First off, tell us a bit about yourself, your art and how you got into the vinyl scene.
I used to work in a recording studio with a lot of musicians and artists. There was creativity all around me so I decided to look for a creative medium. I started working on creating characters and making prints of them, but then moved to toys because I had several duplicate toys that I pulled from various blind boxes. I got a great response online and had people requesting for me to do customs. I started submitting my work to Galleries soon after.
A lot of your art features cute stuff with a twist to it. Sometimes, that means explosions and sometimes it means a ninja getting a sword impaled through it by another ninja. How'd your art style come about and what inspires it?
I'm a fan of contradictory concepts. Huggable grenades, murderous cupcakes, furry popsicles, poisonous ice cream; things of that nature. I'm not exactly sure why I find this concept intriguing, but it might have something to do with disbelief in moral absolutes.
I think I draw most of my inspiration from colorful foods, nature, and macabre stories. I will often find a color palette and become sort of obsessed with it. This drives me to create things.
I think I should also note you're also a self-taught artist. How difficult (or easy, perhaps) was the self-teaching process? Any tips for others who might want to self-teach themselves?
It can be frustrating starting out and trying to find your own style, but I think its something that every artist goes through. I have in my mind what I want the characters to look like and the colors I would like them to be. Sometimes it looks exactly how I want it and sometimes I end up scrapping a piece all together. You can find an artist’s work you admire and try to use the same paints and brushes, but what works for one artist doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. I think that’s something that makes art interesting for me.
I believe that I'm still learning and I strive to improve myself daily.
When you create characters and designs for your customs, what's your process like? Is everything planned meticulously, is it more free-form that evolves as the piece does, or is it somewhere in the middle?
For a long time there was no process at all, just go at it and see what happens. These days though I think it out a lot more. I start out with a sketch and will run it through the computer playing around with color palettes. Then its time for sculpting, refining, and painting. Lately, I have been trying to concentrate piece by piece instead of improvising a whole figure at once.
If you had the opportunity to work with any other artist out there on a collaborative custom vinyl figure, who would it be, what figure would it be on and why?
I would love to work with 64Colors. I think we have similar interests in our themes and styles. I feel that I could definitely learn a lot from them. A close second would be Junko Mizuno, because she’s a genius when it comes to "creepily cute" artwork.
Lately, I have been really wanting to do a Crappy Cat custom. A cute and colorful Crappy Cat!
Besides vinyl figures and graphic design, are there any other artistic endeavors you're involved in?
I am currently working on limited runs of clothing and other merchandise that feature my characters. They will be sold online, at conventions, and select stores. I am also working on some collaborative diorama pieces.
Are there any other shows or events we can expect to see your work in soon?
The next event I will be doing is Oni-Con in Galveston, Texas from Oct. 28 to 30. I will be featuring my merchandise and a few small customs. There’s talks of me hosting a panel on toy customization as well.
Awesome news! Thank you very much for sitting down to chat with us!
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Brian Szabelski is Tomopop's Editor-in-Chief, stuck with an ever-growing collection of figures and toys. When he's not posting on Tomopop, he can usually be found working on any number of project... more | staff directory
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