Apr 09, 2009

Huck Gee – Minosu & The Golden Bull + Interview


Huck Gee continues his Gold Life saga with probably his most complex limited-edition piece to date – Minosu & The Golden Bull.  This two-figure set features a bad ass Minosu Ushi-Oni  (modified custom Munny – yes the blank was an April Fool’s joke) riding atop the 100% Huck original Golden Bull.   This is the first Huck in-house release to feature an original character sculpt – maybe a sign of things to come.  The Double Bulls has some added significance – Huck’s sign is Taurus and he was born in the Year of the Ox. Limited to 10 signed and numbered pieces, Minosu & The Golden Bull drops this Friday, April 10th @ Noon PDT  from Huck’s store for $1500 per set

Since this is a first for Huck, we thought we’d ask him a few questions about the release and potential new directions. Enjoy the mini-interview.

Hi Huck.  Beyond your army of production toys, you've been incredibly successful with limited-edition custom releases.  How did that start and are you at all surprised that demand is still amazingly high with sets of 10 selling out in under a minute ?

I think “Surprised” would be an understatement. The last few years have been quite a rollercoaster ride. The demand has been quite overwhelming at times… it’s flattering. And I’m thankful for all the love. It continues to open up new doors for me. Some amazing projects are coming.

This set marks a first and a bit of a departure from your previous releases.  In addition to the custom Minosu Ushi-Oni Munny ride you have an original bull sculpt.  Have you been wanting to create and produce an original sculpt in-house for awhile ?  How did it go ? Any surprises?

Patience. Sculpting, casting… so much time is spent waiting around for something to set. And if something does go wrong during the process… well, you just lost a lot of your time, sometimes days. It’s too easy to get frustrated.

It’s always a learning experience, learning new techniques, new lessons… Trial and error, they can be my best teachers at times.



Posted by Jack @ 12:38 PM in Customs , Incoming , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Mar 26, 2009

Who is Jack ?


[A Jack is a creature that keeps the Vinyl Pulse wheels a turnin’. Though he loves sticking the camera in your face he seems to hate attention. Here’s a picture of him in his natural setting.

A few things I know about him are.....

-lightweight boozer

-messy peanut eater

-evil laugh

Like you, the viewers I crave more information about this dude. So let’s tie him to the chair and ask him. – Amanda Visell. ]

Hello sir I will be doing an interview for Amanda Pulse and I was wondering if you would be interested in answering some questions for our viewers.

How long have you been doing Vinyl Pulse?

I started Vinyl Pulse at the end of March '05 so it's been almost  four years now.

Why did you start it?

I started collecting vinyl towards the end of 2004.  I still remember thinking $100 on eBay for Tristan Eaton's Black Voodoo Dunny was insane, but I just couldn't help myself -- way too cool.  So since I'm slightly obsessive I wanted to learn more about the scene, the artists and the toys.  Being geeky I did a few google searches looking for vinyl news sites.  When I didn't find any really, I thought it would be fun to start one.  I would like to say it was purely a hobby back then but it was also an experiment of sorts -- playing with Typepad for blogging and Google Adsense to see if I could cover my hosting fees.

So since you've started you think you've been thinking about toys every single day?

I've never really thought about it that way, but yes I think that's true.  I pretty much do VP 7 days a week, so yeah my days are filled with toys.  It's  rough :)

We're you obsessed with toys before you started Vinyl Pulse?

Not really.  I had my fair share of toys when I was a kid but I didn't really collect them per se.  I didn't really obsess about toys or collectibles really until I saw one of the crazy Tokyo Guns vinyl figures in Import Tuner of all places.

You have a lot of toys, so many you hide them in a secret facility. What do you really like to collect though?

Secret Facility.  You make a storage unit sound so glamorous --- thanks.  I have a few artists that I like to collect -- Tristan Eaton, Itokin Park, and Touma to name some.   I tend to focus on larger toys these days -- mini-figs are hard to display in a way that makes them look appealing.   Kaiju is growing on me -- I like Blobpus.  i figure if you're going to buy monster figures they should creep people out.  I've started collecting Michael Lau (waaaaay behind), and I'm enjoying that.   But really I collect what catches my eye.

Top 3 toys from last year?

  • WWR Bertie by Ashley Wood -- sick toy.  a toy nerd's wet dream come to life.  The finger articulation alone was incredible.
  • 1:3 Pain by Coarsetoys -- Mark Landwehr's extreme sports aesthetic is great and works really well on the large scale.  Like everything he does, the quality is top notch.
  • T9G's Loveless figure -- the spotted animal print one.  Sick.  T9G makes wild figures -- his trademark doll eyes are just plain weird and hey I can respect that.

Top 3 toys you're looking forward to?

     Of the stuff I can safely mention without fear of instant death --

  • Ferg's Squadt Line -- love the combination of military 1:6 ish style and designer toy stylings.
  • Jeff Soto's Walker -- I know, I know... but hey it could happen,  right ???
  • Brandt Peter's Peacemaker 32.9 -- love how it looks like a metal toy.  Just gives me the desire to reach out and play with it -- which is pretty rare these days.

Pet peeve in toy design?

Uh oh.  You're a troublemaker! One I've been thinking about lately has to do with blind-box artist series.  I think it's  really important to make sure that the customer knows who designed the toy they opened.  Some companies make it a point to include collector cards that identify the artist and also list their website.  On the other hand, some blind-box series make it exceedingly hard for someone unfamiliar with an artist to figure out who did the design.  That's a serious no-no in my book since arguably artists do platform mini series to get exposure.

Favorite dog named Horrible?

This is a trick question.  I do dig your dog, Horrible, but Peanut is pretty dope as well.

What are the odds of you eating a vegetable today?

It depends on what your definition of a vegetable is, particularly in terms of portion size.  Even then, not so good.

Thanks for the keys to Vinyl Pulse, I'll lock up when Im done. (editors note: yesterday I heard Jack tell Horrible that he loved him).

Posted by Amanda Visell @ 01:10 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Feb 11, 2009

Amanda Visell Interviews Ohm


[We're pleased to bring you an interview of French artist Ohm by Amanda VisellOhm had the challenging task of creating a consistent look for Muttop's Tcho! mini-fig series which features characters from six different creators.  For the interview, Amanda put on her journalist's hat,  pierced the fluff and got right down to the heart of the matter. Enjoy. ]

AV: Hello Dude, I had the pleasure of checking out your new toys when the Muttpop boys came over. How do you feel about having toys made?

