Ent Munny #2

Check out my latest Munny custom. It's a bit different from the last one. I decided I wanted a more childlike face than the tikki one I had done before. I also put more effort into the tree itself. I fashioned this after a real bonsai and I'm pretty happy with the results. I cut out the belly and made a little world in there. Originally I had planned on making a squirrel to live in there but as this is a mini Munny the squirrel was so tiny I had a hard time with it. It also blocked the view of my cool shrooms which in the end was the deciding factor to leave the guy out. For the colors I also changed things up a bit. Once I finished my sculpt I began planning the colors of the piece. Unlike the awesome painter Bryan Collins, who says he typically thinks of a color scheme before he ever thinks of the concept itself, I generally avoid the color scheme all together and then struggle with it later on. This is something I'll eventually(hopefully) get over with time. Anyways, I was looking around to some of the artists I like for a little inspiration and saw on 64 colors site a piece that was all too similar this ent and I was a little disappointed because I really don't want to look like I copied anyone else. If I did colors similar to what I had done with my last ent, this would end up way too similar to one of their pieces. So I made sure to avoid using the same colors. For that reason I chose a green scheme. I think this makes it look more like vines than a tree, but what they heck, I like it anyways.

What do you think?

More to come

Just finished a piece yesterday. Want to show it off but I'm going to wait until my wife and I get our new camera that should hopefully come in later today. Then I can take much better pictures of my work.

This piece was done over the last week while I took some time off for Christmas. I decided to revisit the Ent Munny theme that originally got me into this exciting new line of work. I've been meaning to get back to this as I never really liked the original piece and felt I could do much better with it. I think I still want to explore it further in the future. For now here's a teaser pic until later today/tomorrow when I get my camera.

Stomper, the Dunny-Mounted Labbit

From the world of Dunny Eaters comes my second muscle bound beastie, Stomper, the Dunny-Mounted Labbit.

This piece was done for commission and was a lot of fun. It took a bit of work though. As with the Dunny Eater I wanted to apply anatomy to the smooth platform. Bring it to life, so-to-speak. But this guy wasn't set up to receive those kind of features. The labbit is just too fat. Without extensive slicing of vinyl this guy would have looked ridiculous. So, slice and dice I did. The ears were of course an intended manipulation of the original platform. I felt that they needed to angle back to create the angry look the client wanted. But the arms were the most work. I basically had to cut out the entire area of the arms to develop the massive anatomy.

When coming up with the concept for this guy I said to myself, "what am I going to do for the accessory?" If you've seen the Dunny Eater you'll know that the accessory I made, the axe, was just as cool, if not cooler than the Munny himself so I knew I had to live up to having a good accessory. It didn't take but a minute to recognize the obvious solution. This Labbit needed a rider. So enter my native dunny rider with face paint. He was a lot of fun.

With this piece I also got to try out my skills with leather. I made the harness for him from leather strips and metal rivets. The rider, saddle he sits on and harness are all detachable.

For the painting of this guy I went a little different than in the past. I ended up painting individual strokes of hair over the entire body instead of just dry brushing the highlights. I thinks it adds a nice painterly touch instead of the more plain look.

Overall I'm very happy with this piece and think it's another step up from my last piece.

Old Copper Frank Version 2

I actually finished this guy last week but just have been busy with a commission (which should hopefully be done by the end of the week). I'm not completely satisfied with it due to it's imperfections but that's OK cause I really like the concept. I'll be continuing with this guy until I get it right. I made this guy using the last of my poor casts. So he was rough to begin with. I think for that reason I sped through the process just to get it done and realize the concept. I also used copper paint(Modern Masters) and patina glaze to create a more realistic finish and go figure, I like the fake spray paint and green acrylic aging I did before better. This just seems too aged. Thoughts?

The concept, which originated with a frankenstein-like/big dumb animal (B.D.A. is a term I'm been using for many years since Chris Farley and David Spade made Tommy Boy) and wasn't in
tended to be steam punk. But then due to the bad casts I made and having to come up with a clever way to cover up, I found the first Old Copper Frank character. I like this and started thinking how to expand on that and it just seemed natural that Franks body be the furnace and his head be the boiler. Which really gets me to thinking how I can manipulate this concept and thus the intentions of continuing this character for a while. SO... I dremeled out the back and added hinged doors. When taking a picture of my progress I noticed the door handles resembled tiny wings which got me to thinking more about the character of this guy. He's a steam punk angel. But of course, he need
ed steam stacks and naturally I thought that it would be cool to make the stacks into horns which would make this a conflicted character, not always good, not always bad. I also decided that the shape of the head would be a difficult shape for a piece of metal to be made, so I added a plate at the brow area which is more for the logical construction of the boiler and less about creating eyes, but of course it now
appears that Frank has a mask.

So that's how Old Copper Frank version 2 came about. I'll be developing a story behind him with hopefully some illustrations. I think he needs a friend. A forest creature who finds him in a post-apocalyptic area. One who might be making a nest inside the cold furnace and then accidentally starts a fire which bring Frank back to life. It would be a mutual friendship, the critter keeps the furnace going and Frank provides man-power and security to our little friend. What do you think?

Blank Frank For Sale

I'm now selling Blank Franks.

I like me some Oomoo

Tonight I was able to produce a good cast of my Blank Frank. When I had gone to pour my silicone(Smooth-ON Oomoo) mold a couple weeks ago I found the part A portion solidified and unusable. I purchased more but knew it wouldn't get to me in time to complete the piece for the Fall Gallery show. So I had to find a substitute that would get me through. I ended up finding something but it didn't act the same a silicone rubber. Time after time I keep getting bad casts with lost of surface bubbles. The bubbles were caused by my inexperience with using a mold release. I'm sure if I kept at it I probably would have figured it out but that seems like a lot of needless work. A couple days ago I got my part A in the mail and I proceeded to recreate the flexible mold. And tonight I was finally able to open the mold and pull out a good cast. It's good to have something go right. I suppose I should be happy that it went the way it did because I might not have come to the conclusion of the Copper Frank. Course now I'll be able o make it much better now that I have a real smooth cast.


