UVD: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself
Shadoe: As early as I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and making things out of random odds and ends. I lost sight of that sometime during high school and years after I realized something big was missing. That’s when I decided to immerse myself in art by going to art school. I went from drawing and painting to sewing stuffed animals, and then eventually found myself sculpting, casting and welding. In the back of my head I always thought it would be fun to make toys and I think it came out in my fine art in the form of Marionettes or in my bronzes as stylized characters with big hands and pointy feet. It wasn’t until July 2012 that I gave making toys a shot.
UVD: Since you are fairly new to the scene. What attracted you to the world of designer vinyl toys and what made you start customizing?
Shadoe: Since I was very young I’d find myself collecting things like the cards you could cut out of the back of cereal boxes, the lids of soda bottles, magazines, etc. Eventually that led to trading cards and toys. The reason I started customizing was because I’d work with ceramic in school but during the breaks I’d be locked out of the buildings where I did all of my work. I needed something to sculpt. At home without a kiln, I picked up an old Munny blank and started playing around with some apoxie sculpt. One thing led to another and Bam, quesadillas!
UVD: Are there any artists that inspire you and your work?
Shadoe: There are so many. I find myself looking to work that is simple in form. Eva Funderburgh makes these amazing little creatures that I often find myself looking at for inspiration. I also admire the works of Shaun Tan, Deth P Sun, Ashley Wood, Candice Tripp, Don Pendleton, Amanda Louise Spayd, Brian Despain Chris Ryniak, Scott Radke, and so many of my Fellow Toy Makers and Customizers. There are so many talented artists in the toy community and I’m always finding new artist that kick ass.
UVD: Besides making custom toys what are some of your other hobbies?
Shadoe: I collect what I can afford, which for the longest time was Pokemon cards and soda bottles and now I’ll trade with other artists when I can in order to collect their work. Other than that my hobbies mostly revolve around art making and video games here and there.
UVD: What was it like working with the Muttpop Tequila platform on the ‘Tequila Shadowling’?
Shadoe: It was great! I had been working on the same 3 platforms so much that it was nice to have something different to work on. It got me thinking a little differently and considering new approaches to my style, especially with the clothing and pancho accessory. It had me stumped for a while but I eventually settled on throwing my logo on the back and trying a new painting technique.
UVD: Do you have anything that you like to collect?
Shadoe: Yes, I’m mostly interested other approachable artist’s work that I can acquire through art trades. It’s a collection consisting of maybe 5 or 6 pieces at the moment but I hope to expand. At this point in my career I don’t have any extra money for toys/prints/other works of art but if there were ever an opportunity to trade I would jump on it in an instant…so long as I’m not backed up with other things. Having “adult” obligations makes it hard for me to justify buying a lot of the art out there, at least for now. The collector in me wants art, toys, comics, etc. and all the variants and special releases associated, but the broke ass college student with loans to pay off and rent to pay says Sucks to be you!
UVD: You recently were featured at the SpankyStokes Designer Con booth. What was the Con experience like for you?
Shadoe: It was an eye opener. I didn’t realize how many artists and designers were actively involved in this community. So many booths and so much to look at and take in. I felt like I wanted to befriend everyone. I met so many friendly people, artists, collectors, bloggers, all of which were a pleasure to meet. I was running on a total of 3 or 4 hours of sleep in 4 days, which made it really uncomfortable to be around so many people and I felt like everyone thought I was drugged. I can be insecure and unapproachable when I’m tired and I tend to be shyer than most, but everyone involved made me feel so welcomed like extended family. I really can’t wait to see everyone again.
UVD: Is there any figure/Platform you have never customized that you would like to?
Shadoe: I think it would be fun to get my hands on any of KAWS’s or a Zukie, but I’d really like to make my own. It’s fun seeing how my style translates with the different platforms, but I’m also at the point now where I’d really like to make my own figures.
UVD: How was it transferring your sculpture style onto designer toys? When I look at your portfolio I can see your district style in both arenas.
Shadoe: It’s fun. It gets the creative juices flowing in a different way. I want to try to build a cohesive body of work through my fine art and toy work, bridge any gap there is between the two. It’s been nearly a year since I did any fine art work and I can’t wait to see what I make in February when I have the facilities to work again. My biggest trouble has been trying to create a narrative or context for my creatures and working with toys has helped me see that for some reason. I have 2 narrative toy pieces in development right now and I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how it translates back into my fine art work.
UVD: Do you have a personal favorite piece that you have done? Or is this like asking you to pick a favorite child?
Shadoe: I definitely have favorites. When it comes to the toys I’ve made I’d have to say that the Donatello TMNT piece I made for Vinyl Thoughts is among my most favorite. The turtles were a big part of my early childhood and I still collect the toys and statues based on the older stuff when I can afford it. I’ve learned that I’m not a fan of doing character pieces however I still get excited when I think about making more turtles.
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?
Shadoe: The Jackuhlapinalope. Out of the original toy pieces I’ve done I’d have to say it’s my favorite. When I was 6 or so I came across a taxidermy Jackalope, a rabbit with pronghorn antelope horns. Ever since I’ve been extremely fascinated with weird animals and creatures. Making the toy was a way of paying homage to that experience and remembering how flippin’ exciting it was to think that something like that might exist. Of course, I eventually learned they didn’t…growing up sucks. I’d really like to make more creature pieces.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the future?
Shadoe: When I was at Designer Con this past year I released some exclusives under the names of “Terra Incognita” and “Polykromasia”. It’s down the road a bit but this summer I hope to release more Shadowlings and lapins under the same names. Terra incognita will feature Shadowlings with elements of nature thrown into the design and Polykromasia will be a series of Black and White figures. I’m also throwing around ideas for a 6-8 inch resin piece and possibly a 2-3 inch piece as well. The resin pieces will start my “Nullification” series if everything works out.
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
Shadoe: I don’t know that I’m in any position to give advice but it never hurts to work hard for what you love, and be persistent when pursuing your goals, you know typical advice stuff. In other words, if you want to get your work out there don’t wait for people to notice you. Explore venues for getting your work out there and keep doing what you love. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation, whether it’s with other upstarts or well established artists, collectors, gallery owners, etc. There’s so much to learn from one another and every connection made is a possible opportunity. I am typically pretty shy and don’t get out much but we’re more connected than we expect with social media. Not living in the same city as a gallery or show isn’t an excuse not to participate, keep an eye out for these opportunities.
UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the reader?
Shadoe: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. I’m shy, but generally pretty friendly person in general and if anyone has anymore questions they can reach me through my Shop:Shadoedelgado.com poop!
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