O: I'm super excited about the toy release… especially since the Tcho! line includes a character from BAO BATTLE, my own comic book series. Designing a toy line has been a dream of mine. Knowing that these toys will be sold on store shelves next to toys designed by artistic geniuses like Devilrobots, Tado, and Friends With You is a great honor. But now that the first Tcho figures are done I want to do more, way more!


Can you describe the world they live in?

The world these characters come from is a galaxy with many different planets. Each planet is a very unique and colorful world filled with surprise and fun. The six characters the toys are based on actually come from six different comic book series all published in a comic anthology magazine here in France called Tcho!


Posted by Jack @ 03:15 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Feb 04, 2009

Interview with MD Young of MINDstyle


[MINDstyle is one of the premiere art toy companies.  Based in Asia, they have released toys from notables such as Michael Lau, Brandt Peters, Buff Monster, Doktor A, Kathie Olivas, Ron English and more. Vinyl Pulse recently had the opportunity to interview MD Young, MINDstyle's co-founder and visionary mind, in a rare interview about MINDstyle, toys, and the scene as a whole.  Here's part one of two.  Enjoy.]

MINDstyle is now based in Asia. Why did the company make this move and what are the advantages? Is Asia the future in terms of growing markets for designer toys?

MD: Our move here was always part of MINDstyle's expansion plans and more so, the timing seemed was right allowing us to develop the emerging markets and create additional revenue streams. In addition, part of our expansion is the development of our own original content and properties. MINDstyle as a whole is a lifestyle brand versus just a toy company. In Hong Kong for example, we've opened a creative space and partnered with DNM. This now allows us to produce everything from limited edition lifestyle products to even furniture. Our Manila space will allow us to partner with the right creative team to launch new projects. More importantly, our China based offices allow us to oversee production and work closely with our factory partners. We have our own in-house design team and (QC) quality control staff to give us an edge in the market.

Asia is not the future, as personally I believe much of the collectible toy business started in Japan and Hong Kong. With the early Japanese action figures to the whole Hong Kong boom with Michael Lau, if anything, this is where it all started. As a collector, I started collecting everything from Ultraman to Kikaida and Kaiju. Of course, there were the early McFarlane figures but it really were all the Hong Kong designer toys, Bounty Hunter, Kaws and Medicom products that created the excitement. Today, it seems to have gone full circle, as Kaiju is seeing a tremendous resurgence in the states and Michael Lau (who we have the pleasure of working with) sell outs instantly and commands an amazing secondary market price; just as Medicom's products of Kaws does in the marketplace and I am a big fan of collecting all of them.  Clearly, Asia is the pulse of the collectors market.

  With that being said, what companies like Kid Robot, Toy2R, Toy Tokyo and StrangeCo did is equally important in expanding the market and attracting a new fan base. The buying habits are different in the each market but there is no question that the whole movement in the United States increased awareness globally. The community as a whole is small in terms of gross toy sales, however it would be safe to say it's the most exciting segment.

The term 'Art Toy' is used quite frequently these days. While it sometimes gets used interchangeably with other terms such as "designer toys", some see it as an indicator of creative quality -- a step above so to speak. What's your take ?

MD: When we entered the market, we were a bunch of collectors with a background in the entertainment business and sales; with an understanding for pop culture and passion for art toys. At the time, the only terms used were urban vinyl or designer toys. What interested us most was the ability to license an artists original work and create quality collectible figures. It was our belief early on that such products were a great way for an artist to expand their fan base and reach a wider audience. Let's face it, with the world wide web everything is much more accessible and news spreads so much faster. While everyone's budget does not allows for a purchase of say a USD $10,000 original painting, most fans and collectors would spend USD $100. This had us focusing on the whole art and toy factor. Whereas art posters and art books were readily available of one's favorite artist, we saw art toys as another product for the artist to reach their fan base and more so, create a wider fan base therefore actually increasing their fine art value and collectibility. The term "art toy" is now loosely applied to roto-vinyl figures or at times used to define a product category.


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

Feb 02, 2009

kaNO Interview & ToyQube Exclusive Hi-Def @ NYCC


Official pictures have finally been released of Hi-Def! From the creative mind of kaNO and with a hefty amount of help from ToyQube, Hi-Def makes his debut at this years NYCC. 10 inches tall, fully articulated, records in hand, and wearing a m-65 military jacket, this all black colorway is ready for his first ever release. Only 100 of these figures will be available at the ToyQube Booth (#870) that will retail for $85. We were lucky enough to get a quick interview with the mastermind behind this piece, which can be read right after the jump.


Posted by Kristoffer @ 10:20 AM in Interviews , nycc 09 | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Nov 21, 2008

Jamie Mathis Interview: Fully Visual + Apocalypt-Ephunts

[We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with  Jamie Mathis, the owner and founder of Fully Visual,  to talk about creating metal art figures.  He also gave us an exclusive look at the newest Fully Visual project – Amanda Visell’s Apocalypt-Ephunt mini-fig set.  Beyond taking a bunch of pics, we also  shot a quick informal video intro (above)  to the dope new metal mini-figs with the man himself in the  new Switcheroo Workshop.  Watch it for all the details, calm yourself, and then  read the story behind Fully Visual to learn how a  private label apparel designer added a new element to the art toy world.]

Q: How did you get started in metal ?

About ten years ago, I was designing apparel for a new company, Lucky Thirteen Apparel. I wanted to get into belt buckles. Since the price point for the mold making and sampling was pretty high, I started working for this guy who was doing belt buckles on his own.  I worked with him and learned about sculpting and everything. As the years went on I got pretty close with him – kinda like a step dad deal. 

I really got into doing the belt buckles and I ended up doing a private label line for Hot Topic for a few years. You know the brass knuckles, thorn n’roses – kinda like tattoo art. I’m not much of an artist except for tattoo type drawings, so it was really easy for me to turn my art into belt buckles.

DSC_6790 DSC_6803

I learned to work with metal  through that experience.I really liked it a lot but eventually it wasn’t really playing my bills. I then got burned out and went back to my background in apparel design. I worked with a lot of artists like Rockin Jelly Bean, von franko, and Dirty Donnie – a lot of that low brow scene creating clothing.

More recently Paul Cruikshank, whom I met through punk rock collecting, needed help with production on Circus Punks which I did briefly.  He  pushed me towards doing more with metal. He was the one who focused me more on doing my own thing.

I had gone totally away from metal to focus on apparel. I didn’t event think about sculpting pieces with artists. I dealt with all the artists for clothing and circus punks, but it never crossed my mind to actually sculpt in metal until Cruikshank said “You should do stuff with the metal”. He knew that I had worked with metal. He was always pretty innovative – he lived in Fresno and  up there you always have time to think about the lame things you can’t do but you want somebody else to do.


