Nice shirt, I thought, when I saw the print with a furry creature on it. Little did I know that it was only one out of a whole horde of monsters: the Borkebjs. Reginald Wagner came up with these monsters when he decided to write a book for his child. He couldn’t have expected himself how quickly the Borkebjs would cut loose, and that after a short time they would have their own website and a shirt shop and appear in countless illustrations.
I talked to Reginald to find out how it feels to be a monsters’ dad and inventor of an entire world.
Reginald, you have created a whole bunch of monsters – including an entire world around them. How did that happen?
I wanted to write my own book for my new born child, and I wanted it to have my illustrations in it. I just love Scandinavia, so step by step the Borkebjs came to life, who live in the North of the world.
Then I started integrating the Borkebjs in photos from the 60s that my grandfather had taken. That is how I developed the basic look, and my sister helped me evolve the story of the Borkebjs, until the book was finally finished.
So, who or what are the Borkebjs?
Briefly, the Borkebjs are little monsters who can only be seen by children – because you need phantasy for that. And unfortunately, adults tend to lose their phantasy. That is what the core story is about: the loss of imagination, often replaced by rationality.
You wanted to write a book, but I keep seeing the Borkebjs on shirts now. Was that always your plan?
Not at all, no. Without intention, a whole world has developed around the Borkebjs. But of course, I embrace this evolution. It is great to see someone wear one of my shirts.
What really made me happy was to hear that some of my Borkebjs toy monsters have been become official class monsters in some schools.
What happens next with you and your monsters?
First of all, my new Borkebjs book will be published, which will be quite experimental. Also, I am working on vinyl toys and Borkebjs accessories.
Sounds like a full time job. What would you do if you could actually entirely focus on the Borkebjs?
I would open up a monster store and work with my sewing machine all day or do some screen printing!
Reginald studied communication design in Dortmund and Berlin and focused on 3D, experimental typography and animations. Today, he is an art director for KOREFE, an innovation agency.