My friend Bobby in Toronto reminded me that I should be putting my artwork up for sale somewhere. Right now I actually only have one item that can be sold and it has been something I've been meaning to do. My brother had shown me a site on Thanksgiving, BigCartel.com. I originally had planned to install Oscommerce on my site but this site seems to be much easier. For free I get to sell up to five items and it uses my paypal account. So I just set up an account and posted my first item for sale. I was hoping someone could go here and test it out, see if it works. Go on, ... buy it, you know you want to ;-)

Thanks Cool Canadian Border Guy

Yesterday I headed up to Vancouver to drop off the 3 pieces to The Fall Gallery. I had yet to cross the border with art so I didn't know what to do or expect. they made me go into the customs office and declare the three items. The guy I talked to was really nice. He asked all sorts of questions about the art and why it was priced so little. He suspected I was under-valuing the pieces in order to avoid taxation. I assured him that it wasn't the case and if I felt I could get more for the pieces I certainly would be charging more. He ended up being super cool and letting me pass through this time without paying any taxes. It would have actually been 20% of the remaining 70% I get if I even sell the pieces. So needless-to-say I was happy he didn't tax me. He actually visited my site and this blog to verify if I was for real. So,... if you happen to visit again and see this post, THANKS COOL CANADIAN BORDER GUY. You really helped me out. And if you get a chance to visit the Fall Gallery in Vancouver on 644 Seymour St you'll see that indeed I wasn't lying about my prices. I did, as I mentioned to you, adjust for the U/Canadian currency conversion but otherwise my prices are what I said they were.

So, it does lead me to rethink doing artwork for clients in Canada. It'll have to be on project to project bases. After all the work put in, the taxes, and then the transport of the art to the location, it really makes one think about staying local. I'm gonna have to start talking to some Seattle galleries. Hey Chris, when you doing the toy show? hehe

Scared Stiff

OK, so this is a bit of a departure from toys. It's more like a fine art toy. I wanted to take the chance I had with the Vancouver show to practice anatomy and the female form. It's got a long ways to go but considering it's really my first effort at this, ever, I think I'm happy for now.
It's just sculpey added with cernit to give it a touch more durability and then after it was baked I painted it with Modern Masters Bronze paint and glazed it with patina.

Well, gotta run, headed up to Vancouver to hand off the two Blank Franks and this piece. All three will be available for purchase at the Fall Gallery 2nd Annual Toy Show.

Old Copper Frank and Stone Frank

Well, here is the Frank piece done up in copper plating. I like the way this came out. Being it's my first one I think I can make a bunch of these and refine the process and the finish product some. Expect to see more of these guys. They're super fun and full of possibility. Below is the first one I did in a stone look, as mentioned in my last post. Both these guys will be available at the Fall Gallery 2nd annual toy show.

Blank Frank

Working late tonight on my Blank Frank concept. I had been making a mold and had planned on making numerous casts of it but the casting process didn't go according to plan. I just keep getting too many air bubbles in the casts and I'm going to have to rethink my casting material. For now I was able to create 3 casts that required lots of touching up. I used the worst of the 3 and created a rock textured Frank. The 2nd I'm working on right now was smooth enough that I'm making a Metal Blank Frank. This guy is your typical metal/riveted figure. I'm priming him right now and should be done painting him tomorrow. He'll be for sale in the Vancouver show along with the other Frank and maybe a third. I'm actually trying to finish up another piece for that show but I don't think it will happen in time. We'll see.


So I've been working on this new piece for an upcoming art show in Vancouver. The show is the annual toy show at the Fall Gallery. The theme is Evil/Naughty show. So after thinking it over and deciding that violence isn't my thing. As much as I want to do a great female nude I just don't think I have the time to finish one before the deadline(working on it just in case). So I've decide on doing playful evil. It's just a simple platform figure like a munny or dunny and I'm hoping to somehow get people interested in using it. The shape is sorta a guy with large arms and large forehead and resembles a frankenstien monster. I'm thinking he could be used to paint up monsters, tough guys, big dumb guys and such. Don't know why I just described it as I'll be posting an image of him with this entry. So I finished him a few days ago but of course the plan is to make many of these guy so I had to make a mold for casting. SO... away we go with the mold making process.

I love this process. It's so hands on and messy but in a good way. There are lots of tools and chemicals, ahh, chemicals. It's like a mad scientist meets art process. Which is perfect considering I've named the platform Frank. So as I said, I finished up the original a few days ago and began the process. The first day I built up my clay(oil-based although water might be better for this process) around Frank and created what would be the shape of my 1st half of the flexible mold. I was able to get as far as creating the 1st half of the mother mold of which I used plain old artist grade plaster. After a few hours it set and I wanted to continue but my wife (the voice of reason) told me to wait. I have a habit of jumping ahead when I work. Just too impatient to wait the proper amount of time. The plaster sets in 30 mins but needs 24 hours to fully cure. That's just too long. And besides, at this point all I really have to do is turn the piece over and remove excess clay and sculpt the 2nd half of the flexible mold in clay. Nothing that will harm the mother mold in the least. I prepared that so that I could just wake up and pour the 2nd plaster mother mold. Day two I wake up and pour the 2nd half of the plaster mother mold. Again the voice of reason comes in and says wait. This time I listen as I have to apply some effort to split the two halves apart. Day 3 and I'm dying to split the thing open. I do, everything looks good and then I begin to refine one half of the clay that represents the inner flexible mold.

The other half is left empty as this will be the first pour of silicone. After a couple hours I'm ready and pull out my Oomoo. Oomoo is a 2 part silicone rubber I bought from Smooth-On. Anyways, I open part B, and stir it for about 10 minutes as it's sat for over 4 years since I bought it. I think you know where this is going. I open part A and $#@!!!

