UVD: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself?
JC Rivera: I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I came to the US in 2001 with Disney’s College Program and after the program was over I decided to stay. I lived in Florida for 7 years and then moved to Chicago in mid 07. I’ve always had a sketchbook with me since I remember. I sold my first Spiderman drawing to a friend for $2 in 7th grade. True story! But it wasn’t until 2005 when I was a retail manager and I really didn’t see myself doing that forever. That is when I started to put more time and energy into my arts. My wife had some acrylic paint and a canvas and I started playing with that. I liked it and I kept at it and it’s turned into my full-time passion.
UVD: Since you are fairly new to the scene. What attracted you to the world of designer toys and what made you start customizing?
JC Rivera: When I was living in Florida I went to see the Terribly Odd show at a Store/Gallery in Winter Park called Uberbot. Great Work btw! I saw some Munnys on display and I was like “cool! I can paint it my way!” So, I got one, and then another one and I was hooked! But it was as a hobby, I was not interested in selling or to showing them to anyone. I did my first show in 2009. It was a Skully custom show at Chuckwa. After that I slowed down for a little bit until late 2010 when I decided to go at it hardcore.
UVD: You have been utilizing many of the new Dunny sculpts. Are there any interesting challenges working with these new designs? Or is it exciting to work with different figures than many other artists?
JC Rivera: Dunnys are fun to customize and everyone loves them. Or maybe it’s the fact that they don’t come DIY that makes them attractive to people.. It’s hard to get that type of effect.
Lately I’ve been working on a lot of different figures and yes! It is fun when you feel challenged by the figure and other artists that already did a custom of the figure. That pressure is good stuff!
UVD: Besides making custom toys what are some of your other hobbies?
JC Rivera: I’m a wannabe photographer. Love taking creative pictures. I used to have a blog for my amateur photography but Instagram came along and makes me feel like I’m a pro with all the filters and stuff. A lot of people know how much I love that app 😉
UVD: Looking through your portfolio I see that you have worked on many different toy platforms. What is your favorite platform to work on? And also what platform have you not worked that you would like to?
JC Rivera: I can’t point out my favorite because in one way or another they are all fun to put your own spin on. I would like to paint one Skelve and one Squadt that’s it! Get it out of my system you know! Right now I have some really good ones on my chopping board so stay tuned.
UVD: Do you have anything that you like to collect?
JC Rivera:I have a good amount of vintage cameras and vintage headphones. I like a little bit of vintage around to remind me where we were like 30 years ago.
UVD: I know you have been working in resin a fair amount as of late. Do you prefer to make original toys from resin or customize toys designed by someone else?
JC Rivera: I definitely prefer making my own and I wish people would like them as much as my customs. Maybe later LOL! I make some that I don’t even show anyone. It’s good to make your own stuff, to have that control. If it doesn’t work oh well I just lost like $50 in supplies but move on to the next project. I like going thru that process from idea to pulling the first resin piece. It’s rewarding. That sense of accomplishment even if I don’t sell one piece.
UVD: You have done a few collaboration toys (NomNoms, Silly Rabbits) what is it like working with other artists to create customs like you do?
JC Rivera:It’s fun! I love collaborations. I wish artist would do them more often. It’s good for networking and to keep each other creative. I’m always down for some collaborations.
UVD: Do you do any other kinds of art or is toy customizing your thing?
JC Rivera: I’m a freelance Illustrator but not doing much of that these days because the toys and my 8 month old daughter take a lot of my time. I also paint on canvas or wood. I’m doing a show later this year with more paintings than toys.
UVD: Do you have a personal favorite piece that you have done? Or is this like asking you to pick a favorite child?
JC Rivera: They are all my favorites!!! LOL! Some are special because of the people involved or a time when I was working on them something cool happened in my career. But, not specific until I go back and remember.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the future?
JC Rivera: My Platoon Hero Grenade.. working hard on that one to make it as perfect as I can so please support and hopefully other cool stuff.. keep your eyes peeled!
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
JC Rivera: Just be yourself and give or receive honest feedback. Artists will not grow by always telling them that they are great, constructive criticism is always good too. And everyone has their own style, stay true to yourself.. nothing happens overnight.
UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the readers?