Stopping to Smell the Coffee Beans


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brewed Awakenings: Chicago Vinyl Toy Designer

If you grew up watching late 80's flicks like Big then you have once fantasized about working as a toy executive like Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks). Sadly, I've never had much luck with electronic fortune tellers, however Chicago artist Veggiesomething (James Liu) has had much better luck in the toy category. His most recent collaboration is with Nooka, a lifestyle brand that is famous for their super rad digital watches and futuristic sunglasses.

If you are new to the vinyl toy pop-culture you might wonder what is it? a Toy? a Design? Cubical flair? Frankly, it's all of the above with some extra awesome sauce. The trend became popular in Asia and has started to weave itself in various street arts, graphic designs and graffiti worlds.

The new series dubbed Mini NookaNooka is a serious postal collaborative because the artists involved in the series are from all around world. Matthew Waldman (the awesome guy behind Nooka), Mad Barbarians (Japan), Room 322 (Canada), and Veggiesomething (Chicago) have all designed parts of the collection.

I was lucky enough to chit-chat with Chicago's artist, @Veggiesomething.

I love the name Veggiesomething cause I love vegetables. How did that name came about?

Oh, it's all because of my old zine, me being a veggie, the TV show "thirtysomething", and that stinky Jennifer Lopez. Yes. J.Lo! Snaps!

In the mid 90s, I used to do a zine called "Thoughts Adrift..." , and I loved watching reruns of the TV show "thirtysomething" at the time. I made exactly one teeshirt design to promote the zine for myself. For the shirt, I flipped the "thirtysomething" logo into "veggiesomething" since I was vegetarian.

What's your favorite veggie?

That's a suduper big toughie. But if I had to narrow it to one, it would probably be broccoli. It's cruchie. It's nutritious. It's tree shaped. It's good raw.

Describe your art style to those who are unfamiliar with your work?

I generally love modular designs that are bold, clean, clear, and concise. I like to think that my designs and artworks kind of reflect those styles.

I've always loved modular things. To me, it just made sense to have things that are modular and versatile. I try to incorporate that in almost every design that I create.

And for the other styles, they were mostly due to my love for the art of Patrick Nagel when I was younger. Nagel was a huge believer in the "less is more" philosophy. He often used only the most bare essential parts to convey his message in his artwork. I find myself doing that a lot. My artworks may look simplistic on the surface because I had stripped away so many parts.

How did you hook up with NookaNooka?

The relationship was a product of the social web.

I had been a huge fan of Nooka watches for years and finally purchased one in late 2008 or early 2009. I noticed that Nooka had a Twitter account so I decided to follow them. To my surprise, I got an Direct Message from Matthew Waldman (the mastermind behind Nooka) later that day. He must have checked out my website as he asked if I would be interested in trading some of my House of Liu vinyl figures for a Nooka watch. I agreed on the trade of course.

When Nooka were planning on producing mini versions of the NookaNooka vinyl toy, I was asked to be one of the artists for the Artist Series Two. I felt totally honored for the opportunity once again. Hurray for Web 2.0!

You were born in Taiwan and have friends all over the world, what is the most creative way you have kept in touch wiht someone long-distance?

Indeed! Made in Taiwan - that's me! I'm still a huge fan of mixtapes. I used to have an email buddy in Canada years ago, and we would trade mixtapes from time to time with personalized covers. Those tapes were sudper awesome.

How do you use social media to collaborate with other artists, fans?

Social media makes it easier for artists to discover each other and for fans to discover new artists. And through those discoveries, it's easier to seek collabos with other artists and to make show/product announcements to a prime audience.

Through Flickr, I've done a few collabo with other artists and gained some new fans. The one collabo that immediately popped into my mind was the Reach+ project that I did a few years back. Reach is famous graf artist from Taipei, Taiwan. He is the creator of Reach Bear and had set up a project called "Reach+".

For Twitter, I've used it to announce my upcoming projects and events. It's a great way to get the word out without having to set up an email blast.

Purchase Veggiesomething's Mini NookaNooka at Rotofugi


1 comment:

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

How cool! Great interview!