For the curious
Charlie Sheppard - Rube Seltzer
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Charlie Sheppard. My email signature says that i'm a ‘Senior Creative’.
I currently split my creative brain between working at Anyways Agency (with big brands), building Rube Goldberg Machines and workshops (predominantly with students and studios), and making mosaics under the name ‘Soller’ (for anyone who is interested).
Where are you and what are you doing right now?
Right now, i’m in my flat in Bethnal Green, London. I’m sat at the very table my Rube - Seltzer machine video was made on, answering these questions.
What did I do today? Umm, I spent the morning filming Paul Smith at his office for a fun festive project that’s coming out over Christmas. I spent the afternoon working on a branding project for something exciting. And I spent the evening making a mosaic, whilst simultaneously listening to podcast called Broken Record. (Would recommend). A pretty busy day all in all.
Can you tell us a little about your history as a creative and maker. Tell us about Rube Goldberg machines and your interest in them.
I work at a creative agency and I love the work I do, but like most people in my position, a huge amount of that time is spent with my head down in my computer, writing and pitching documents. I think that is why I gravitate to mosaics and Rube Goldberg machines. They are a creative break away from my computer. Honestly, I think people are at their happiest when making things with your hands.
But what I really love is the creative problem solving side of making Rube Goldberg Machines. There are no rules, or good/bad practice, no weighty concept or message to convey. It’s just the joy of creatively exploring how to solve a simple task (be it getting a ping-pong ball to roll through a tube, or to pop a balloon).
I run Rube Goldberg machine workshops with university students and offices (I ran a particularly fun on with the It’s Nice That office a few years ago). The audience are split into groups and asked to create a machine that can solve a simple task (E.G. to pop ice cubes into a drink), but to do it in the most ridiculous and complicated way they can. I particularly enjoy these as it’s such a direct exercise in getting people to close their laptops and get stuck in. When creating a Rube Goldberg it might feel like playing, but you are creating narratives, working as a team, problem solving, editing, testing, and ultimately performing your piece to the group.
You built this seltzer ice dispensing machine with your partner Rosanna Webster, she is creative too, tell us a little about what she does.
Rosie and I met at art school in Brighton over 10 years ago (!!!). She is infinitely more talented and respected than I am haha. She predominately works as a digital collage artist mostly working with luxury fashion clients like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry etc. In fact, her work is probably the exact opposite of a Rube Goldberg Machine, (haha) but she is partial to getting involved too.
In such a creative household, do you guys ever just stick on Countryfile and do your tax returns?
Ow man, I wish I had a much cooler response than this, but the reality is that far too much Masterchef and American Office are consumed in this household. But yes, around that, there is a pretty unrelenting creative output from the two of us, I think i’ve forgotten how to just unwind and relax. (Note to self: must work on that for 2021.)
You’ve also started creating mosaics, tell us what prompted this and what the attraction is.
There is a tiny bit of mosaic history in my family (that I won’t bore you with now), but i’ve been making, drawing, printing, mural-painting and generally obsessing over mosaics for the past four or more years now. I only recently thought i’d bring it together under the name Soller (@soller.mosaic) to see if I could turn it into something bigger. I’ve got some exciting projects bubbling away with it, which i’m really excited about, some of which will come too light in 2021. I absolutely love it.
What podcasts, albums, exhibitions, books are currently inspiring you.
Rosie and I are unhealthily obsessed with podcasts (way before they were cool yeh). Honest answer: I listen to multiple podcasts about rugby each week (between 2-3 each week, how sad is that). Slightly more interesting answer: I would highly recommend the Broken Record Podcast, with Rick Rubin & Malcolm Gladwell. (For all you music nerds out there.)
What’s next for you? Tell us about something. Tell us about nothing.
Rosie and I are getting married in July, so yeah, planning a wedding… during a pandemic. Bit of an interesting one, but we can’t wait (whatever size, shape or form it ends up taking). One thing I can categorically confirm is that Rube Goldberg machines have been banned from our big day. There will be no over the top devices involved in cutting the cake or delivering the rings (haha).