UVD: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself (i.e. where you’re from, when you started designing, etc)?
Task One: Sure, I was born and raised in New Jersey not too far outside New York City. I got heavily into graffiti at a young age and one of my first jobs ever was for a wood sculptor. I went to school for marketing art and design. I left school before finishing to travel around the country a bit before I had to start working full-time. I spent several Years doing a lot of Photoshop and product work for many major fashion clothing lines. During my travels I decided that San Francisco was somewhere I wanted to be both because of the vibrant art scene and the legal medical marijuana. So, I packed up my stuff and headed west.
UVD: What attracted you to the world of designer toys and what made you start customizing?
Task One: Well, I remember my first encounter with designer vinyl when a few toys started popping up at the graffiti shop in Manhattan. Then the KidRobot NYC store popped up. It became a destination every time I was in the city. I attended what I believe may have been the 1st Dunny show, where a couple dozen artists had painted mega Dunnys and [I remember] just being amazed and intrigued.
Upon moving to San Fran one of the very first people I met was Mars1. He started making some of these toys with a company called STRANGEco. I got to meet the owners who gave me job helping them out however I could, just to be around and learn about the industry. It was a little while later that I discovered this whole subculture of a subculture repainting and re-engineering these designer toys into their own creations. Again I was amazed and intrigued.
UVD: What was it like to be chosen as KidRobot’s most recent King of The Boards?
Task One: I was completely honored and flattered to be asked to be KR’s King of he boards. I am a big fan of most of all the artists who have shared the honor before me. It’s been about a year in the making since they originally asked me and as I write this it has only been a week or so since it has been announced,
So, only the future will tell what comes out of it.
UVD: Besides making custom toys what are some of your other hobbies?
Task One: I am big apple geek, although since quitting the professional world to focus on art I don’t always have enough money to keep up on the latest releases. I pretty big into growing and smoking the stickiest of the icky, in fact I have a pot leaf tattoo over my heart, And last but not least, television. I have probably already watched enough for TV for a few lifetimes.
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?
Task One: I don’t really have a favorite. There are couple I am not to fond of, although I am not going to mention them since I occasionally have to do one and I do like the companies they come from. I used to say that the flat surface face on Mad’s Mad’L to easily lends itself to painters, but I actually really like some of the things I was technically able to do with it, such as the Lite-Brite and the iPod nano.I don’t think there are too many platforms left out there I haven’t got to yet. But anyone who has one can feel free to send it to me.
UVD: Do you have anything that you like to collect?
Task One: I usually can’t afford paintings by my favorite artists so when an affordable production toy by one of my favorite artists like Jeremy Fish, Alex Pardee or Mars1 ( to name a few) comes out I usually try to scoop them up. Over the last couple years I have been working on building my collection of custom toys from my favorite artists.
UVD: You put a lot of work into the customs for your most recent show ‘As Seen On TV’. Can you tell us a little about how that show came about? And what was the hardest part about creating the pieces for the show?
Task One: Well, that wasn’t much of a story. I walked into plastic chapel for the first time after moving to Denver and introduced myself. They asked me if I wanted a show and I accepted. Upon wondering what to do for it I looked back at things I had done and almost every portrait Munny I had done had sold, so, I decided to go with that. Being that I am a TV junkie, I figured why not sculpt what I’m looking at as I watch TV.
The hardest part of those figures is capturing the likeness of such iconic characters. I always wish I could work on each one longer to better capture each figure. But I have to set a limit or there would only be one piece in the show.
UVD: Your 20″ ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ Mega Munny was amazing! Were there any interesting challenges in creating that piece?
Task One: Thank you. A couple. I used plexiglass for the helmet visor. I went through a few pieces trying to heat and bend it to the right dimensions. I also experimented with a few different bendable pipings before I found one that would support the weight and properly bend to suspend the piece from the wall. The biggest kick in the ass was the US mail. The piece was supposed to be displayed with Art Whino for Art Basel. Apparently “vinyl toy” was not a good enough description for USPS this particular time and the piece arrived back at my doorstep the day before Art Basel.
UVD: Do you do any other kinds of art or is toy customizing your thing?
Task One: I started out doing graffiti. I love letterform and still sneak out to do that when I can. I then moved onto graffiti sculpture. Still do that when I can as well as you can sometimes see in my customs. Right before I entered the custom toy scene I had evolved the graff sculpture into 3D relief cityscapes with protruding lit up buildings, windows, streetlights and bridges. I did a handful of these lately for a 5-man show at Toy Art Gallery.I also love Photoshop. I have been working on a book of custom toys by others and myself in the scene photo shopped into environments in which I thought they might live. This will be out and available pretty soon.
UVD: Do you have a personal favorite piece that you have done? Or is this like asking you to pick a favorite child?
Task One: Hard question… I like them all when I do them… like all my work I tend to fall out of love with them quickly. I look at most stuff I did a couple of years back and usually end up saying “Damn, I used to suck!” I guess that’s a good thing… a sign I am evolving. I hope anyway.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the future?
Task One: I already mentioned the book. It’s getting really close. Just trying to figure out a way to make it affordable since most of my customs are not so to most people anyway. I am working on a graffiti stackable magnetic alphabet somewhat reminiscent of the refrigerator magnets we all had when we were kids. There are a few other projects that have been on the back burner I have recently dusted off and of course trying to bang out customs for group shows and commissions.
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
1. Originality is always key for me. Trying to do stuff that has not been done or at least over saturated. I know this may catch me some flack for this, but I can’t stand customs that cash in off Star Wars. It’s too easy. And I don’t know how many times you can see another Marvel super hero custom without saying “ehh, whatever”. There are already professional companies that do that sort of thing extremely well. Reach into your own head and show people something they haven’t seen before.
2. Take advantage of the blogs and forums. They are there to support you. Try to find fan bases and outlets that work well with what you are creating.
3. Don’t expect to make money. This is still a relatively new game and most of the world still has no idea or understanding of the custom toy game. No idea about how much work, time and materials goes into creating a custom toy. A lot of consumers have a hard time spending what a custom is really worth mainly because the final product is still labeled a “toy”. I lose money on a lot of customs I make. If your going to do it, do so because you love it, not because you think you may be able to cash in.
UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the reader?
Task One: Would just like to thank UVD for their constant support and the reader’s for taking the time to read the nonsense that comes out of my mouth! As always it’s greatly appreciated. Stay up!