It's nothing but a block of pink rubber. So I head on down to the art store and no silicone. They suggest the Seattle Pottery Supply store. I then go pic up the wife and we head to see our doctor for our 3rd checkup. We get to hear the baby's heart beat and schedule the ultrasound in which we find out the gender. Dec 18th. YAY. Not that it matters, but I will finally be able to use a name on the little one and it's that much more real. But I digress. After the appointment I head to the store which has got to be the coolest store ever. I buy my silicone, get home asap, and pour my 1st half of flexible mold. And wait. It's now day 4 and I just got finished splitting the mother mold open and removing the remaining clay. I cleaned up Frank and fixed a couple minor cracks. Cleaned up the pieces, applied release agent on everything, put it all back together and poured the 2nd half. So now I'm waiting for the 2nd half to cure so I can break this open and get the original out and start making casts. Phew. But how I do love this process.

MunnyWorld Recap

So I'm back in Seattle now. My trip to NYC was a lot of fun but of course I'm glad to be home to my wife Jenn and to be working. The show was a lot of fun. I got to meet a handful of some of the best names in the urban toy industry including Paul Budnitz and Huck Gee. Most of the artists I met were really cool and down-to-earth. I got to the show at 6 and headed right in as a VIP. My brother Chris joined me and we were one of the firsts to show up. Which was good cause it gave us plenty of time to view all the Munnys while the crowd was small. I went up and down the wall of Munnys taking pictures of each one. On the second pass I realized that the chain with the dunny heads was missing. I inquired about it to The Toy Baroness and she recovered it from the box downstairs. I then proceeded to place the chain of skulls on my piece and basically alerted to everyone that I was one of the artists. Now that it was known that I was indeed an artist, I was then interviewed by Mike who works on the Kronikle about my Munny. It was a little weird being interviewed especially on camera. He just basically asked me a few questions about the Munny and I just basically looked like I had never been on camera before. Then Chris and I were talking about Andrew Bell's piece and Andrew Bell came up to us and thanked us for the nice things we were saying. We talked for a little bit and that's when I started my mission of obtaining as many autographs as possible. I pulled out my blank Munny I purchased before going to the show and Andrew was very cool to create a little drawing on the back. After that I got to talking to Carlos East of The Beast Brothers. Carlos was super nice and we talked a little shop while he proceeded in creating a masterpiece on my Munny. I think he was determined to show up all the other artists that I might get autographs from. Carlos is a twin and both he and his brother are artists just like Keith and I. Next was Huck Gee. Again, talking shop a little and getting his autograph. On and on it went. At some point I managed to introduce myself to Paul Budnitz. He was really nice and said my Munny was great. I said my favorite was Kronk's piece. Kronk created this brilliant Munny that was fashioned after an aged porcelain jar. It was absolutely beautiful. Paul agreed and said, "yeah, I bought that one." After joking about why he hadn't bought mine I let him go and he then said, "by the way, love your maiden shirt." I thought this was awesome cause I had just explained to my brother the night before that I was going to wear it to the show because when I do it never fails that maiden fans come out of the woodwork. So Chris and I got a good laugh out if it. Eventually two hours went by and the non VIPs started coming in. Soon after while I was getting a signature from an artists, another autograph hunter whose picture I have above came up to me and politely asked me if he could borrow my sharpie. I was like sure thing. He would continue to return and then borrow it all night long. Which was perfectly fine with me, but more on that later. I got a chance to meet Coolvader (he was on of the other 5 winners) and we talked some shop and also talked about the school we both went to, Ringling. He was really cool and we talked about possibly combining talents and having me do a sculpt and him paint it, as I can sculpt and he can paint so much better than I. I hope that happens but you never know. They had a open bar at the show. Did I mention that? I only had two but it loosened me up a little. Maybe a little too much as the next time our autograph hunter asked to borrow the sharpie I was like "if you want I'll sign you Munny too." He laughed and went on. After some time Keith, Stacy and her friend finally got in and I went to go show him my piece for the first time. As I was showing them it the autograph hunter came up to me in astonishment and was like, "you mean you really are one of the artist? Dude, I thought you were joking... could you please sign my Munny?" It was all very funny, me signing an autograph. I joked about how my drawing skills lack and it was just going to be a basic signature but I don't think he cared. So I signed my first autograph and it was surreal. Later on he came back with a couple friends and they requested an autograph too. I was more than happy to do so. I can't imagine that ever getting old. It's extremely humbling and flattering to have that experience. So anyways, the show was a lot of fun. I met some great people and felt like a rock star for a night. I received so many compliments on my Munny. It really was a great departure from reality.

The next day I went back to leave some business cards on the desk, a little depressed that my piece still had not sold. The following day I went back again after Keith, Stacy, their neighbor Dave and I had brunch. Later that day I met up with Mackenzie (an ex-coworker at my last job) at the gallery so that I could show her the piece. That's when the piece sold (read my last blog entry for more) and I became one very happy man.

That's about it. Munnyworld was a great time. I've since been commissioned to do another piece. Hopefully things will continue to progress for me. It's been an exciting last couple months and I'd love to keep it going.


Big Thanks go out to Ron and his wife(whose name I'm too deaf and stupid to understand and remember). They bought my piece today and will forever remain in my heart as two very cool people that started the ball rolling for me. I went down to the gallery today to meet a good friend who worked with me at my last job to show her the piece. As I was talking about with her, they came up to me and asked me if I was the artist. When I said yes, he said it was great and then I heard the words, "SOLD." My dad's name is Ron, and they have twins(I am a twin) so it was extra specially fateful. Thanks again to them, and to KR for selecting me as a winner and allowing me to be in the show. Thanks to the Toy Baroness for helping throughout the process and to all the great comments I've received. Today is a good day.

Less Than 2 Days Left

The Mega Munny is up for sale on the KR site. Or you can purchase the Munny directly from eloquent deliquents gallery. Here are the links:


Eloquent Delinquents:


So I just got back from the show and wow was it a great time. I got to meet a lot of top notch artists and even got to talk shop with a couple of them. For the most part the artwork was stellar and was really happy to be a part of it all. Got a lot to write about this and will probably do so when I get back to Seattle. For now I'll leave this one pic.

Tree Ent Done

So this guy has been in the works for a very long time. About two years ago my wife(then gf) encouraged me to get back into sculpting. I started and immediately became discouraged. After a year or so of it just sitting on my shelf I decided to work on it again and it got me excited. So now that I'm actually pursuing this crazy dream of being an artist during a recession I finally got around to finishing it. Here it is.


