LIKE TOYS, LOVE CLUTTER
SHING YIN KHOR / CAMILA VALDEZ SLAVEXONE / JUMP JUMPER ANT / & MORE
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LIKE TOYS, LOVE CLUTTER
SHING YIN KHOR / CAMILA VALDEZ SLAVEXONE / JUMP JUMPER ANT / & MORE
RON ENGLISH 26 Grinning All the Way Article by Josh Kimberg
On The Cover Ron English
by Matt Dorcas
Gero by SLAVExONE Article by Rich Montanari
JUMP JUMPER ANT Ubiquitous Gaze Article by Nick Curtis
CAMILA VALDEZ Candid Confectionaries Article by Nick Curtis
THE MONTHLY DIY Sculpt of Personality Article by Marc DeAngelis
SHING YIN KHOR
Otherworld Science Article by Barbara Pavone
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TEAM Miranda Oâ€™Brien Editor-in-Chief
Nick Carroll Art Director
Marc DeAngelis Contributing Writer
Josh Kimberg Managing Editor
Jason Ryule Technical Coordinator
Rich Montanari Contributing Writer
Nick Curtis Associate Editor
Mike Torrisi Advertising Sales
Barbara Pavone Contributing Writer
We are always on the lookout for new contributors and team members. To get involved, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with how and why you would like to be involved with what we do.
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LEGAL The publishers would like to thank everyone who has furnished information and materials for this issue. The contents of CLUTTER MAGAZINE reflect the opinions of respective contributor or interview subject, and not necessarily are those of the publisher. All copyrights/rights to images (photographs, design) writing, and likeness are property of the respective owners. Every effort has been made to reach copyright owners or their representatives. All other material is owned and copyrighted by Clutter Media Group. Nothing may be reproduced in part or whole without prior written consent from Clutter Media Group. The publisher will be pleased to correct any mistakes or omissions in the online version of this issue. Printed in the U.S.A.
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Mutantology mu·tan·tol·o·gy noun \ˈmyü-tən-ˈtä-lə-jē\ : the study of indie toys as selected by Rich Montanari of Mutant Vinyl Hardcore. www·mutantvinylhardcore·com
Gero by SLAVExONE Pictured is SLAVExONE’s sofubi toy, the Gero, cast in an unpainted orange.
SLAVExONE has been around in the design and street wear underground for many years now, and I’ve been a huge fan of all their unique mash-ups involving pop culture and lesser known iconic characters. So I was thrilled to see that Adam, one half of the brand, decided to branch out into the vinyl toy world recently with his Gero figure. This toy is one of those pieces that can take a little while to sink in, especially as — like many Japanese influenced toys — it’s crude. But it has a cleverly crude design. It is a very sure-footed piece, which many toy makers look past, and it’s perfectly sized for one to have a large collection of them. Most of all, I really love the character of this toy: its stoic expression is as creepy as it is cute. Overall, a great little toy which I hope to see transitioning into more for this brand! Tell us about yourself. My name is Adam Taylor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am a toymaker, painter, collector, and half of the company SLAVExONE with Danny Morris. How long have you been making toys, regardless of medium? I’d say I’ve been making toys regardless of medium around four
years. I remember in 2007 Danny met up with artist/sculptor, Nathan Cabrera, who taught him some resin techniques. Through that and the owners of Meltdown Comics, I met Julie B from Pretty in Plastic and she showed me the ropes. By 2011, we started making resin toys and in 2013 we began producing vinyl. Who and what are the major influences in your art?
A few of my artistic influences are Ken Kelly, Ray Harryhausen, Cosmo Liquid, Yuji Nishimura, Mori Katsura, Kiyoka Ikeda, R. Crumb, Knuckle [of Little Chop Design], Hiroshi Goto, and Pushead. And, of course, all the ‘80s and ‘90s toys I had as a kid. Who are your favorite current toy makers?
Elegab, ButaNoHana, Target Earth, Bemon, Shirahama, ilu ilu, Blood Guts Toys, CKA [Cosmo Knight Alpha], Sunguts, Secret Base, and Bounty Hunter. What’s next from you?
We have new figures in Japan that are currently in the wax stage of production. Many collaborations are under way with other toy companies and artists such as: Miscreation Toys, Todd Robertson [Mechavirus], Awesome Toy, Kearjun, Deathcattoys, STKL [Secret Terror Kult Leader], Unaffiliated SJ, and a few more waiting in the wings.
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When confronted with sculptural works depicting feminine legs affixed to delectable desserts, one must ask if this is objectifying women, suggesting that ladies are treats to be enjoyed, or are these sugary snacks being granted a fashionable life previously denied them? If you believe the latter, then welcome to the world of artist Camila Valdez. Not satisfied with merely creating her decadent confectionaries, Valdez brings her ladies to life by placing them in public settings and posing with them. Regardless of if they are sitting on a bench or briskly striding out of a shop, Valdezâ€™s works convey a wealth of emotion regardless of the fact that they are faceless. While some say that the eyes are windows to the soul, Valdez proves that legs can be just as insightful.