Posted by Jack @ 03:12 AM in Incoming , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Sep 16, 2008

Stephen Bliss Interview



[We’re pleased to bring you Tristan Eaton’s interview with illustrator Stephen Bliss.  You may not know it,  but you’ve almost certainly seen his art. He’s created the awesome promo imagery for several Grand Theft Auto titles(billboards, covers, and more) as Senior Artist at Rockstar Games.  Long before Rockstar, he started his career as an in-house artist with Japanese fashion brand Hysteric Glamour.  Awesome you say, but what does this have to do with art toys?   He created one of the original Thundermutt 14 figures which quickly sold out.  Fast forward to today. Thunderdog Studios just  dropped four new black and silver Thundermutt 14.5 figures including Stephen's smiling Hawaiian skull design. ]


Tristan: You my friend, currently have more billboard space than all the graffiti artists in the world combined. This of course is due to your prolific work at Rockstar Games... Can you tell everyone what you do there, what it's like and if you get to play with real guns?

Stephen: I work with a guy called Anthony Macbain, who's an excellent artist. We brainstorm ideas, imagine what the game characters would be doing and illustrate these situations.  With each new GTA game we have to develop an art style that's similar to the other GTA game art styles, but also different; an art style that's instantly recognizable as a GTA game but is a progression on the previous style. For example on the Vice City Stories cover I added rounded edges on the box frames, which hopefully suggests the 80s and distinguishes the cover from the previous GTA games, the colors were more pastel than GTA3, the characters are more detailed less caricatured. With the other GTA games - San Andreas takes the flat color of the previous styles but there's lighting on one side and reflective lighting on the other to make it more dimensional, there's also a kind of blended paint style on the lighted side (the lighted skin blends into the darker color in the middle of the character). The cover styles get more painterly as the series evolves – GTA4 is completely painterly with no outline, but is still recognizable as a GTA game even without the logo.

With each GTA brief we're given the name of game, the year and what city/area it's set. We then research the styles of clothing for a certain era i.e. with Vice City – it's set in Miami in 1984, so I bought loads of illustration books from that era, only listened to 80s early music, searched online for 80s clothing, hairstyles etc etc. I then emulate a cross section of prevalent 80s illustration but with my own twist.

We also work with the design team, devising ideas for Rockstar 'lifestyle' i.e. images separate to the games to be used for stickers, posters, t-shirts etc. It can be a lot of fun and it's also very challenging; I've learnt a huge amount about painting and design whilst working there.

Do we play with real guns? Are you suggesting we have Russian Roulette evenings on a Tuesday night with cup cakes, tea and loaded Magnums? Seriously though, It's a fun job; I paint criminals, guns, gangs, cars and whores every day.


Posted by Jack @ 01:36 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Aug 04, 2008

Tim Tsui on Lupus.Hope


We interviewed Tim Tsui @ SDCC about his newest figure lupus.hope the first in his new Da Fighter series.  This was our first attempt using a very simple video camera to do informal interviews.  The sound is a little muddled – so raise the volume if you need.  Tim shares some  interesting insights on the figure’s weapons and the reason they are done in translucent plastic. 

Posted by Jack @ 10:43 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

May 23, 2008

Interview with Ekundayo

[Yevgeniy Shukhman caught up with rising artist Ekundayo  just a few days prior to his Alteration show at SURU (opening on Saturday 5.24), to talk about his art and its progression.  We've included preview pics of pieces from his show as well as shots of Ekundayo painting a mural in front of SURU.  Enjoy]

Ekundayo please introduce yourself to our Vinyl Pulse readers. Why should they be reading this interview?

My name is Ekundayo. I was born in Hawaii.  I create art for the people and for my sanity. People should read this 'cause it's better then checking their Myspace.    

True to that! Well, this is the second time I'm doing an interview with you, last time being about six months ago. What have you been up to since then?

I've been in the studio working on my most recent series of paintings for the "Alteration"  art show at SURU along with the "Red Forest" art show I'm doing with KMNDZ in October at Thinkspace gallery. I have also been doing a few art pieces around the city as part of my city beautification project and now that I have a little more time on my hands I plan to take that into overdrive.


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

May 19, 2008

Interview with the Toy Baroness by Huck Gee

One of the greatest people I’ve had the opportunity to meet through my involvement in this industry/community is the Toy Baroness, Kidrobot’s promotions queen and event planner.  With the release of her first 8” Dunny this year I thought this would be an ideal time for folks to learn a little more about her. Having one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met, she’s a walking beauty, and can drink you, me and almost everyone I know under the table, yet still make it in to work the next day. Part goddess, part genius, part fuckin' animal, you def want this girl on your side in a bar brawl. So without further ado…

First and foremost, who is the Toy Baroness? And what the hell does she do?

I don't know, but I heard that bitch is crazy! Toy Baroness brings the rawkus! Haha.

It's safe to say that if she isn't AT a party...she's planning one.

For the past 5 years she's helped make sure that Kidrobot keeps on smiling. At events and parties she's the HBIC and does her best to make sure everyone is taken care of and has a good time. Basically her job is to make people happy. Which she thinks is pretty fuckin awesome.

After years working with Kidrobot you finally released your own 8" Toy Baroness Dunny, covered in your own lip print? How's it feel to have your own toy? And why don't I have one?

Well you don't have one 'cause your credit card was declined. But we'll talk about that later...

Kidrobot released 290 8" Dunnys for my 29th BDay. I sold a majority of them to the Kidrobot Discussion Board members (because they rule!) and then sold a few at the Seven Deadly Sins Party as the "Greed" part of the night. I'm really honored to have my own Dunny. To be part of a toy collection that is filled with such amazingly talented people is such a treat for me, especially since I know how rare it is to get a Dunny design into production and I'm not an "Artist". I see how many submissions we get on a daily basis for Dunny ideas and I'm so grateful to the Kidrobot team for giving me the opportunity to have my very own toy.

I got such loving responses from people about the Dunny and I appreciate everyone who took the time and effort to pick one up. And also thanks to everyone who came out to the Seven Deadly Sins party...geezus that was insane...


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

Apr 16, 2008

Interview with MAD

[Jeremy MadL (aka MAD), is one of the leading American artists creating designer vinyl today.  We recently chatted with him about the upcoming reintroduction of the Mad*l's with the release of Phase: 3 right around the corner and his Stuff I Made solo opening tomorrow (4.17) @ myplasticheartnyc.  Enjoy and be sure to click through to enjoy the whole interview complete with several never-before-seen pics].

