toys as art

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Introducing the world's worst surgeon, Doctor Flop


Toys, illustration work based on artist's own experiences
Mar 06
// Brian Szabelski
Gessica Malagò is an Italian artist who has spent some time in hospitals due to medical conditions. Those experiences, some of which were good but some of which were also pretty bad, have manifested themselves in a ser...
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Hang around with Yosiell Lorenzo's Secret Keepers


Newest Sickling-themed piece available in his shop
Mar 01
// Brian Szabelski
We've gotten some news from Yosiell Lorenzo about his newest Sicklings piece, the Sicklings Secret Keepers. Instead of being a small figure, these are 3-inch-by-5-inch Sickling resin faces mounted on a wooden plaque, painted ...
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Nanan introduces us to The Badass


It's a 27-inch version of his Amaterasu resin piece
Jan 03
// Brian Szabelski
Nanan's illuminated Amaterasu pieces have been featured on Tomopop before, but none ever quite this big. This is The Badass, a 27-inch version of the smaller Amaterasu figure, and yes, it's got a big light for a head, too. Th...

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DesignerCon 2012: doubleparlour


Handcrafted creatures from the corners of the imagination
Nov 11
// Brian Szabelski
The creations of doubleparlour are really ones you'll love ... or hate. They aren't the cuddliest sculptures in the world, and for some, they might be the stuff of nightmares. But to me, there's something interesting about se...
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Three more art shows, events opening this weekend


Featuring creations and such from J.Shea, Amanda Spayd, Shawnimals
Sep 06
// Brian Szabelski
This weekend seems to be a busy time for events, because in addition to the Rotofugi dual-show opening on Friday, and shows opening at Stranger Factory, there's other events happening from one coast to the other ... and place...
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Features handmade critters from Amanda Spayd
A while back, you probably remember hearing that Amanda Spayd's critters would be the stars of a stop-motion animation film called The Maker. Well, great news: you can now watch the entire 5:30 award-winning short film onlin...

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Art Wars: A New Hope Intergalactic Art Show opens Oct. 11


Aug 21
// Brian Szabelski
If you're a Star Wars fan going to New York Comic Con, do yourself a favor: visit Kidrobot New York (118 Prince St., SoHo) on October 11. Why? Because that's the night Art Wars: A New Hope Intergalactic Art Show, featuri...
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Munky King's Memories are Made of This opens Aug. 18


Aug 08
// Brian Szabelski
You probably remember the news that Munky King was closing its Melrose location this month, but not before one final show there. That final Melrose store show, Memories are Made of This, opens Saturday, Aug. 18, and feat...
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Arkiv's Aftermath exhibition opens at TAG on Saturday


Aug 02
// Brian Szabelski
Toy Art Gallery is playing host this Saturday night, Aug. 4, to Aftermath, a solo exhibition featuring new works from Arkiv Vilmansa. For this show, Arkiv is bringing along some new paintings, customized Vans sneakers, limite...
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SAVE&DESTROY show makes a stop in Spain


Jul 10
// Brian Szabelski
SAVE&DESTROY's second art event took place last weekend at Malaga, Spain's Animacomic convention. Featuring work from Mark Nagata, Jay222, Emilio García, Ryan Hall, Emily Bee, Shin Tanaka and more, the show serves ...
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Morphous group show opens Saturday at Rivet


Jul 05
// Brian Szabelski
This Saturday, Rivet Gallery's latest exhibition opens its doors in the form of the Morphous group show! The show features new curiosities and creations from Chet Zar, Dalton Ghetti, Dave Pressler, Doktor A, Irene Mendonis, J...
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Patient No. 6's newest toy hates people


Jul 04
// Brian Szabelski
Patient No.6 is back with a new character, a fellow known as I Hate People. Maybe it's because that's what it says on the back of his head? In any case, the one-horned fellow carries a first aid kit in his left hand and is pa...
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Meredith Dittmar's Transmutation comes to TAG on June 16