My brother asked me to sculpt a hedgehog out of a Labbit and here's what I came up with.

MunnyWorld Toy Exhibition

Here is my mega done for the MunnyWorld Toy Show next week for KidRobot. I call it The Dunny Eater. For a better look watch the 360° View below.

End in sight

Well, I'm nearly done. Today I painted the ent and although I'm not altogether happy with the result, I'm also not terribly displeased with it either. It'll do. Tomorrow I'll begin sculpting the human who will stand in front of the ent and provide some scale. For now, here's some pics of the ent.

Bad artist, bad.

OK, so it looks like I still haven't learned to discipline myself very well. I should have finished my latest piece over the weekend but I had a huge setback. I ended up not liking the paint job I did. I just couldn't get it right. Layer after layer it just didn't work and eventually the paint was becoming thick and acquiring it's own texture. So, I could continue painting or I could begin the slow process of stripping the paint off. I chose the later. I figure I could have continued painting but in the end the paint job would have really distracted from the overall piece and it's just not something I want to settle with. However this route of stripping was a major pain in the ass. Rather, is because I'm still working on it. In fact, it would have been quicker to just start completely over. I just don't want to waste supplies. I did actually try to remove the paint by using acetone but the sculpey just doesn't hold up. So here I am days later slowly pealing the paint away. I think it would be relatively quick and easy if it were not for the intricate wood grain that the paint locks into. Once I'm done, I'll also have to repair all the little nicks and scrapes that occured through the process. Am I the only dumb ass out the who has this problem? Got to remember to do my paint studies. I thought I was going to do the same paint process I had used on the last project but for some reason it didn't work. Well, maybe I'll be done by the end of the week.

The good news though is that the Mega has been received by KidRobot and successfully survived the shipping process. Just 3 more weeks until the show!

Done The Mega

Well, all done the Mega. Finished it Saturday and shipped it out today. I hope and pray that it'll make it through the shipping process without damage. I suppose that's one of the advantages of just doing a simple paint job and not doing a sculpted custom. Overall I'm very pleased with the Mega. It's another step up for me in my execution but as always there's plenty of room for improvement. Now I just need to wait another month before I can show anyone.
How anti-climactic.

So I guess all I can do now is move on to the next piece. I want to create a few more customs before the MunnyWorld Custom Toy Show. But then I have to move on to the Evil/Naughty Toy show I'll be submitting 3 pieces to in December. No time to rest, gotta keep it at full speed.

Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have another custom that I can actually show pics of.
That'll be nice.

Painting the Mega Munny

So yesterday I painted the Mega. I didn't quite finish but I got far enough that I'm excited. I started the day by testing some color choices on a Dunny. Once I got my colors, I headed over to Michaels and picked up some paint and some paint jars. Then I began mixing color. In the past I've just mixed color on my palette and that ALWAYS gets me into trouble because I'm bound to run out and have to mix more. And of course matching the previous color is such a hassle. Knowing that the Mega was going to require a bit of paint I pre-mixed about 4 oz of my base color. Having already decided on my color choices it was relaxing to simply paint on the color knowing that is was going to work.

I'm not the best painter. I've got sooo much to learn and one of those things is to always plan out the color. Being that the Munny is such an important piece to me it was an easy thing to force myself to do, but I need to make this a habit on all my pieces. So when I finished putting on my based coat I pre-mixed my color I had planned to scumble on the base. Once I had my color I began and soon realized what looked good on the dunny for some reason did not read well on the mega. I took a moment to try some new colors on the dunny and decided on a color closer to my base. This time I had it and the Mega started to come alive and my frustration soon turned into glee. I swear, art can make one feel sooo miserable with oneself and moments later so proud. It's certainly NOT the reason why I choose to do it.

SO in the end I got the guy finished. Today I'm going to touch up a few areas that didn't quite get done yesterday. I also need to paint his accessories before I am completely done. I still don't have the best studio set up yet and when evening came my light source was lacking.

So close to being done. I wish I could post pictures but can't until the show. I'm actually very ready to move on to the next piece. Just not sure what that will be. So many choices.

Mimobot for Infectious Contest

So along with the KidRobot contest, my brother has also told me about a few others. Today was the deadline for a contest held by the Infectious web site. They're a community designed site where anyone can submit a design for various products and if they like it enough they'll pay you for it and they give you a percentage of the profits each time an item is sold with your design. SO they're adding a new product to the catalog, the Mimobot, and they decided to have a contest. Grandprize is $1000 and anothe $400 in merchandise, including your mimobot. So cool. So here's my entry. Please do my the favor and check it out and if you like vote on it.

Thanks much!

Click here to vote on my design.

SUCCESS, I think.

OK, so yesterday was a long frustrating day.
After thinking it out for a while I decided to just use the heat gun and manually cook the Munny. It seemed that the only reason I wanted to use the oven was to make sure I thoroughly baked it and the only reason why I didn't want to is cause I was afraid of it caving in and not being able to monitor it. I decided if I hand baked him first I could then throw it in the oven and finish it off. In hind sight that would not have worked either. So here's what happened.

I spent 5 hours with the heat gun slowly baking the Mega. I have a oven thermometer I purchased specifically to adjust the heat gun to optimum temperature. So after a few minutes I finding 200° F from about 3-4 inches away I began and immediately learned my first lesson. Don't stay in one spot for too long. BUT, I also learned how to create an interesting texture. So as I was saying, I learned that if you keep to much heat on one spot, the sculpey will start to bubble. SO, my Mega has what looks to be a rash on his belly. That's cool though as it looks very organic looking. So on I went, baking and baking. I decided to use that bubbling technique on the feet, to make them look kinda warty. SO far, SO good. Then I started getting to the chest area and here's where the problems started. The warnings I had heard from another artist were true. The head is to heavy for the neck and chest to support it. The first sign I saw of this was the crease between the head and neck on the back side stared opening up. At first it was only about 1/16 of an inch. But over time it separated up to about a 1/4 inch. The vinyl heats up so much through the baking that the head weight makes the chest droop. Even while spot baking. The heat transfers so much through the vinyl that there's no avoiding it. If I had baked this in an oven and the entire Mega vinyl was equally soft, it would have been destroyed I think. So, in the future, if I even do a Mega again, I'll definitely take the time to reinforce the inside before I start. More on that later.

