February 2, 2012

the origins of Betty Turbo

Are you ready to go... Inside the Agnes Studio?


Feel free to pretend James Lipton is asking all your questions. Let's begin! The number one question on the minds of Betty Turbo fans today is... What Inspired the Name?

Well. Let us travel back in time. Betty Turbo came into existence in my final year of college at RIT, when most of the work I was creating shifted from photographs to illustrations directly based on photographs. I felt like this change in style made my own vision more clear and deliberate - I could create these "documents" which still somewhat resembled a snapshot aesthetic, but they could be anywhere, and with anyone I wanted. With that in mind, the illustrated "me" needed to be the most awesome, badass, ballsy version of myself possible.

Choosing "Betty" was the easy part. My middle name is Elizabeth after my grandmother, who was called Betty. She is but one of many amazing historical antecedents in my artsy bloodlines. Betty Sabo was a superb baker and also a master of crafting with plastic canvas! This is her:

So my "Betty"character needed a surname to indicate her total radness, and at first I considered "Shred" because it sounded terribly rock & roll, which, as anyone who knew me then will tell you, was all I talked about. But upon further research, I realized "shred betty" is a thing snowboarders say and that would just confuse my meaning. Which brings us to "Turbo." It was a nickname of sorts. It was some goofy inside joke amongst my close friends at the time, I hardly remember the details...

It had to do with that Judas Priest song, didn't it?

Okay. Yes. So, I had already collected several random items with the word "turbo" on them. It was high-engery and extreme sounding! And it also had five letters like Betty, which was promising for pleasing design options. BETTY TURBO was born! And she went around doin' stuff. Like this:

"Reading rebels" 2004

Are you sure you don't have multiple personality disorder?

Betty Turbo has a specific focus, which is achieved partly by sharing parts of myself (Agnes), and partly by adding fiction to reach a level of myth and storytelling, which, while not directly mirrored in "reality," feels more truthful to me in some ways. I can choose when I need to be Betty Turbo. You know, like Batman. Betty Turbo is made up of ideas I solidly believe in, but without the unnecessary accoutrements of anxiety and self-doubt.

Do you want to be greeted in public as Agnes Barton-Sabo or as Betty Turbo? Do people ever confuse the two?

I will answer to either. Sometimes people confuse the two, if they haven't snooped around enough to realize it's an alter ego. Some interviewers specifically request to speak with Betty Turbo (knowing the difference), so those are the ones who get the biography in which I was raised by wolves or grizzly bears. Betty Turbo is me. I just don't always have to be her.

So there ya have it. Next question?? Email me, or chime in on my Facebook fan page! Or follow me on Twitter and ask questions all day long.
Scope out my Etsy shop, or Flickr photos and tell me what you're curious about. Also, if James Lipton is busy, who else should pretend interview me?

3 comments:

Sparkkl said...

Fantastic. I love a good origin story. and the name Betty (it's my favorite aunt's name.)

How about Agnes? Is that a family name also? I'm a big (huge) fan of old-fashioned names that you don't hear much anymore. (as opposed to my son's high-school cheerleader girlfriend named Madisyn [yes, that's how it's spelled] who gets sooooo angry when people don't spell her name right. really?) but I digress...

Delaney Mae said...

This makes me miss you like a punch in the gut.

Also: WAY better than Batman...

agnes said...

Sparkkl -- yes! Agnes is a family name too. i need to write an entire blog post about the Agnes i was named for. just as magical as my invented name!

Delaney -- pretty much every moment i spend in a kitchen makes me miss you. also, when i'm outside the kitchen but eating a bunch of girl scout cookies.