Nov 16, 2018

Interview: James Groman Joins DC Artists Alley


[The force of nature that is James Groman is the next featured artist for the DC Artists Alley line.  He’s been given artistic license to re-imagine Batman, Joker, Two-Face and Killer Croc. Vinyl Pulse recently had the pleasure of talking to James about the project and his thoughts on creating these wild new takes on the classic DC characters.]

Q: Hi James. You’ve had an impressive career from your work on Mad Balls to Care Bears and more recently a growing line of Art Toys. Can you give us the 30-second description of what you do?

I’m an “Independent Contractor”, which is a fancy term for freelance artist. I actually wear a number of hats under that title, which can include concept and design of collectable or toy products for major toy companies and smaller boutique businesses. I also create my own IP concepts for entertainment, videogames and other licensed applications.

Oh, and I teach a couple classes in character design at Cleveland Institute of Art.


Q: Congratulations on your four upcoming DC Artists Alley vinyl art Toys! I remember staring at the screen in disbelief for quite a while at the designs, a bit dumbfounded. How did you get involved in the series? Were you able to choose which characters to interpret?

I hope dumbfounded in a good way…

I met Jim Fletcher, Executive Creative Director at DC Collectibles, at last year’s Five Points Festival, fresh off of winning Toy of the Year at the Designer Toy Awards for King Korpse, a large vinyl figure I produced with Hiroto Ohkubo at Instinctoy. Jim loved King Korpse and got a KK T-Shirt. He mentioned that it would be great for me to collaborate on something with the folks at DC Collectibles, and the newly launched DC Artists Alley line made for the perfect chance to do so.

At first, we were talking about Swamp Thing, The Demon, Solomon Grundy, etc. Things that seemed to fall within my proverbial wheelhouse. But I did hear that Jim was thinking that perhaps that was too easy, or too expected. DC soon settled on having me do my versions of Batman, The Joker, Two-Face and Killer Croc. I think I was even more thrilled about this opportunity. I’ve spoken many times about my lack of affection for costumed heroes, but Batman has always been one of my favorite characters.


Posted by Jack @ 12:00 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Jan 11, 2016

J★RYU Interview: When A F.A.D. Isn’t Just a FAD


[We recently had a chance to spend several hours talking to J★RYU at his studio about his impressive It’s a F.A.D. Dunny from Kidrobot, which was released in two 20” editions at the end of last year and will close with a pair of 8” editions to be released Tuesday (1.12.15). He  shared insight on the nuances behind the Dunny’s name, his design approach and philosophy, the significance of keys + locks in his work and more. it’s a detailed exploration—well worth the extended read. Enjoy.]

Hi Jesse. Let’s start with It’s a F.A.D. The name is evocative yet a bit mysterious. Many collectors might initially think of it as a comment on the troubling trajectory of vinyl art toys, is that the case?

There’s some of that. It’s called that in a way because it came at the denoument, the seeming downward spiral of things. However, I think that in the next 20 or 30 years if this scene is still around and vibrant—maybe metamorphosed into something’s also almost commentary that the Dunny is a seminal piece within our scene. It’s like the American version of the Be@rbrick. There are a lot of cues that the Dunny takes from the original Be@rbrick design.

I also think art at any given time is a fad. It’s just not until later that we categorize it into a movement. You’re not really part of a movement when you’re in it. When Nirvana was playing they weren’t “Hey, we’re in a movement,” no they were just in that scene with a bunch of other musicians doing it. Even this Baroque Gothic style, it was the trend at the time, it was the style of the time. But even that made way for other things.

It’s also an acronym, it’s Fancy Ass Dunny, or Fancy Antique Dunny, or Fine Art Dunny. There’s a lot of things that you can call it.


Posted by Francine @ 06:00 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Dec 28, 2015

Dream Big Friends Interview

2015-10-21 08.20.04

[Dreamt up by Ugly Doll creators David Horvath, Sun Min Kim, and like-minded toy wizard Klim Kozinevich of Bigshot Toyworks, Dream Big Friends is an alternative and perhaps an antidote to the pink-as-usual doll offerings.  To learn more about the bold project  starring Yuna—perhaps the first to feature an Asian American lead character—and the Kickstarter campaign underway to make their difference-making vision a reality,  Vinyl Pulse recently  picked the brains of David and Klim about rethinking what dolls can and should be.]

Q:  Hi.  Dream Big Friends is a status quo-challenging project, one that is not necessarily an obvious follow-up to your previous work, most notably the Ugly Doll plush line.   From your comments on social media, it seems the project was motivated partly by a desire to provide your daughter with alternatives to the wave of pink that dominates the doll world.  Can you tell us a bit more about the genesis of the project, the inspiration, and the goals?

DH:  Our daughter, from a very early age, often asked where the Asian American (in those words!  dolls are… and why when there was one, in a group of five, she was often (always) pictured off on the far left or right, never front and center? This coupled with our absolute love of certain doll lines, such as MGA’s incredible LaLaLoopsy and the old doll prototypes my mother made for Cherry Merry Muffin ( which look nothing like the final product, but their story inspired me at a young age to try something different someday… ) drove us towards the doll space.

KK: While David and Sun Min have a closer connection to the doll aisle (I have a son) I have worked on numerous doll and “girl-centric” brands over the past 20 years. Over that time I noticed a lot of things that really bothered me about some of the styling, the messaging and the overall way the big toy companies were marketing their products to young girls and children in general. I have spent a considerable amount of time developing some ideas and exploring form factors and design elements that I felt would be appealing and fun for children and have a positive message to their parents. I’ve been waiting patiently for the right time to set them free… and Dream Big Friends is a chance to do that.