On I went, and as I continued I found cracks happening. Mostly on the chest due to the flexing of the next. Eventually I finished baking the entire piece. It took as I said about 5 hours. When I was done though I had to address the few cracks that had occurred. And the now permanent gap in the back side of the neck. SO I got the sculpey out and did some touch up, baked him some more. I thought I was done now and made the mistake of moving him around to inspect the piece for more cracks and in turn created more. More touching up and more baking.

After discussing with a friend about my troubles he made a suggestion which I think is pure genius. I had mentioned that someone on the KidRobot forums had claimed there was foam in the head and he said that if there wasn't it would be a great way to add support. "Why don't you completely fill the entire inside with spray foam so that when it hardens there's no way for the vinyl to flex?" Me..."Where were you 2 weeks ago before I started sculpting?"

So I ran to the store and purchased me some spray foam, drilled a hole in the back of the body and sprayed that Mega full of foam. Now, I don't know if this particular foam will greatly help my cause at this point now that the Mega is cooled down and the vinyl is strong again but I feel that had the foam been in the from the start it would have saved me from the flexing and cracking during the baking process. And for those of you who may be worried about the foam getting too hot during baking, they sell heat resistant foam spray as well.

So anyways, now that I was done baking and I patched the hole in the back I took the Mega outside and applied some gray primer. After an hour I polished the primer will an old face cloth and finally I was done for the day.

Soo, it does seem like baking a Mega Munny is possible and now that I've got my first one out of the way I think that if and when I do another it'll be a breeze.

Baking the Mega Munny

So I've been working diligently on the Mega Munny for the KidRobot show in Nov. The deadline for the submission is next week which means in order to ship it on time I really need to be done by the end of the week. The mega is pretty much done in-so-far as the sculpting, but now I have to bake this thing and I'm terrified of ruining all the hard work. I'm super happy with my results so far and it would really suck if this didn't go well. The mega is just too big for my oven. It would require an industrial pizza oven and that's not something I expect to own any time soon. I purchased a heat gun and I'm thinking that I can make my own oven out of a cardboard box and tinfoil. It works well, something I learned in boy scouts soooo very long ago. BUT, I've heard from another artist that when she tried to bake her Mega the head sunk in due to the extra weight. I can believe this as it happened with the totem pole. So I can try baking it in my tinfoil oven and then possibly pull out my creation with the head sitting inside the belly. The other route is to just use the heat gun manually all oven the Munny. But to go this route would take a very long time and it would be difficult to judge whether or not I had thoroughly baked the entire piece.

What to do? Well, I'll post the result (no images of course) by the end of the day.

Munny Totem Pole

All in all, I think it looks pretty cool. It's based on an authentic totem pole my wife and I got up in Alaska just a couple months ago when we got married. The story behind the totem is great.

It is about a lazy young man who does not help support his uncles tribe. While the others work, he plays and watches eagles all day. The uncle in his infinite wisdom casts the nephew out of the tribe and tells him he needs to learn the customs of the people before he can return. The boy is all alone and becomes very hungry. The wise eagle sees the boy and offers him a salmon. The eagle then says he will not help the boy again until he learns the customs. Many years later the uncle's tribe is unable to survive so they move their camp down the river. They then come up to a new camp of a strong man. It is the nephew. He has learned the customs of the people and started his own tribe. He welcomes the uncles tribe to join him and share in his great fortune.

That's about how I remember it told anyways.

SO....After I won the Munny World Custom contest it became glaringly obvious that I needed to get to work. In just two short months I'll have a chance to show people what I can do but the reality is I have nothing to show. Jenn and I started brain-storming on what concepts would be cool to see. Almost immediately Jenn pointed out the totem pole that we recently received as a wedding gift from her sister and husband. We both agreed that it would be pretty cool to see a Munny totem pole. But had anyone done it yet? We scoured the web and all we managed to find was one guy who had done some really cool totem designs painted on the Munny but no literal totem poles. It seemed like the project was a GO.

This one was a lot of fun but technically frustrating. I'm not the best at creating straight lines in sculpture, something I'll need to improve on for sure. The one saving grace on this concept is that a totem pole is in itself a work of art so there's certainly a level of leniency in reproducing it. For starters I screwed a Munny head to the bottom and the top of the whole Munny. Eventually I would end up super-gluing the head of the whole Munny so it wouldn't turn and then I used plumbers putty to secure the bottom head to the feet of the whole Munny. I had Originally just used sculpey under the feet but the weight ended up being too much. I purchased some craft wood and cut the wings using a band saw(my wife's dept at the university had a nice work shop at her disposal). I then used a dremel to cut the designs out of the wings. Once I had my final sculpture in place I just managed to fit this into my oven and bake it for 15 minutes. I discovered that the exposed vinyl gets very soft. I didn't come across this on the first one because the entire piece was covered with sculpey. By the time I took it out of the oven it was sagging over. Fortunately all I had to do was prop it up so that it could cool in the right shape. This was a very good thing to learn before I start on the mega. It's clear to me that the mega will need an internal armature to support the weight.

As usual the painting was the most frustrating part of the process. I figured coming into this that the only real challenge with the painting would be to capture the wood color. The rest of the piece would simply be flat color and wouldn't be too difficult. Well, that was true but it took forever to get the wood color. In fact, I ended up moving past the wood color and painting in the flat color just to get my confidence back up. Things did get easier once the flat color started going in and I could finally see it looking like something other than a totem pole looking piece of poo. I then went back and filled in a more appropriate color base. Finally I glazed on some wood grain to finish it up.

