Covering The Toy and Art World One Post at a Time

LUNARTIK

Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself ?

Lunartik: I studied from 1996 – 1999 at the BCU – Birmingham City University in the UK, leaving with a (I’m not so boring but I get the job done!) 2.1 Hons Degree in Product Design. From there I moved to Warwickshire and got a job as an in-house Junior Designer at a conceptual design agency where I was part of a small team designing quirky objects such as vacuum cleaners, fan and blenders etc..
This was a huge learning curve for me and an invaluable experience.

In 2002, I took the leap of faith and set up as a self employed freelance designer going under the name of Lunartik. I felt it was the right time for me break-free from the 9-5 working routine. I describe this as “THE BEST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE!” Being a now Freelance designer I needed to find some excitement to fill my days, and more importantly some work!

First day of my freelance career I had a meeting set up for afternoon tea with soon to become new work college Graham Powell. Together we formed a limited company, which become my first introduction to the world of graphic illustration. At the same time, I must have been lucky week or something because I met local artist Phil Corbett and we clicked and created our own little Art Club together and we rented out a cold studio space, which had a bee’s nest lodged in the roof, which was slightly scary, but all in all …good times!

The Toy Scene: 2004-05
Phil told me about this Toy Design competition … it was called “Design-a-Qee”.
I’d never heard of a
Qee but it looked like fun, so I downloaded design template, started sketching up ideas, and by Phil’s surprise I ended up winning a place in the blind box series.
And  to top it off, Raymond chose my design for the packaging for the series. I was super happy as you can imagine. :)

Looking back I have fond memories from the Design-a-Qee expo in old London town; it’s where I meet all my best artistic chums. It was a good introduction for me in to the Toy Scene and to all the fellow like-minded people.

6 years later… with a few vinyl toys under my belt and a good set of contacts in the art scene,
I’m now living and working from Berlin, far far away from home and one hour ahead of the UK… it’s a bit like living in the future!

UVD: Would you mind telling us about some of the designs that you came up with when you were first starting out and how designs have progressed over the years?

Lunartik: Over the years I have been drawing in sketch books, loads of them in fact as I like documenting ideas and allowing each of them to flow out naturally and grow into projects or concepts, some make it through into the real world and some stay tightly in the books.

Let’s talk a bit about my first design for Lunartik:
I designed a little character; he had little legs, a tiny body and two flippers for arms. The main feature of him being his enormously over-sized head. Yes he did have some legs to start with and a mouth, which I soon removed just because that’s what happened haha!

This design then turned into a sticker and also was on the splash page of my very old flash website. I also made a little plush using some fluff, and he also became the thing that started too appeared most in my sketch books. Although I never intended to make him into a vinyl toy to begin with, it just happened like that.

Once the toy scene had showed me some love and I had some fans from the QT Qee design, I thought maybe I should make my own toy like canvas, something that would be mine to work with. I could make them in resin as that seemed a good way to start the process and give them each a unique paint job etc…

I really wanted my design to connect with my QT Qee, in theory to continue the story. So I decided that the cup of tea was to be my Signature Englishness accompaniment and a good one that holds the nation together! It’s our heritage in a way, 20 cups of tea a day, and everything’s going to be ok!.

So I married my Lunartik character onto the cuppa to form what is now known as “Lunartik in a Cup of Tea”. And now it continues!

-The History

-Custom from Spider

UVD: Would you mind telling us about how the idea for the Cup of Tea Mini Series came about and a little about the figure inside the tea cup?

Lunartik: “Lunartik in a Cup of Tea” was born from resin and I made and sold a limited run of 30 pieces.

In 2009 I managed to self fund a vinyl production run of 1700 of the large teas.

and 2010 I release the New Mini Teas series.

It feels like it’s been a life long project, were in 2011 now, so 6 years of my life devoted to tea!

UVD: I see several artists contributed customs for your Custom Tea Tour. If you had to choose, which ones would you say impressed you the most?

Lunartik: Tough choice, there were loads of cool designs by the artists.I think my favorite cuppa from the Tea Tour of 2010 was Mr Scruff’s. It’s the fact that he’s totally out of the toy scene, I asked him to join and we went back and forth with emails and phone conversations. He’s never customized anything before so I helped him as much as I could, I sent him off with a shopping list of materials to buy and he asked me a lot of customizing questions, It was great to see his final piece completed and the progress he had made from start to finish was great. This was the best fun for me, and I think a great experience for both of us.

-Auction Entries

-Mr. Scruff

UVD: I also noticed that you worked with several artists to produce Art Passes to hold the transit cards. How did that idea and collaboration come about?

Lunartik: “Lunartik and Chums” is all the about the Art. The ’Chums’ concept allows artists to collaborate with me, and together we make affordable pieces of art. The series of products I choose to design first were the Travel Card Holders. As simple as are they become great functional products and make a canvas for artwork. The design of them is very tactile and so useful in everyday situations.

I named them ART PASSES, and in Artist Series 1, I found myself working closely with my favorite artists…
Phil Corbett, Ian Stevenson, Pete Fowler, Toaster, Triclops Studio, Sichi and Un-plugged.


