Mike: When, why
and where did Busy Beaver start?
I was doing a work in London program and a friend I met there
was making buttons over there. I was like, "nobody's been
doing those for the kids over in the states forever" so I
thought I should start doing them. When I got back to the Midwest,
I was hanging out with Guided By Voices and they said that they'd
be my first customers if I did it. So I decided to do it. That
was in 1995 and I was in Bloomington, Indiana.
What was the first button you've ever made?
It was for Guided By Voices. They were the biggest band we ever
did buttons for, for years.
What is one button that youve made that sticks out in your
mind more than any other?
The OJ Symptoms, it was along time ago, but it's a hilarious button.
It says "The OJ Symptoms fuck pigs" and it has a guy
with a liberty mohawk on top of a pig. Plus, the artwork was of
really crappy quality.
Have you ever turned down an order because of moral or ethical
Yeah, bootleggers and racist people. It's happened about 3 times
What was the most you have made of one single button?
80,000! It came from some guy who used to work at a record label,
later he worked for some marketing company. So he ordered them
from us instead of a big company.
you have any idea how many different buttons you have made?
I guess about 8,000 or so. We had a show at the Rainbo (a bar
here in Chicago) in May and there were over 7,000 and it seems
like we've done loads since then. It makes my brain spin.
Is there any thing else you would like to manufacture through
Busy Beaver besides buttons and stamps?
I have no plans on doing anything but buttons through Busy Beaver.
But I started doing 1.5 inchers and now 2 inchers for all the
Anti-war buttons we've been doing. And I'm super excited about
doing 1.5 inch squares in late Feb or early March. I wanna do
a bunch of album cover ones for people.
And we don't do stamps anymore, it was a labor
of love and then it just became a labor.
When and why did you decide to move to Chicago?
I moved here in Sept 1998, as a comprise with a fella. We didn't
stay together, but I'm really glad that I'm here.
What are some of your favorite places to go in Chicago?
I love driving up and down Lake Shore drive listing to the oldies
station. I like eating at places like Lula's, Sultans and The
Home Run Inn. I love food and Chicago's got a lot of it. Movies
at the Music Box. A church in Wicker Park where I've been going
for Yoga classes for years.
Where in Chicago do you prefer to see shows?
I like the Empty Bottle, partly because it's just across the street.
I like the Hideout and I just saw King Soloman Burke at the Oriental
theatre, that place is so great. The Fireside has great shows,
too. I feel like a herded animal when I go to the Metro, so I
limit that to once or maybe twice a year.
Who are some people in Chicago that you make buttons for?
Lawrence Arms, Owls, 90 Day Men, the Dishes, The Hideout, lotsa
a Anti-War buttons, the greeting card company, Jack and Lulu,
Thrill Jockey. There are lots more nice people...
are your favorite Chicago bands of all time?
The New Colony Six, Sam Cooke, Dirty Wurds, The Impressions I
think they're all Chicago, but they just might have strong Chicago
Any last words?
We're also doing this art project where we sell buttons in vending
machines, there's a map on my website (busybeaver.net), it's called
So and So's button-o-matic. The buttons are made by artists and
some people who don't consider themselves as artists. They're
really great, it's a changing exhibit (hopefully every 3 months).
The buttons are so great.
for more info on Busy Beaver Buttons please