When she’s not on the road hitting the country’s most eclectic flea markets, antique shops and thrift stores, Amy Flynn is creating Fobots — fanatical found-object-robots that art and junk lovers alike should soon keep an eye out for.
The Raleigh, N.C.-based artist is on her way with a group of ready-to-sell funky Fobots for the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which is taking over the robot-loving neighborhood the first weekend in April.
After 25 years as a professional illustrator and experiencing the economy tank in 2008, Flynn had the idea to combine two of her favorite pastimes: making things and shopping, to create the found-object-robots to fill her time between work.
Flynn spends her days soldering and bolting pieces together to create the sturdy, one-of-a-kind sculptures many have come to love. Each is made from individual vintage parts mainly collected in the Midwest, or as Flynn likes to call it: “junk central.”
“They just don’t make stuff like that anymore,” she says. “Everything in our day and age now is just so disposable and cheap. There’s a reason why people would hang on to something as mundane as a powder tin because it’s beautiful and even after it’s empty you keep it because the design on it was so lovely.”
And although the quirky characters are not everyone’s cup of tea, Flynn says Texas is one of the few places that truly understands her work.
“Texas loves the fobots,” she said. “Texas gets it. Texas seems to have a sense of humor and they like things that are funky and colorful and crazy. Texas is fun.”
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After a visit with an old art teacher who spent every day working in her studio, Flynn realized the bright, intelligent woman she learned from over 40 years held that same energy because she spent her life creating things, ultimately keeping her young and resilient.
“I can’t explain why us artists love what we do … How can you explain why you love something?” she asks. “I just love creating things and I don’t see myself ever retiring. And there are days when I’m just tired, but then I look at everything I’ve done and I’m like, ‘Wow. I made that.’”
At the moment, Flynn’s favorite fobot is Headly-Lamarr, an interactive fobot with six interchangeable heads that reside on a base so one can change it to reflect a mood. This is a rarity for her since her favorites change on an almost hourly basis.
“People always ask how I can bear to part with them, and I say well I take their picture before I send them out and I like that they go out into the world and make people happy,” she says. “Money can buy happiness. Sometimes people come back to me the following year or something and say, ‘I bought one from you last year and I smile every time I look at it.’ And that’s justification for me to keep doing it. They just make you happy.”