Jun 14
// Brian Szabelski
An interesting little exhibition is coming to Toy Art Gallery starting on Saturday, June 16. Transmutation is a show featuring the works of Meredith Dittmar and her abstract/geometric polymer clay designs, as well as her clay...
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Thumbtack Press adds Uglydoll to its print offerings


Jun 13
// Brian Szabelski
Art print retailer Thumbtack Press already features art choices from several artists you've seen on Tomopop, namely Jason Limon, Jeremiah Ketner, Ken Kierns and Nathan Ota, but their most recent addition might raise a few eye...
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Check out the latest from Nanan's Amaterasu project


May 10
// Brian Szabelski
Last year, we got to see Amaterasu, a very interesting project from Nanan (a.k.a. Gael Brienne) that combined designer toys with lighting fixtures to create characters that lit up the space around them ... literally. Now, he'...
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There are many ways to keep your family and friends close at hand, be it through a photo or through the wonders of modern communications. Or you can be more literal and just turn them all into 3D-printed toys, like artist Ker...

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Art Too Cute for Words opens Saturday in Los Angeles


May 07
// Brian Szabelski
Do you like cute things? If not, then turn away from this post, because it's about a show opening Saturday called Art Too Cute for Words, featuring the Supahcute Dream Team. Curated by, well, Supahcute, the show features...

Three new art shows opening Friday

May 03 // Brian Szabelski
Star Wars: May the 4th Be With You (Leeds, England) First off, Friday is Star Wars Day, and as such, there's a vintage toy exhibition and art exhibit in the U.K. celebrating Star Wars. The show features art from A Little Stranger, Abell Octovan, Brutherford Industries, Jonathan Edwards, Jon Paul Kaiser, Map Map, Run DMB, Squink, Ume Toys and more. Open on Friday from 6 p.m. GMT to late and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to late, Star Wars: May the 4th Be With You will be this weekend only at FullCircle Gallery (Kirkstall Road, Leeds, England LS3 1JL). Memes — Gallery1988 Melrose (Los Angeles) If you happen to love Internet memes, this show is for you. Gallery1988 Melrose is playing host to a group art show featuring work based off Internet memes. It may not be 100 percent custom figures (heck, it probably won't be), but let's be honest: these are professional artists doing their take on Internet memes. How could you not like this (unless you hate memes)? True to its name, Gallery1988 Melrose is localed at 7020 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles. Opening night is from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific, and the show runs through May 26. BITS — Lot F Gallery (Boston) Opening from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday night is Bits, a show featuring the work of Bob Conge (a.k.a. Plaseebo), Todd Robertson and William Long. In particular, Plaseebo will have some new custom figures on tap, some of which you can check out in the gallery. The show runs through May 30. Lot F Gallery is located at 145 Pearl Street, #4, near the Boston waterfront and a few blocks north of South Station.
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This weekend marks the start of what could be a pretty busy summer art show season (if not a busy summer for us blogging folks), with several shows opening up around the world. Three of those shows which have ties to things T...

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Yoskay Yamamoto's Joke's on Me opens Saturday


Mar 23
// Brian Szabelski
Yoskay Yamamoto has spent the last three years working on what is now his first solo show featuring his 3-D works, Joke's on Me. Yoskay's show focuses on some brand-new hand-crafted sculptures in wood, plastic, resin and viny...

