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Apr 27, 2007

Le Merde Hits the Fan

[We're happy to bring you a look at the hand-made toys of  Le Merde. Guest blogger and passionate collector Ronnie K. Pirovino interviewed the duo to see what the fuss is all about.]  

A brilliant duo known as Le Merde has been sprouting unique designs under the misty rain of the Pacific Northwest for a few years now. In the course of their organic evolution, they are preparing to debut their largest offering of art [ed: Zeu Explode] , to date, at San Francisco’s vinyl toy mecca, Super7, opening May 12th. In the past few months, their work has totally intrigued me and I have eagerly brought them into my collection. Simply stated, their ‘merde’ is ill. Vinyl toy producers take note.

Graciously accepting an interview, Le Merde fired back the following responses to my 7 questions:

1. Who are your influences in your work?

I'm really inspired by Hideshi Hino the Japanese horror manga artist. The way he draws his demons, ghouls are beyond amazing. It was really hard to find his stuff here in the US but in the last few years a lot of his stuff is getting reprinted. Yudetamago (pen name that means "Boiled Egg") the Japanese artists that do the manga "Kinnikuman" and "Kinnikuman Sensei" are tops in my book. The humor, the violence.. the character designs just kill. I also love Raymond Pettibon, Robert Crumb, Daniel Johnston and Ub Iwerks.   

2. Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?

Oh yeah. Thank god for Itunes! Talk about 300 song playlists. I drive Michelle (my wife and other 1/2 of Le Merde) crazy when I'm working on art because I get into the zone and only listen to same thing over and over again. I made a 69 song playlist of only Daniel Johnston that drove everyone nuts! For this latest show I listened to only ZZ Top (70's era), Thin Lizzy, AC/DC (Bon Scott era but I also like Brian Johnson) and T.Rex when I was planning it all. Then during the execution of it I listened to Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Hot Chip, Justice, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Clinic and Peter Bjorn and John. I need the rock and roll for inspiration!

3. Where do you see your work going? Have you considered larger production? Such as an edition of 500 for a particular 'character' ?

Most definitely would love to have a larger production done of my figures. I love hand casting and will always do it (D.I.Y!) but it is really time consuming. I think the perfect balance will have to be to have smaller editions of the hand cast figures (more like art sculptures) and then have some larger produced editions more like toys. I've always wanted to have a mini set of my figures produced for Gacha machines. I would also love to release a blow molded Kaiju style figure someday. Companies like Gargamel that are getting their stuff produced in Japan right now just plain kill!

4. Do you collect anything? If so, what?

I do collect. I have been paring down my collections lately. I made a fortune on Ebay with my Vinyl collection (records) and vintage video games. Trying to trade one collection for another. I dive head first into collecting when I'm into something. When the toy scene was first starting I was really into [email protected] and Kubricks like when Series 3 was first out. You could only get them on Ebay. I went crazy! Now, I sold most of my collection and just keep what would be considered "Keepers". I still love Thrift Store shopping. I love finding the perfect no name junker figurines.

5. Have you seen any common threads amongst your collectors?

Hmm.. people are definitely wanting more paintings. The figures have become the main focus lately, so the paintings have slowed down a bit. So I think people like to have original art to accompany their figures.

6. Is there a story behind your name?

I used to be in a art collective with Michelle (my wife) and my friend Charles Whiteside called Le Champ. We just started doing our own thing and I was doodling these little dudes called "Poop Donts" and doing some printing on fabrics. So Michelle proposed for me and her to be called "Le Merde" - The Shit. We have tons of French 7's and were into watching all these 70's French movies. Some of the broken translation is hilarious! So we purposely wanted a broken translated name that sounded kind of bootleggy. People are always telling us "You know it's supposed to be La Merde not Le Merde" and we just laugh at them. We actually started with making pillows and tote bags in 2001. Now the bags have slowed and the figures and artwork is the main focus. I have taken the name for myself as an artist as well as for our company because my name is pretty much already taken (Mike Kelly).

7. What are you most excited about for your upcoming solo show at Super7?

To show off all my new figures. This is the most I've ever produced at one time. There will be over 50 figures available. Actually just getting to check out their store is very exciting. I have all their magazines! Getting to meet some of the collectors and Kaiju lovers will be cool.

Posted by Jack @ 11:13 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |


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Le Merde is so cool, and it is great to see them getting more exposure from this site and the exciting Super7 show. Please gacha machine figures, please.

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