Hi Yuna

Q: It’s tempting to characterize Dream Big Friends as a disruptive idea, one meant to upend the girls’ doll market and perhaps the way toys are made.  Was this your intention or do you see the project as being more about offering an alternative?

DH: We don’t really see it as a disruption… the larger toy companies seem to be disrupting their own doll business without much help from outside sources… no, we simply wanted to offer another choice…. one that you can even play with existing lines… one that plays well with others.

KK: We have been talking about working together for nearly a decade. Doing something in the doll space seemed like a perfect place to start since David, Sun Min and myself were all thinking of a very similar concept independently. It made perfect sense for us to fuse our ideas and thoughts together to create something brand new that we all believe in.


Posted by Jack @ 07:07 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

Jul 17, 2014

Interview with Jermaine Rogers on ‘CHOICES’


[On the eve of the release of Jermaine Rogers’ first self-produced vinyl toy, CHOICES, Vinyl Pulse reached out to him to explore the character, the connection to the underlying storyline, and his perspective making art and art toys.  Enjoy the interview and be sure to check out the SDCC release info, after the jump.]

Q: Hi Jermaine. You've been making art toy fans really happy over the last year or so.  Next up is CHOICES -- a blood red-eyed, knife wielding rabbit with something or someone clearly on his mind. Can you tell us more about the character and  his fellow brothers often seen in your various gig posters and art?  Do the Dero and these unusual rabbits see eye to eye?

Well, these bunnies belong to a particular patch of woodland very far away. They're involved in a centuries old dispute with a community of raccoons who share the woodland with them. The two sides don't really like each other, but tolerate each other for the most part. From time to time, there are flare-ups. Sometimes violent flare-ups. Every community has it's extremists.

But, every community has it's level-headed, forward thinkers...and they exist among the bunnies and raccoons as well. More stories of the individual players in this story will come out in future figures/prints. This bunny in particular is faced with some sort of decision, as well as an instrument to help him carry it out. His choice is not specified, because that is for the viewer to decide.

As far as the Dero and their relationship to these bunnies, I'm going to 'no comment' on that. It's been pretty well established that the bunnies, raccoons, and Squire (the human-headed pig creature) all exist in the same storyline. Squire is a source of tremendous peer pressure on the bunnies. Meanwhile, the Dero and Veil storyline is a different thing entirely. I will say that, yes, these 2 struggles exist within the same 'universe'.


Q: I've always wondered how you make your character choices.  Which comes first, the animal or the concept/feeling you'd like to portray ?

There really is no process that I stick with. I let it happen naturally. Sometime, there is a type of being that I want to artistically portray, and I look for the right way to do that. Sometimes the 'right' way for me is the way that no one else will expect. In any case, I try not to dictate a process in any certain terms. Just let it happen. Often when you feel the ground sort of cracking beneath your feet, you instinctively look for something to grab on to. Artistically speaking, sometimes it's just better to throw your hands up and just fall with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it keeps everything 'real', you know? The art is coming from your gut.


Posted by Jack @ 11:32 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (3) |

Jun 11, 2014

Interview with Klim Kozinevich, Creator of the Four Horsies of the ‘Pocalypse


[We recently had a chance to talk to Klim Kozinevich of Bigshot Toyworks about his personal project, The Four Horsies of the ‘Pocalypse.  Klim talks about the concept, the Kickstarter campaign (thru 6.19) to create a 6” art toy of Maddie, mentor to the fearsome four, and shares with us the first photos of the test pulls of the figure.]

Q: Hi Klim.  Please tells us briefly about yourself and your background.

Hello, my name is Klim and I operate a small but highly productive character and product development shop called Bigshot Toyworks where we spend our time creating new characters and illustrations for advertising campaigns, developing all sorts of toys and games for various agencies and companies and developing some of the most intricate and detailed collectibles that we can for our friends, clients and creative partners.

001-4 horsies homepage 
Q: We know that the Four Horises of the 'Pocalypse began with your 'Friendship is Madness' project which appears to be a Cthulhu inspired re-imagining of the biblical 'Four Horseman of the Apocalypse'.  How did you come up with the initial concept and what convinced you to pursue it?

It all started out with a brainstorm as I was trying to come up with some interesting ideas for new characters. My personal non-work style is all about cute shapes and forms, so I was drawing puppies, and kittens and robots, and then I had a thought that it would be awesome to do a mashup of a Cute horse and various themes that no one considers cute, and this is how Maddie was born. Then I was thinking of what would the kids of the horses of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse look like? What would their lives be like? Where would they live and how can we make it funny? This was the basic premise for the Four Horsies and that is what we are working on parallel to the Kickstarter.


Posted by Jack @ 06:00 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Feb 16, 2014

Kidrobot Creative Director Galen McKamy on TMNT, Munny and More



[With Kidrobot’s recent announcements of upcoming TMNT and Mega Man toy lines, collectors have been wondering what the future holds for one of the original American art toy pioneers.  Rather than speculate, Vinyl Pulse reached out to Kidrobot and set up an interview with Creative director Galen McKamy  (picture above, 2nd from the left) to ask about TMNT but perhaps more importantly about how licensed toys and art toys mix and relate to each other.  Completed a few weeks ago, we’re happy to bring you the interview --- complete with pictures of the new TMNT mini series which was revealed today at Toy Fair in NYC, courtesy of Kidrobot.]

Q: Hi Galen. Before we jump into talking about TMNT, can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Kidrobot as the creative director?

