correlates with his sasquatch art. Here’s what he had to say.  

Dorraine: When did you first become interested in pursuing art?

RobRoy: When I was a little boy. At a very early age I showed signs of being more advanced than other kids, I could draw what I saw extremely well, shading, perspective, everything before I even knew what all that was! In Elementary school kids were always asking me to draw them pictures from books, paint their school projects, until the teachers caught on, then they were told not to have me do their projects for them! I remember my 7th grade art teacher used to give me advanced art projects and make me work in the tiny pottery room so I was not bothered by the other students.

In High School as a Junior, I won 3rd place for pencil drawing in the Alaska All State Art Competition. My Senior year I won 1st place for drawing in the same event.

Dorraine: Did you have any other aspirations?

RobRoy: I dreamed of being many things, rock star, make-up effects artist… but eventually I gave in to going to Art College and began my journey in a career for the arts as a commercial illustrator/artist.

Dorraine: Have you always lived in Alaska, and are there other places in your memory that have influenced you creatively?
RobRoy: I was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, and if you’ve ever been there, you would understand where a young boy might get so much imagination and creativity! Juneau was a wonderful place for any child to grow up! Especially in the 70’s. A very isolated lifestyle, (from the rest of the world) but I didn’t know any other way, and I liked it. I travel, and everywhere I go inspires me in some way. I did live in Medford, Oregon for about 4 or 5 years attending Art College, and that was a wonderful place! The reason I chose that particular art college was the environment reminded me of Alaska, but much warmer!! I loved both Central and Southern Oregon, but I returned back to Alaska in 2000 and been living here since.

Dorraine: What caused you to turn to Sasquatch art?

RobRoy: I was always interested in Dinosaurs, and monsters. Especially King Kong! As a small child I was always making up new drawings of monsters and dinosaurs or cartoons. Remember all those “reports” we had to do throughout school? I would always do those on Mountain Gorillas and Komodo Dragons, always illustrated and I would always get A’s! I know my parents probably wondered why on earth their son with all this talent, who lives in Alaska, doesn’t seem interested in drawing Bears, mountains or other Alaska scenes to sell to tourists. He wants to draw monsters!!? And being a boy of the 70’s, who hadn’t heard about bigfoot!? Those stories fascinated me. And in Alaska the natives talked of the Kushtaka, and the little people. Now fast forward to the mid 90’s and here was this thing called the internet. It didn’t take me long to start looking at Bigfoot and other Cryptid websites. I quickly became bored with the same old blurry pictures and crappy drawings. I read report after report, fueling my imagination and really sparking my interest. I began drawing illustrations from eyewitnesses. I contacted many folks and began my own personal investigation. I wanted to know what these things really looked like! I talked to many credible eyewitnesses, I kept drawing. Then I began sending my art to people like Jeff Meldrum, Loren Coleman, and Bobbie Short. I remember sending my pencil drawing of “Patty” to Peter Byrne and he wrote me back staying my drawing was “The best depiction of Patty he’s ever seen, and I could quote him on that!” All were very encouraging and… well… everybody kind of freaked out because I think we were all starving for it. Nobody was used to seeing this type of quality in bigfoot drawings. It was rare back then. So my bigfoot art was like fire to gasoline, it just took off. It was appreciated by a lot of people, which was very satisfying to me.

Dorraine: Have you had a bigfoot encounter of your own?

RobRoy: No! Isn’t that silly?? You would think I would have, but no, I have not seen one. I have been in these Alaskan woods my entire life, but growing up in here, I never thought they would live in my state, too cold! The stories I read seemed to always come from Oregon or Washington.