Tomopop Interview: Ryan Roberts

Mar 17 // Brian Szabelski
Tell us a bit about yourself, Ryan. I'm an enigma ... ha. I'm a soon to be a 35-year-old kid who's found himself socially a bit awkward, and making up for it a bit by expressing myself through humor and images. I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories and all that stuff and it's finally starting to take a more serious tone in my work. But I've got lots of wacky pop stuff I'm working on, too. I need to get out more. What brought you into photographing toys? And what types of toys do you like to shoot in particular? I was in love with photography before the toys came along. I would shoot all kinds of different series. Eventually, I mistakenly took an extreme close-up macro photo of one of my Star Wars figures and the results were pretty shocking. I loved toys as a kid, like stay in my room all day and play toys, all weekend, in the sand, in the rocks, with my neighbors, on and on. And embarrassingly that went on a little bit longer than the rest of my friends. But by my mid- to late twenties I had put the toys on the shelf for nostalgia more than to bust out and have wars with. So bringing my love of photography and toys together was the paradigm harmonic. Well, I like shooting some of the old vintage toys on a nostalgic level but the new art toys are really colorful and come from such more personal, artistic places of their creators so they're a lot easier to work with. Some of the new toys these days are begging for a backstory where as we all know who Cobra Commander was and what his MO was. The key is twisting those old figures' MOs on their heads and coming out with something new I guess, or something fresh. It took me coming up with a punchline to get into a deeper realm where I could explore some new boundaries and put my over-active imagination to work. What kind of equipment do you usually work with? I use a camera and some lights and use Photoshop to get my images to come to life. I guess I'm still insecure as I don't like giving away my gear by brands and specs and whatnot. I'm sort of proud to have taught myself a lot and to have found my niche so I feel like keeping my game kinda hush. Maybe that will change down the road. How long does it take you to set everything up for your photos (backdrop, lighting, etc.)? Man, it can vary from an hour or so to forever in some photos. Sometimes I have to ad-lib and swap out figures and stuff until the story seems complete. Sometimes, it all comes down to one magical prop or something that sets the whole piece off. I love when that happens and lately it's been happening a lot. The toy gods must be happy or something. Are there any photographers that have been an inspiration to you? How so? I look at almost every other photographer's work out these days, and I feel jealous and wish I knew what they knew. In time I'll pick up more tricks and stuff. And there's this guy, Brian McCarty, that people keep telling me to check out, never heard of him. Ha, just kidding. McCarty's work is of course super tight and he'll always be a mountain top and my predecessor or whatever but I think our work is different enough to co-exist I guess. For the record, I didn't see his work and then go, "Oh, I should do that." Like I said, I need to get out a bit more and I didn't see his stuff until some friend of mine showed me his Monkey Assassin a good while after the fact. However, once seeing his work, I was able to figure out how high the bar had been set. He's a really smart cat. I guess I'm still an outsider doing my thing trying to make my stuff better and better until it's worthy of the artists whose toys I shoot. You've also dabbled a bit recently in video. Tell us a bit about what brought you into doing video and what you think video adds to your artwork. Ya know, if they had Mac laptops this fast when I was in college I would have gone into video, no doubt. It's so fun and rewarding. I'm also a DJ so once I started mixing music to video, I about freaked out. I can see why editors can stay up all night cutting video and where the energy and enthusiasm comes from. Once I upgraded to a camera with HD video on it, I knew I had to shoot videos of my toys. The first one was the Two Counts Kill Nine video. I laid down a tight Autechre track and started cutting all the weird footage I took into a story. I instantly thought they'd be rad on Adult Swim and thus the fake logo I added to the end of them, Adult Wims. I sent them to a friend's friend's wife at Adult Swim and haven't heard back. I would freak out if they played them. I know we're not supposed to be star-struck and all that "Stop Smiling" shit but I'm such a excited little kid when it comes to dealing with big stuff like that. Maybe that'll change, too. Have there been any shoots you've wanted to do, but when it's come down to it, things just didn't work out as you'd hoped? Ha yeah, I have a handful of photos in my collection of unreleased work that make me cringe. Sometimes, they're so vibrant in my head and the angles are all there and I sit there for hours trying to make something even remotely bearable to no avail. I've had to reshoot a couple of them because I knew they would look good if I could figure them out. And sometimes the final result is way better than I was even going for. I keep try to shoot a photo with an actual Popeyes Chicken sign in the background to no avail. So I went to Home Depot and bought some wood to create my own scaled down version of the sign. What really sucks is when I've been working on a shoot for about five or six hours and the whole set collapses and I have to start over. Or I wrap on the shoot and take the set down to realize I should have moved something or forgot to include a prop or a figure. My garage studio can get crazy with tons of toys and props all over the place so sometimes I nearly mess shit up. That said even though I love to drink, I don't drink a much or at all when I shoot these days because it can dull my sharpened focus and determination to nail a piece. I had this Acid Sweeties shot where I was going to shoot about twenty some of those figures and Schlitz after Schlitz it kept getting more and more retarded. I was like, "Does this camera not know what to do?" I drank until it turned into something useable in my outtakes or whatever when I make a coffee table book down the road but nothing I want to show off. It had the potential to be so symmetric as I was aiming to play off lots of repetition and geometric placements and angles. I told myself that even if I was sober I wouldn't have figured it out. We'll never know. What are your plans for 2012? Man, I've been making lots of good connections and have lots of things I hope come true but if it all blows up and the zombies eat my face, it was a fun ride and I hope I made some people smile or think. I'm actually a bit of a "doomsday prepper" so that's a fun and scary habit to have. We just had a billion tornadoes hit the Midwest and South today so it ought to be a fun storm season down here in Nashville this year as the galactic alignment causes more and more disturbances in the ether and whatnot. What do you like to do when you're not shooting photos? I like watching TV and movies a lot. I wish I played more video games but there's almost no time for that these days. I like to make mixes so I'm always hopping around through different genres making eclectic mixes. I do lots of editing to the tracks so they can end up pretty unique. I been making these mixes I call "Cloud" mixes that are pretty tight. I make about one a year. Last year I made number 7. My friends ask for those like they're from another diminution or something. I don't know, I need to get out more ... did I say that already? Thank you, Ryan, for the opportunity to do this interview! You can follow Ryan on Twitter and Facebook.
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While a lot of our interviews on Tomopop focus on artists, there are plenty of other folks in the toy world that don't do their work in resin and vinyl. In fact, some ply their craft from behind a camera lens. One of those ph...