A: In a nutshell, or a half shell... I wear about 50 different hats. We have between 15-20 licenses that we work with, our core brands and  collaborations that all happen at the same time.  I create the proper pathways for each of these brands or products to speak to the right consumer, while maintaining our brand's ( Kidrobot) integrity. I work with outside partners, artists, and companies to produce product that is compelling and hopefully progressive.

I am a designer/artist by trade, so I still like to get my hands dirty.  I also have nearly 15 years in the toy design industry so I constantly try to push our manufacturing and artist partners to go beyond what other companies are doing.  I have an amazing team of product, package and graphic designers that consistently rise above expectation.  I am extremely fortunate to have such a great crew with me.  My role allows me to connect with many amazingly creative people and companies around the world.  I'm never not working, that is a fact.  I think that the key to my role is to be accessible, honest, and constantly aware and moving.

IMG_1813 (2)

Q: So we now know  that Kidrobot will be releasing several licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures in the near future.   First, congratulations on adding the Turtles to the KR lineup.  Second, can you tell us a bit more about what collectors can expect from the new toys?

A:   We are so excited to launch this property.  We have a great relationship with Nickelodeon.  You can expect to see a lineup of the core classic TMNT characters- heroes and VILLAINS.  Maybe a curveball or two.  We are launching a line of 3" figures, medium figures and special addition Blister carded figures that really pay homage to the roots of TMNT.  We are also producing a limited run  of apparel to compliment the collaboration. 


Q: As KR's creative director, how do you approach these entertainment crossover projects?  Is it important that the toys reflect a distinct Kidrobot design aesthetic?  

A:  100 percent.  We get approached daily by many different brands and licenses. We have to maintain our integrity and elevate our brand awareness in the proper way.  We are a collectable product company.  This means that our aesthetics should be ownable to Kidrobot and compliment the license we are working with.  The licensing partner also needs to sit well within our space.  Turtles has a nostalgic quality that resonates with KR collectors. 



Q: Up until the Marvel crossover products, Munny had been strictly DIY.  The Marvel Munnys took a hybrid approach -- blank figures with Marvel character stickers.  Is that the same approach for the Turtles, or do these have printed/sculpted designs? Is Munny now a full-fledged platform toy with both  designed and DIY editions?

A:  We initially rolled out Marvel Munny for two reasons. One, we know that artist and customizers purchase Munny to create their own art.  The Marvel property skews young as well.  We wanted to give the little ones a creative toy that inspires them to make/ create.  The second reason, is that Hasbro holds the master toy license.  I actually came from Hasbro where I worked on Marvel and many other properties.  So based on my past life and our restrictions within the property, Munny was a perfect fit for us.  Turtles is our second launch of a licensed property on the Munny brand.  There will be molded accessories for sure, maybe even some shells!! [editor: the TMNT Munnys will also feature deco stickers].


Posted by Jack @ 05:15 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Mar 12, 2012

Interview with Guf & The Introduction of King Swine


The great thing about the toy community is meeting collectors in my very own community. That’s how I met Guf, model kit builder, toy collector, sculptor, tattoo artist and part owner of San Diego’s Tattoo Royale with long time friends, Milton and Droopy. Guf is responsible for sculpting and casting the Larry figure (HERE), which was based on a design by Milton, as a part of their Tattoo Royale Garage toys. Now some time has passed and Guf is ready to introduce his very own figure, by the name of King Swine. What better way to introduce KS, than an interview! So I had the chance to stop by his shop, as well as his home to snap a few photos and ask a few questions. Also, for those attending Wondercon, Guf will be bringing along with him some of his Resin King Swine Figures. Stay tuned for more information on the release! Word on the street is that it will be guerilla backpack style, as they did at NYCC.

VP: Hi Guf! How about we start off with this interview by asking for a brief background about yourself? Where are you from? Art, Sculpting, Tattooing Background, etc…? And where do you draw inspiration from for your artwork and toys?

Guf: Born in Wisconsin and have been drawing and doing art projects since I can remember. No formal art training after high school, just lucky enough to learn from talented people I have met and worked with. I was raised on monster and sci-fi movies ,  comic books, MAD and monster magazines. Also built and painted a lot of model kits.


VP: How long have you been tattooing? And how much of that time was spent as part owner of Tattoo Royale?

Guf: I have been tattooing almost 20 years, 5 years at Tattoo Royale.

VP: Of those 20 years of tattooing, have you ever had any outrageous or really funny requests?

Guf: I once gave a 65+  year old man his first tattoo which was an old plow horse on his belly, with the horse looking over it's shoulder making the mans belly button the horses rear end. He did it for his wife because he said she was always calling him a horses ass.

VP: As much as I think the viewers would love to see that tattoo, I’m going to have to spare them. But anyways.. I’ve noticed you’ve been in a few publications in both the Tattoo Industry and the Model Kit Industry, any particular spread you favor the most? Or had the best experience working on?

Guf: Some of my clients have had their tattoos photographed and published in the tattoo magazines, one was a cover, that was cool.  I also contributed to a model building publication called Amazing Vehicular Modeler, a spin off of Amazing Figure Modeler magazine. It was a how to article on building, painting and kit bashing an old Ed " Big Daddy" Roth model kit. I didn't realize how much work it takes to document the process with photos and then write about it. The hard work paid off , it ended up on the cover of the premier issue.

 IMG_1888 IMG_1886 IMG_1887

VP: Congrats on those covers by the way! Speaking of Tattoos, I couldn’t help but notice you got some fresh ink. Would you like to tell us a little bit about it?

Guf: Just got my hands tattooed in December 2011, Godzilla on the right, King Kong on the left. Again, nostalgia for 2 of my favorite movies, 1933 King Kong and the 1954 Godzilla.