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“Cherry Fun Cupcake”
I understand you attended the University of Buenos Aires. What was the focus of your studies? I graduated with a degree in Industrial Design, which explores human expressions and creations related to our needs and behaviors within the objects around us. We studied the many shapes and messages objects carry and what they have to say about the future. We also learned how things are made, therefore we can create with intention. For example, if Miss Cupcake wants to be outdoors then she has to handle weather challenges to keep pretty, so I help her out [by making her weather resistant]. “Today’s expression” can be found in the smallest details of everyday life. For example, even a Cupcake was ‘born’ on some day, made by someone,
to be liked by somebody, so it was made with the intention to be liked, filled with aesthetic choices, desires and whatnot, personal tastes. We humans are surrounded by the infinite ways of expression all the time. What inspired your artistic journey to depict your favorite desserts as feminine sculptures? And why do you want to humanize your favorite desserts? The feminine and the surreal have always been my favorite shaping tools. The particular expression that each of my character’s show is related to the fact that they are unique, handmade pieces that have a story behind them, which shapes their final attitude. Mostly it has got to do with the sculpture’s feeling about the world. For
example, the newborn, “freshly baked” San Francisco Doughnut  is called “Donut Touch Me” and her story is about a misunderstanding with a delivery, that she got forgotten in the streets of San Francisco near Miss Popcorn’s hideout. The humanization factor comes from my finding expressions in everyday objects. For me, if a cupcake is good-looking eye-candy then it says come and get me, or if a cupcake has a cherry on top then it is happy or if a donut is glazed then it is feeling well. They understand their own existence in the same way we do. And they also feel emotions when we #hasthag them, so let’s be nice. While you’re known of your sculptural pieces, do you also do two-dimensional works? Clutter 30 | 15
The artist & “Bombona XL”
I have been expressing myself however I could, wherever I could. Part of my process to get concepts from my brain to the outside world has always been drawing first. An idea is first born through drawing. I have lots of sketches of every art piece I’ve made, in different situations, that pop into my head when I realize their own personal story, and then those scenes and feelings shape their attitudes.
“Miss Popcorn XL”
What are your pieces made out of? When I construct my leggy sweet treats, I try to select materials which highlight the bold colors and exaggerated shapes of classic desserts. I use Industrial materials and procedures that ensure a piece’s resistance and long-life, such as fiberglass and epoxy resins, which are later hand-painted in order to attain a surreal glow, like “beautiful summer sunset strawberry,” since I firmly believe that art is a matter of taste.
“Wayne Thibaud tribute Donut XS”
I hear you encourage people to touch your works, which goes against common “Don’t Touch The Art” mentalities. Why do you have this attitude? I doubt Art itself chose that strict mentality. I guess it was us humans, trying to showcase art, that came up with that restrictive concept. As a child, I always felt pretty frustrated when entering an art museum, which in my opinion is mind’s playground, but you were — with reasonable criteria — forbidden to touch anything. “Bombona XL”
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But now that I’m an adult, and I have the power to create, I would like to see a world where art and creation are seen more often in our everyday walkabouts. I want to see art wandering around, in our worlds’ cafes, playgrounds, streets, alleys, sharing our everyday lives. I dream of a world where families and their children have this awesome wide open door to imagination, where other people’s tangible dreams are out there for us to enjoy and embrace what makes us humans: imagination. You create both tabletop-sized XS and almost human-sized XL renditions of your creations. Why do you opt to work in these two sizes? I have arrived at the conclusion that human pleasures come in exactly two sizes, XS and XL! Because industrial design projects are usually in those scales, I guess that I’ve shaped my opinions due to my background. As an
example, let’s see… A ristretto [small espresso shot] in your hand and your partner by your side, what else could you want? With your XL sized pieces, you’re able to change their accessories, whether it be scarves, hosiery, socks, or sneakers. What attracts you to this interchangeable aspect for your works? By sharing a common universe, like fashion, we can enter our sweet friends’ universe, which is full of possibilities. If you are having guests at home, you dress especially nicely for them. And Bombona XL will surely want to fit into the dress code of your party, enjoying a beautiful pair of shoes or fishnet stockings. And let me tell you, once you start… they start choosing for you! Without faces, your works rely on their legs and poses to convey emotion. What inspires your design aesthetic? Your colors, shapes, and styles are
evolved from the every day, but you’ve made very specific decisions to elevate and imbue with personality. I’ve noticed that human behavior is very much expressed through our leg gestures. We can surely suggest things with the way we cross them or not! In my characters, you will find a variety of poses — pensive, unsure, cute but sexy — which relate to the feeling of their existence in a particular time or situation.
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Why do you frequently pose with your XL sculptural works? Do you see yourself as part of the art itself, not just the art’s creation? Since I have this fluctuating feeling of what’s imagination and what’s real, I feel my girls like a part of our world and vice versa, so it just happens. When I see Bombonita alone on public transport, I have to be by her side. Have you ever considered having one of your pieces mass produced, possibly in vinyl? I think your artistic vision lends itself perfectly to being rendered as vinyl sculptures.
(Smiles) Thanks for the compliment! Having one of my pieces mass produced has been one of my all time dreams, industrially speaking. Every piece is born to make the world a more interesting and sweeter place, so enlarging the family with vinyl’s properties would be delightful. And mass production always sounds like a wonderful idea for candy, right? I am certainly open to proposals because I believe that everybody should have their own particular taste satisfied. What does the future hold for you? Are you working on any new dessert forms to add to your oeuvre?