MunnyWorld Custom Contest


So I told my brother Chris that I quit my job and he was psyched about it. But more cool than that was him sending me all these websites that had contests on them. The first one was the Kidrobot sponsored Munny World Custom Contest. And the deadline was in a week and a half. I've been a fan of Kidrobot for a few years now and even purchased a Munny at the KRMIA Chumps release party where Frank Kozik signed my Munny "Stop Whinning, Start Designing! Kozik '08". But aside from drawing two really improvised sketches on a pair of Munnys purchased in Miami for my in-laws, I'd never done a custom Munny. But I had been working on a sculpture in my spare time over the last year and both my brother and I thought that it would be cool to see it transformed into a Munny.

SO I went out and purchased a mini and started sculpting. I was still finishing my two weeks out on my old job so I had to work in the evenings. I think I spent 3 evenings working on it for a total of 12 hour, then I got a full day to work on it which put me up to about 24 hours. Then I had to bake it and then paint. The painting was trying as I was so rusty. I think I put 4 coats of paint on it that I hated. I was trying to go realistic with greys and greens and it just looked stupid. Eventually I figured out that my stylized reds and oranges just looked better. I really got nervous toward the end as the acrylic was started to build up and fill in some of the detail. In the end though I learned a lot and was pretty happy with the paint job. Painting has always been my weakest area and I knew that it could make or break the piece.

When I was finished I felt that at the very least I would get honorable mention. I could look at it and honestly say I was happy with the result but my perfectionist eye was saying, "jeesh, you've got a long way to go before your stuff is truly professional looking." I wrote my letter and submitted the piece. I had looked all around the web at other customs out there and really didn't think I'd win. I mean mine's OK but I have seen some unreal customs.

But I won anyways. As a winner(1 of 5) I get a 20" Mega Munny to Design and then have shown in a gallery Nov 12-15th in Soho New York. I also get 60% if it sells. And all the PR that this show will offer me. So here I am, just days from being officially unemployed, hoping to make it as a fine artist and I already have my big break. I had thought I'd struggle for a few years before anything like this would happen. How lucky can one guy get? Now I understand that a show in NYC doesn't equal success, but it sure helps me.

A New Career Direction

Recently I came to breaking point in my professional life. About a month or so ago Jennifer and I went to the SAM(Seattle Art Museum) and it left with me some strong desires of changing my life. The next morning as I lay in bed I was in tears thinking how I've wasted 10 years of my life not pursuing my true passions. I reflected how I had spent the last ten years running as my favorite pastime. How I had tackled various running goals like completing a marathon, then sub 4 marathon, then ultra and finally 50 mile ultra. All seemed daunting in their own right but I knew that if I simply trained hard for each one the goal was attainable. So why had I not taken that approach with my art? It was then that I decided I would waste not more time and being my slow comeback to the world of fine art. I decided that just like running I would practice my art 3 times a week.

Well, I did it for one week. I went to a figure drawing meet up which was very cool. And a drew for a little bit a couple other times. The following week I wasn't as good. However, the next week I did something that was not planned but had been building up for a long time. I quit my job. I realized that I was not going to get much art done when I spent most of my energy doing work I didn't like. I had asked Jenn first to be sure and she practically encouraged it. So with the support of my wife, I quit my job during a time of recession.

So, this blog will be a journal of everything I do from here on out in my new fine art career. I'll be posting pics of my work and discussing it as I go along. There's already plenty to post about which I'll get into in my next post.


Critics critique and collectors collect. I like to do both. Under the right circumstances (when the moon and my bank account are in alignment) the highest compliment I can pay an artist is to pay that artist. This is precisely what I did on Saturday night at Vinyl Roots, a show of one-off and limited edition art objects by J★RYU, Kevin Gosselin and Troy Stith at Dragatomi in Sacramento.

These three artists are part of a new wave of toy customizers who are working to (literally) change the shape of customs as we know them. Rather than use an existing toy platform as a jumping off point, J★RYU, Gosselin and Stith see the vinyl as more of an armature. Kidrobot’s Munny or Toy2R’s Qee may be at the root of the sculpture, but it’s often completely buried and obscured. I anticipate that J★RYU, Gosselin and Stith will eventually abandon the platform entirely or perhaps continue to sell customs and multiples in order to fund the production of original work.

Jet-set J★RYU flew in for the opening. I hadn’t spoken to Jesse since a conversation where I expressed my opinion that talented sculptors ought not to need DIY toys in their works. Jesse continues to customize toys, but the body of work he created for Vinyl Roots was an exciting departure: More roots than vinyl!

All of J★RYU’s creations for Vinyl Roots fit conceptually and texturally within his existing universe, but he moved from framing them as toy art to design objects. He did this in a couple ways: He made the characters functional. Each one is a vessel. He found ways to integrate them with their surroundings. Some have legs that hang over shelves, for instance. The result is a wonderful interplay of the synthetic with the organic.

The vessels are made of clay and wire. Flowers represent souls. An older character is marked by a larger number of flowers. Younger ones carry just a singular stem. Jesse sculpts from scratch without initial sketching. On the technical side, his faux-tree texture is top notch.

But it’s the faces that stir an emotional connection. We played an interesting game in which Jesse told us the personalities of our favorite pieces after we’d made our selections. Dog-loving Matt Hisey chose Gohan Jones, named after Jesse’s dog. I chose Bertram, who Jesse described as “inquisitive.” Very interesting, huh? (I’m looking forward to putting some Nepenthes in Bertram’s vessel when he comes home after the show!)

Troy Stith
Troy Stith was unable to make the trip to Sacramento, but he submitted eight works that continued in the “bonsai” style we have seen from him. He set his Vinyl Roots pieces in a story, entitled The Wanderer. The tale is a first-person narrative about a journey through the “Caverns of Yandor to the great lands of Maroneen”.

If I were to suggest that The Wanderer reads as kind of Lord of the Rings-y, that could mean different things to different people. For collectors who are fans of the sci-fi/fantasy genre and appreciate organic-looking art with a touch of Asian influence, Stith has you covered.

For me, I see the work as being technically skillful, but lacking that je ne sais quoi responsible for connecting with its audience. Stith knows texture, but I’d like to see him work on character. The “wretched faces” of The Screaming Twins could use a tweak to make them seem caught more mid-”wail” as they’re being cut down. In the story, Stith writes that the trees of The Daven Forest “seem to be watching you walk through their land,” but his tree sculptures lack eyes.

