UVD: Would you mind telling us a little background on yourself?
D-LuX: I was born and raised in Detroit. I now live in the “burbs”. I got into Designer Toys 2004ish. Shortly thereafter I got into kaiju/sofubi. I don’t think I actually started customizing until 2006.
UVD: What attracted you to the world of designer toys and what made you start customizing?
D-LuX: I’ve always collected toys. I actually got a Voltare Qee from a friend and used it as a keychain for a while until I decided to figure out what it was, then I got sucked in. A close friend, and toy lover had a birthday coming up, and I painted my first Munny for them. She then commissioned 4 more, and that’s kinda how all that went down. Once I found Kaiju I got really sucked into it, I bought everything I could get my hands on. It wasn’t until I saw a few videos on You Tube, that I started understanding the history, and “how to”, behind painting them, that I decided I wanted to try myself.
UVD: Through out the years you have worked on a lot of Western Vinyl and Kaiju. What are some of the challenges that you have found working on custom toys? Do you have any tips for someone that might be just starting out?
D-LuX: Everyone is a critic. If you can’t take criticism, whether it’s valid, or just hate, you shouldn’t bother. You’ll really just turn into a nutcase. If you can learn to shrug it off, and learn from honest criticism, It’s worth a shot. Technically, it’s like anything. You just need practice. From acrylics on a Munny to airbrushing a $100 piece of sofubi, it all takes practice. Buy the right paint, and equipment, and really throw yourself into it. And paint what you collect; I collect sofubi, kaiju, and a very small amount of resin. Rarely will you see me paint a Western toy.
UVD: Recently you release a series of custom Killer Krampus’. Would you mind telling us about how this release came about? And were there any challenges associated with working on this two figure platform?
D-LuX: I had seen the figure go from concept to vinyl and I really liked it. It was different and who doesn’t love the Krampus?! I contacted Eric about the collab and off we went. The main issue I had with painting the Krampus was the amount of releases that had already come out. There were already several painted version released in a myriad of colors. So what do you do when all the colors are gone? I relied on using a rub and bringing out the texture, and my love of bright neon colors would really play into the final design. I grabbed the colors I wanted to use, and with no plan, I just painted it. So most of the time, what you see wasn’t planned. Luckily people seemed to dig it, and it sold out that weekend.
UVD: Are there any artists that inspire you and your work?
D-LuX: Off the top of my head I’d have to say Rich (Mutant Vinyl Hardcore), Paul Kaiju. They were the reason I started customizing kaiju. While I don’t really paint like them, or nearly as good as them. Their consistency, quality, and innovation, are always a goal I’m trying to reach.
UVD: Over the years you have had the chance to collab with a lot of artists/companies. Are there any artists or companies that you have never collabed with that you would like to in the future?
D-LuX:That’s tough! Really I’m open to work with anyone if the figure is right, and they have a good vibe. I’d really like to work with Paul Kaiju, Ricky Velocitron and Luke Rook. I’ve worked with Rich once already, and I’d really like to work with him again, like on a larger figure.
UVD: Besides making custom toys what are some of your other hobbies?
D-LuX: I have a 2 ½ year old son, so I’m really into collecting Cars the Movie die cast cars, and building Lego. It’s amazing how hard it is to collect all those cars. It can be as hard as catching some kaiju releases! Building Lego is more of a stress control activity than a hobby really. I can tune everything out, and just build. I don’t have to be creative, I have instructions, I HAVE to do it this way, or it won’t work. I like that…
UVD: As someone who utilizes an airbrush for a lot of your customs are there any things you had the learn the hard way when you first added that tool to your arsenal?
D-LuX: Wasting hundreds of dollars in paint right off the bat, and ruining really nice hard to find toys, just learning how to do it. I wish I knew about cheaper airbrush paints, and just practiced on paper, wood, cheap toys.
UVD: Is there any figure/Platform you have never customized that you would like to?
D-LuX: Ollie and Krawluss by MVH, Paul Kaiju King Jinx, Rotten Rex. There’s a bunch really. So many good toys out now.
UVD: For the 2013 Toy Art Gallery 4th Anniversary show you create a custom Pollen Kaiser. Would you mind sharing any inspiration you had for that piece? Also, were there any unique challenges working on such a detailed sculpt?
D-LuX: The red with metallic blue/purple with gold is a pretty classic colorway. Sometimes I just want to see a newer figure with classic colors. I find larger toys easier regardless of the detail. I’ve painted a few before this one, so layout is similar from piece to piece.
UVD: Do you have a personal favorite piece that you have done? Or is this like asking you to pick a favorite child?
D-LuX: I tend to not like anything I paint really. I’m really hard on myself, even on stuff that sells out super fast. I was actually really pleased with my Bootleg colab I did with Mishka for Designer Con last year. One of the few painted AP’s I’ve actually kept. I don’t keep any toys I paint, so I guess that one.
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?
D-LuX: I’m not one to toot my own horn, so I’ll share a big regret in my customizing career. One time I won a NAG lotto, and it was when blank NAGs were like $90 fro Shig. I painted it, and sold it for $150. I didn’t even really do a really good job on it. I really regret it.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the future?
D-LuX: There are a few things coming. I can’t really say until vinyl is pulled, but keep an eye out for SDCC 2014!
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
D-LuX: Instagram has been a GREAT way to reach people who never seemed to know about these toys! As much as we want it to be a special secret club, it’s fun to get people interested. I’d say the worst way to get noticed is painting something really rare, that everyone wants WITHOUT your paint. But that’s exactly what I do occasionally, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
UVD: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any parting words you wish to say to the reader?
D-LuX: Thank you! Without collectors who enjoy my toys, I’d be going to bed at a decent hour instead of standing in a 20 degree garage until 4am nightly! So I’d really just like to thank everyone who’s supported me. Also, collect what you like, not what you think you need to collect.
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