Can you tell us just a bit about yourself and how you got into the crazy world of designer toys?

My name is Jeremy Madl... most people know me as MAD.  I'm 31 and live in Kansas City with my wife and 3 kids.  I've been designing toys and other products professionally for about 13 years.  I now make a living running 2 companies where I design and manufacture toys of all shapes and sizes for a wide variety of clients.  I also have a steady workload of collaborative projects in various mediums based off my 2D illustrations and artwork. I got into designer vinyl about 7 years ago as a collector.  My job at the time was with a creative agency in LA, where i was thumbing through a magazine called Milk.  In it were all types of crazy Japanese toys, and I started seeing these dope figures.... I was hooked from then on.  I HAD to find away to get into this, so started to concept my own platform figure.  Around that time a few companies in the US started popping up and I showed the Mad*l's to all of them.  After many "no's" I landed my first production deal in 2002, which started everything rolling.  Soon after I began designing on other peoples toys, and the rest is history.

Mad*l Phase: 3"

Your upcoming 'Stuff I Made' solo show @ myplasticheartnyc marks the return of your mad*l figure  with the release of mph's Black Guard exclusive.  Where has Mad*l been and what's he been doing ?

It's been a while hasn't it!?  The Mad*l's kinda fell off the map there for a bit, but have been really busy the past year.  I regained the rights to the brand in early 2007 and started manufacturing them myself with my company SOLID.  Now that I'm in charge, the direction of the brand is going to be more in line with the original concept.  I'll be taking the Mad*l's beyond designer toys and into lifestyle and apparel merchandise... all the while still growing the figure line.  I want it to be a tool for my friends and clients to work into their projects, so I'm really trying to focus on that for the upcoming year. 

There's already a handful of new figure designs that will be exclusive to certain clients and stores, so things are really just starting to get fun. The Black Guard is the first painted production Mad*l in almost 2 years, so I knew it had to be as close to perfect as production figures possibly can.  Working directly with the factory has allowed me to explore things that were never an option before.  I'm very excited about the quality of the pieces, and hope that people take notice.  I've always been very particular with the quality of the Mad*l's and feel I've surpassed the previous releases.    


Posted by Jack @ 12:54 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Mar 26, 2008

Interview with Dov from DKE Toys

[On 3.26.08, Amanda Visell 'took-over' Vinyl Pulse for her Birthday.  This is part of her turn as VP editor.]

Dov Kelemer has more toys than I have ever seen. Well, kinda. He's a toy distributor for almost everyone I know. He's somebody that toy buyers rarely talk to or know about but really has an important part in the vinyl toy machine. He is also a SUPER GEEK!

AJV:Dov! Sound your name out for the readers.
Dov: DUHV  but some people pronounce it DOHV... POTATO POTATO I say

AJV:Good. Now explain what you do.
Dov: My wife Sarah Jo Marks and I run DKE Toys which distributes designer toys, plush, books, and prints to retailers and stores all over the world. We exclusively distribute for over 50 companies.

AJV:How did you get into this business?
Dov:I have been selling collectible toys for over 15 years and still buy Star Wars toys on the secondary market for resale but designer toys have more of a soul than your average licensed property so naturally I gravitated in that direction.

AJV:How many toys are around you right now?
Dov:HA! Too many. I keep opening them to check them out and they never get put away.

AJV:Do you have an exit strategy if they come to life and turn on you?

AJV:How do you stop yourself from keeping one of everything you sell?... or do you?
Uh... we actually keep 2 of everything.

AJV: What are you favorite kind of toys to keep?  Feel free to be specific.

I ONLY COLLECT AMANDA VISELL TOYS!   Well I actually collect Kozik too. What a mistake!  I came to designer toys because of Kozik and my fascination with his revival of the rock poster in the 90s and I would say I have 99% of the actual production pieces made and then some.  So obviously I feel very incomplete as a result of that missing 1%.

AJV: Are you into specific materials like vinyl or plush?
Not really. In fact I am liking what I am seeing lately made of resin, wood, metal, and ceramics. I think collectors have to get over their vinyl only fetish. 

AJV: Hey, you just curated the Vader Project last sumer. That seemed to get a lot of interest from... everybody. Do you feel like you introduced Star Wars geeks to new artists?

That was my intent. Lots of artists still tell me that they got more emails and attention over the helmet that they did than anything else. Its not over yet though so we will see what else develops.

AJV: Any news on the future of the Vader Project?
Working on more tour dates. Nothing confirmed yet but a few strong possibilities.

AJV: Would you call yourself a Star Wars geek?
No but other people might.

AJV: I would call you a star wars geek. How did you buy your house?
I like it when you ask questions I know you already know the answer to but that is the sign of a good interviewer isn't it? Yes, I bought my house (or at least put a down payment) by selling my vintage Star Wars collection years ago.

AJV: Geek. Here come the hard questions... Are you ready?
Should I just answer Amanda Visell to everything from now on?

AJV: How 'bout artists you would like to see toys from?
Personally I want to see more from Todd Schorr, Brendan Monroe, and Jeff Soto. But what really gets me going are artists that are really actually designing 3D objects. That's why I like Kozik's work so much and other artists like the guys from Jamungo and Unkl. They plan and create 3D objects rather than a company licensing an image or character, taking the artist's 2D work and making a 3D representation of it.

Oh yeah and there are not enough Amanda Visell toys out there 

AJV: How 'bout favorite guest Vinyl Pulse blogger on March 26?


AJV: Aw shucks.

Posted by Amanda Visell @ 01:15 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Mar 22, 2008

Interview with Kenny Wong on Dr. Cube

[We're pleased to bring you Yevgeniy Shukhman's  interview with  HK artist Kenny Wong about his upcoming Copperhead-18 releases.  Enjoy]

Yevgeniy: Kenny, we last talked about the release of the  Dig 12 inch toy from the Coperhead-18 series. Now, you've announced the next toy in the series, "Dr. Cube".  How does he fit into the whole story?

Kenny: Dr.Cube is the most experienced diver among the Copperhead-18 team.  His task is to help to build and to repair the submarine.He lost his face -- there's  a mysterious story behind the injury.  I'll reveal it later on my site.

Y: You are notorious for using real world materials for your toys. What can we expect from Dr.Cube?

K: I think  real materials can enhance the feeling of the figure.  The weight  and  the texture  sometimes can't be replicated by plastic. Real material can make it totally different. I'm trying to make the lighting interface around his head, frankly it looks really cool ^^

Y: When is the release date?

K: I hope I can make it around April. As U know , limited production in China is always unpredictable.