“Sweet and Giant Go Picnic III”
I have my new set of XL sculptures that I’ve “freshly baked” in my studio in San Francisco, and I’m looking for a gallery to set-up our first exhibition in the USA in the upcoming months. I will be happily announcing the opening date on my networks, so keep in touch. (Winks) I’m also proud to represent my country again for the third year in a row in the National Salon of Visual Arts in Argentina, with my new sculpture “Feeling the Filling.” And the title’s meaning is deeper than you think… And I have been taking photos of my Sweet Ladies out and about San Francisco, since I had a dream about the Sweet Ladies’ adventures. It started as something funny and naif, and suddenly they took over and have a mission to do here. Every time these naughty desserts step into a new culture, new friends appear. It seems that there were sweets all over the world just waiting to come alive! 18 | Clutter 30
“Leggy Macaron Queen”
For more information on Camila Valdez, please visit:
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Ubiquitous Gaze By Nick Curtis
Méxican artist Gahel Zermeño Ocampo, creating under the alias Jump Jumper Ant, might just be a pediophobe’s worst nightmare. Taking the sleek and simple shape of vinyl toys as her base, she transforms and elevates them into stylized interpretations of porcelain dolls — complete with haunting glass eyes that seemingly follow the observer. Her customs welcome the unafraid into a silent communication with them, their perfectly painted faces framed by textile elements — hair, veils, headdresses. Welcome to the new house of dolls. I hope you’re not afraid of their gaze. “Ofelia,” 2015
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“Jing” (regular and chase versions), 2015
Who are you? And what’s your art background? Formally trained or self-taught? I am a Mexican geek. Advertiser and broadcaster by profession, but — by love — artist and writer. I’m a collector and lover of toys, books, movies, cartoons, and music — fantasy, horror, science fiction, manga, anime, rock music, and death being my favorite genres and subjects. I am also an incurable dreamer, proof of which is in all my notebooks from school. They were always full of drawings, sketches, notes, phrases, and ideas to develop. It is a habit that will surely accompany me the rest of my life. It’s the sum of all these things that I’ve loved since childhood that have made me who I am today: stories, novels, paintings, artwork, toys, murals, stickers, clothing, and makeup. And, of course, these are also the main influences and inspirations I use to create my own art. The funny thing is that I never studied anything related to art, although I would have loved to. So, I am selftaught. I’ve learned along the way, through trial and error. What attracted you to creating art on vinyl toys? And how long have you been doing it? The world of vinyl toys came into my
life thanks to my younger brother, Cucaracha Borracha, who is also an art toy artist. We both collect toys and we are always looking for new things to share with one another, so when he showed me a Dunny by Huck Gee… and I loved it at first sight! As I researched more about designer toys, I loved it all. I remember thinking: “It’s all very nice and looks very fun. This is what I do!” And so in 2011, I started in the wonderful world of vinyl toys and customs. First I participated in a contest of a specialized forum called Vinyles Chiles, which I did not win. But I decided not to give up and looked for other contests, and that’s how I found another one — from a specialized vinyl toy store called Sarukaku — and I won first place at the national level with the first
catrina I did, a 7-inch Munny named “Miquitl.” Also that year, with my brother, we created the Moloko & Coschca brand and launched our first series of plush, called Plush of the Dead, which luckily did very well. Thanks to the success we obtained, we launched the “unrated” edition [of Plush of the Dead] and we expect to launch the third edition this year. Thanks to all this attention, others began to notice my work and invited me into various exhibitions. I was honored to become part of the “Dunny Hecho en México” and “Dunny Día de Muertos” series, in which I had the pleasure of having my work alongside many outstanding Mexican artists, whom I admire and respect deeply. And now, in 2015, I had the great privilege of being part of the Vinyl Azteca exhibition with the Clutter Gallery, and I was honored to be part of the “DMX3” custom series in June. Honestly, I love my job. I enjoy it a lot and I feel deeply privileged to be able to dedicate myself to doing what I love most in life. When you released the Plush of the Dead zombie pieces, you went by the name Deshnif. What caused you to change from that to Jump Jumper Ant? Yes, at that time I had chosen Deshnif as my nickname. It was the name of one of my cats, who I loved deeply, but unfortunately lost, so I wanted Clutter 30 | 23
to somehow pay homage by using the name. But when I participated in the customs contests, I thought it would be fun to use a new name and I liked Jump Jumper Ant, so I decided to use it. Having had the good fortune to win one contest, people were already identifying my work by that name, so from then I was Jump Jumper Ant. And the truth is that I have several aliases, which I use for various projects that I work on; for example, I am Tanizzer Igzz for painting and Dagada Eskol for writing. I know it sounds strange, but for me it is fun. So why did you choose the name Jump Jumper Ant as your artistic identity? What does it mean to you? I chose Jump Jumper Ant as my pseudonym after watching a documentary about animals in Australia in National Geographic. When I saw the jack jumper ant working, I thought that these ants were strong, disciplined, loyal, and amazing. I was immediately very interested, so I researched the symbolism and meaning of ants in the mythologies of ancient cultures, discovering that they were regarded as the only beings able to move freely between the world of the living and the underworld, the material and the spiritual. They were the observers and messengers between the worlds. 24 | Clutter 30
“White Rabbit in Wonderland,” 2014
Top: “Ágatha,” 2015. Bottom: “Karloff,” 2015
I loved everything that they symbolized and decided they were creatures I’d liken myself to, even if only slightly. Not only are they are a good role model, but the name also sounded very good. And that is how I became Jump Jumper Ant. Now I just hope that my ant-based super powers appear soon. (Laughs)
example, I didn’t like the glass eyes that were available on the market, so I decided to make my own eyes — which took a long time before I found how to make what I wanted: eyes with the optical effect following you wherever you go. The same was true of everything else — face, hair, clothing, headgear, painting, etc. And, certainly, I will continue experimenting with new things, creating increasingly detailed art toys.