These were a big hit with the public in 2010. I’m currently working with another set of Artist chums for Art Pass Series 2. Featuring work from: Felt Mistress, ATADesigns, Sourbones, Ronzo, Johnathan E, Nathan Jurevicius, and Uamou. And I hope everyone that works with me has a good experience in the process and i have more ideas brewing so stay tuned!

Here’s the sneak preview of Series 2 …

UVD: I see you had an entry in the Sketchbot V2 custom display that has one of your tea figures. How many revisions/different designs did you go through to get to the final product that you submitted?

Lunartik: Sketchbots are great for making customs with, it’s a great flexibly form to work with and very well produced so hats off to Steve for a great piece! As for my design of my custom, well I had this odd dream about this odd shaped Tea Pot and when I woke up and looked closely at the Sketchbot and whispered in its ear… “Would you like to be a little Tea Pot?” And it said excitedly, “Yes Please!” … so that was that, job done!

UVD: How did the event at Forbidden Planet in London turn out? What shows in the future should people look for you in the future?

Lunartik: As I generally stay indoors most of the time getting a sun tan from my computer screen, getting out of the studio and launching my Mini Tea’s at Forbidden Planet was ace!
So many nice people turned up to see my new toys and we all had a lot of fun, i was mainly signing and chatting shit and trying to force people to eat cake!

Forbidden Planet is very accommodating; they pull it all together when it comes to the signings, and they made everyone feel very welcome indeed.

Thanks to everyone who came and to FP, we really did have a lovely cup of tea!


Into the future…

February 1st8pm till Late I’m giving a Weather Talk at Less Rain about “Designer Vinyl Toys”.

Less Rain,

Linienstrasse 154a,
10115 Berlin.

Please come along if you’re about in Germany.

UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the upcoming future?

Lunartik: There’s a rumor going around about a ‘Mini Custom Tea Tour’ starting at Pictoplasma … mmmmmm is that true? wait and see :)

UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?

Lunartik: Keep going & get yourself around, make good connections, and develop a unique style.

UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the reader?

Lunartik: Hi Readers, Thanks for all the support and loving the work!
FYI I have just found out that Lunartik in a Cup of Tea has a Fan Club on Facebook!
Check it out. Big thanks to Mike for setting this up!

**Also, I would like to remind the readers to not forget about the contest that is just starting, so go over to the fan page and enter.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Quick Fire Interview from Twitter / Facebook friends for Lunartik:

@DesignerToysUK
Q: Favorite biscuit ?

MJ: Jaffa Cakes. You can eat around the edge, and then gobble the middle down!
God that sounds terrible sorry about that, next question…


@handonfire

Q: Remember when we camped on your roof and stayed up late and it was fun?
MJ
: I do, and it was a lot of fun, my favorite part was going to the toilet and calling out in the streets while drinking lots of booze! Lots of fun memories… good question.


@SuperMunk

Q: How many cups of tea a day?
MJ:
At least 4 to 6 a day, I just got a special delivery from my mate @malosavich who sent me a care package of tea from the UK, lovely stuff!

@mustbtheshoes
Q: Does Lunartik’s head work like a taser, zapping whoever attempts to drink?

MJ: Not at the moment, but if you make a custom one then I’m sure you can get that working haha.

Q: Is a tea bag actually a bagged up lunartik baby farm?
MJ: This is quite disturbing, but I like how your brain works, so yes that is correct!


@PauloA80
Q: What kind of pens do you use for your sketches?
MJ:
Uni-Pen Fine Liners by Uniball, there really smooth to work with.


@jonjoglynn

Q: If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you be?
MJ: Olive oil, cus that’s the best thing you can put on any salad.


Lucy Burton

Q: ’3T design’ or working for yourself ??!!
MJ: My self of course, but working along side you was a real treat!


@PlanetDomu

Q: Have you ever done any wood carving?
MJ: No, but I did carve a pencil

Serah Jayne Hunter
Q: Tea bags or tea leaves

MJ: Bags, as I’m not a posh tea drinker.

Ian Phenna
Q: Sugar? One cube or two?
MJ: Either or I’m not fussy, but cubes are more fun.

@c_i_dobson
Q:  Will there be any open design competitions offering the chance to appear in future series of mini tea?

MJ: You will have to wait and see.

I got this Series of Questions from @Howker


Q: some of your characters/drawings seem a little surreal/alien-like, where do you draw inspiration from?

MJ: I guess that’s the way my brain goes at the moment, I try and develop the ideas up as I go along and mix up things at the moment with my Daily Sketches. I just finished a sketch book, and it will be live soon.

There also seems to be themes of Space, Sci-Fi and futuristic ideas running through some of your work… is this something you’re interested in outside of your artwork filtering back in?
MJ: I think the space you’re referring to is actually Tea, and the SIFI-Ness is just a style of drawing.
I guess from an onlooker’s perspective its SI-FI but I never thought of it in that way. Food for thought!

How do you begin a piece of work, whether it is digital, painted or sculpted? is there a lot of sketching in terms of composition/posture etc or do you just naturally play with ideas?
MJ: Time, sketching, making up ideas in my head, and then getting them ASAP onto paper.

When in London (and now Berlin)… did you work in a design studio or from home as a freelance artist? (if both, which did you prefer?)
MJ: Home is best!

3 responses

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