Y:  We are all fans of Dig.  You started working on the 1:18 version of him  with   the details of  the 1:6 figure. How is it coming along?

K:  It brings back my memories to when I was a kid. I used to keep  a 1:18 figure of  a He-Man like figure in my pocket --  it was like a friend, I took it wherever I went.  So in some ways, this box set  represents the memories of my first figure. That's why I want to make it come true and to share with U guys.

Y: Kenny, once again thank you for sharing with us and we can't wait to get our hands on Dr.Cube.

K: Thank U


Posted by Jack @ 03:39 PM in Incoming , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Jan 15, 2008

Interview with Mark Landwehr of Coarsetoys

[Mark Landwehr creates stunning extreme sports figures for his Coarsetoys label.  Following on the success of his first releases, Switch and Cream, he's just dropped the monster 1:3 scale (25 inch) Pain edition of the Flake figure in conjunction with Vans. Pain is available from European Vans store and will soon be available in the US (targeted for 2/12) at both Munky King and Rotofugi. We interviewed Mark to learn more about his  cool figures.  Enjoy.]

Mark, tell us a little bit about yourself.  I assume you're an illustrator.  How did you decide to get involved with toys? What do you do from 9 to 5?

My roots are graphic design. Since I was a kid I liked to challenge myself. Today I am floating somewhere between Graphic/Packaging/Product-Design. To survive I am working in a design company in Hong Kong - the Asia branch of a German company.

Designing for money is fun but never made me really happy. To many exhausting compromises, boring restrictions and weired decisions by customers can be quite demoralizing.

I always liked sculpting - think its fascinating to discover shapes. When I am sculpting I easily forget everything around me. But I always did it just for fun - when I started with the coarsetoys lineup I didn't even think about producing toys. I just made them for myself.

While 1:6 figures have moved from military to more urban characters, your focus is pretty unique.  Why extreme sports?  Do you skate or surf?

I have been skateboarding a lot during my younger days. Nowadays the idea that my hands might become unusable, even for a few weeks, REALLY scares me. Luckily Snowboarding is more safe - spending days in virgin snow is just paradise.

For a few years I have been working as a photographer with a quite number of publications in board sports magazines. And did many graphics for snowboard companies. I always felt deeply rooted in that kind of stuff.

Your first releases from Corasetoys, Switch and Cream seemed to come out of nowhere.  The sculpts were so powerful -- chiseled yet quite stylish.  The simple color scheme really pushes the form.  I've never seen anything quite like 'em.  Tell us a bit more about your art style and approach to toys.

Well its weird. There are many great toys out there - but seeing them is really confusing me. I guess I am one of the worst informed toy artists out there hahaha....

I think the approach for my work is mostly about a certain kind of feeling. When I look in my characters faces I don't see much life. They just seem to be empty and withdrawn. Always in the right place at the wrong time ... I like this hopeless expression. Don't know why.

Incorporating these feelings in the final figures and finding the right balance between curves and edges keeps me busy for weeks and weeks during the sculpting period and doesn't let me sleep much...

But in the end I love to do the complete product. Illustrations, packaging, photography...


Posted by Jack @ 11:12 AM in Incoming , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Dec 13, 2007

Interview with Amanda Visell

[Amanda Visell paints whimsical humorous scenes that recall a bygone era.  While her work may seem sweet on the surface, danger lurks -- everywhere you look there's a cute baby eating elephant or alligator.  Not limited to canvas and art board, she's brought  her characters to life as unique one-of-a-kind art sculptures, limited-edition wood and resin figures and now the Pink Elephant (w/ Drunky McSkunky) vinyl figure which drops with a release party and art show today, Thursday December 13th @ Munky King.   We sat down with Amanda and her partner Michelle Valigura to understand the elusive (very shy...) person behind the art that's found a strong following here in LA. ]

So according to your blog you didn’t train to be an artist. How did you decide to get into painting and drawing?

Initially I wanted to get into animation. So I move down here. That was 1998. My friend had a friend who worked at Disney so I met with him. He was an effects animator at Disney and he said oh my friends have this clog company and they’re hiring a bunch of people who want to work in animation. So yeah, hand-painted Swedish clogs.  So  both Michelle and I  painted, designed and shipped the clogs. It’s all animation paint – cel vinyl with brushes. Like exactly what I do now.

Had you painted before?

Yeah – I like art stuff. I just didn’t go to art school. I moved here to try to get into CalArts but I did not get in. So I stopped doing clogs and tried to get into animation. The only place that just lets you in if they don’t know you already is stop-motion. They’ll hire anybody. We both [Amanda and Michelle] started working in stop-motion and created puppets and sets for projects. We learned mold-making and sculpting as well as interns.

I hated it. It’s a really crappy job – very toxic and really long hours. It’s not the same as regular animation – you’re not protected by anything. It’s little independent companies. Nothing is safe and it’s a really weird industry to be a girl in.

Through out that period  I was trying to get a job in feature (traditional animation) or TV, like Nickelodeon, Cartoon network. The thing they don’t tell you is they don’t really hire people that they don’t know, that they didn’t go to school with. I was applying for jobs every week and not getting anything – it was years of that.

I kept putting together portfolios . The way I was doing it was making paintings of scenes that I thought people in animation would like. They were ideas that I wanted to pitch for animation.

Billy Shire’s Kitchen Sync show at La Luz came around  and Michelle said “Why don’t you put your paintings in ?” I did and that was my first show.

At what point did you decide you were going to be a painter instead of doing animation ?

I liked a lot of artists such as Tim Biskup that work in animation and also paint. You’re already looking at them and you can track them down, google them and see that they’re doing it and it seems to be working. For me, it was selling stuff. It’s like whoa it’s actually working -- as opposed to constantly working for animation without getting paid to do it.

One of 'em sold [paintings from the La Luz show].  But that was enough…I just switched. The last show I applied to was “My Life as a Teenage Robot” and  had a really bad experience and I decided not to deal with it anymore. They lead me on for weeks and weeks. What’s weird is that the show’s creator buys my art now.

So going in Kitchen Sync did you think you were going to be a painter or were you just trying it?

Trying it… but… No one ever tells you can do that as an artist – for a living. That’s always in movies – that people paint. It’s never a thought that it’s actually someone’s job – that you can just do that and try to work towards that. It was a guess and it just felt right.


Posted by Jack @ 04:07 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

Aug 22, 2007

Interview with Marka27

[Ed: We're happy to bring you Yevgeniy Shukhman's interview with Marka27, creator of the upcoming Minigods figures].