To be fair, Troy was at a bit of a disadvantage because he wasn’t present for the show. It’s a fact: an artist’s palpable charisma can elevate one’s perception of a good sculpture to a great sculpture.

Kevin Gosselin
Kevin Gosselin drove down from the Pacific Northwest for the opening of Vinyl Roots. In a relatively short time, Gosselin has risen to the ranks of the most talked about toy customizers. His skill level is undeniable. I was glad to have a chance to see some of his work in person.

There’s definitely something rad about mastering texture, and Kevin can claim this victory. Gosselin’s Golem look like stone. His Tree Ent appear as wood. For these pieces, Kevin used the Munny platform as it was intended. He customized a blank DIY toy, but then took it to the next level by hand-casting limited edition resin multiples. For the custom Munny collectors out there, the Golem and Tree Ent are must haves. Often with customs, cameras and lighting can hide mistakes and imperfections. In this case, digital photos do an injustice. If you purchase one, I think you will be pretty stoked when you actually see it.

I called Gosselin an “open source” customizer because he is happy to share his techniques. What looks like a real stone in the woodland critter above is resin that’s been hit with a “chip brush”. I was present as Kevin gave a brief tutorial about this effect to a fan. He later explained that there’s no reason to be cagey about technique, since craft is only part of the artistic equation. To really achieve success, the sculpture must resonate with its viewers.

Gosselin showed a few original (non-platform) works that he’d created recently for another show. Like Stith’s pieces, they had a certain sci-fi/fantasy quality. The little vignettes and carefully sculpted faces made me feel like I was catching a special instant, a “precious moment” if you will. It was interesting to hear Gosselin talk about these works in the populist context of “kitsch”. He mentioned that he’d be happy to have his sculptures produced and sold at a place like Hallmark. These are not the custom toys of 5 years ago.

Vinyl Roots, featuring the work of J★RYU, Kevin Gosselin and Troy Stith, is on view at Dragatomi in Sacramento, CA through June 4th. The show was worth the trip up there from the Bay Area, so check it out if you can. All available work can be purchased online here. I will post a full set of photos from the show on Flickr tomorrow.


Here you'll find tutorials I've made to share what I know about what it is I do.
I hope you can learn a little something from these.

Hello Vinyl Interview

originally posted - sunday, february 21, 2010
Kevin Gosselin Interview

Hi, can you give us a brief intro to Kevin, day job, lifestyle etc
Day Job? Haha, well that’s a good place to start. I don’t have one. I was a graphic/web designer for about 10 years when I decided just this last September to quit it all and pursue fine art. So each and every day I get up and work on art. As for my lifestyle, I casually practice Buddhism, eat a vegetarian diet approximately 90% of the time (don’t sweat the other 10) and love ultra trail running.

What was your first vinyl toy custom? How did it come about. Were you pleased with the result?
My first vinyl toy that I customized was actually two munnys I purchased for my wife’s sister and her husband as a gift about two years ago when we all went down to Miami for the Ultra Music Festival. We saw them when we went into the Miami KidRobot store and thought they’d be a cute gift. I used the markers they came with and made caricatures of them both impromptu like. They came out horrible and I was really terribly embarrassed to give them. So for that reason I generally don’t list those as my first. I usually say my first real custom was done for the Munnyworld contest. When I quit my job to pursue arts, my very supportive older brother told me about the contest. I think it was just one week after my decision and I had less then a week to enter. I did and won. At the time I did it I was pleased but as with all my pieces I quickly turn from pleased to critical and only want to move on to the next piece to try to better myself.
To be honest, I really don’t like that piece although my brother says it’s his favourite. My very cool mother-in-law owns the piece now.

Describe a typical day in the life of Kevin
My typical day begins at about 7:30-8:00. First thing first, the dogs need walking. I have two awesome dogs who are my kids. After my walk I feed them and make myself coffee. Then I go to my home office/studio with said coffee and check out my e-mail and TweetDeck to see what conversations are going on. I check all the blogs that keep me informed of all the cool art out there, I check out the Huffpost cause I’m a touch political and I check out my twin brothers photoblog. By 9:00 I get sculpting. Around noon I get a bit to eat but bring it back to my desk where I’ll check up on the blogs and huffpost again. As soon as I’m finished eating its back to work. I like to listen to music while I work to get me in the zone but I also am known to have long conversations with my best friend from high school who now lives in Georgia via Google Talk. It’s like he’s in a cubicle next to me while I work. It’s a very good practice for someone who has worked from a home office for over 5 years now. That’s it. Fast forward to 5-6:00 and I stop to help make dinner and then it’s relaxing with my beautiful wife until we head to bed at a reasonable time of 10-11.

You are about to have a little baby girl in your life, how do you think this will influence your work load, time ?
Yikes. I’m trying not to think about it. How about you Mark? Let me say this though. Without the coming birth of my baby girl, there would be no Custom Kevin. I did a job for ten years that I did not enjoy. It was only with the reality that I was going to be a father that I realized life is up to us. I didn’t want my child(ren) to have a father who was lame enough to continue doing something he didn’t enjoy and too scared to try to achieve something he dreamed of. What kind of example would I be for them? It was perfectly clear that by any means I had to try fine art. So how will she change my life? I have already thanked her many times in my head and can’t wait to do it in person. As for the question, well, she’s going to kill my productivity I’m sure, but in return I’m sure she’ll give me inspiration.

Your inclusion in Munnyworld show with your brilliant custom Dunny Eater really put you in the spotlight, how did you come to be in the show?
The DunnyEater was a lot of fun to make. I loved working that big. As I said in the prior question, I owe thanks to my brother for telling me about the contest. Once I won KR sent me the mega and I had about 3 weeks to make my best impression. I had a lot of other ideas that were really out there and some I still hope to create but I owe my wife for steering me into a more simple concept. She said, and I’m paraphrasing, “don’t try to do something crazy, just do something simple like your troll idea and do it to the best of your ability. It may be something people have seen before but if it’s good work, people will respond to it.” Boy was she right. She’s right a lot.

