You’ve probably seen his art already online or on a t-shirt. Bobo Bear is the highly successful brand under which artist Roberto has created a series of characters which have flooded the gay community since they were introduced.
So, what is Roberto’s story up until the appearance of Adam Bear?
I spent most of my life in Italy, where I was a supermarket manager and had a quiet life in my small hometown. Drawing has always been one of my passions but it was just a hobby and there was not much time for that. Then I moved to London when I was 37 and I felt it was time for me to start a new chapter of my life!
Your arrival in the UK from Italy was almost like your coming out fully in the bear World so how did Adam come about and were there a few other false starts?
I used to know the bear scene even before moving to the UK, especially the Spanish one, but living in London was very inspiring. For the first time I was living in an environment where I could be completely free and surrounded by a very diverse scene. I started going to a few parties, meeting random people while sketching at cafes and it was great!
I felt like it was time to be creative in a more structured way, so I created my very first characters (Adam the big bearish guy and Ben his ginger friend) and they were supposed to be the protagonists of a fun erotic comic; I made a storyboard but that never happened. Then I was contacted by a guy who was developing a gay dating app and wanted me to create icons using Adam; I made a few, the guy disappeared and I decided to print those first designs on t-shirts. That’s how it started!
Is Adam Bear a top, bottom and what kinks is he into?
I think Adam should be whatever your fantasy wants him to be, I don’t wanna put him in a box. However he’s a very curious and cheeky guy and he likes to try everything at least once!
How do you get your ideas for new bear and animal characters and the designs you put them into?
Inspiration comes in many ways: it could be a hot guy on Instagram, someone you see walking, an idea you have joking with your friends…
I started the BearZoo series to do something different but still for the bear scene. I like furries and the way they can be super cute but also very naughty at the same time; many people like to think of themselves as a bear, a cub, an otter, a wolf or whatever and the magic is animals have no race, they are universal characters and can represent everybody.
Now it’s time I go back to Adam, Ben, Chuck, Mike and create also new diverse characters.
What other artists influence you and that you like and what other sources have been inspirational to you?
I grew up watching anime and reading mangas, so that influence is quite clear. I love classic gay comic artists as Jiraiya or Gengoro Tagame, or Nickie Charles and Glen Hanson.
How does it work – Can customers select any design from your site, for any item in any colour etc or is it more set and can guys make special requests?
Every design can be ordered on several garments and colours. T-shirts and tank tops are actually printed on demand, so every combination is possible!
As an International magazine our readers would be interested to know what fetish retailers they can check out your gear first hand?
You can find a list and a map on my website, with all the retailers selling Bobo Bear worldwide:
What are the characters in the Bear Zoo and are there more to come?
At the moment the characters are: Kinky Cub, Thicc Bear, Bossy Bear, Chunky Panda, Playful Puppy, Leather Wolf, Rubber Otter, Beefy Bull, Girthy Gorilla, Rugby Boar and Frisky Frenchie…whoa, they’re quite a lot! 😊
I think these is quite a big cast and in the future I will have them interacting and play together. There might be some new characters, maybe a red panda, a unicorn or a fox but for now I think they are enough.
What type of items besides T-shirts can fans get your images on at present?
Other than t-shirts, tank tops and sweaters, my designs are available on swim briefs, face masks, beach towels, flip flops, mugs, cards, etc. At the moment I am also putting some ideas together to produce caps.
The gay fetish world has massively diversified in the last decade and Bears along with puppies are two of the biggest new tribes – you have conquered the bear World so are there any plans to do some puppy designs?
Absolutely! The Playful Puppy was a hit and I am going to explore a bit more with Adam and his friends. I already have a fun idea for Summer!
How has the pandemic affected Bobo Bear – loads of guys with plenty of time to shop online but then no bear, fetish events or even general places to go out and wear gear?
I’m not gonna lie, I was very scared at the beginning of the pandemic. I used to travel a lot to sell my products at bear events, I had many exciting palns for Summer 2020 and suddenly that became impossible.
Then I had the idea of making a mask with Adam’s beard on it, I was just playing around but people loved it, so I expanded that idea and now masks are my best selling item and I managed to survive.
Obviously, your bear event calendar is waiting for enough bears to have the vaccine that a full sloth can gather again safely (yes readers a group of bears is called a sloth not ‘a great Friday night’). What are the bear events (or other) you are most looking forward to getting back?
I really hope we can go to Mad.bear in Torremolinos, Sitges Bearweek, Belgium Bear Pride in Brussels, Bearscots in Edinburgh and Winter Pride in Gran Canaria, these are events I have been before and that I love. If possible I would go to P-Town in September, let’s see how things go. At this point even the smallest gathering would be a blessing!
Your masks are some of the best we have ever seen so much so we thought they were a fetish fashion accessory and we forgot that they are nowadays predominantly an important health item for all gay men as we head out of the pandemics shadow. How are they selling?
They are going well. Obviously now most people already have some and being reusable they last for a long time, but I try to keep it fresh coming out with new models every now and then. I really hope things will go back to almost normal soon, especially thanks to the vaccines, but I am afraid masks will be needed for quite some time. Knowing that at least I am happy my masks bring a smile on someone’s face!
As an expert and leader in the bear community who are the hottest men out there that you would love to have modelling a BoBo bear shirt?
Oh, there are so many! Some of them are Ben Cohen, Nick Pulos, Wolf Deutschland, Will Angell and Colby Jansen.
WHAT ARE YOUR 5 PERSONNAL FAVOURITE DESIGNS & WHAT ARE THE 5 MOST POPULAR?
If I have to pick up only 5 each, the very popular ones are: ADAM LIKES CROSSING ARMS, ADAM LIKES TEDDY BEARS, BEAR KISS, ADAM LIKES HUGS and BEARS GYM.
My favourite ones…ouch, they are all my babies! I would say: CHUCK LIKES DUNGAREES, DADDY MIKE LIKES THE MOUNTAIN, JIM LIKES WATERSPORTS, ADAM AND BEN LIKE TO PLAY and ADAM LIKES SUN LOTION.
How do fans find out more about you, Adam Bear and the rest of the Zoo online via social media and where can they make purchases?
You can follow me on my Instagram and Facebook profiles @bobobearart, where I also post a lot of photos of hot guys wearing my designs, and on my website www.bobo-bear.com