Hello Marka please introduce yourself and give us a little history about your nickname.

I'm known as "Marka27".  Marka is the graff name i chose to write. It's Spanish for leaving a mark on a surface or brand. It also represents my Mexican roots. The 27 has a secret meaning only close friends know.

You are first and foremost a graffiti artist. How did you transition to graphic design?

That's an easy question, why does anyone do graphics design, "To Eat".  On another note it can also work as a form of art or tool for me to get my message across. It wasn't a big deal making the transition graphic design and graffiti have a lot in common when it comes to color, balance, composition.

Do you still do graffiti?

Does J Dilla make dope beats?

Please tell us a little more about your fine art?

Lately I've been working on a series of paintings called "Audio Canvases" They are paintings that play music. I have a J Dilla painting that plays his instrumentals. They are made from a wood surface with real working speakers installed. I have also been working on installations with vintage speakers stacked on top of each other with musical icons painted on them like Afrika Bambbata, Billy Holiday, Celia Cruz etc.

I won't name names but recently another artist attempted to steal my concept. I know in the art world people freely so call "borrow" from each other but in the graff world you get no respect for "biting" a style or idea.


Posted by Jack @ 05:11 PM in Interviews , MiniGods | Permalink  | Comments (8) |

Jul 24, 2007

Interview: Three from the Pocket Full of Monsters

[ Pocket Full of Monsters is a large distributed art crew of talented underground artists united through their mutual love of the creative process and the internet.   Vinyl Pulse recently had the pleasure to chat with three  'Pockets' members -- Arron Martin ("Angry Woebots"), Damon ("Peekaboo Monster") and Dean Bradley ("Mainframe"), about the crew, their art, and of course toys.  On top of that we tagged along for their live canvas painting for a charity benefit to support Cade, a 13 yr old brain-damaged victim of a drunk driver, at the Pinch (Newport Beach).

The three 'Pockets'  members are upfront about their love of toys and their desire to create them. Dean Bradley's Mainframe is now a vinyl figure from STRANGEco (dropping at SDCC) and Angry Woebots is currently working with STRANGEco on a figure. Live Painting is a big part of the 'Pockets' art. Five members of The Poket Full of Monsters Crew -- Angry Woebots, Mainframe, Peekaboo Monster, Phallic Mammary, and Tragnark will be showing their skillz with live painting at the SDCC Da Festicon party (7.26) sponsored by STRANGEco, Munky King and Vinyl Pulse.  And with that, here's the interview. ]

So why don't you guys introduce yourselves -- where you're from, and all that

Peekaboo Monster: Peekaboo Monster. I'm currently in Seattle soon to be in LA in September.

Mainframe: Dean Bradley -- Mainframe.  I created Mainframe, grew up in Orange County California and I'm probably here for the rest of my life (chuckles).

Angry Woebots:  Arron Matin - Angry Woebots. I was rock hopping between the West Coast and Hawaii but now I am based out of Honolulu, Hawaii -- the windward side of the island of Oahu.

Pocket Full of Monsters Crew

Why don't you tell me a little bit about the Pocket Full of Monsters ?

Angry Woebots:  [I was inspired after watching the Barnstormers doing time lapse painting]. I saw that -- together as a crew, I was like that's awesome -- instead of trying to build by yourself...  I knew alot of artists on Myspace that I met.  Its really weird casue this was like six years ago.  I was just talking and networking with people -- I saw their art online and I really liked it. I was moving to seattle and I wanted to start a crew called the Pocket Full of Monsters. I started running into people like Peekabo, Darvin Vida, Tsua -- we have so many people. At first it was just a Seattle based crew, but I was keeping in touch with Dean  two years before that.  It wasn't organized.

I started meeting people from different cities who were kinda doing the same thing.  I started networking online, getting into shows. My whole idea was that I didn't want to do this by myself.  For me it was fun doing it but I knew so many other talented people.   They were afraid -- not afraid, but didn't know how to network or didn't know how to talk to each other.  Just doing their own thing.   I got Peekaboo Monster, 2H from Seattle, Phallic Mamary from New York, Dean Bradley, and we were just friends online and things started to pick up and people started hearing the name.  It's kinda cool cause we really haven't been that close except through the internet.  Except for the west coast people we haven't even met. Just through online we got close, talking to each other. It's cool -- once the ball got rolling. I've seen everyone progress -- their careers progress.  Lots of us are doing things that are really commendable. Whether it be your own private business, your art -- It's a big life process, like learning.


Posted by Jack @ 11:35 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (3) |

May 30, 2007

Video: Muttpop Bill on Red Demon

Muttpop artist and Red Demon creator, Bill, is in the states from France for the first time for the release of the Black Bean Red Demon at Munky King Melrose which goes down  tomorrow (5.31) from 7 to 11 PM.  Vinyl Pulse teamed up with Muttpop and Munky King on a video sketch session with Bill where he talks about his work on the comics. So if you're going to the release and want to learn more about Bill's artwork or can't make it to the release, have a look at the video shot and edited by Ace Carretero.   Enjoy.

Red Demon Sketch Session w/Bill

Watch:   Standard Resolution (320 x 240)                    High Resolution (640x480)

Munky King Melrose
7308 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Posted by Jack @ 03:39 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (0) |

May 23, 2007

Interview with Kenny Wong

[ed:   Kenny Wong made a name for himself with Brothersfree and  is now pursuing his own projects through Kennyswork.   Yevgeniy Shukhman had the opportunity to talk to Kenny about his newest 1:6 scale toy project, Copperhead-18: Dig. Enjoy this insightful interview. ]

Hi Kenny, How is HK these days?

this is question 1 right? ha ha!! Very busy for  the upcoming exhibition in taiwan and Malaysia
for the launch of  "Molly the Painter" Mobile game , where it has a conference about kennyswork, so I have to prepare for it. Another  collaboration is copperhead x levi's ( secret in this moment^^)

Kenny your work speaks for itself, would you please introduce yourself to our dear readers?

I've been a member of "Brothersfree" since 2000, after we have spent 5 years in the team work together, we established our own brand as well, and Kenny 's new company call "Kennyswork." I used to be a visualizer, illustrator, graphic designer, photo retoucher before I started character design. 'Brothersworker" made me believed that  I was born to be a character designer.

Please tell us about Brothersfree?

"Brothersfree" was bonded by 3 guys, Kenny ,William and Winson in 2000, our initial goal was to create our own work after years work of servicing clients in advertising agency. "Brothersworker" is the first and the most famous series of our creations, the interesting design was keep creating  years by years and it was so lucky that we  have attracted many international branding to have some collaborations during the years, like Levi's , Heineken , Nikon, Lipton , Pringles , Nokia.... That's why "Brothersfree" grow up very fast  in these year.

