Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself?
Frank Kozik: I have been living in San Francisco for quite a while now (17 years). I started out doing small Xeroxed street flyers back around 1980 in Austin. Eventually I started doing small flyers for local punk bands and it all sort of grew from there.
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?
FK: Originally, it was really basic cut and paste ‘Xerox machine’ type of things. As the ‘clients’ got larger, I started doing 2 color, 3 color 4 color offset and then silk-screens. All this was pre-computer; I learned the old techniques, hand separations, stat cameras etc. Then in the early 90’s made the switch to using a computer and so on. The basics are still the same, the approach, the tools and reproduction equipment is what has changed.
UVD: How did the idea for the Smorkin’ figures come about?
FK:In the 90’s I was sort of obsessed with Sanrio. On a trip to Japan some friends suggested I do my own type of ‘simple character’. That figure turned out to be the Labbit. The Labbit was born around 1997.
UVD: Are the more playful designs such as the regular 5” labbit with accessories, or Hooverville 2010 Dunny, just as fun to design as the more serious designs such as the Smorkin’ figures?
FK:Yes, I have no problem with gentle things. The challenge is to figure out the simplest possible thing, but still imbue it with some sort of life or attitude.
UVD: I see from your profile on your website that you spent a period of time in Austin, Texas. I myself lived there for about a year. I absolutely loved it. Do you feel the atmosphere from Austin helped you in your many endeavors, and how so?
FK:I lived in Austin 1980-1993.it was then a paradise of sorts and most of my ‘education’ as to culture and counter culture came from those times. I understood that you could ‘do your own thing’ if you wanted to…and tried hard enough. A large amount of ‘successful’ creative types came from that era and that town.
UVD: I already knew that you have had quite a prolific career already, but did not know about some of the other companies you have collaborated with. Would you mind telling us about how the collaborations with folks like Nike, Oakley, or MTV came about? And even getting to design posters for the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers?
FK:Well, posters and music-related stuff was my stock in trade in the 80’s and 90’s. I got pretty popular and naturally, all the larger corporate work came looking for stuff they could use to relate their products to the youth market. I still do ‘commercial’ work, it pays very well and, usually, I have a free hand and little interference.
UVD: Who have been your major influences that helped influence you the most?
FK:Impossible to define. Everything I guess. My ‘influences’ come from all possible places. I suppose it would be better to deconstruct it item by item, its al been so varied.
UVD: What was it like working in conjunction with Sanrio to design a Hello Kitty figure?
FK:Effortless. The figure came via KidRobot, with which I have a perfect relationship, and everything got approved instantly.
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?
FK:Well, there have literally been thousands of pieces over the last 30 odd years, in many different ‘scenes’ and genres and so on. So, it is impossible for me to focus on one thing. In effect, the entire experience is the actual ‘work’ I guess. The independence.
UVD: After searching Google for a little bit for more of your work I came across a piece you did with Amanda Visell for SDCC. How did that collaboration come about in what ended up being a pretty cool “Wood Labbit”? And are there any other artists that you have worked with or look forward to working with that come to mind?
FK:I got to know Amanda through the toy scene, and really like her stuff. So, when Kidrobot asked me for a-list of people that I would like to do their versions of the Labbit, she was on top. I have collaborated with a lot of other artist and designers; it is usually fun and easy.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the upcoming future?
FK:There are some new Ultraviolence busts in the next couple of years that should be pretty cool. I will be doing more customs and paintings this winter. The usual things.
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
FK: Work every day, be patient and find a larger context or scene to be part of. If you work in isolation it is very difficult for people to notice your work.
UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the reader?
FK:Life is short, have fun.
Thank you again for your time. It is greatly appreciated.
In this episode Travis and Ben talk about the excitement around NYCC 2016! They cover releases from Clutter, MyPlasticHeart, Martian Toys, Clutter again, Tenacious Toys, Mishka, Kidrobot, Bottleneck Gallery, Dark Hall Mansion, Kyle Kirwin, The Designer Toy Awards, Mutant Vinyl Hardcore’s Death’s Vault and so much more! www.UrbanVinylDaily.com Instgram/Twit […]
In this episode Travis and Ben talk about OG Slick and Slient Stage, Huck Gee x JPK x Pobber, New York Comic Con info from DKE and Tenacious Toys, The London Police have a new mural, JellyKoe at Cincy Comic Expo an so much more! www.UrbanVinylDaily.com Instgram/Twitter: @UrbanVinylDaily Sponsored By: www.StrangeCatToys.com www.GalerieF.com www.MartianToy […]
In this episode Travis and Ben answer the age old question of, What Did they collect when they were kids? Get ready for a bit of 80’s and 90’s throwbacks! www.UrbanVinylDaily.com Instgram/Twitter: @UrbanVinylDaily
In this episode Travis takes some time to sit down with The Forces of Dorkness (Scott Kinnebrew) to talk about his upcoming solo show Fantastic Universe at Guzu Gallery! He also give us the low down on his release set for NYCC 2016 and talks about his work from Black Drove. Plus while he was here we had to talk Star Wars and a little Metallica! www.UrbanVin […]
In this episode Travis & Ben talk about their thoughts on what is a designer toy? The often tackled question that almost always supplies a differnet answers depending on who you ask. So this is UVD’s take. www.urbanvinyldaily.com Instgram/Twitter: @UrbanVinylDaily
In today’s episode we ramble on about Stan Lee’s spy movie, the Tactical Batsuit from the Justice League movie and Ryan Potter’s Tim Drake video. Here’s a link to this weeks Nerdy Spotlight: https://www.etsy.com/shop/sleepyrobot13
In this episode Travis & Ben talk about the Mirth, Kyle Kirwin at NYCC, Kidrobot x Bob’s Burgers, Linda Panada’s Kickstarter, Mike Fudge for Blink 182, Jc Rivera’s new resins, The Odd Ones release party, Scribe’s live painting and so much more! www.urbanvinyldaily.com Instgram/Twitter: @UrbanVinylDaily
Today Ben is joined by the artist Scribe to talk about his new book called The Scribble Squad and the Weird Wild West! Learn about the story and the hard work that went into creating this new children’s story! To order: https://www.amazon.com/Scribble-Squad-Weird-Wild-West/dp/1449469213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473565071&sr=8-1&keywords=scribble+ […]