Ben, with Jenn.
Ben, with Jenn.

Robot Eats OC

Editor Will Swaim talked with OC Weeklyart director Ben Froehlich about this year's cover, Robot Eats OC, robots, philosophy and psychology. Because he's the boss.

Why a robot?

They just seem cool.

No, really.I was just trying to figure out the cover?

No one does anything without reason. Did robots figure prominently in your childhood? Your dreams?

No, really, I don't have any affinity for robots.

You've clearly never read the Freudians or studied much critical theory.

Okay, I do love robots. I grew up watching The Jetsons, and I can't wait for that vision of the future to become reality.

Maybe you're just attracted to the size of the thing?

Yeah, that's it. I like the robot because it's big—something fantastic in the sense of "out of this world," but right here in Orange County.

Were you emulating any particular style? It reminds me a little of the Italian Futurists.

I was inspired by a 2001 tour poster for the rock band Moe. I've got it right here somewhere.[He paws through layers of paper, magazines, art books, reams of paper, mock covers, layouts.]Here it is. It's by Ames Bros. Design.

Maybe it's a robot destroying Orange County? Maybe the cover's not so much about robots as the destruction of the place you live?

When I was designing it, a lot of people said they saw that.

But you don't hate OC.

I kinda do. I guess I'm like a lot of people who grew up here. There are things about it I like and don't like.

What don't you like?

I'd hate to get into it.

Who's your boss?

I guess it's that people don't really have a sense of the rest of the world. I wish they'd see something beyond the material—that there's more to life than what we wear and drive, more than the merely material.

But you're an artist. You're into appearances. You've got a great fashion sense. You design clothes, you've got a nice car, and, you know, your girlfriend . . .

That's true. . . .

You're an art director.

Yeah, I am.

So you're kind of a product of the place.

Maybe I'm disgusted with myself?

Or maybe you've transcended and included. Have you ever read about the philosophical notion of the pre-trans fallacy? Or the psychological concept of "transcend and include"?

Um, no.

It's possible that you've gone beyond mere surface appearances—clothes and cars, for example—into a richer, broader more spiritual way of living, but that you can still appreciate nice clothes, and cars—appearances. That you've transcended those things—and included, not destroyed, them. You've evolved. And maybe it's your suspicion that many people in Orange County haven't done that—that they're stuck either loving or loathing Orange County because of its affinity for style, for the surface of things, and can't appreciate the beauty of these things as nothing more or less than beautiful things.

Yeah, that's it. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks, Will.

You're welcome. We were hoping to make this about 50 words. Can you squeeze all this in?

I can try.

Who's your boss?

I'll get it in there.

Thanks, Ben.


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