Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself?
Jon-Paul Kaiser: Hi, I’m Jon-Paul Kaiser – I’m a UK-based designer, toy artist and painter. During the day I’m a menswear designer, I get into work early to use the facilities and solitude to concentrate on painting before I start my days’ work. I first started out working with Porlzilla, who introduced me to the scene.
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?
JPK: Wow, well I’ve been doing this for a few years! My early designs didn’t really have a lot of ‘me’ in them – they were sort of generic, often heavily inspired by other artists. I broke away from this when I realized I didn’t need to find or develop a style; I already had one.
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?
JPK: I’m influenced by all kinds of stimuli, from films, paintings and comics to history, conversations and just walking through the woods. Early on I was inspired (but not influenced!) by wood-cut prints, film noir, collages and Mike Mignola.
UVD: At first glance, a lot of your successful work is monochromatic, which seems to work rather well. Aside from the vivid image created by black against white, it there anything more keeping you from exploring a larger palette of color?
JPK: Colour (for me) doesn’t have the same impact that the strong contrast between black & white makes. I’ve tried it a few times and I’m never as happy with the result as I would be with monochrome. That might change, and I have variations with a limited colour palette to maintain that sense of strong contrast.
As compared to:
UVD: Within the past 6 month to a year, you really have burst on the scene with your fatcap figures and the projects with Toy2R, in spite of your website chronicling activity back to 2009. What would you attribute this recent “explosion” to, if anything?
JPK: Well, I’ve been ‘doing’ toys for six years now, looking back I think it’s a combination of things – I’ve always tried to maintain a very high quality with my work. I won’t rush my painting and I’ve built up a following slowly and hopefully with a solid foundation to keep improving and growing.
Toy2R gave me my first opportunity a couple of years back now with the release of my Great Khan 3” Qee, it takes time but I’ve trickled into the conciousness of the toy scene (I think) a lot of that is thanks to the blogs. Some, Like toysrevil, Plastic&Plush and SpankyStokes have followed me right from the beginning.
UVD: With all of your designs and custom hand-painted designs being rather intricate, is there a safety net in place in case you sneeze or tremble and create a stray line? Or do you just build it in to the design after that point?
JPK: Nope. If I make a mistake I reach for the sandpaper and have to start again! Luckily I have sniper hands and they’re pretty steady.
UVD: With a lot of your customs being on a lot of different platforms, are there any of the platforms that have stuck out to you that just seem to lend themselves to having better/more creative designs on them?
JPK: Toyer Qees, MonQees, BearQees, Munnys, Dunnys and BUDS are great figures to customize. I think that’s mainly because they have been kept simple and they’re anthropomorphic, that said Labbits and Potamus’ are great too..
I’m very keen on Super7 toys as well, they look quite simple but there’s some serious detail in all of them.
UVD: Of your completed production/custom designs, which do you continue to hold a particular affinity towards?
JPK: I have my favourites when it comes to customs, the first MechaBear custom I did is probably still my fave. I was also really proud of the Spinach Eatin’ Sailorman I painted up for NYCC last year, it didn’t sell at the show but Lisa at Kidrobot NY had it instore and he sold after a few weeks, but not before managing to appear in the Tristan Eaton feature on CNN…
UVD: With several artists being located in Great Britain and receiving more attention as of recent, who would win if you, A Little Stranger, Squink, and Lunartik each submitted a design that came to life in a Battle Royale?
JPK: Holly (A Little Stranger) would win, no contest. She is hands-down one of the most talented people I’ve met. If I teamed up with the other guys we still wouldn’t be able to contest her.
I’m not sure if I answered the question properly.. if it was the characters fighting, mine would probably win as they’re always aggressive and surly… and often samurai.
UVD: With the recent upswing in artists/consumers using Kickstarter as a medium for either funding a project or weighing public interest in the figure, do you think this is showing a trend away from blind production of countless figures, or just a way for the industry to make sure it will be always hitting a target audience?
JPK: Kickstarter is a good alternative to what is already happening within the scene at the moment (in regards to production) that allows people and fans to directly be a part of the development process. I don’t think it’s going to have too much of an impact on blind-box production nor of larger (non-series) pieces of production. Personally I think a large part of the scene is the appeal of the blind-box, the mystery, the chase and the pre-release hype.Kickstarter projects have a different appeal that certainly works alongside that.
UVD: Can you give us any insight on what to expect from the October 11th show at Yoyamart that obviously appears to be Star Wars Themed?
JPK: I really can’t say anything more just yet. There’s information on the poster, and I can say that one blog made a prediction from what wasn’t on the teaser and nailed it…
Needless to say, it’s going to be BIG and it’s taking up a serious amount of my time and my life right now!
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the upcoming future?
JPK: I like to keep all my projects as under-wraps as possible, though I’m looking to diversify this year so maybe look out for some different apparel items..
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
JPK: The main thing is to enjoy what you’re doing. You may be doing the same thing for years, so cater for yourself first & foremost, otherwise you’ll get sick of it. Also try and keep everything you do as original as possible, it’s tempting to take inspiration from what’s already out there, but if you do that you’re not being true to yourself.