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Earth Movement opens its doors next week


Feb 24
// Brian Szabelski
Next week marks the opening of a new art show, Earth Movement. The show, being curated by Jeremy Brautman and Super Cooper Berella, will feature original drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, etc. that wil...
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Circus: Folke comes to Stranger Factory


Feb 03
// Brian Szabelski
Tonight at Stranger Factory, artists/sisters Miss Mindy and CJ Metzger will have their works of art on display as Circus: Folke opens its doors! Described as "an exploration of the Circus, its characters and all associated no...
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A fresh batch of Zukie wood paintings now available


Jan 26
// Brian Szabelski
You might remember Alison Perez and her Zukies from a few months back. Well, Alison and her Zukies are back in painting form, and she's done a neat little thing with them. Alison is offering up 3.5-inch by 3.5-inch wooden pai...
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Munky King hosting a surprise Sucklord event tomorrow


Oct 04
// Brian Szabelski
Where ever the Sucklord goes, interesting (and bootlegged) things are always sure to follow. And tomorrow, that will happen to be at Munky King (7308 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles), where he'll be there to meet, greet, maybe sign...
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Troy Stith's The Guardian is a tree-mendous sculpture


Sep 28
// Brian Szabelski
Troy Stith has been quite busy as of late, as he's had many projects on his hands. He's sent along pictures of his latest, and handmade sculpture called The Guardian that he was commissioned to do. In fact, those of you with ...
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The Bronx Zoo gets some much needed LEGO action


Jul 30
// Chris Pranger
Hey it's Saturday everyone! That means it's a great day to get outside, take your family, and head to the zoo. Better yet, head to the Bronx Zoo right now and see some of the rarest beasts this side of Narnia. We're talking t...
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War Toys is a documentary that's got my attention


Jul 14
// Brian Szabelski
I've always been fascinated by how toys are perceived and played with in other parts of the world, so it's only natural that I was attracted to Brian McCarty's "War Toys" documentary. Brian's made his name in the world of pho...
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Kidrobot Black gives us a new piece from Doze Green named Goddess


