Interview With The Wallooner

Greg Goldberg is an artist based in Medford Massachusetts. He makes characters called the Wallooners who are nice people from Walloon. I absolutely love his work and I think you will too. It is so unique and colorful!


How old are you?

I’m 34 right now, but I feel alternatively like i’m 10 and 90. So, on average, I feel 50. 

Who are the Wallooners?

Wallooners are very nice people who have a lot of fun living in Walloon. They love colors and shapes, parties and concerts, and meeting new people. They go on adventures sometimes, and sometimes they stay home, which is also exciting. They like to share with one another and give tours to visitors. Every now and then, they venture outside Walloon, but that’s only for visiting friends and the occasional tourist attraction. 

What does your work aim to say?

I really want people to see what goes on in Walloon without interfering too much. I’m also curious, myself. 

Who are your biggest influences?

Guys From Space (by Daniel Pinkwater), and Outside Over There (by Maurice Sendak) are my two favorite picture books. Also, any sort of illuminated or painted manuscripts pre-printing press. And Henry Darger.

What work do you enjoy doing the most?

Wallooning is my favorite, but I also go through phases where I draw random people’s faces a lot. It’s a little more strenuous, but I feel like it’s a good skill to work on in moderation. I also love animation, but I am the world’s slowest animator and I don’t always feel like I know what I’m doing.

What is your artistic process right now?

Since late last year, I’ve been drawing exclusively at home in front of my computer. (And sometimes on long train rides.) I listen to music and the audio of youtube videos, which range from Steve Reich to Steve Wilkos. 

How have you developed your craft?

When I’m wallooning, I have to be very patient. If I press too hard or try to rush, I end up ruining things, and then I have to start over. 

What do you like and dislike about your work?

I really like seeing what happens in the Wallooners’ lives, but sometimes it’s frustrating because each drawing takes so long to finish. (Because I’m slow.) And I’ve had to make peace with all the mistakes I make. (I have to pretend that the mistakes are part of a style. They are not.)

Professionally, what is your goal?

I don’t really have professional aspirations since that would be a lot of undue pressure to put on wallooning, but I do really want to make prints and stickers, etc. I love the idea of merch (eg., a Wallooner chess set, a Wallooner welcome mat, Wallooner jewelry, etc.) but money gets in the way. 

What are your favorite mediums?

I love dry media which require little to no cleanup. I hate cleaning up. Colored pencils and ballpoint pens have become my go tos because they’re versatile and low maintenance. Also I just got these gel highlighters which are apparently very good for annotating thin Bible pages. I tried them out for the first time on a long train ride and they are so bright and great.

Do you have any tips for using these mediums?

Be patient with your media. 

How do you put yourself in a creative mood when you need it?

I can’t control my moods at all, so I try to have a few different projects going at once. That way, there’s usually a project to match my mood that I can work on. Also, I get really irritable when I haven’t drawn in a while, so I can’t go too long without working on something, regardless of my mood.

What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out? 

Beware of generic advice.

What inspires you?

Music, bright colors, silence, illuminated manuscripts, certain dogs, certain movies, and coffee.

Describe a real life situation that inspired you. 

I went to see James Turrell’s giant color-changing wall at Mass Moca and it was perfect. Afterwards, I got a color-changing led cube, and it’s one of my most prized possessions. 

Any last words you would like to say to the world today?

Hello, world. Walloon is a very nice place, full of nice people having a good time. I hope you like it there, too. 

The Wallooner and I made a collaboration sticker a while back!

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