Your customs are immediately recognizable, using glass eyes, sculpted “porcelain doll” faces, real cloth, and hair elements. What inspired this method of making custom toy art? It is said that “the Devil is in the details,” which is something that I firmly believe, and that’s why I pay special attention to details in every area of my life, my artwork included. I grew up watching my dad make realistic miniatures so perfect that you could not believe it. I loved watching him work and I learned a lot from him. Since then I was obsessed with the details in everything, but particularly to the details of the toys I collected — I loved accessories, clothing, textures, and other additives in toys both past and present. So when I started in this world of customized art toys, I embraced my obsessions and started to experiment, seeking to create pieces with greater and greater amounts of detail. For
What’s next for you? Your unique custom style has even caught the attention of Kidrobot, so are vinyl production renditions in the works? It’s great that you, Clutter Magazine, and Kidrobot have paid attention to my work. It is very rewarding and an honor, because it means I’m doing something right. Therefore, I will continue my efforts to the fullest every day, trying to improve my work. As for what’s next, I’ll continue working on the projects I already have planned, create new pieces, participate in more series, and, hopefully soon, will make my own vinyl production piece.
For more information on Jump Jumper Ant, please visit: instagram.com/antjumpjumper
GRINNING ALL THE WAY Josh Kimberg Matt Dorcas
World-renowned pop surrealist Ron English’s imagery is itself becoming more and more a part of popular culture, whether the t-shirts adorned with his art at Zumiez, sculptures based on his designs in Thailand, or his massive murals that appear all over the world. A large aspect of Ron’s rise as a cultural force has been his commitment to creating designer toys. Since 2005, Ron has been developing vinyl sculptures as affordable art pieces, most based on parts from the giant dioramas he builds to reference as part of his painting process. These dioramas can be as big as 10 feet long, some encompassing multiple environments and hundreds of characters in intricate detail. Creating these are part of the magic that has allowed him to mine the depths of his own imagination. What has made Ron such an artistic force is that his work isn’t personal to him. When I first met Ron, I asked him why he didn’t convey more personal ideas through his work, to which he replied that “I only paint pictures that push people to think.” And he succeeds. Ron’s work is inspiring millions of people to think and, I dare say, other artists to work a little harder.
Let’s start with the question that has a thousand answers: are toys art? Of course, yeah, but I mean, I understood toys to be art, even when I was little kid. I remember at the dime store, picking up one and then it suddenly hit me, “Somebody sculpted this”, because most kids just wanted a toy. It was a dinosaur. I want a dinosaur, but I picked it up, and I really admired it. I used to hand paint them all, so I guess I paid more attention to the sculpts, but I could see, “Well, this one’s not very well sculpted, but this one’s very well sculpted.” I thought, “I guess
in New York somewhere, there’s a guy sitting there sculpting this out of wax or however they do it.” But yeah, when I was eight years old or so, and I realized, these are very mass produced, but still a sculpture, you know? Do you feel like your paintings are your art, and your toys are your art? Do you feel like there’s any disconnect between your paintings and your toys? Probably not, no, but I mean, obviously the paintings are a lot more intense. If you’re going to own a painting, you’re going to own a
bunch of my life. If you own a toy, you’re going to own like 10 seconds of my life. I once asked you about your dioramas and the sculpts that you make, whether or not they were actually art, and you said no… It’s just, back then I was throwing them in the dumpster, but I quit doing that. Every time I get done with one, then I just have a warehouse, where I store them. You are keeping the dioramas now? Clutter 30 | 29
Yeah, but space is an issue, you know? I’m even thinking of moving further up[state, NY]. Just driving until it gets super cheap, and I know people who have bought buildings for $7000. It’d probably require 20 more grand in work, but you can buy a big building, and start warehousing all the stuff up to the point that you could actually fill a museum. Then build a whole museum into a giant cave. Also, we have the issue of gifts. Every day we get gifts from people, and as you can see, there’s no more room in our house. The upstairs is full, the attic’s full, and the warehouse is full. Andy Warhol had the same issue. He would get all of this stuff every day, and he was a hoarder, so he wanted to keep it all. He also shopped every day, his assistants just couldn’t deal with it. They couldn’t move, but they came up with a perfect solution. They said, “Look, Andy, every week, at the end of the week, we’re going to make a box, and we’re going to take all the stuff from that week, and we’re going to put it in the box, and we’re going to write the date on it, and then we’re going to take it to storage.” They did that for years and years.
Yeah, I’ve seen some of the footage. The estate has all that now, these boxes that you open up, there’s a hand written invitation to a party from Elizabeth Taylor, or soemthing else interesting. We realized, when we get this stuff, people are giving us their art, their toys, incredible stuff. If you did archive it all, it would be a gold mine. Based on how long you’ve been in the fine art and art toy worlds, it has to be like a whole different world now than when you started. What’s different now than then? I think it’s a great time to be an artist. When I came into the art world, you came to New York, you took your art around, and — if you got picked up by a gallery — you could probably keep surviving. But once you made the rounds and if you didn’t really get any traction, if everybody said “no,” [then] you were pretty much done… for life. That’s not the case at all, anymore. It’s not the case because of toys, and skateboards, and clothes. You have more independence than you ever had
in the history of art. If you were an Egyptian artist, they said, “You draw your hand flat and sideways,” and if you didn’t draw it that way then they whacked your hand off, because you didn’t draw the hand right. They were slaves pretty much, right? Now, they’re entrepreneurs. You feel like everyone can find their audience now, so it’s a good time? Yeah. I think that some people want to get very far into the game very fast, and I don’t think that’s the way to do it. I think the way to do it is before you even go to a manufacturer, hand-pull stuff. Build up your audience, and then the people that have that, that’ll be their most coveted stuff of all. That’ll be the holy grail, your original hand-pulled stuff that you did yourself. That’d be the legendary stuff. is the way toys are perceived now any different? The toy world, it’s a whole different world now. The toys have influenced the art world. They didn’t start out in the art world, but now the hottest stuff in the art world is based on the toy culture.
