In the third in our series of “People who make their own” VA interviews Mr Clement. Creator of Mr. Yeah Kou, a character who has appeared in comic books, on gift products and as hand produced badges, T-shirt and figures.
Hello Mr Clement, how are you doing?
I am fine thank you. I am working at my friend’s home and waiting until dinner’s ready…too hungry.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just started the launch exhibition of my new book “Yeah Kou Phobia”, in Playlounge last week. Right now I’m working on “Yeah Kou Phobia Vol.2”, a new comic book about “loneliness”, and also planning my “working plan” for 2007. Plus, I may produce a new figure and do exhibition in Hong Kong and Japan. I guess these things will happen in the middle of the coming year.
What inspired you to start creating “Yeah Kou Phobia”?
“Yeah Kou Phobia” is a diary of my traveling and living experiences in London. I tried producing a book about the modern, bustling city. I went out to observe people and listened to what they were speaking about in Startbucks…. Basically, I created everything from my daily life….
Where did “Mr. Yeah Kou” come from, what was the main influence for the character?
He comes from my brain. Ha-ha. I wanted to make a new friend for my pervious character “Lapin” then I created Mr. Yeah Kou, because Lapin is too lonely.
Why is Mr. Yeah Kou often lost – he’s usually seen with a map?
In the book, Mr. Yeah Kou is a deliveryman. He tried to deliver something to somewhere but nobody can help him really when he’s lost. I did the similar thing when I traveled in Europe for the first time. I was lost often on the street even though I had a map…. ha-ah…I remember I used a Paris map in London…ha-ah. It is mr clement.
Do you think he is going to be your main character for sometime to come, or is it time to add to the Mr Clement world?
I don’t know… I always try to create some new characters; unfortunately, all of them look similar, even the latest character “mr Yeah Kou”. I think I don’t have the talent to do art.
I never fix the identity for any characters, I just create a form of it, so it can be a deliveryman in this comic or a killer in another comic, the same way an actor can play different roles.
Some of the best character designers create a style which becomes their own. It looks like you have created a Mr Clement style. Many successful characters are the most simple. Which artists do you admire?
Yes, similar things are the most difficult to make. A Hong Kong comic artist called Tat Tat Wing – I believe he is the best comic artist in the world. It is very difficult to find his work at the moment because he retired already… I guess.
and which artist would you most like to work with?
Beautiful and sexy female artist ONLY!!!
Was the decision to make toys of your characters a natural progression for you? Are you a toy collector?
I just wanted to bring my artwork to another platform or different media. I know nothing about the toy industry, I see myself as a sculptor instead of a toy designer, anyway…. it is just an unimportant name. I used to be a toy collector when I was living in Hong Kong and mainly collected batman, superman and 12” action figures, real boys stuff! I sold the entire figure collection on eBay before I came to England, because I needed money for the air-ticket and my new life.
Is the Yeah Kou figure hand manufactured like your previous Lapin figures?
No no no…. I really gave up on hand manufacturing, although I really enjoy it. In the process, the materials that I used for casting and molding are really toxic. I only can do it in my toilet, no fan and no fresh air. I always had a headache after I made a figure… I will die soon… so I had to give up. Now, I am producing the figure in a factory in China, I hope they have a fan (at least).
Explain the process of making your figures, where do you start, what materials and processes do you use?
1 Do the design and drawing first… everything comes from drawing.
2 Then, I will use clay to do the model/ phototype.
3 Make a mould.
5 Touch up the figure
6 Packing (you can buy a box or make a box)
7 Email to shops for asking their orders.
8 Sale in shops
9 Get the payment… one day!!
Sorry, I skipped some details of making the figure… actually, it is not a secret and it is really boring. Everything can be found on “how to do molding and casting” in books or on the Internet. But it takes time to get it right.
Do things often go wrong? I’d guess the learning process is a bit trial and error.
I am a good student. I just followed the book then do it step-by-step, quite easy.
You’ve got a distributor now (DKE Toys), but in the early days of producing your own did you manage all the distribution and retail processes yourself?
Yes, I did it before because I only made 100 piece runs, but I hate doing distribution, many emails, and phone calls and very difficult to get the payment (only Playlounge would pay me on time!!!). I really need someone to help then I can spend more time for my artwork. This is the time to work with DKE Toys.
Did producing your comic books follow a similar path, or is print a more comfortable work environment for you?
I have thousands of reasons to keep doing comics, but the main reason is making a comic is very cheap. I only need pen and paper. If I had enough money, I think I would publish music on CD…. I like singing….ahhahaha…lalalal..lalalalehehhehe…..i love you…..
Some of the themes in your comic books are quite strange. Is there a script you stick to in your comic books – or do you make it up as you go along?
Ah-ha!! Strange!? Yes it is.
I don’t really do a script for a comic but I will have a main theme. I like to play with the “form” and “content” more than telling a story.
You recently had new works up on show at Playlounge, tell us about the exhibition and the ideas behind the new work!
This is a launch exhibition of the “Yeah Kou Phobia”. I transformed some scenes from the book to some big paintings. And I made a real-size mr Yeah Kou figure. I made some felt works as well. If you want to see my work then, please go as soon as possible because I sold half of the artworks already.
What can we expect to see next from the Mr Clement production line?
If the figures and books can be sold well (anxiety!!!), then I will publish “Yeah Kou Phobia Vol.2” and produce another figure from the book. I am planning to make 6 volumes in total with 6 figures. It is a long story. I hope I can find some investors or a company that can help… Are there any invitations?
We’ll see what we can do…!!! haha, it’s obviously difficult finding a production company to back new artists. Send them free stuff – they love free stuff! Thanks for your time Mr Clement, we look forward to seeing more from you soon!for more info visit: www.mrclement.com