VP: So if King Kong got into some radioactive goo, which made him equal size to Godzilla. Who do you think would win in a fight?

Guf: Please don't make me choose sides, I love them both. Hopefully they can work out their differences and get along some day.


VP: The idea of Godzilla and King Kong getting along would make a good film. Now let’s gets to the nitty gritty. King Swine! Where did this figure spawn from? I know you are going to start him off as resin, but do you have any plans to turn him into vinyl?

Guf: Still working on King Swines backstory,  I just had an idea for a pig monster and had an urge to sculpt something that would fit in a Kaiju toy collection.  For some reason I like pigs, even have some tattooed on me. Keeping him a garage toy for right now, roto cast resin in small runs. Someday I would like to have a toy made in vinyl, but honestly resin and vinyl collect dust just the same and I can do the whole production in resin from the sculpt to the finished product here in my garage, that's why we like to call them garage toys.

 IMG_1839 IMG_1884IMG_1833 IMG_1827 IMG_1830 IMG_1832 IMG_1836 IMG_1838


Posted by Kristoffer @ 09:00 AM in Incoming , Interviews , Wondercon 2012 | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

Mar 02, 2012

KCUR Radio Interviews MAD


If you have a few moments, check out this great interview MAD did for a local radio station, KCUR. He speaks a bit about himself, his toys, where the term “Urban Vinyl” comes from and lots of stuff you should hear! You can find the interview HERE.

Posted by Kristoffer @ 10:54 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Oct 27, 2011

Interview: Amanda Visell Reckons ‘Everything Dies’


[Right before Amanda Visell flies off to Mexico for the opening of her ‘Everything Dies’ solo (11.3) @ Guru Gallery, Vinyl Pulse caught up with her just long enough to pick her brain about her latest work.  Enjoy.]

Q: Your next show, 'Everything Dies' revolves around the end of life, from the title to the scheduling with the opening falling on the day after Dia De Los Muertos.  What does death mean to you?

AV: Yeah lets start with the light questions... Well I dont believe there is an afterlife beyond being absorbed by the rest of life around us now. You know ther’es a cycle, we eat things, we die, we feed things. So death has to happen for life to exist, but life keeps going, death is really just about the individual.


Q: While the timing of the show makes the theme a natural fit, you seem to gravitate to destruction whether it's rampaging monsters, avenging female warriors, or the modern battlefield.  I think you once told me that you draw things you think 'boys' will find appealing -- i.e. guns, bombs, etc.  Is that all there is to this story, or is there something more -- a sense of vengeance  and perhaps empowerment against oppression ?

AV: Mmmm, well I guess I made this show more about life. Creatures with life buzzing in and around them. Thats’ a bit more of what Dia de los Muertos feels like to me, celebrating life. 

There’s always an aspect of attempting art that you hope will be palatable to people. This is my actual job and identity so I’m very lucky as an artist to be able to have complete control of what I make every day. I’m also a big geek so imagery I use is just my own geekiness shining through.


Posted by Jack @ 02:07 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Nov 29, 2010

Interview: Andrew Bell Talks about the A-Type (Part I)


[We’re happy to bring you part one of an interview with Andrew Bell about his design of the A-Type platform figure which will be released shortly from mphlabs.  The interview includes Andrew’s video introduction of A-Type. Don’t miss Part 2 over at myplasticheart.]

Q:  Hi Andrew.  How did A-Type happen ? Had you planned from the beginning to include  the mph heart logo into the design ?

I’ve known Vin from MPH for years, when we first met we were both still working full time and just getting into toys as a fun aside. A few years later, we’re both working for ourselves, and toys are a major part of our careers. He’s always been fun to work with, and we’ve always wanted to work on something together, so the A-Type project was a natural fit. It’s hard to believe, but we planted the seeds of this project almost four years ago. We’ve both been so incredibly busy on our own that it’s been hard to focus on a joint project, luckily we were finally able to get it together!

The inclusion of the logo was always a goal of mine. It’s simple, yet strong, and a globally recognizable shape.

Q:  A-Type. What's in a Name?  'A' shaped, 'A'ndrew Type ?  Were any other names kicked around ?

The name is a little bit of everything really! The figure makes a bit of an A shape, my name starts with an A, but primarily it’s a reference to the heart shape, specifically blood types. We kicked around a few other names, most with a heart theme. They included “coronary”, “bypass”, “heartsy”, “bpm”, and the close but not quite “Type A”. I think we made the right choice!


Posted by Jack @ 10:00 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Nov 19, 2010

Interview: Jon Knox & Designer Con Exclusives


Jon Knox has been up countless hours getting ready for this weekend's Designer Con. There he will be releasing an exclusive Jeffrey and Max (above), as well as a ton of other other handmade toys, prints, and t-shirts. He will be hanging out at booth #420 with Paul Kaiju, Monstrehero, and Uh Oh Toys.

DesignerCon @ the Pasadena Convention Center
300 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

While we’re on the topic of Jon, he was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to do a little interview with us.


VP: Hi there Jon! To start off this interview, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

JK: Let's see…Male, 25 years old, grew up in the south, bachelors in graphic design, living in Portland, and I make toys all the live long day.

VP: So let’s get straight into it. What got you into art and resin casting?

JK: I've been into art as long as I can remember. I haven't gone a day without it since I was 5. I got into vinyl toys while I was in college in 2005 (thanks to a professor of mine) and started making my own toys with resin a couple years later.


VP: Ah! That’s around the same time I started collecting myself. Are there any particular artists toys you collect?

JK: My toy collection is taking over my studio and I'm running out of room to put everything. Jeremyville, TADO, and Dehara are three of my favorites. I have a lot of their stuff and it really inspires me when I'm creating my own toys.