BLACK RAINBOW STAR SKULL, 2015 30 | Clutter 30
DIORAMA (DETAIL) I don’t know if you remember it, but when the toy world came to America it was like Michael Lau and those guys, and these toy companies were looking for what artists they should use, and firstly used kind of hip-hop guys and stuff, or graffiti guys. And yeah, those were the biggest celebrities in the popular culture with art. The problem was, they didn’t have characters, and I think when they looked over at the pop surrealists and especially, like with me with the big dioramas that are full of characters, once you see it then you think, “Well, let’s just take that, and make it into a toy.” It made sense. I think that’s when they switched… I think they grabbed a lot of the pop surrealists, and that’s when I got swept up in it. Did your giant dioramas influence your entrance into the toy world? I think because I was doing the dioramas, and because originally, that I was sculpting creatures that were in the dioramas, that the toy world saw it and thought, “Well, let’s just take
that and make it into a toy.” It made sense. It seems like it was a perfect match for your art?
were 7 to 15 thousand dollars, are 60 million now - Inside our lifetime. Even buying stock in Microsoft wouldn’t have went up that much. That’s true.
Absolutely, yeah, and also, for the way I think about things, because I deal with all kinds of people. I have a very interesting life. I might have dinner with the President, and then hang out with a wino. I have an interaction with the whole spectrum of people, and I think it’s nice that there’s something for everybody. If you can’t afford a 10 foot sculpture, you can afford a toy. I’ve often heard you say that these are the bronzes of our age.
You have to stay with the brand name people, unfortunately, or fortunately, if you’re one of them. Was there an early art toy release that made you want to make one of your own? I have it over there. (Points) It’s the Spraycan Monster [by SEEN], a really elaborate, overdone kind of toy. Was that from like 2000...
It’s definitely follows the art world model, where something’s a limited edition, and then it goes up in value. It’s just exactly like the art world. As long as you stay with the right artist, it’s not going to go down in value. As a matter of fact, if you stay with blue chip artist, it’s actually probably the most secure thing you could possibly put your money in, because you’re talking about people who’s paintings
I don’t remember. Yeah, about 10 years ago, because it’s the 10th anniversary of MC Supersized. Was he your first toy? I really don’t have an official first toy, because he and Ronnnie Rabbbit, with Dark Horse, came out at the same time. Ronnnie Rabbbit was Clutter 30 | 31
RON ENGLISH IN HIS STUDIO
20 bucks or something like that. We sold it at Tower Records and places like that. I liked the idea that it was everywhere, that it wasn’t a limited edition. From my point of view and most of my interactions with people, usually people are upset with me because they can’t get something. It’s like, “Where do I get an MC Supersized?” Well, the originals, the OGs, I’ve never seen one come up for sale. We actually bought one for a stupid amount of money, because we keep throwing these events, and we sell toys at the events. Then one day I realized we didn’t have the glow [version], and I got panicky and had to buy it back from the guy who bought it, so he made a few thousand dollars off me. Anyway… I know what it’s like. You get obsessed and you want the whole set, then it gets very difficult, and that’s why people are willing to pay a lot. I think there’s always somebody that’s the completist, that’s really willing to pay a lot of money. Did you self-produce those original MC Supersized figures? 32 | Clutter 30
No, no. That was Lev [aka Israel Levarek of Toy Tokyo], Lev did MC Supersized. Were you concerned that you would get sued when you released it? I wasn’t that concerned that I’d get sued, but I think Lev was a little more cautious, and it was only his first or second toy. It would not be to McDonald’s benefit to sue us because they would lose the lawsuit; parody is very protected in the U.S. Obviously, it’s a different character, it’s MC Supersized. I mean, it’s talking about Ronald McDonald, but it isn’t Ronald McDonald. It’s like another clown that eats at McDonalds. I think it addresses a very big issue. The contamination of our food supply by corporations, and everybody’s affected by it. Do you think MC Supersized is your most successful figure? Yeah. If I was a band, he would be my hit song. If I had inherited a ton of money or something, I would love to make MC and put him in Happy Meals, or disseminate him in a way where he almost becomes the real Ronald. My
favorite thing that ever happened with MC is that that actually happened with all the McDonald’s branding of which I could never do here. See, MC started getting bootlegged in China and, because they’re China, they don’t have to pay me, but they also don’t have to pay McDonalds, so they would put McDonalds logos and stuff all over it. The Chinese kids think this is being put out by McDonalds. There’re a lot of Chinese kids that think Ronald McDonald’s fat! How do you decide who you’re going to work with on producing different figures, or whether or not you’re going to self-finance? Usually, I self-finance to stuff that scares people, because I just want it to happen. Do you ever do your own sculpts? I have, then I take pictures of it and send it to the sculptor. Only in situations where I need to see it in 3-D. For instance with the yin-yang guy, [Big Yang & The Yang Bangers] I couldn’t work out how a yin-yang could be 3-D, because it’s a flat image, and it wouldn’t work 3-D. Then, I was playing baseball with my kid, and I
looked at the baseball and thought, “That’s it.” I sculpted it, just so they could understand, too. I did one where I just did drawings and they got it wrong, then, I thought if I sculpt it, even though they’re not going to use that sculpture, they can hold it and go, “Okay, I get it.” You don’t feel like your sculpting is part of your art that has to be translated into the toys? No, I think that I conceptualize it, I draw it from all angles, and it looks exactly like I drew it. If you pulled the drawing up, put it on a transparent piece of paper and you hold it up to their sculpt, they get it totally right. You just have to work with the right people. So how do you decide which figure goes to whom for production? Mostly, everybody has their territory that they’re covering. Keith [Poon of ToyQube] did the boxing glove, but I don’t think MD [Young of MINDstyle] wanted to do the boxing glove. He has a different idea of what he wants to do. MD’s interesting because he has this whole way he’s doing it where he treats it like it’s a rock show. He knows it’s show business. And now he has his own factory, so
he literally said [to me], “Well, I want to do something like completely brand new, and I want you to think of it right now.” So I went into my room, and I drew the fat Statue of Liberty Grin, and then I brought him the turnarounds, and then, a month and 10 days later, he had it. That’s because he has his own factory. “I want this at the top of the list. Everything else stops. This goes.” Now he has that power. That’s amazing.