Jun 14
// Tomopop Staff
Kidrobot started up their Black line way back in January of 2010 and have since released a whopping three figures in the line so far: Gary Baseman's Midnight Magi, SSUR's From the Cradle to the Grave, and Jeff Soto's The Deek...
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Mike Leavitt creates amazing Takashi Murakami Figure


Apr 04
// Brigitte Coovert
Mike Leavitt is known for his amazing "Art Army" figures that take established artists, combine them with elements of their work, and synthesize it all into one figure. Takashi Murakami has just gotten the treatment and the e...
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Promotional stunt brings us a 1.5-ton Play-Doh car


Mar 20
// Brian Szabelski
It's always fun to post about old-school toys or things that are a little odd, so why not combine them both? As part of their campaign to promote the new Chevrolet Orlando (if you haven't heard of it in the U.S., it's not bei...
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Who is Tom Hardwidge?


Mar 10
// Brigitte Coovert
So who is Tom Hardwidge anyway? Well lovers of steampunk and entomology take note, for Tom Hardwidge is the creator of Arthrobots (robot arthropods)! He has been constructing these amazing metal insects by hand since 2010 out...
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Doktor A's 'Amnesia Primm' steals my heart and replaces it with gears


Mar 08
// Brigitte Coovert
We may have just posted about the Doktor A "Mr. Whistlecraft’s Tarnished Day Dreams" solo show, opening April 1st 2011 at Iksentrik, but that doesn't mean more pieces aren't being teased! The Doktor has just revealed t...
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Who is Felt Mistress?


Mar 06
// Brigitte Coovert
Felt Mistress aka Louise Evans is the creator of a wide range of one of a kind, handmade, and entirely cuddly monsters that hail from the UK. Primarily she collaborates with partner/illustrator Jonathan Edwards, but she has a...
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Yosuke Ueno's Hapiko looking adorable in bronze


Mar 05
// Brigitte Coovert
My favorite character in the Yosuke Ueno pantheon is probably Hapiko. She's appeared before in paintings and as small sculptures, but now, thanks to Toy Art Gallery, she's available as a bronze statue. Sculpted by the artist ...
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Kit Lane takes us to her Strangeland at Gallery Hanahou


Feb 28
// Brigitte Coovert
Our coverage of Gallery Hanahou's Needle Felting Extravaganza, opening March 3, 2011, continues with the felt sculptures of Kit Lane. The pieces that she has revealed for her "Strangeland" mini show have got me very excited. ...
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Yoko Nomura's Fractured Fairy Tale show joins the Hanahou felt circus


Feb 27
// Brigitte Coovert
As I'm sure you remember, we recently covered Hine Mizushima's teased pieces from the upcoming Needle Felting Extravaganza at Gallery Hanahou which opens March 3, 2011. Well with just a few days to go before the opening, we h...
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Enchanted Doll's newest 'Surviving' faces breast cancer fears head on


Feb 23
// Brigitte Coovert
For many women, breast cancer can be one of the darker fears we are raised with. This is especially true in a society that glamorizes, fetishizes, and focuses on women's breasts so much. From the old masters to the tackiest v...
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Bob Conge is once again making my nightmares reality


Feb 22
// Chris Pranger
Bob Conge! My arch nemesis and greatest ally at the very same time, the man responsible for about 90% of my current phobias, Bob Conge is back again with some new creations to show off. And as usual, they are a rare breed of ...
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Yoskay Yamamoto's bear wants to cuddle with you


Feb 20
// Brigitte Coovert
Yoskay Yamamoto is absolutely one of my favorite artists, so when he posted this plush bear wooden sculpture combo on his blog I had to smile. Apparently Yamamoto has had the bear laying around for years, but with it's origin...
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Toy Fair 2011: Elite Gudz Booth Overview


Feb 19
// Tomopop Staff
Most companies simply show off their wares at Toy Fair, but Elite Gudz tents to one-up everyone by making figures during the show! Once again they engaged in some live sculpting and painting, this time of some spiffy iPhone d...

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