Posted by Kristoffer @ 07:00 AM in DesignerCon '10 , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Nov 12, 2010

Interview: Tan-Ki


[We recently caught up with  French artist Tan-Ki for a quick interview as he was setting up his solo, When Birds Sing the Song of of the Clouds,  which opens on Friday, November 12th 2010 (7-11 PM) @ Toy Art Gallery in Hollywood.  It’s a quick read and gives more insight into his toys, their progression, and upcoming toys – including his first vinyl.]

VP: When did you start doing toys?

T: About three years ago.  I sculpted the first one by hand and then used computer modeling and stereo lithography to create the mold for the  current design.


VP: What drew you into toy making ?

T: The doubters. People told me that it wasn’t possible to create toys on my own, that I need a company behind me.  So I had to give it a shot.


VP:  How did you come up with the shape of your signature KiToy figure? 

T: I first created the toy as a DIY so it had to be easy to paint with a large surface area.


Posted by Jack @ 02:48 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

Oct 20, 2010

Interview: Michelle Valigura >> Institute of Lower Learning

DSC00737 sun

[Switcheroo (Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura) recently started the ‘Institute of Lower Learning’ – a series of workshops offering hands-on practical instruction on art-making techniques.  We recently cornered Michelle (she’s elusive) and asked her to spill the beans about the Institute and her Ceramic Tile workshop  (info sheet) which is this Sunday, October 24th 2010 in Pasadena].

VP: The 'Institute of Lower Learning'. Clever name.  What is it and why did you start it?

M: School schmool. You don't have to get a fancy degree to be an artist, both Amanda and I learned everything we know from real life and awesome people. That’s the idea behind the institute, bringing real life experience together with some of the amazing artists that we know and respect.

VP:  Michelle, you've been quietly transforming yourself into a serious ceramic artist.  Some of your pieces are pretty amazing.  What's the attraction to ceramics ?

M: Awwww, you're just scared of me. I always suspected I would like ceramics but never knew how much we would get along. I feel like I went on and they hooked me up with my soul mate.



Posted by Jack @ 05:53 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Sep 29, 2010

Interview: Rohby


I had the pleasure of driving up north in the 103 degree heat to do a studio visit in Anaheim with Rohby. For those of you who do not know, Rohby is a maniac when it comes to his Mech customs. He has had two shows at myplasticheart, one being his solo show “Elbow Grease” back in 2007 and his most recent duo show with Phu, “The Confrontation”. He showed me around his workspace, as well as gave me a peek at his current project. He was also nice enough to answer some questions for me. Take a look after the jump for the full interview!


Posted by Kristoffer @ 01:15 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

Jun 09, 2010

Interview: Paul Kaiju


I had the pleasure of joining Mr. Paul Kaiju for a day at his new humble abode here in sunny San Diego. After seeing all the amazing custom Kaiju figures Paul has pumped out over the years, I have become a huge fan. Not only can this guy customize any figure in his path, but he is also a very talented sculptor. Take a look at our little interview session.


Posted by Kristoffer @ 12:25 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

May 18, 2010

Interview: Daniel Goffin


[German artist Daniel Goffin creates original resin sculptures full of life and style.  Before he hopped on a plane for his joint show with Martin Osuna  (5.29 @ TAG), we caught up with him in cyberspace for this lil mind dump (errr… interview)].

VP: Hi Daniel.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself.  What do you do when you're not dreaming up and casting toys?

D: Hi. In the past few years I have been studying Visual Communication with a focus on comics and illustration at the school of art and design in Kassel, Germany. Next to that I have worked already as a freelance illustrator and sculptor on a few projects. One of them being Classics, an e-book reader for the iPhone. I drew a few of the covers and helped with the concept art. At the beginning of the year I also worked on a game for the iPhone. I don't know when it will be out but probably in the next few months.

VP: How would you describe your style?

In my drawings I have limited my palette to simple black and white and I am working solely with brush and ink. My sculptures focus on expression and bringing the character alive in a way that I envision them. Articulation limits this somewhat which is why I haven't used it much. Japanese culture, old and new, is a big influence and I think it shows in my 2D and 3D work, yet there are numerous other references to cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s, haute couture fashion design, etc. One of the best things about my art is the blank face of my listeners I get when I try to describe what I do. Try describing my Karl Diesel character in a few words and then compare the results of the audience's imagination to my toy. Fun.



Posted by Jack @ 10:45 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (2) |

Mar 26, 2010

Interview with Amanda Visell

[Wait… this is Amanda Pulse right ?  Well… yes, but we decided to turn the tables on her.  She’s always interviewing other folks on her birthday (including Bwana below), why shouldn’t we return the favor ?  So… Here ya go – an oh-so-deep interview about her upcoming Primeval Love show (4.9) in LA. The show represents a definite evolution in her style – read on.]

Did you have a specific goal in mind for your new show ?

Well the quick concept answer from my brain is my show is an example of one direction life could have gone.

Did you have this concrete idea for the show when you began painting ?

No, at least for me I have vague ideas that get worked out as I go. I don’t sketch everything before I paint but I had a good foundation in my brain before I got started.

Did you focus on research prior to painting for this show ?

No way. It comes from my brain juice.

Your art style seems to have changed considerably since your last solo in '08. What's behind this change ?

I had this office roommate who kept bugging me to change it. So I gave him the boot. oh wait, no...I just try to push myself to get better with everything I do. Progress and grow. It doesn’t mean I will, but I gotta try.


