Growing up in a predominantly white area in Des Moines, Iowa, B. Robert Moore didn’t see many Black and brown faces in cartoons. Years later, as his artistic career took off, he wanted to change that — or at the least, put his own spin on the seemingly all-white world of children’s cartoons.
Moore recently debuted “Imagine a World; Brown Like Me,” a series of paintings using acrylics, oil sticks, charcoal, pastels and spray paints that reimagine kids favorites, including “Peanuts,” “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones.” “I want to paint Scooby-Doo and that cast because I’m like, ‘They should have had locs. Velma should have Afro puffs,’”
Variety spoke with Moore, 37, about working as a self-taught artist, using Instagram to build a following and his collaboration with the BIPOC-owned agency DISRPT, which aims to amplify voices with disruptive mindsets.
What inspired you to reimagine the likes of golden age cartoon characters?
I picked those certain cartoons because I actually liked the ‘Peanuts.’ I have a daughter, and I went online to look for an artist of color that painted a black girl from the ‘Peanuts’ series because there was only Franklin. Couldn’t find it, so I said, ‘screw it, I’m gonna paint it.’ It’s a beautiful accident, and not because of the money or the revenue. It’s the stories and the reactions I’ve seen from the community and how much they wanted to see this.
Have you reached out to the Schulz family?
I found an old letter that Charles Schultz wrote about Franklin and how he thought that diversity and characters needed to happen. So, no, I never did. It was more of an ask for forgiveness than permission mentality. If it organically happens where our paths cross, I hope it’s more in a collaboration tone than a cease and desist.
How are you able to channel your creative energy while working on a project?
As I’m trying to embrace more of a holistic lifestyle, I don’t stick with one style. It keeps me invested in the different narratives and the quality of work.
How have you used your Instagram page to promote your artwork and build a following?
At first, it was more likes and follows, but I wanted conversions and sales. I’m very intentional about being engaged with my audience. I respond to almost every comment and DM. I remember what it felt like to be ghosted by someone’s comment that you were a fan of. I think that engagement has created a really sticky community because it’s only gone up.
How do you see your collaboration with DISRPT advancing the goals you’ve set as an artist?
They’ve already shown within a very short period of time their genuine connection to me. The validation is felt. COVID quickly disrupted a model that has not been challenged historically. We all have a similar goal in mind, and that’s to be unapologetic in our intentions, to disrupt and make noise.
This interview has been edited and condensed.