Hi Sjors, Set the scene and tell us your recent happenings
Well, I am typing this (for the second time because I lost my file) on my PC in my studio meets livingroom.
I just got back from Pictoplasma and have only 4 months left to get ready for our first born.
What can you tell us about your recent projects?
I customized a Trexi for the Double Dutch show in the Netherlands, working on my new paper model the Badger and doing a drawing for Kenn Munk.
You’re well known as Brickboy to many, rather than anything else. What was the idea behind Brickboy?
Just like everybody else I wanted to make my own toys. Since I had no experience with 3D software, I though this would be an easy shape to make with it. To see what it could look like, I first made the paper model and as they say: the rest is… blah blah and I still don’t know how to use 3D software. The name came from a character I created years before and it fit the shape.
Were there any other ideas for toys before Brickboy, or was Brickboy your first attempt?
I did some small paper diorama’s before and 2 or 3 clay figures, but this was the first time I went all the way.
What attention has Brickboy given you then? As it seems to me like it’s been a very popular toy!
To my surprise it is! Besides loads of email from people who like him and images of custom Brickboys, I did 3 exhibitions, got in some magazines and did a commissioned Brickboy for a company. Funniest was an interview for a Dutch magazine that covered the ’3 pilars of designer toys’: vinyl, plush and paper. There I was between Pete Fowler and Boris Hoppek. The 3 kings of the toyscene…
So mostly it’s love and respect. I heard they will deliver the fame and fortune later.
Do you prefer to work with paper/card models rather than Vinyl? If so… Why?
I have no real preference for paper, it’s just easy. You can design and build your figure in a day. Full control. People have asked me if I will ever make a vinyl Brickboy, but no. It would be just the next platform toy, while now it has his unique little corner. But I love that smell that clings to your head when opening a bag of a new toy.
If anyone is interested to turn any of my other characters into vinyl, feel free to call!
You mentioned that you are working on a project called ‘BADGErs’, yet another paper model! What are your plans with this?
Money! But it will probably be just fun again. While brainstorming with Kenn Munk on making goodies for Pictoplasma I came up with this: a paper model with a badge as a head. While the Brickboys are free downloads, these will be a nice package that you can buy and then decide whether you will build the model or cut the crap and wear the badge. The designs are strictly limited to 25 and hand numbered.
So far you have 4 Badger designs, do you plan for more? Or are you keeping it strictly limited?
The reactions on the initial series were good, so I want to release a first series early 2007. I am working on them now and there will be 4 to 6 artists, based on people who’s work I like. One of them seems to have a problem with creatures in his head…
If you could choose any artist/designer to do a badger design… Who would it be?
Chris Ware. For those who don’t know him: he’s an amazing illustrator/comic book artist with a fantastic way of storytelling and drawing. Loneliness never looked so beautiful. A true craftsman. Maybe someday, if I have enough confidence in my own work, I might send him an polite letter.
You released Badgers at Pictoplasma Conference. How did you find the reaction to your badgers?
People liked them but then again they got them for free. I wanted to sell them at the conference shop and give them away to nice people. In the end the shop was too much hassle but everybody was nice!
How was the conference?
Fantastic! I compare it to a music festival with all your favourite bands playing and everybody walking around is into the same music as you are, so you can talk to anyone. All those great artists are just walking around and waiting at the same bar for beer. Talking to Tim Biskup was never easier!
So all that, and then about characters. Brilliant.
As the toy scene gains more exposure, how important do you think it is for designers to independently produce their own toys?
Not at all. Whether you do it yourself or with a large company makes no difference as long as you keep the quality up. I fully agree with Lunartik: it’s about quality!. A good design, a good sculpts and a good paintjob are key. Crappy toys can be bought anywhere and unfortunately more and more “designer toys” are poor quality.
When your not busy doing your toys, what other things keep you busy?
Reading books and comics, drawing things, work on our house and checking all those blogs that keep feeding me useless information.
What do you do as a day job to keep the money rolling in?
I work as a webmaster for clients like Philips. Luckily the company is really relaxed so that keeps me sane. If you ever see a Brickboy logo on all Philips homepages, you’ll know I’ve quit.
What advise would you give to someone who wants to create Paper toys like yourself? And how would they start?
step 1: design your model on a piece of paper
step 2: try to build your character
step 3: re-design your model
step 4: keep trying until it works
I use Illustrator to turn my sketches and protoypes in a nice and clean template. Just play around with shapes and see what comes out. Do it!
You can model your figure with 3D software and then turn in to paper with Pepakura, but that’s cheating!
The regular VA question… If you could be equipped with one Inspector Gadget like gadget what would it be and why?
I never really watched that show, so I choose the firedrainhelmet that Ren & Stimpy had. Just for it’s shear stupidity! Happy happy! Joy joy!
What does your toy collection consist of?
Let’s see, the first Gorillaz (Jamie rules!), some Cardboys, both Dave Cooper toys (fantastic!), some of the Monkey vs Robot figures, Joe Ledbetters Cat and Bunny, some Qee’s, Trexi’s (all signed by the artists), some Nightmare before Christmas toys and random goodies. My wife has all the Andrew Bell stuff.
My favourites are the Chris ware toys. The Quimby the Mouse wooden figure (with Sparky’s head and hardcover comic) is the best. If you’re into that kind of thing…
O yes, we also have a small vinyl zoo in our bathtub.
Have you always been interested in and collected toys?
Yes, lots of LEGO and Playmobil and later I started to buy comic book action figures. When the McFarlane toys came out I really started collecting. In 2003 I was in San Francisco and found this little shop called Kidrobot. I went home with just 1 tiny Monsterism blindbox and I so regret not buying all the other cool stuff!!
Vinyl Abuse first tried to cover news and events related to Toys around Europe and UK. What’s your view of the scene where you live?
That’s easy, I AM the scene! Enschede (in the east of the Netherlands) has no toyscene and I’m afraid I am the only collector.
But we have a great board on Toydigger.nl, which you might call “the center of the Dutch toyscene”, a nice blog called Toytastic.nl and Amsterdam saw some good exhibitions. So the scene is growing. On the designer side, Playskewl is working on something cool, Delta will have new toys soon and Sevensheaven will release his Seymour Sheep next year. Better watch out for those Dutchies!
Who are your most inspirational Designers / Artists whether in the toy scene or not?
As mentioned before Chris Ware, COOP (love his blog!), Dan Clowes, Sam Kieth, Dave Cooper, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the Beastie Boys, Andrew Bell, Tim Burton and eh… Aardman studio’s! If they ever do Creature Comforts toys…
In your opinion what’s the best platform for creating customs?
Tough one, I hadn’t had the chance to try em all. Tesselates Hearthead was good and I have Teddy Trooper waiting that should be fun.
Hotwheels are fun to. Did one and will do more.
Anything else you would like to tell the readers?!
Support your local artists! Don’t stare yourself blind on the ‘big names’ but see how much cool work there is being made.
And get some Badgers.
Thank you Brick Boy for this months interview!
More information on Brick Boy (Sjors) can be found on his website.