Posted by Jack @ 02:20 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Bwana Spoons Interview

Hi Bwana Spoons, thanks for joining us. So we are best friends, but can you tell the viewers how/where we met?

You guys always say you were stalking me at Comic Con, but in real life I saw your works and liked them, and then my old shop partner had a show booked with you and Michelle and then he bailed. You guys were supposed to be the next show and he didn’t even tell you he was leaving I think. So I maybe talked about a make-up show. Uh... Not about make up, but maybe a show for a later date. When’s that Amanda show gonna be at Grass Hut? Natural History Museum, that’s for girls.

You are a fine type artist, a toy designer, a small business owner, does it ever get boring? Sorry, my question just bored me, lets talk chickens.

Chickens are awesome, dumb, hungry all the time, cute, a little scary, and taste good. My neighbor thinks they are ducks, but that’s because I have a special neighbor.
All that other stuff- no not boring, but maybe well beyond my capacity to chew. And flat out a bad idea to make art and try to run a shop at the same time. Too much business, not enough everything else. But I can’t help it. I love seeing other peeples art on my walls, and showing the world art they may have never seen before that I know and feel more peeple need to see and love. Did that make sense?


Pics please, and how sure are you that you can taste the difference between store bought eggs and the ones you pull from your chicken's tushys?

Getting my own asseggs is the best. They are bright orange on the inside and are superior in most ways. When I get them from the coop sometimes they are still warm, occasionally even hot.

Bwana. What did you want to be when you were a kid? How weird is your job now? What would tiny you think about you now? Would you be impressed with your beard?

I think tiny me would not understand the beard. Maybe I would be impressed with me. I know I always wanted to be an artist, but couldn’t see how I would put it together. I definitely didn’t think I would be able to make a living selling and making my own art. I thought all the way thru even young adult me that I would be working for somebody else, instead of torturing my own brain with my own made up deadlines and whoforall.

When I was a kid I wanted to be a park ranger like any normal kid, but with art I thought I might be an architect when I grew up. That was the only way I could relate art to making a living.
You have spawned a human, her name is Hazel. How does she feel about your toys? Any in particular she is creeped out by or identifies with? Do you plan on making a character to explain the birds and bees?

She definitely wants to know about birds and bees that’s for sure. Currently when she grows up she wants to be a mommy that also dances.  Hazel says quite often it’s silly that I have so many toys. She really likes that this is what I do for a living, but she also doesn’t know another way. She really digs steven and killer. But is definitely more interested in dollies, and lambies, and pigs that she can make paper liatards for.

Okay I want to know what you have coming up, but I;m kinda using this interview as an excuse because you never tell me until after!

That’s because we only get to hang out a couple times a year and I am weird on the phone... Uh.. First I am making a little comic book. It’s maybe another Soft Smooth Brain. I am excited about Balls Out next Friday at GH. After that uh... Crystal rainyday globby comes out, going to Spain and Italy in June for a couple of shows, making more new toys with Gargamel and Super 7, and me and beth from brand loyalty are teaming up to make a bubble tea weilding sloth. I think that will be the first toy produced by grass hut., SDCC, some swimming, riding BMX bikes in the forest, listening to boredoms, maybe going to Japan and taiwan in November or october, then walkabout.

Oh, that sounds interesting, you must be excited.

Dingleberry! (Amanda wrote this before seeing my answers)

Hey lets cap this shit off with you talking about your walkabout.
Do you mean easter island? Yeah shooting for january, got ochile and then off to easter island, the birthplace of fantasies in my mind. I thought that peeple cut down the last tree there, and I think they did. But I heard recently that it was rats, rats were the nail in the coffin. They ate everything, so once they chopped down that last tree, there were no seeds to plant a new tree. Oops rats. Thanks amanda.


Posted by Amanda Visell @ 10:35 AM in Amanda Pulse , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Jan 11, 2010

Paul Budnitz Interviewed by MAD


[MAD recently interviewed Kidrobot Co-Founder Paul Budnitz about big moves in Kidrobot’s future.  Vinyl Pulse is happy to exclusively bring you this great read.]

With the recent news that Kidrobot will be moving their headquarters from NYC to Boulder, Colorado, I was hit with a bitter/sweet reality.  "Bitter" cause many of my good friends that work at KR may no longer be there, but "sweet" because I think it's going to open up a whole new world of opportunity for the company to grow.  I moved from LA about five years ago back to the Midwest (Kansas City) and have managed to grow my art, career, & business significantly. If anything, being in the Midwest has allowed me to focus my attention on my work, without the distraction of the never ending "scene".  As an artist/designer who's been working with Kidrobot for a few years now, I thought I'd go straight to the source with some questions about some of the plans they have for moving into the new decade.   So I shot over a few questions to the man in charge of it all... Mr. Paul Budnitz.

1. The word has leaked that KR is moving their New York headquarters out to Boulder, Colorado. and many are curious as to what the biggest reason/ motivation for this is?

Yes, we're moving Kidrobot to Boulder in in April, though we'll be leaving behind a small office in New York City, and of course our flagship store will remain in NYC as well, with Lisa still at the helm.

The motivation for the move is really simple -- I kept finding that I was doing my best work outside the big city.  New York is wonderful, and it can also be very distracting.  There is so much going on, and that's good and exciting, but having our offices right in the middle of Manhattan for so long, it was also constant noise, noise, noise. 

Several of us got together, and about a half year ago began looking for a new home for the company.  We wanted somewhere that was an art and design hub, that is near a big city with a strong urban art scene, and that has access to a good airport.  In the end Boulder won.  It's 30 minutes from Denver, which has a tremendous street art community, and also one of the top art museums in the US.  Boulder itself was rated #1 of best places in the US to be an artist a few years ago.