What vinyl figures do you collect, and what is your all time favourite Piece?
Honestly, I don’t collect much. Not because I don’t desire it though but rather because it’s expensive and I’m a starving artist. When I have money though look out, there’s so much I would love to have. Gotta win me some of these contests out there. But I do have a few toys I love. Revoltech made some cool Gai-King toys. Stikfas, cause I’m a artist and they’re like cool little armatures. But my favourite toy happens to be a blue Mini Munny signed by Kozik down in Miami. It was the same trip I talked about earlier. We were just walking around and suddenly I was like, oh jee willikers(cause that’s how I talk) there’s a KR in Miami. I didn’t know that. We go in and as luck would have it Kozik was going to be there for a signing for a release party. What are the chances? So I got 3 Munnys. Two for my in-laws and one for me. I had Kozik sign it “Stop Whining! Start Designing!!”
It stands on my desk right above me and is a constant reminder to work. Oh, And in my pic, Frank isn’t asleep. But what’s cool is back then I had no idea what would eventually happen.

What is your favourite piece you have produced?
My favourite piece is always my current piece. Cause I’m so new at this and learning so fast, each time I work on a new piece I’m exploring something new and more advanced. I’m always pushing myself to try something just a little harder. Each piece also has a special space in my heart though. I think you’ll find that with most artists. We put so much time and effort into each piece that there are solid memories and associations linked to each one. It’s been 14 years since I finished art school and when I hear some songs I still clearly remember painting specific pieces. It’s that strong. So one piece? Nope. Well, how about that Labbit. Cause it was my first commission by a private collector who had some faith in me.

Please describe the toy you’d create if money wasn’t an issue?
Oh jeesh. Grendizer! On second thought, I’m no good at straight lines. Give me something organic. I love the human figure. Actually, I’m holding on to an idea that I think is a gem. Sorry, got to keep this one secret less someone beat me to the punch.

What in your opinion is the best thing about customising toys?
I think it’s the complete freedom in this industry to create whatever you want. The artists and fans seem to be just the coolest bunch out there. And I like how even though we take our art very seriously, it’s not too serious. And for the most part it’s not pretentious but a sincere, “wow, that’s cool.” But what it all comes down for me, whether it’s toys or not, is the moment when I start placing the clay down. The moment where it just starts taking shape. There’s nothing but potential and it’s all just so much fun pushing the clay around and seeing the gesture of the concept. I love that. Then it turns into work. I love that too but not as much.

You do a lot of sculpting in your customs, where does this great skill originate from? Do you enjoy sculpting?
The first thing I remember sculpting was when I was maybe four or five years old. Must have been a boy scout meeting. Someone shoved a knife in my hand(ah, those were the days) and a bar of soap. I saw a whale in it. So I sculpted the whale. And sculpted. And sculpted until the bar of soap was just a tiny chip. I just couldn’t get it right the way I saw it in my head. Eventually someone took the knife away but I still had that desire. Over the years my twin brother and I would constantly be told by everyone that we had “talent” and we should pursue it. And we did. We both went to art school for illustration. But aside from that whale and a couple other pieces I never did sculpture. It wasn’t until I worked as a painter for a props shop that I realized that I was just colouring someone else’s artwork. So I decided to move to the sculpting department and try my hand at it. I would do that for a year before I left it for a better paying job in web design. But after ten years I had to get back to it.

hah! Me with my blond do. What was I thinking. Must have been all the toxic fumes.

Where do there fantastic characters you dream up come from?
That’s very generous. All my ideas so far are pretty basic I think. What I do try to focus on is functionality. For some reason in my head it’s got to make sense. That’s sarcasm if it doesn’t go over well in print. So with the Custom Labbit I did, I wanted to add anatomy. I see these blank DIY toys with no features and I say, what would that guy look like with anatomy. I’m just not a 2d person. I want to see all the dimensions and see things come to life.

Any artists that influence you at all?
There are too many. I could spend all day every day searching the web for amazing artist and to be honest it can get quite discouraging to see all the amazing work out there. You begin to wonder how in the world could you compete with that. Of course all the traditional masters are great. Some wonderful books I have are Michael Whelan, J.W. Waterhouse, George Bridgman, Thomas Eakins, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta and Darrel K. Sweet. As for contemporary toy artists there are many. But I’ll just name one as I think he’s very similar to my style and well, I dig that. Fplus.

The worst or most challenging aspect of customising toys.
The cost. I’m really thinking I need to do some print pieces so I can easily make reproductions and bring some money in. Did I mention I’m going to be a father soon? But seriously. Sculpting is a very expensive hobby and it’s not the wisest choice for those who want to earn a living.

Any shows or exhibitions you involved in coming up at all?
Uuummm. Nope. Anybody got a spot open.

What music do you like listening to when you working?
Oh boy. Ok, so I’m a geezer when it comes to music. I stopped listening to new music back in the nineties. Don’t know why. Just happened. I explored all the older music and found I liked it more. Scroll through my itunes list and you find stuff from Elvis and Neil Diamond, to Misfits and Iron Maiden. Throw in some Zeppelin and Who, a dash of Pearl Jam and Modest Mouse and that pretty much says it all. For me the overlying theme has got to be upbeat though. I rarely listen to moody music. I discovered long ago that if I wanted to be happy, listening to melodramatic music wasn’t going to help. But music is so essential to getting a lot done. Leave me alone with music going and a lot will get done.

What are the next plans for Kevin, anything you can share with our readers?
Sure. The most immediate thing is a custom Munny I’m making that will most likely be on sale toward the end of next week. It’s my own thing so I’m sort of creating it as I go along. All I know right now is this is going to be in a similar vein to the Dunny Eater but be made out of a regular sized munny. It’s going to have tusks and be kind of a boar like creature who has a spear and shield. Check out my twitter account for WIP pics. After that I’m going to get started on a really cool collaboration with an illustrator from the east. He’s more of a sci-fi fantasy painter who wants me to sculpt one of his creatures for him. We’re thinking of making a limited run of resin casts. All I can say is that I can’t wait to get started.

Thanks Kevin for a fantastic interview.