Urban mascots have been sweeping the internets over the last few years, thanks firstly to the country of Japan and their particular brand of civic pride, and thanks secondly to Chris Carlier, a British photographer with a wonderful Mondo Mascots blog and Twitter account.
Given the latent passion within the streets.mn community for urban mascots, bubbling just under the surface, I took the liberty of reaching out to Carlier the other day to get this exclusive interview about the nature of urban mascots in general and Mondo Mascots in particular.
Check it out!
Q: Why are there so many city mascots in Japan?
After Kumamon, the mascot for Kumamoto Prefecture, became popular and made a ton of money for the area in merchandise, every other city decided to make a mascot, with wildly varying levels of success.
Q: How did you get into documenting and sharing these city mascots?
After I moved to Japan to teach English, I saw a lot of mascots waddling around street festivals and shopping malls, and I started photographing them and sharing the pictures online.
Q: What are some of your favorites? (My favorite is Chiitan of course.)
I’m a big fan of Chiitan, too. I should also support my local mascot, Sanchawan, who is a dog with a tea bowl for a head.
Q: Do you think the US and UK need more urban mascots? Why or why not?
Yeah. Mascots can drum up regional pride in places that don’t have much going for them, and the community can get involved in designing and picking the mascot.
Q: What do you think of Petey P. Cup and the proposed Pig’s Eye mascot for Saint Paul? Are they up to Japanese standards or do they need work?
Petey P. Cup has succeeded in getting people’s attention, so he has done his job admirably. His design might be too straightforward for Japan, though. The mascots here usually have a few things going on at the same time. Petey P. Cup would probably be also wearing a P-cup bra in Japan.
For that reason, I imagine the proposed Pig’s Eye mascot would be popular in Japan. I like that design a lot.
Q: Finally, do you have any thoughts on Gritty?
I’m a big fan of Gritty! Philadelphia seems to produce some wild mascots. I like the Phanatic, too.