Some people also know that we're working on greening Kidrobot.  We're exploring carbon offsetting, recycled packaging and plastics.  We're already locally sourcing more and more of our apparel (we just switched to USA-made T-shirts, for example.  We're working on having our cut-and-sew done in Canada).    Boulder is the the #1 bicycle town in the USA.   We're putting our offices in the center of town so our employees can bike or walk to work, and save the carbon from car commuting.

We want to show that you don't have to be environmentally wasteful to be cutting edge.  The two things are not incompatible.

One of Kidrobot's company missions is to never succumb to fear, and to never sit still.  We're excited because the move is letting us pull out a lot of the old wiring and look at things differently.  We're inspired by change.  It's like starting again!


Posted by Jack @ 03:30 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (6) |

Dec 02, 2009

Interview with Noferin – Jibibuts, Pecan Pals Plush and More


[Noferin, Nick and Candy, have taken their own path to making art toys. The duo turned heads and grew their fanbase with the excellent Pecan Pals wood toys.  With a wave of new product coming including the Jibibiuts wood mini-figures and the Pecan Plush, we thought it would be a great time to talk to Noferin about their approach to creating art toys and get the skinny on the new toys.]

Hi guys.  Can you tell us a little about yourselves and maybe how you got started with your art careers?

Hi Jack, so nice to speak with you. We are Nick and Candy, a husband and wife collaboration who design and manufacture toys, sculpt, paint, illustrate and write stories. Under the name, Noferin, we bring to life the stories of the Pecanpals.

jibi_sculp jibi_stack


Noferin has broken from the norm with your  art toys.  Instead of making vinyl Pecanpals, you chose to create them in wood with excellent results.  Why did you decide to go with wood ?

The more we looked into the process of making toys, the more we found ourselves leaning towards using wood as a medium for production. Wood just seemed like a – excuse the pun – natural choice for us. We are very hands on with our production, preferring to open a sketch book and work on ideas first than going straight to computer, and the concept of using plastic or vinyl felt cold and foreign to us because we couldn’t shape plastic or vinyl ourselves, but with wood we could.

We chose to use wood because we wanted to expose a traditional material in this new scene of designer toys. Wood has a weight to it, a true sense of solidity. Wood is living. It has grain, pits and pores and is a beautiful medium to work with. We wanted to create a set of figures that would stand the test of time – something that is cherished and passed through the generations.


Posted by Jack @ 01:46 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (2) |

Nov 17, 2009

Interview – Ray Robinson III



[Ray Robinson III (Three) is the founder of  the Gold Coin brand and the artist behind the Stick Up! resin figure  dropping this Friday  (11.20)from Argonaut Resins.  We wanted to know more about Ray, Gold Coin and Stick Up! so we fired of some questions. Enjoy the interview behind-the-scenes making-of pics. ]

Q: Hi Ray. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your art/design background?

First off let me say thanks for having me! It's an honor. I'm an artist / designer / graffiti writer based out of San Francisco. I started drawing at a young age. Initially I drew a lot of inspiration from comics and video game art. For years I drew nothing but. Then in middle school I gravitated towards graffiti. I not only enjoyed the study of letters but the characters as well. Over time I just tried to consistently up my skills in character development area. As I got older I started to get into doing art as a profession with graphic design. After a few years of random work for hire I then decide to start my own label called GOLD COIN. That's basically what most of my creative efforts go towards now.

heart dudesiclestick-up-wht


Q: For those that don't follow lifestyle apparel, can you shed some light on Gold Coin ?

GOLD COIN is a label I started about 3 years ago. It started out as a creative outlet for my work. At first I didn't really know how to go about getting my art out there so I started GC as a means of a release for it. I design all the products myself from start to finish. We make all kinds of random goods but there is a big focus on clothing. I have been making clothes for myself since I was younger so it only made sense for me to mix the two, clothing & art. Every season I try to expand the line a bit as well. This season for example, Stick Up! will be our first toy release.


Posted by Jack @ 03:33 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Oct 29, 2009

Interview with Brent Nolasco

Gordo By Brent Nolasco and mphlabs No.01

[Pennsylvania based artist Brent Nolasco will release his first original resin art toy, Gordo, in conjunction with mphlabs @ myplasticheartnyc this Friday (10.30) from 7 to 9 PM.  We wanted to know more about Gordo and his development and thought you would too – so here’s a short interview for your reading pleasure.]

Gordo, your first original figure, looks great. What's his story? Evil, good, or just misunderstood?

Thank you. The Gordo story is:

"Just off of Main Street, in every town, lives a foraging monster, named Gordo. You can find him standing over a box of leftovers, fishing out that last crumb, and licking the containers dry. His will to eat overcomes his need to stop, always chasing the next tasty snack. Backyards and garbage cans are his buffet. After a long day of gorging, he falls into a food coma, only to awake hungry and repeat the cycle. His stomach is a bottomless pit. Who knows what he will eat next."

He’s a mischievous character. He thinks from his stomach, not his brain. But all in all, he is a good guy.

Gordito By Brent Nolasco No.0006 Gordito By Brent Nolasco No.0005 Gordito By Brent Nolasco No.0007

You've drawn and painted numerous characters from your evolving world, how did you choose which one to do as a resin?

Well, I went back to the drawing board and I developed some new characters that would work well as a resin figure. Sometimes paintings don’t translate into realistic or cost efficient products.

