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Dec 26, 2016

Reactor-88’s Custom Corner – Heather Hyatt


Welcome to the December 2016 edition of Reactor-88's Custom Corner. This month we’re featuring Heather Hyatt.

What’s your name?

Heather Hyatt, or simply HHyattArt.

Where are you located?

West Des Moines, Iowa.

Day job or full-time artist?

That's a bit complicated - My main job is being caretaker to my daughter who has cancer. Prior to that, I was an in-house graphic designer for eight years and then freelance graphic designer for several years. I suppose either way you'd call me a full-time artist and mom.

Any random things you want people to know about you?

Before I was a customizer, I was an avid collector. I have an extensive collection of both eastern and western vinyl, with some resin in there too. My collection evolved from Qees, to blind boxes, to limited edition large pieces, to sofubi and a few customs. I still purchase a piece every now and then.


Other than toys, I'm an avid gamer and anime fan. I don't think I ever grew up. I also raise Monarch caterpillars into butterflies in the spring and summer. You did ask for random :)

How long have you been customizing/painting toys?

I've been painting toys all of my life. Back in the 80s, my She-Ra dolls and toy horses would get lovely coats of rainbow fingernail polish. Of course, now I wish I hadn't, haha...

Seriously though, I began customizing "designer toys" in late 2012. My first custom was a Totoro Zukie. At first, personal tragedy kept me from being able to devote time to my art. However, about 18 months ago, I decided if my daughter could deal with all of the things she does every day and still laugh, smile, doodle and sketch then I didn't have any excuses and I needed to get my ass in gear. She really is inspiring. I would call that my real "beginning" of what I'm doing with my customs today. Customizing toys became a way for my mind to focus, to go somewhere else during the quiet times, create a creature with a magical story that rises above reality.

Anything specific you’d like people to know about your toy work (style, influences, special techniques, etc.)?

Through my years of both collecting and customizing, I have built many friendships with fellow artists who still support and inspire me. I hate to name names because I'm always afraid of leaving someone out... Laura Colors, Erick Scarecrow, Mark Nagata, Seriouslysillyk, Lisa Rae Hansen, James Fuller, Paul Shih, Big C, just to name a few, all amazing toy artists and people who have inspired me over the years. Definitely still learning, still trying new things, but I don't think that will ever stop.


I like to paint with layers, color and texture in a piece. Lots of texture, with details on top. For the base color, I really like a dry-brush technique using highs and lows in the paint for depth and light-effect. I sometimes feel sorry for my paintbrushes, I am so hard of them! Fantasy and little weirdo creatures make me happy, so that's what I tend to make. I'm also fascinated with Japanese spirit folklore, and that comes out in my work sometimes. These little stinkers have a soul, I swear, in some other dimension... When I work on sofubi, I'm leaning on the airbrush more lately for a base coat, simply because as many know soft vinyl just doesn't take to traditional acrylic hand-painting as well. I find it's good to expand my knowledge base and never get completely comfortable with what I'm doing. Challenging myself helps me push and continue to improve my work.


I enjoy the sculpting portion of a custom just as much as the painting. Being inspired by nature, my sculpting tends to have a more organic look. My creatures come from strange, fantastical spirit realms full of colorful flora and fauna. Dragons with flowers and fairy wings? Wood-creatures with lollipop eyes? Sure, why not.


Most of my creatures have glass eyes. Years ago I had a successful jewelry business (I'm also a trained metalsmith), and had a lot of left-over inventory when I decided to take a break from that. I wanted to incorporate some of my old stylings with Japanese silkscreened paper (called Chiyogami) into my creature creations, and the paper and glass eyes are a result of that. Back when I first started sculpting and painting toys, an old toy friend once told me that the eyes were everything in a piece. Focus on the eyes. Though probably not for everyone, I wanted to create eyes with depth, but also that stood out from the crowd a bit.


I've got more exciting things coming up. I'm working with Max Toy a lot, and have more sofubi collaborations with them in the works. I've been involved in some great group shows this last year, and hope to do that again in 2017. At some point, I hope to begin making my own production toys with another company I've had a special relationship with for years. For now through, I'm really enjoying customizing, being a part of the toy community, and bringing goofball creatures to life.

Do you take commissions?


Best way(s) for people to contact you/see your work/social links

Instagram: @hhyattart
Twitter: @hhyattart
Shop: hhyattart.com (Right now it's a Storenvy site, I'm working on an all-inclusive website when time allows)
Email: [email protected] (For commissions, or just to say hello! I love to talk toys)

Posted by Jack @ 05:25 AM in Reactor-88's Custom Corner | Permalink  | Comments (0) |


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