RON ENGLISH X SLASH BUST, 2013
Yeah. And Chris & Jenn [Kong of Garage Works] got a really great distribution deal with a guy who’s part of this collector’s club of all these billionaire guys. They got it going on too, so those — [MINDstyle and Garage Works] — are my two main partners now. Then I’ll do a few smaller projects with Kidrobot or something… Speaking of Kidrobot, what do you think of Frank Kozik being in control of the company? I like Frank because he’s the first political toy maker. And I think since Frank took over Kidrobot, now it’s getting interesting. Because he’s a really interesting guy, and he has his own take on everything. He really pushes the envelope. We have one toy coming out with them, and we’re
working on a second one. What are you working on for them? The one that comes out this Fall, I think it’s this Fall, I don’t know the production schedule, is Uncle Sam, except he’s morbidly obese and he’s holding a hamburger behind his back. Well, there’s different things that you can get to have in his hand behind his back. Then the other one would be the Skeleton Guernica. That’s cool. And all because Kozik is at Kidrobot? I think Frank and I are on the same page, as far as I want to do things that can be in Time Magazine, or can be a part of current events and what’s going on. Be relative to the larger culture, not just the toy collectors. I think he agrees with that. I mean, I got the idea when we released Fat Tony, and it was featured in Time, and on NPR. I think the same thing would have happened with Ronald if we didn’t release it like under the
counter at Lev’s [Toy Tokyo shop]. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. How would you describe your relationship with Kozik? I’ve known Frank since he was in Austin, and I was in Austin. Right now, our relationship is we’re the last two survivors of a couple scenes. He was a really big deal in Austin. Him and Guy Juke, they were the poster guys. They were some of the only people making money off of that scene, because the bands never seemed to be able to get paid, but if you wanted those posters, you had to pay, you know? He’s always been a businessman, but he’s also been kind of a revolutionary, too.
and a lot of artists just treat it like it’s some magical thing, that somehow money’s going to come. I don’t think they seem to understand the economics, he does. Kidrobot’s a lot more interesting company since he’s taken over. You have to agree, right? Yeah. Absolutely. It seems like they’re more stable. It’s like if you had a music label that’s hemorrhaging a lot of money, “Well, let’s keep the Rolling Stones and let’s get rid of these 30 other bands that nobody’s ever heard of.” It costs the same amount of money to press their records and record their records, and nobody seems to be interested, so let’s get rid of all those people, then you have a viable business, you know?
Were you friends back then? We knew about each other, but we didn’t really hang out. We each had our own different posses. I had my crew running around doing billboards with me, and he had his crew that silkscreened, but I’ve known him for a long, long time. He’s always treated it like a business,
On the topic of business, why did you Kickstarter the Heart Skull? We wanted to see what it was like to do a Kickstarter, and we wanted to have a closer relationship with our fans. You know, hook them up, or give them a good deal. Building all these relationships is important. Some of them [the Kickstarter backers] came
up here and spent the day. They were very shocked because they thought it would be like a dinner at a restaurant and that all the people that went to that level would all be there at once, but we had each one of them here individually and spent the whole day with them. Did you enjoy it?
RON ENGLISH’S STUDIO
RON ENGLISH’S PERSONAL COLLECTION
Yeah, it was great. I mean, if we hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t understand our own customers as well, you know? We’re really into customer relations, and having a closer relationship. My heroes are KISS. KISS were just always about their fans. Their fans came first, you know what I mean? Some kid wrote them and said, “Hey, we play KISS music before each game, and it gets us revved up, and it was a bit of a problem to do that because our teachers don’t like KISS. They don’t like that kind of music, but we talked them into it, and we’ve won every game since. I see you’re on tour, and you’re here and you’re there. Could you just stop by and sign autographs for an hour?” They said, “No. We’re going to do a fucking concert there for you for free.” And they showed up and the whole school is like, “What the fuck?” They came the day before, and they had a big parade, and they hung out with all the cheerleaders, and the athletes, and the students, then they put on a big show the next day, and then they got back on the road. Those kids, they’re my age and they’re still like, “Fucking KISS. Fucking love KISS, man.” You know what I mean? They’ll remember that for the rest of their lives.
