Bootymath is the Internet
Zach Fox makes Awful art, preps for first solo showTuesday February 16, 2016 04:00 am EST
Zach Fox, graphic artist and social media funnyman better known as Bootymath, calls himself a “big-ass kid.” The dude, 25, does artwork for Awful Records — the outlandish, hip-hop-heavy Atlanta-based label. But his rise to success didn’t stem solely from wisecrack tweets. He went to school with Awful artists Micah Freeman, Ethereal, and Slug Christ, later doing interviews with the Fader, penning music reviews for Noisey, and designing merch for the Hundreds and Sol Republic.
After dropping out of SCAD, Fox couch-surfed from 2013 to 2014, often crashing with Awful folks. Fox picked up service industry gigs to make ends meet. He even took a job running food for Jimmy John’s, literally running because he didn’t own a bike.
Sans legit studio, Fox carried a sketchbook, noting that during that time his art had nothing to do with music. When Awful Records took off in 2014, Fox got his break, creating and co-creating cover art for numerous albums under the label, including Father’s Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First? and Fox’s favorite, Young Hot Ebony. “I was just swept up in the wave of it,” he says. “It wasn’t a ‘sign your name on the dotted line’ kind of thing; it just happened kind of organically.”
With all these clients under his belt, Fox is finally able to make a living solely off his art. Though it was likely his strong social media presence that helped elevate Bootymath’s national popularity. He says his artist name has no secret meaning, nor do his tweets — ranging from “stingray hours” to interpreting smiles. “I was just trying to be funny and also showcase some shit,” he says.
Fox says he feels people have a misconception about his persona based on the character he plays online. “It’s kind of one big unseen performance — and that’s what’s beautiful, that’s what’s funny,” he says, listing comedian Aries Spears and Cher among those who’ve blocked him on Twitter. Still, around 15,000 followers remain loyal. “People want this madman, when really it’s just this writer and artist who is fooling with ideas. ... I’m just a normal guy, and it’s hard for people to understand that. ... People are like, ‘Be this or be that,’ and I’m like, ‘No. Fuck you.’”
Some of Fox’s art may be considered controversial, heavy with phallic symbols, sexual innuendos, and profanity. “But if someone thinks it’s outrageous, that’s cool,” he says. “I’d rather them see it as that than impotent and boring.”
His first solo exhibit, Violently Coughing, features a collection of his original visual artworks and a 10-minute short film. “I would say that this exhibit and the timing is perfect. If it happened any earlier, I would’ve probably been uncomfortable.”
Outlandish online personality aside, Fox stays humble. “I’m just trying to make cool shit for people to look at and make people laugh,” he says. “But at the same time, people need to be fucked with, at least for a little bit.”
Fox prioritizes his own absolute creative control, regardless if people see it as trolling.
“At the base level, all of this is garbage — and that’s just the way it is,” Fox says. “All art is garbage at some certain level. It’s all going to be dust one day, and if you’re going into art trying to take yourself that seriously — that this is something that’s utilitarian and that people need from you in the age of the Internet — you can just fuck off. It’s fun.”