I did have an odd experience once when I was about 17, My friend and I were driving out in fresh snow, down a desolate road in Juneau, called Montana Creek one weekend night. I stopped on a small bridge, and showed off my teenage skills by spinning the rear tires of that old Bronco and fish-tailed across the bridge until I got into really deep snow. I stopped to get out and lock the front hubs. Meanwhile my friend got out to relieve himself. As I was locking the first hub, I swear I heard somebody running down the side of the mountain road and start running toward me! it happened so fast I didn’t look, I felt as if “it” was almost on me! I had that same feeling I always got before my older brother would jump out from behind a corner and scare me! I thought somebody was about to grab me! So I yelled at David to get in, and he could tell by my voice I was scared. He didn’t hesitate to jump in. I stepped on it before his door was closed and I went fishtailing down the road the best I could, it had just snowed about a foot so I eventually HAD to stop to lock the other hub. I told my buddy that I swear something ran down the side of the mountain and was running toward us. We decided to get out of there, so we turned around, and on the way back my headlights spotted something on that bridge we had stopped on…we both looked at each other, and I stopped. My high beams were on it, and it looked like a big puddle of blood! It was not there when we stopped 10 minutes before. We both said “Let’s go!” and we left. We drove to a local mini mart and ran into a couple friends. We told them what we just experienced and of course, they wanted to go back out there to look! So the 4 of us piled into my ’73 Bronco and headed back to Montana Creek Road. We approached the bridge and sure enough, there it was. My friend Wayne wanted to get out and look! His girlfriend & my friend Dave both said “No way!” So Wayne and I get out and walk up to the dark puddle of blood in the snow. Sure enough, it was blood, with small pieces of meat with fur in it, like a beaver or porcupine was just ripped apart! We could both see that whatever made the kill, had crawled up the bridge, because the snow was all gone and disturbed leading to the kill, only foot prints walking away from the bloody mess into the woods. That was enough for me! I walked back to the Bronco and my friend Wayne followed the tracks into the woods!! I remember him saying “They look like human tracks!” and we thought “What?” Let’s get outta here!!! He came running back, got in and said it again, “It looked like human tracks.” At that time, I was not thinking Bigfoot, I was thinking a crazy man with an ax!!

I swear it was just like something out of a horror movie!! We left and I never thought it was a Bigfoot. But now I look back at that event and wonder…it was weird!!

Montana Creek road always had tales of “Wild men” and “strange happenings” associated with it. I know 2 other people that claim to have seen a sasquatch on Montana Creek Road.

Dorraine: So, how do you imagine the face of a creature you haven't actually seen? Where did your prototype come from?
RobRoy: That’s a great question! I would have to say, when it comes to the eyewitnesses, I pay very close attention to details to what they’re describing. It’s funny how quickly you realize that people who see these things rarely get a good close-up of the face. I usually got “I couldn’t really see the face” which is of course challenging when you are seriously trying to figure out what these things look like.

Of the very few I have spoken to who have seen the face, they describe the nose as being more like an aborigine than an ape. So over time, the puzzle starts taking form. I really do think there are different kinds, like bears. You have black, brown and polar bears. So I would imagine these creatures might appear slightly different in Apart from being individuals, there environments and diet.

There are those who tell me they look much more human. More human than ape. It’s a very curious thing to me, which I think keeps me going. If I ever do get to see one I expect to be wrong in my depictions! I would hope I am close! But if I do see one I will be able to draw exactly what I saw.

Dorraine: From seeing your work, it may be redundant to point out that you receive a lot of inspiration from nature and your surroundings in Alaska. But is there anything else in the mix that helps keep you inspired?

RobRoy: Yes living in Alaska does help. I go out on my ATV adventures, hiking & camping trips not expecting to see any bigfoot, being in some very remote areas I know deep down that it is very possible for these things to live. I am curious. What are they? What do they look like? Growing up here I am very accustomed to seeing large, furry, wild animals, and being aware they are here. You must respect the areas because you never know what you will walk up on up here. I guess what really keeps me going is the big question: “Are they real?”

Dorraine: Do you have any other favorite subjects besides Bigfoot?

RobRoy: Oh yes! I do other art besides bigfoot, I do enjoy painting fine art and drawing nature, animals, people, old dilapidated things, just about anything that “looks cool” to me. Of course, everywhere you look up here in Alaska could be a painting! The mountains, the water, the wildlife…I guess I love both beautiful and ugly things!

Dorraine: With all this work revolving around bigfoot, have you developed any new thoughts on the subject? Any philosophies?

