It’s time for another interview and this time around my subject is the ever-delightful Bethany Van Scott! Bethany, known variously online as Penanggalan, Boogle, Vera, Bogmonster etc. is a Freelance artist living and working on the east coast of Florida. I’ve been a fan of Bethany’s vibrant, engaging and often haunting art for years now, and learning that she was a fellow admirer of My Little Ponies only increased my interest in Bethany and her work, and I could not have been more excited when she agreed to take part in this interview.
So please, join me as Bethany shares her own personal journey of ponies, art, dolls and monsters.
…wait, what was that last one?
When and how did you first become interested in My Little Ponies?
I remember playing with ponies as early as age 4, but they’ve been “around” me all my life. My Aunt bought me a plush Bowtie the day before I was born and put it in my crib to come home to. I still have her 🙂 You could say my cousin is who kept me interested, as we’d play ponies in the back room of her grandma’s house all the time.
Who is your favourite pony and why?
Sweet Stuff. I always loved her in the movie and episodes, she was so… well, sweet! And the pony itself has such pleasing colors.
What would you be like if you were a My Little Pony?
I do in fact have a pony persona, though she’s just the alternate version of my ball-jointed clown doll, Boogle.
She’s bubbly, adventurous and sweet, and I imagine she would be one of the most quirky and strange additions to the MLP herd. Her markings are KittyMonster’s eyes, a plush I made a long time ago that is very near and dear to me and one of Boogle’s closest friends.
Apart from My Little Ponies, who or what is your favourite fictional equine?
Starlight from Rainbow Brite would be up there!
What is your favourite generation of My Little Pony? What do you think of the other generations?
>1980’s. The others are good, but the originals are the most special to me.
Do you collect My Little Pony toys or other merchandise?
I have about 400 of the 80’s ponies, many of which are from my childhood. I also like a lot of the merchandise from that era.
Do you collect or covet any other toys?
I collect tons of other toys and have a lot from each that I’m missing/wanting! Mostly other 80’s girly toys like Yum Yums and Hooks, but also some newer toys such as Jurassic Park and Trash Pack.
Do you keep any of your childhood toys in your room/house now? What about new toys?
I have them scattered all around my house, but most of my pony collection is in my (very suitably pink) living room 🙂
Have you seen the “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” cartoon and, if so, what do you think of it?
My boyfriend and I love it! I love the 80’s cartoons, but the newer one is a bit more gripping and well-written.
Your art strikes me as a mixture of the conventionally cute (ponies, fuzzy animals, girls etc.) and things which many people would consider creepy or “weird” (monsters, eyeballs, clowns etc.). What is your response to people who say that this combination is strange or jarring?
I’ve never actually had anyone describe it as jarring; only interesting or cool, which I appreciate. I have never been the type of person who easily fits in one genre or another; I like a vast number of things and very little creeps me out. I find beauty in and am fascinated by many things that people think negatively of, usually out of taboo or ingrained reasons. I always try to redefine the misunderstood and get people to see the alternate side of the things that disturb them.
What are the best and worst parts to you about being an artist?
Not sure how to answer this one… it’s hard to find a “bad side” to being an artist, since it’s my livelihood and something I enjoy immensely. I get frustrated with it a lot and feel stuck sometimes as I try to improve, but that’s every artist, I think.
I love monsters, but I had never heard of the Penanggalan before. Where do you do you go to learn so much about monsters and myths?
I read a lot about mythical creatures and one of my favorites are yokai/Japanese monsters and ghosts. I discovered the penanggalan years ago when reading about yokai as it’s frequently mentioned alongside yokai myths. It’s also easy to get trapped in wikipedia going from article to article and site to site.
I hear you have some rather unusual pets. Care to tell us about them?
I think most of my pets are pretty common, but then I am used to associating with all the communities for invertebrate/reptile enthusiasts, so to me, they seem common. I keep a variety of roaches in particular as they’re one of those misunderstood creatures as aforementioned. I think one of the best ways to really understand something is to study it yourself, and I’ve learned so much about them since keeping them. The vast majority of cockroaches are not at all like the ones that invade our homes. They vary greatly from species to species, and their biology is fascinating. They’ve helped people & the environment far more than they’ve hurt them, by being pollinators, helping farms by eating worse pests, providing nutrition to insect-eating creatures, and helping break down leaf litter on the ground. They even inspired a far superior artificial heart for humans.
Your various online galleries have lots of pictures of your clown character, Boogle, and even some of you in clown makeup. Have you ever performed as a clown?
I’m far too shy to perform as a clown, and I can just barely juggle and make some balloon animals thus far. I would like to start out by performing with puppets and perhaps work my way up to being comfortable in front of a group of people one day. I love to make people laugh and am pretty much an every-day clown, just not always in grease paint. : o )
If you want to see more of Bethany, her art and her collections, you can find her online at any of the following links:
– Tumblr: penanggalan.tumblr.com
– deviantART: penanggalan.deviantart.com
– Nabyn: penanggalan.nabyn.com