RON ENGLISH’S STUDIO
At the end of the day, for you, this is about having a great time, giving people a great time, enjoying what you do? Yeah, and saying, “I couldn’t do this without you.” For more information on Ron English, please visit:
JOSH KIMBERG & RON ENGLISH WITH RON’S PERSONAL COLLECTION
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THE MONTHLY DIY:
SCULPT OF PERSONALITY
BY MARC DEANGELIS
Last month, we laid out the best way to prep your platform toy of choice and your workspace before you get customizing. While a lot of artists jump right in and start painting, others start out by sculpting, creating additional forms to attach to the toy which adds a huge element of uniqueness to the finished piece. Fundamentally altering its silhouette, appliances let you toss out the restrictions of the toy’s physical shape and instead use that shape simply as a base to build upon. And don’t worry; even if you have minimal sculpting experience, you can still manage to create some cool stuff. So what materials, skills, and knowledge do you need to start sculpting? Sekure D, Rotobox, WuzOne, and Jenn & Tony Bot join us in our third step towards completing a custom toy. When you hear about sculpting, you might immediately think about globs of messy clay, chisels, and armature wire. Luckily, at the scale of custom toys, you don’t have to deal with any of that. A few affordable, simple tools and some small packs of sculpting material are all you need. The Ong brothers who form Rotobox Vinyl Anatomica are partial to Apoxie Sculpt, which is a clay-like, two-part substance, meaning it has to be mixed together to cure and sets without a trip to 40 | Clutter 30
the oven. A thicker material than Apoxie Sculpt, both Sekure D and WuzOne use Super Sculpey, which can be adjusted and sculpted indefinitely. Once the desired shapes are sculpted, they get baked; the heat from the oven sets the material so that it can be sanded and painted. Not a whole lot of fancy tools are needed to get working. Sekure D just uses the non-brush ends of his paint brushes, a scalpel, and a roller, while WuzOne uses a heat gun, his hands, and some sandpaper. The Bots use even less: “We sculpt over every inch of the platform by hand. Other than the platform itself, we use no armatures and, therefore, use very few tools.” Everyone’s painted, whether at home
as a hobby or in middle school art class as a requirement, but the same can’t always be said for sculpting. Our dream team of customizers will put your mind at ease, though, as they reveal that a bit of practice is all that’s needed to get up to speed. “Some skill is important though it doesn’t have to be very high unless you’re doing facial features that are realistic,” say the Rotobox duo. “What’s important is patience, practice, and sanding. Mistakes are normal.” Sekure D concurs, saying, “My sculpting skills are subpar at best. Patience is more important. Skills can be learned.” “As with anything, the more you practice, the better the results,” echo
The Bots, who are both self-taught. “That fact can clearly be seen when you look at our first pieces compared to what we make now.” No one’s an expert at everything. Compensating for one skill with another is a perfectly common practice in the art and design world. “I focus especially on the paint job,” says WuzOne, because “my level of sculpting needs a lot of improvement.” When it comes to the sculpting itself, since the end product has to adhere to the toy, most customizers stick the sculpting material to the toy’s surface and get working. Shaping the clay around the toy also helps reduce the appearance of rough edges for a more seamless form. The process can involve a lot of layerings, so working slowly and carefully is a must. “It’s like building a house or layering a painting,” says Sekure D. “Make sure you plan ahead.” The Bots agree: “It takes a lot of foresight and preparation to make sure we don’t screw anything up.” After building up your structure with more clay and removing pieces with wire-end tools, once the shapes are where you’d like them then you can add texture by cutting and smoothing with thumb tools, the pointy end of your brushes, or your fingers. If you’re not happy with the results, mush it all up and start again. Like the pros say, it’s all about practice. Sculpting the same thing over and over again until you get it right will go a long way. Jenn and Tony Bot work methodically and have a few
Rotobox’s work space
practices that make their lives easier, such as “the arms always go on last. Everything that happens inbetween greatly varies based on the platform: the size of it, the desired texture of the piece, and the details that are placed on it.” When sculpting, keep in mind the logistics of the platform. Will it still be able to stand freely once the appliances
are adhered? Will the appliances hinder the movements of any points of articulation? Is it sturdy enough to survive a modest shelf dive or — even worse — a trip through the postal system while en route to a friend or customer? “When working with lots of extra sculpting, our biggest concern is designing something that isn’t too fragile,” say The Bots. “It’s easy to get carried away with an idea only to realize that shipping something of that magnitude would be an absolute nightmare. We want people to be able to hold our pieces and admire the details, not feel like they need to be placed behind locked glass.” Don’t let the idea of sculpting put you off. Just start small, keep at it, and remember that it’s art. There are no wrong answers.
That’s all for this month. Check back next issue where we’ll finally get to paint our customs. In the meantime, keep sanding. Clutter 30 | 41
by Barbara Pavone
Educated as a theatrical scenic designer, Los Angelesbased Shing Yin Khor, sometimes known as Sawdust Bear, started out building and painting props and sets before taking those skills and translating them to life as a sculptor and illustrator. As she explains, “I’ve always been obsessed with creating little universes filled with little creatures and it was a natural step to start building my own work once I was no longer a tool for other people’s art. It turned out that a lot of people were into weird monsters too and I accidentally found a new career!” Nowadays, you can also find her creating major art installations for the likes of Burning Man, collaborating with Beastlies creator Leslie Levings and running a small micro-press that shines the light on topics such as race, feminism, and sexuality. We sat down with Shing to explore as many facets of her wide-ranging career as humanly possible and as we discovered, more often than not, it all comes down to “bumbling science, human fallibility and heroic futility”. 46 | Clutter 30
Left: “Snooted Coneheaded Dorbal” & “Shroomey Coneheaded Dorbal,” 2015 Right: “Finny Mermaid,” 2015
“Giant Pacific Rockbeast,” 2014
Let’s address the elephant - erm, bear - in the room: How did you get the nickname Sawdust Bear?
It’s from my days working in theater scene shops. I had a knit bear hat that I wore a lot and it’d get covered in sawdust every day and one of the shop guys just started calling me that. It’s very literal. I’ve actually been trying to transition toward just using my own name, but it’s hard when I’ve been using it for so long.
As an artist working in both 2D and 3D, do you have to adjust your mindset in any way as you go back and forth between mediums?
draw for the next six month, which would you choose? I would very likely go crazy if I could only do one, but drawing is less physically taxing so that one.
