Inside the Quirky Mind of Salad Fingers’ Creator David Firth
*The following contains media that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
While watching Broad City one evening I was beyond titillated when I heard a Salad Fingers reference by Ilana Glazer’s character in which she tries to educate her employer’s investor and the rest of her workplace on the British flash animation Internet series — “It’s this guy with romaine lettuce for fingers and he rubs all up on this spoon…” she trails off, entranced. Her co-workers watch her with wide eyes, listening as though she had just lost her mind… and maybe she had. But you get the gist. Romaine lettuce fingers. Genius.
It reminded me of my fondness for David Firth, the creator of Salad Fingers, and his work. I used to be obsessed with his films in my teens and once had my entire bedroom wall covered in drawings I made in his style of characterization.
While Salad Fingers has certainly been his most watched work — David is quite prolific in maintaining the quality of his videos, and if you’re up for it, it’s worth taking the squirmy journey into darkness, gore and out-of-this-world weird to consume the rest of his filmography. It’s quite a collection considering David writes, animates, voices and scores nearly everything himself.
David has been vocal about people reading too much into his work, but there’s certainly a lot left for interpretation in his films. I tend not to overanalyze when I consume as I’m pretty content with just experiencing, but I really enjoy reading the theories about all of his animations in the comments on his videos — which his fans scrupulously deconstruct every time David has finished a new work. When I first watched “Dog of Man” it almost made my cry and I still have no idea what it’s about.
For people that consider themselves as outcasts, it’s probably easier to relate to David’s characters — who are typically fringe, isolated and in their head — and maybe that’s why I gravitated towards his creations so willingly. His unique comedic voice is also something people likely find common ground with, which usually is exclusive to the animated medium and oftentimes requires an astute attention to detail in order to notice the fullness of David’s punchlines.
I was surprised in consuming David’s new work to find that his most recent films have been thematically health related. “Cream,” one his longest single works, follows a narrative commentary on the current political bureaucracy of the health and pharmaceutical industry.
Eventually his creations reached the eyes of one auspicious fan, the musician Flying Lotus, who subsequently called David Firth everyday to receive tutorials in animation software. Their friendship blossomed into a collaborative relationship and now David Firth has co-written, animated and voice acted in Flying Lotus’s feature film, “Kuso.”
With him 4,000 miles away in England, David was kind enough to answer some of my pressing q’s. I hope if I ever meet David in real life, he wouldn’t charge me for a kiss (he probably would and I wouldn’t be able to afford it).
How do you know when an idea you have is valuable enough to carry it to the finish line?
It’s a tough call but it is purely instinct. I have to play it in my head a few times. There have been so many abandoned ideas over the years. If I have improved anything, it’s the ability to detect a bad idea early on.
Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time?
Making a video game. I have so many ideas. I used to make crap ones when I was a teenager but I never learned to code properly. It was a choice really. It just turned out I made better cartoons than games so I followed that path.
Your recent personal work explores health. Is there a reason this is coming up now in your art?
I might be past that, temporarily. Certain anxieties manifest in my art. Health plots came very easily for a while, just as loneliness plots did before. It just depends on my current state of mind.
Does anything other than you exist?
So much so that it is overwhelming to even think about. I’m absolutely nothing.
How did you start working with Flying Lotus? Did your collaborative relationship start with “Ready Err Not?”
Yes, but we’d been tweeting back and forth for a while. He is especially skilled in collecting weirdos.
What was it like working on “Kuso?”
It was being invited to explore someone else’s weird mind for a while. I’d only ever really explored my own, so it was like going to a foreign place.
Are you the kind of friend you would want to have as a friend?
No. I need someone with a different set of skills and responsibilities. Two me’s would get a lot of animation done but we’d make twice the mess and neglect twice as many important areas of life.
What scares you?
Not being dead, but the bit just before. Though I’ve done it in my dreams and it’s so easy. I think being eaten or drowning would be a bad time. A gun shot to the head is easy though. I could handle that.
In what ways do you hold yourself back?
I don’t trust people enough.
If someone was going to buy a kiss from you, what would you charge?
I’d have to make up the price on the spot. It would either be too much for them to afford or free.
What do you think about most?
How much I have slept and whether or not I need a drink.
What is in the future for you and your work?
More of everything. My aim is to start employing people to get this stuff done quicker.
Why wake up tomorrow?
Because there is so much to do!