Each figure you guys produced is not only an amazing achievement in detail, execution, design it's also a wholesome character, how do you create them and where do they come from?

"Brothersworker" was inspired by the hard working builders we saw every time when we look out of the window, and the basic form of the character is based on people from Africa.  They look tough and strong, and look as if they could bear  everything, so that's why we used them as the basic form of design.


Posted by Jack @ 09:37 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (5) |

May 14, 2007

Devilrobots Interview

[Vinyl Pulse is stoked to bring you Tristan Eaton's interview with Shin and Koto of Devilrobots about their upcoming exhibition at the Showroom NYC which opens on Saturday, May 19th].

Hi Shin and Koto. Please tell the world who you are and what you do!

I am Shin, one of the founder of the DEVILROBOTS and I am an art director, as you know, I create all of the characters.  Some people call me the TO-FU GOD. Hi everyone, I am Koto Nishiyama one of the DEVILROBOTS, I handle all of the oversea business and oversee the schedule, contracts, and most of the business talking. 

Where did the name DEVILROBOTS come from?

Shin: We grew up watching super robot animations, and we wanted to give our name a strong impact. We are not Angels, so we named our self DEVIL and we love ROBOTS, so these two words combined and became DEVILROBOTS.

So, you are coming to New York! Is it your first time?

Koto: We held an exhibition at ZAKKA in March 2001.  It was the first oversea exhibition we had, and we exhibited very first sample of TO-FU KUBRICK at the show.  Personally, it is my first visit to NY, so I am very excited.

New York is so different from Tokyo (Dirty, violent, loud etc.), so I'm curious: What are you looking forward to or not looking forward to?!? And of course, what will you miss in Tokyo?

Koto: Japanese think New York is cool place, and I always see and hear many things about NY.  It will be my first visit to NY, so I am looking forward to see it with my own two eyes. It is a long flight to NY from Japan, so the flight is the only thing I am not looking forward to. I will miss crazy phone calls from our clients while I am in NY, which is good.

You are also doing an exhibition at The Showroom NYC. Can you tell us a little bit about the show? What to expect etc.

Koto: It has been over 5 years since our last exhibition, so we are thinking of this exhibition as first time again.  We want to show our main character TO-FU collaborating with NY, and hope to have fun together with NY.  Apple TO-FU is just a kick off, there are more TO-FU coming up!

One of the highlight is our crossover partner BANDAI.

Koto: We are working on a Chogokin (die cast metal) project, and we are going to exhibit the prototypes at the Showroom.  This is first time to be shown to public, so NY fans can see it before any one in Japan will see it!

Many people in the states are big fans, but to those who don't know you yet...what are you hoping they learn about DR from seeing this show? And what is Devilrobots all about anyway?

Koto: We have been visiting Hong Kong and Taiwan lately, but we really haven’t been to US. We hope to hear the real voice of the fans in US by this visit, and hope they can feel close to us.  We are just a bunch of fun loving crazy guys, and our artwork translates our crazy mind.

DEVILROBOTS has 5 members total, we are a design company, making website, characters, ads, posters, flyers, pamphlets, flash animations etc…

Devilrobots are as famous for your hairstyles as you are for character design. Tell me, do you have any special hairstyles or colors planned for the trip?

Koto: I was not aware of our hairstyles being so famous… We will look like our logo, very pointy for sure. Please come to The Showroom on May 19th, and see us in real person.  You can see our hairstyles…

Posted by Jack @ 04:20 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (1) |

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!


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

Mar 29, 2007

Interview with Andrew Brandou

Vinyl Pulse is pleased to bring you an interview with LA artist Andrew Brandou done b y our guest blogger Yevgeniy Shukhman. Read on to learn more about Andrew's "Sniper Bunny" toy and his upcoming projects.

Hello Andrew! It's been a while since we talked about Sniper Bunny.  I believe it was for Mean magazine's "Mean Toys" "Dr.Romanelli Prescription" column before the toy even came out. Let's start with an introduction and then move on to our exciting topic -- the "Sniper Bunny" 12 inch plush toy. Please introduce yourself.

I am a painter living in Los Angeles, and have only recently begun creating toys and objects. I work with a lot of character-driven art to create series based on real-life events. I use plants and animals, living and dead, as metaphor, so the work is more universal than its real life inspiration. Some of my subjects include the Charles Manson mythos, the May '68 student riots in Paris, and most recently the Peoples Temple. Of course, those are the jumping-off point, the finished pieces may recall something different depending on the viewer.


Posted by Jack @ 05:30 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (2) |

Jan 23, 2007

Monster5 Interview

Bugs Bunny is the newest toy to come out from the good doctor Dr.Romanelli aka DRx sculpted by Monster5 and manufactured by Span of Sunset, Inc. for  the “What’s up DRx?” project. “What's up DRx?” is a collaboration of  DRx and WB where the renown reconstructionist  Dr.Romanelli takes on Looney Tunes  and flips them to his fitting and in a greater sense of the word “frankensteins” the brand. Yevgeniy Shukhman of Span of Sunset sat down with Monster5 to find out more about his love of Looney Tunes, Chuck Jones and the  Bugs Bunny Figure.

1>Introduce yourself?

I was born and grew up in "Shimokitazawa" which is a bad neighborhood in downtown Tokyo, Japan. I studied SFX makeup for a few years in the United States.

2>How did you become a toy sculptor?

I started toy sculpting  when I was a student in  the US.  I was making Halloween themed toys for some company and made toys like "Eye pie" --  Dead cat with eye popping" etc... After that I worked as a  sculptor and product manager for  another toy company. I’ve been sculpting ever since, about 17 years.

3> We heard you are a big fan of Looney Tunes.  Share some of your thoughts
on “What’s Up DRx”? 

In Japan when I was a little kid I could only watch the "Loony Toons"  cartoons at 6 am in the morning. I’d watch them every morning! I was shocked how amazing it was and how it all works! Great characters such as Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Peppy Le Pew..etc. I liked the sound effects "Boing Boing", "Tan Tan" , ""Boooom"  -- great timing!  Also, lots of guns, explosions, hitting heads with hammers..

Who can imagine a mad bloody eye hunter with a rifle getting his ass kicked by a no hustle bunny just  by kissing?! When first I saw the  "What's up DRx" project picture everything came back.

4>What was it like to work with DRx?