RobRoy: If these creatures are out there, they are more intelligent than we are giving them credit. There is not many of them, but they must be a strong species, strong enough to survive in the most rugged areas to stay hidden, to live without needing the conveniences of modern man. I think they are curious, but know to stay away from us.

I think there are different kinds. Maybe some are more aggressive than others. I also think it’s possible that they don’t exist. Yes that too! We must explore both sides of this bigfoot fence to understand it, and be ready to accept the truth. In my lifetime bigfoot has always been the mystery monster in the woods, I really think he always will be. I will be amazed if one is found, dead or alive in my lifetime!

Spend time in the outdoors & be observant, have fun, but don’t LOOK for Bigfoot. That will drive you crazy! Just go enjoy the outdoors, enjoy nature! The more time you spend outdoors the better your chance of seeing one! And if you see one, you are very, very lucky.

Dorraine: Is there somewhere people can see a gallery of your work? Do you have a website or blog?

RobRoy: I have a website where people can see my art work, and not just my bigfoot art…

www.visualmediastudios.com and they can always see my bigfoot art on my Facebook site “Bigfoot Art Gallery”  

Dorraine: What is your favorite medium for your art?

RobRoy: I have always loved pencil, but I think I like acrylic painting the best. I really love photography, and doing digital art, obviously I love combining these for my bigfoot illustrations. I go on “photo shoots” specifically for bigfoot illustrations. Rarely am I without my camera. I do a lot of 2D and 3D animation for my job as a forensic animator for the FAA. I do like 3D software as well.
Dorraine: Since you DO work as an animator, does your work affect or influence your art in any meaningful way?

RobRoy: Well actually like bigfoot, what my job does require, is research. I build 2D & 3D animated productions of actual aircraft incursions, or events, whether it’s on the runway or in the air. There is a huge process in building these. We use the actual radar and audio from every event. Official reports, statements and any other source of information. Sometimes we even interview the people involved to hear what they have to say. We are building depictions of the truth, but rather than reading about it in a boring b & w report, the FAA can now watch the event as it happened. It's been a valuable learning tool for the FAA. So, like listening to an eyewitness who is describing to me his/her sighting of a sasquatch, I ask specific questions about their sighting that would help me build a better, more accurate depiction of what they saw. For my job, I have to research each aircraft involved, wingspan, length, airspeed, etc. I can even produce the company's logo and map it onto the 3D model. So both have the commonality that requires lots of research and investigating before producing anything. What this has taught me over the years is how important it is to do a thorough job of asking questions and squeezing as much info as you can to help make an accurate picture.

Dorraine: What do you like to do outside of art?

RobRoy: I enjoy being outdoors, spending time with my family, photography, fishing, riding ATV, being home & living in Alaska. Music, I have been playing guitar since I was 11, I am still recording & producing my own “albums” and call my band “The Cryptoids” I love guitars, I am like a kid in a candy store!! I play & collect them. I love rock star stories, Muscle cars, classic cars, looking at antiques, seeing movies with popcorn, fishing, landscaping, skiing, oh and my latest favorite thing: reading the “Missing 411” books while I’m camping in my RV!!

Dorraine: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

RobRoy: I always like to tell people, If you’re into bigfoot for money, you’re in it for the wrong reason! I have literally done all of my bigfoot drawings and research in my spare time. This is definitely a subject you have to be very curious about to keep pursuing! And keep a sense of humor!!

And no, RobRoy, it’s not silly to be interested in Bigfoot if you haven’t actually seen one. There’s enough inspiration in Alaska to keep anyone interested for a very long time. And, after talking to him, I realized that he’s another one of us who’s destined to search for the truth… in whatever he chooses to pursue. ********DAF

Special thanks to RobRoy Menzies for sharing his insights with us. And he’s also shared some of his favorite bigfoot artwork with us on this page.

This Post By TCC Team Member Dorraine Alters-Fisher. Dorraine is a Professional Writer, a nature, wildlife and Bigfoot enthusiast who has written for many magazines. Dorraine conducts research, special interviews and more for The Crypto Crew. Get Dorraine's book The Book Of Blackthorne!

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