How do the two stack up against one another? They feel very different to me, actually. Sculpting takes a lot of concentration for me and it’s messy enough that I can’t do much else. I’m always pretty exhausted after a long sculpting session. It definitely feels more like
“work” for some reason. Drawing and cartooning, on the other hand, has always felt more natural and fun for me, which isn’t to say that I like it better, just that I’ve been doing it for a lot longer and I think I’ve finally hit that point where I can generally translate what I see in my brain to paper. I’m not quite there as a sculptor, but I get closer to it every year, so I’m optimistic. Right now, I’ve actually mostly been drawing and painting because during my last couple shows
A little bit! Sculpting takes up a lot more focus. I’ve always been an attention deficit-ey sort of artist, though. I feel like I’m always in a constant flux of experimentation and playing with new skills and I’ve never really developed the sort of intense focus that I feel a lot of my contemporaries have. I’m not happy unless I’m working on a variety of projects at the same time. Thematically, all my work may share a common thread, but I think I’ve gotten used to constantly switching between mediums as part of my art practice.
If you were allowed to only sculpt or
Shing Yin Khor working in her studio, 2015
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my studio transitioned from being a glorious mess to a heap of “this is way too messy” and I can’t sculpt until I clean it.
Then there are the large-scale installations! Your contribution to this year’s Burning Man sounds way too cool - what exactly was in that house? I received a grant last year to bring The Last Outpost, which is basically a post-apocalyptic haunted house that was set out a mile from the city, in the middle of nowhere. The intention was for people to accidentally stumble across it and discover this abandoned outpost filled with the detritus of the people that had formerly lived there and died defending against some sort of unseen darkness. Previously, I also built a mutant vehicle - a wooden junk boat on a ‘88 GMC Sierra pickup truck. I love building installations — there is a certain joy in building something that’s 20 feet tall and requires heavy machinery to put in place. The sheer manual labor and physical energy required to do something like that is absolutely exhilarating.
“Mr. Saddlebags,” 2015
On top of all of that, you’re also running Sawdust Press — what drove you to start that project?
I started Sawdust Press because I wanted to be a little less self-involved with my own work, and wanted to publish other artists and writers that I loved. It’s growing into a small comics
press that will focus primarily on works by creators from marginalized groups. While we didn’t set out to do it, most of our work somehow revolves around meandering stories about women and fantasy creatures. I’m still considering our 2016 lineup, and figuring out our role in the comics community, but I’m working on finishing the first volume of the Center for Otherworld Science comic, which fits into the tail end of the Otherworld Science timeline.
You list your inspirations as being everything from old museums to cabinets of curiosities! What do you turn to when you’re in need of an extra big boost of fresh ideas? I think the vast majority of my work falls into this “Center for Otherworld Science” timeline that I keep in my head, which is a 100-year narrative timeline that traces the evolution of a scrappy little research institution and the people that work there.
My work is pretty constantly referential toward museums, though. I often come back to the British Museum as a touchstone for inspiration. There is so much interesting and sordid history there, from the sheer vastness of their collections to the colonial atrocities that resulted in many of those holdings. Also, I saw a preserved coelacanth there as a teenager and even though I’ve seen several since, it was a weirdly magical moment at the time. “Waterhare,” 2015
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I’ll be honest, I’ve never been one
The lovely Leslie Levings is one of your frequent collaborators — how did the two of you first join forces?
“Giant Lettucebeast,” 2015
to go out and take a long walk and somehow get inspired through the goodness of my own brain meats - it has always been work. If I need fresh ideas, I read a lot, especially things I might not read otherwise, like odd Wikipedia entries, pop culture magazines, painfully academic essays.
If you could bring one of your creatures to life, which one would you like to share your world with?
I’ve been really partial to coneheaded dorbals lately. They’re these cute little grumpy dudes that skitter around and hide in rock crevices and tree roots. Although, fattybugs make great paperweights.
“Cocoon Arrangement #1,” 2015
We just hung out and drank tea a lot. I think it was Hana Kim from Supahcute that put us together for our first two-person show at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland. We kind of rocked it, so we thought that continuing to rock it seemed like a pretty good idea. Leslie is significantly more humble than I am, so I try to make up for it by constantly pointing out that we’re awesome.
What is it about your individual pieces that make them work SO well together?
We have very similar sensibilities with our art and have a lot of shared inspirations. Even though there are distinct stylistic differences to our art, over the course of our collaboration, I think our work has just evolved to work even better together than it would have otherwise. I love working with Leslie. She is so incredibly focused and driven, which is a constant inspiration to someone as flighty as me and, of course, her work is brilliant. Also, she says ‘Yes’ to a lot of my harebrained ideas.
When someone first sees a work of art signed Shing Yin Khor, what do you hope it sparks in them? Curiosity. Wonder. A little bit of trepidation.
That only leaves one question: What’s next?!
I’ve been working a lot on some projects outside my comfort zone, some weird, challenging things, like learning how to build propane fire effects. I’ve also been thinking of ways to combine my sculpting with the narratives behind them. One of my near future projects is a Field Guide-style art book that documents the history and biodiversity of these creatures. I’m hoping to get some of that done this October when I’ll be living out in the Petrified Forest in Arizona for a couple weeks as one of their Artists in Residence. There’ll be lots of hiking around with large monster sculpts and cameras strapped to my backpack — it’ll be fun.
For more information on Shing Yin Khor, please visit
“Curiosity Cabinet #2 (Cocoons),” 2015
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Published on Sep 7, 2015
Published on Sep 7, 2015
The SEPT 2015 issue of your indispensable guide into the world of art toys, counterculture, and underground art. Cover art and interview wit...