Brent Nolasco Resin Turn Arounds No.01Brent Nolasco Resin Turn Arounds No.02Brent Nolasco Resin Turn Arounds No.03Brent Nolasco Resin Turn Arounds No.04



Posted by Jack @ 03:19 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Sep 28, 2009

Michael Lau – Ten Years, Ten Questions (Part Two)


[In July Vinyl Pulse had the rare opportunity to interview HK vinyl pioneer Michael Lau at his studio in Quarry Bay.  In celebration of the 10th anniversary of his signature Gardener series,  I asked him ten questions with  the assistance of invaluable interpretation by Florance Yip.  On the eve of his historic Gardener 10th show which opens with a private VIP event tomorrow, 9.29, we bring you the final part of our interview.  If you missed  part one, go check it out and then come right back].

6. Word has it that you will be unveiling three new gardeners for the G10 anniversary show in Los Angeles.  Can you tell us more about the additions?

107 is M, 108 is D, and 109 is Young. M.D. Young (laughs). [ed: MD Young is the Co-Founder of MINDstyle]. I can’t tell you exactly, but all three are from America. It wasn’t intentional. 107 and 108 were designed a few years ago. 109 was inspired by things happening around me and the world in the past year or so. The timing is really good, since this is my first exhibition in America.

7. Mini-figures are one of the growing genres in art toys today.  Do you have any plans to create a new mini-fig line?

Yes, I want to do it. It won’t be ready for the exhibition, but in the future.

8. Over the past decade you've worked on so many memorable projects and mediums.  Taking a step away from reality for a minute, what's your dream ignoring cost and practicality?

I would really like to do an animation using my own characters. Currently my development goes from 2D to 3D as a figure. I would like to turn my characters into an animation where it tells a story. I can’t do it by myself and really want to explore doing it and working with other creative talents.


Posted by Jack @ 12:14 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Sep 21, 2009

Michael Lau – Ten Years, Ten Questions


Photo: Milk Magazine

[During a great trip to Asia this summer, Vinyl Pulse had a rare one-on-one interview with toy pioneer Michael Lau who has set the course and helped define vinyl toys for a full decade.   Meeting Michael was a great experience.  I’ve admired his artistry expressed through the vinyl toy medium from afar for years, so to be able to visit his gallery and chat with him in a relaxed setting was truly a treat.  While I was prepared to ask a few questions in person and have the  rest  done through email due to time considerations, Michael gladly answered all of them and took the time to really consider the relevance of each.  I left  with a better insight into the man behind the Gardeners, a witty and wickedly creative visionary.

To celebrate Ten Years of the Gardeners, we asked Michael ten questions during our visit to his gallery.  Through the gracious interpretation of Florance Yip, we covered a range of topics from  Michael’s experiences over the last decade to his milestone 10th Anniversary show which opens with an invite-only VIP event on September 29th 2009 at De La Barracuda in Los Angeles.    Today we bring you part one of our exclusive Interview.  We’ll follow up with part two next Monday. Enjoy. ]

1. Congratulations on the upcoming 10 year anniversary of the Gardeners series. As one of the only artists to be able to  sustain success with vinyl toys for a full decade, you've seen it all.  Any surprises in the way vinyl toys have progressed and developed?

When I started ten years ago, I did not know that it would develop into what it is now.  I made vinyl toys because I liked them, had a passion for it.  I never thought the toys would be such a commercial success.  I’m still doing it for the same reason as ten years ago – passion. 

When I look back on the development of the vinyl market over these past ten years, I’ve seen it have ups and downs.  It has its good times and its down period.  It seems to have stabilized.  There are definitely a set of people who have become collectors and true supporters of vinyl toys. Maybe some newcomers.  I don’t see the market peaking again, we’ve reached a stable point. 

2. As an artist you've chosen the medium of vinyl toys as you primary form of expression.  Are there any other artists' work you admire or that inspires you ?

Some artists who have inspired me include --

Jean Marie Pigeon - the French artist who did the Tintin sculptures.  I traveled to France and was inspired by his form and structure.

Mike Mignola – the artist behind Hellboy.

Tim Burton – He creates characters that are special and unique. Dynamic and life-like. 

When I create characters, I want them to tell a story – not just a door without a life.   Not something remote or distant.  When you’re holding one of my characters it’s like he or she is talking to you and he or she has a character of their own.


Posted by Jack @ 12:07 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Apr 15, 2009

My Collection - Tattoos

Tattoos are pretty much the only thing I collect now a days. My tattoos are my way of collecting art. Over the past few years I have gotten close to 100 hours of work done by Joe Capobianco, Jime Litwalk, Kat Von D, PON, Grez, Nikko Hurtado, Eric Newman, SEEN, and most recently, Mike DeVries. Yes - it hurt. Yes - it costs a lot of money.

Since tattoos are a passion of mine I wanted to introduce you to some of my tattoo artists who have become involved in the vinyl toy scene: Joe Capobianco, PON, and Grez. All three Artists have had vinyl toys and have done customs. Joe and Grez were both in the Tattoo Dunny Series I curated a few years ago, and PON has his own FatCap and Dunny. Get to know these amazing guys and witness how tattooing and vinyl toys collide.


How long have you been tattooing?

As of February '09, it is 16 Years. 

What was your first introduction to art? What mediums did you work with before you started picking up a tattoo machine?

As long as I can remember I've been creating art, in one way or another. But my first actual introduction, as in Grade school 5th grade to be exact. And every year following that thru 12th grade I was very active in art classes. Having not continued on to college, or art school, I feel this was a huge leg up.

My primary art tool before tattooing was, and still is the Airbrush.


What made you switch to tattooing as art of choice?

Its a great job, I get to be creative in a very unique medium, and meet interesting people from round the world. That, and I was out of work, and was asked to apprentice...


Posted by The Baroness @ 06:23 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |