UVD: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself (i.e. where your general base of operation is, when you started designing, and how you first started out)?
Vise: My name is VISEone – I’m an artist born and raised in germany. I used to do graffiti – mostly characters – and was a DJ and producer of a french/german hiphop group. Beginning of the new millennium we had a major record deal – but after 2 releases I left the group and started to tour around througG germany as a hiphop club DJ.
After a decade of spinning records and driving thousands of miles from gig to gig I wanted to get back into art and since I was always interested in CGI I started to buy programs and tutorials about 3D modeling. But the long frustrating workflow brought me to 2D art. So I got me a WACOM and PAINTER and started to sketch and draw characters and worked together with my buddy Ralph Ferres who handed me his sketches to illustrate them. One of those sketches was the base for our SEA HUNTER character which finally brought me to the vinyl and designer toy scene. Miller from PATCH TOGETHER saw my illustration of the SEA HUNTER at CGTalk and contacted me to upload my drawing to his site and a few months later they produced the SEA HUNTER as a resin figure – limited to 50 units and sold out in a few weeks.
Since then I started to dig into the designertoy scene, started to try out customizing and create other related stuff. I was hooked since then and finally found what I was looking for all these years – combining all my love of comics, 3D art, 2D art, figures and urban art in general.
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?
Vise: Well I have to name the SEA HUNTER as my first step in designing toys/figures. The SEA HUNTER is based on a sketch of my friend Ralph Ferres who died last year in an car accident on his way to a meeting with me. Ralph was always a big inspiration for me and our second release through PATCH TOGETHER – the “SAD DRAGON” (2008) was also a collaboration between him and me.
This illustration was also based on a sketch by my friend – I changed the original sketch a bid and declared him as a hommage to “Pete`s Dragon” – one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Since the dragon was able to disapear I came up with the idea of have him casted in clear resin and paint him up to his head – leaving his head invisible.
We offered different colorways to several stores worldwide and the interest was a big success for us since I was a new and unknown artist to this scene back then in 2009. SILENT STAGE got the white winter edition and sold 9 sets (solid white + invisible edition) within 7 hours.
From then to now I tried out many different things and I can’t really tell how my designs progressed over the past 2 years – I think it’s an ongoing process of developing stuff – with trial and error.
UVD: What are some things that influence you and your work? Is there any artist’s work that inspired you and your style early on in your career? Are there any artists on your radar currently that have amazed you with the product they are putting out?
Vise: Well – as I said – my friend Ralph was a big inspiration and he influenced my work for sure since I learned a lot from him during our friendship of almost 25 years. He taught me how to draw characters and I studied his sketchbooks like noone else was allowed to. We had a lot in common and we had many ideas which now will never be realised after he’s dead.
I’m always running around with open eyes and many things or other artists inspire and influence me. Couldn’t name a particular artists since there are so many awesome artists out there doing what they love and have great output.
I love clean puristic works as you can see with my TUBE DUNNY series but I also love art that is colorful & wild.
UVD: Considering the fact that your Tube Dunny was the first of your pieces I became aware of, would you mind telling us a little about how you came up with the idea and how you possibly see it progressing in the future?
Vise: It was a kind of development starting with my COMIC STRIPPED themed customs. When I developed my COMIC STRIPPED series it was all about combining my love of comics and designer toys. I love comic art and I somehow wanted to bring this art remixed on toys. So I thought when you read COMICS your whole life and if you grew up with all those colorful artwork you’ve seen in the comics then what would happen if you cut your finger? Probably comics would appear instead of blood – so comics would be a layer under your skin. This is what I try to transfer in my COMIC STRIPPED pieces and then I finally came to the balloons within the comics – the lettering and the color BLACK which is an elementary color when it comes to comics.
So I was thinking of a tube squeezing out the balloons within the black fluid – I had the picture in mind of a fozen tube in the air and started to develope how I can combine this with a toy. The perfect toy was a DUNNY back then and the first TUBE DUNNY was born.
I added the balloons which I later left away on following pieces to make them look more puristic.
I then started to use other platforms as well – like HELLO KITTY figures and I am currently working on some SCAVENGERS (Kathie Olivas) tube customs.
Since it was such a great success for me (all runs got sold out in just a few days) I started to develope the idea of an own series with my own characters called “THE TUBE MONSTERS” (working title). I offered this idea to some companies and I’m currently working on a production piece with TOY2R.
UVD: Most of your Tube Dunny series went in the colorway black – will there be other colorways in the future?
Vise: I’ve been asked this a couple of times by collectors. I’ve tried some other colorways like the red colorway I did exclusively for OUTLAND DESIGNERTOYS in Amsterdam and I just made one extra for Joe Ledbetter. So red works fine besides black – but the shiny black works best for me.
I just finished a green colorway called ZOMBIE JUICE – I only made 3 of them – 2 are for sale and one will be kept for my show. I still got some ideas for the TUBE concept and different colorways – so watch out what’s next.
UVD: Marvel and DC comics, along with Simpsons seem to be well represented on some of your customs (MADL, Labbit, Munny, Jouwe, and QEE). Without giving too many secrets away, how do you go about making any one of these figures (i.e. screen printing the images or do you actually paint them on)?
Vise: It’s more simple than you guessed
I always try to sculpt related parts on the toy with apoxy clay to match the theme. Whatever get’s revealed as „under the skin“ is a collage technique and I use the original comics. It hurts to tear them apart but I create something new with it. Something you can put on your shelf and look to it instead of the folded comic hiding its beautiful artwork by masters of MARVEL, DC and others.
After the collage the piece gets covered with layers of clear varnish and additional brushwork here and there. I’m currently trying out new techniques to bring this kind of stuff to the next level since I’ve seen that other artists start to copy my style here and there. Which is cool – I have not invented collage technique but I don’t want to stay on that level – trying new things is always a good development in my opinion.
UVD: One of the events that we have done a few posts on is a show that you have been invited to participate in, Cast in Plastic in Houston, Texas. How were you approached with this opportunity?
Vise: The curator Marie Ung bought one of my first TUBE DUNNYS and we later met during the NYCC 2010. I guess I can say that she likes my stuff and she told me about several plans she got for the future where she would like me to be involved in. One was the CAST IN PLASTIC show in Houston and this is how my piece got there. I made a HELLO KITTY figure in mixed media – featuring my TUBE theme and a collage technique. The piece got sold 8 hours before the opening and I’m very happy that people seem to like my stuff – which encourages me to move on and develope other ideas I got in mind.
Marie knows a lot about the urban art scene and she travels a lot to meet artists and visits galleries. I’m sure there will be more collaboration with her in the future.
UVD: After seeing the your image, “The Sea Hunter” helped open up a partnership with PatchTogether, would you mind telling us about “The Sea Hunter” and how else the partnership came about?
Vise: Well, like I said before – Miller saw the SEA HUNTER at CGTalk and contacted me. When he decided to produce the figure in a small edition we started to email back and forth during the prototype process and also started to talk about other things and we got friends. Beginning of 2009 we met in London and he came with me to germany to stay a few days at my house. We talked about the development of PATCH TOGETHER and I got part of the team. I contacted artists and stores and helped with the communication between PATCH TOGETHER, artists and magazines.
Currently I’m trying to focus on my own stuff so I stepped back a little beeing active at PATCH TOGETHER because I can’t find the time anymore. However – PATCH TOGETHER is a great side for unknown artists to get known. Miller – the owner of PATCH TOGETHER – is a fair and supportive guy and it’s amazing how much effort he puts into PATCH TOGETHER and earns a massive respect for this.
UVD: Of the different commercial platforms that you have developed your customs on, which has been your favorite platform and custom design, and why?
Vise: That’s a tough question! I love platforms with clear and even surfaces – as more details a platform shows in his shape – as harder it gets to do several things with it. It depends on what you want to do with it. Actually you can use every platform and create a whole new thing of it – but I personally like to keep most of the original shape.
So for example when I come to put the collage on the surface – it can get hard if there are tiny details, difficult joints or rounded areas. But on the other side – this keeps it interesting – every custom is a challenge!
UVD: For your Japan Earthquake relief piece, what led to the design that you went with on the print, and what were some of the other designs that got left on the “cutting room floor”?
Vise: When I got asked by THE POSTER CAUSE for a contribution for this cause I instantly jumped on my WACOM and started to sketch and doodle. Somehow I ended with a faceless child – holding a teddybear. I wanted to involve TOY2R in my piece since I work with them on a „secret“ project and used a QEE BEAR. Raymond and Kevin from TOY2R loved the illustration and so it went straight to THE POSTER CAUSE PROJECT.
I’m currently working on several illustrations – but no particular project. I’m working on and with two many medias which is hard sometimes. I try to learn more about ZBRUSH and 3D modeling – then I have to work on many commission works – developing the production toy – preparing my upcoming solo show at OUTLAND DESIGNERTOYS in amsterdam and so on…
UVD: I realize that I have asked specifically about some of your designs, are there some that I did not ask about that you wish to take a moment to talk about?
Vise: Here and there I showed images of my canvas works – related to the COMIC STRIPPED series. I never really announced them and wanted to keep those for my solo show coming up august.
The canvas works features models that I covered with comics at the photoshoot – I then prepared and altered them digitally before I printed them out on a canvas where I then added more comics on the canvas to make each unique. Each image is limited to 5 per size (2 sizes will be available)
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the upcoming future?
Vise: Like I said before – I’m working on my own production toy with TOY2R featuring the TUBE theme. Still it’s in early develope stage and I can’t tell when it will be released or even if it will be ever released in this concept – so keep your eyes peeled…
I’m working on my soloshow at OUTLAND DESIGNERTOYS in Amsterdam, Netherlands which will take place at 18th of august to 19th of September.
I’m working on 4 collabo pieces with the incredible JAMES FULLER – I made a commission work for him “SPAWN” and since then we were talking about a collabo which finally is in development.