Actually I have not met him yet in person. I see his works in Japanese fashion magazines very often and also every time DR visits Japan he  contacts me… But I'm not an outgoing guy so I always stay home. I can not go to a  Louis Vuitton party in Tokyo.

5> You’ve sculpted Afroman for SO SO DEF, Fafi’s Irina, El Panda, Tequila, Red Demon and Melt-fu. What was your approach to making the Bugs Bunny figure?

I think Bugs Bunny merchandise has a very long history and the latest toy has very
good details so I’m very proud to sculpt some of my heroes. So I did my best on this latest toy.

6>What was the creative exchange like on project?

It took us some time to figure it out.  When a  character is 2 dimensional one can not see certain parts, but you can see them in 3 dimensions.

Thank you to Monster5 for taking some time out of his busy schedule to answer
Our questions. Be on the lookout for more great sculpts from Monster5 in 07! The Mad Doktor Bugs Bunny figure sculpted by Monster5 is now available online at spanofsunset.com and other fine boutiques around the world. Be sure to check out Vapors for Vinyl Pulse toy reviews including Mad Doktor (issue 39).   

Posted by Jack @ 05:08 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (4) |

Jan 17, 2007

Ron English Interviewed by Tristan Eaton

Hello people, Tristan Eaton here.

Vinyl Pulse recently asked me to write some words on a regular basis for their awesome blog and yes, I'm honored. But, instead of hearing me blab about what toys are awesome and what toys suck...I decided it would be much cooler to interview some of my favorite artists on a regular basis and chat about what's awesome and what sucks...together!

So, to begin this series I tracked down the Texan Billboard King himself: RON ENGLISH

For those of you who don't know Ron, a quick summary might be necessary.

In short, Ron English is a legend. A pioneer in billboard piracy, pop-surrealism and now he's pioneering the world of designer toys. Some of you might know his art from the cult classic indie flick 'Super Size Me' or you might even have some of his bad ass toys on your shelf...most notably his satirical series of chubby Ronald McDonald figures.

Born in Dallas, Texas 1966, Ron English "paints, infiltrates, reinvents and satirizes modern culture and its mainstream visual iconography on canvas, in song, and directly onto hundreds of pirated billboards. English exists spiritually somewhere between a cartoon Abbie Hoffman and a grown-up, real-life Bart Simpson, delivering a steady stream of customized imagery laden with strong sociopolitical undertones, adolescent boy humor, subversive media savvy, and Dali-meets-Disney technique. Dedicated to finding the sublime in the everyday and breaking the momentum of the didactic approach to art and life, English offers up an alternative universe where nothing is sacred, everything is subverted, and there is always room for a little good-natured fun."

And yes, he's also a super cool guy.

Anxious to pick his brain, I got right down to business:

Hi Ron!  I'm curious about your opinion on this strange world of 'Art Toys'. We've all seen a huge rise in the production of art based toys over the past few years, some of these toys seem to be great works of art and some seem to be...just great toys. There are a few artists out there who have embraced the medium as a viable extension of their work and have been able to make toys that support their goals as fine artists. Your toys so far have been controversial, heavily loaded with concept and continue the themes in your paintings. With this in mind, I'd like to know if you feel like the medium of toys or 'vinyl' can be an acceptable medium for artists today? is it art? Or is it just a toy? And while on this topic, are there any artists out there right now that you think are making toys that are great works of art? If so, who are they?

You can erect a basketball hoop in every neighborhood on the planet but it won't cultivate a generation of Michael Jordans. What expanding the network would do is facilitate the discovery of and nurture the growth of the next Michael Jordan. Who is merely filling in the gaps of the ever increasing demand for designer toys and who is raising the bar on the medium? When does it become art?

Having world renowned artists get in the game has certainly raised the stakes. Creating a three dimensional version of a character from a painting by Mars-1, Camile Rose Garcia or Scott Musgrove is pretty much a no brainer. Their paintings are great, their toys are great. I think it really gets interesting when the artist really embraces the medium. Kaws and Kozik for example. The toy has become the great work of art, not a souvenir of the great painting.

Are they just toys? Sure, the same way Guernica was just a painting and Michael Jordan was just a basketball player.


Posted by Jack @ 03:30 PM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (5) |

Sep 11, 2006

Angels and Gringos - Interview with Daniel Monahan

For the past month or so we've brought you the behind-the-scenes development of Sancho, the first figure in the exciting and promising Angel and Gringos series from the Monahan brothers.  We recently sat down (well, virtually through the magic of IM) with Daniel Monahan, the creator and sculptor of Sancho to get better acquainted with the artist, his artistic perspective, and the origins of Angels and Gringos.

Tell us a little bit about yourself...

I'm a classically trained sculptor. I started a mentorship with a professional sculptor (Chris Pardell) when I was still in HS. From there I went to UCLA to major in business. On the side, I continued to sculpt and even worked a few jobs in the entertainment industry including editing motion-capture data for film and video games, and working as a reader for a producer on the Sony lot.  Now, I work freelance for the animation and fine art industries.

When you went to UCLA were you planning on working as a professional sculptor?

Yes. I never really considered going into banking unless I ended up on the street. I still haven't picked up my diploma.

Daniel Monahan’s art style is…?

Fun. Interactive. Varied. I've always been really inspired by the work of Alexander Calder. He made art that moved.

I just Googled him. He’s credited with the mobile?

Yes. most people don't know this but much of his work was actually toys.

Any plans to make a vinyl mobile?

None currently. But now that you mention it... Much of what he focused on with the mobile - form and balance, I try to include in every piece I create.

Balance in an artistic sense or a physical one?

Both but mainly physical. It was really important to both Johnny and I that the Sancho piece balance correctly - without a base.

Why is that so important?

Because we like toys that stand on their own. I believe that balance gives sculpture a real sense of life. As an artist it's a fight to make a piece that doesn't just look like a lump of bronze or plastic

Driven to make it work?

Pretty much. I really labored to make Sancho. I wanted something that people would still enjoy 20, 50, 100+ years from now.

That's an ambitious goal -- to make something timeless. Which leads in to a new question -- tell us about your concept for Angel and Gringos and specifically Sancho.

Angels and Gringos is a project I've been working on for about 3 years now. It's a retelling of Don Quixote set amongst the backdrop of Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). The tale is told through Sancho's perspective. That's why we decided to make him first.

How did you come up with the concept? 

Growing up in San Diego, I've been exposed to Dia de los Muertos all my life. I love the way it makes something vibrant out of death. I've always wanted to do something with it. Over the years thoughts gather and one day about three years ago it just hit me.


Posted by Jack @ 07:31 AM in Angels and Gringos , Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (3) |