1. Dudebox, interesting name, discuss…
Its a statement but in essence just a name. We wanted something with a bit of punch but also something that was casual and cool. It relates to our family of Dudes - the figures we create and quite simply they come in boxes.
2. Limited edition vinyl toys are a trend that have come over to the UK fairly recently and certainly come up in the more mainstream art world recently. What do you think was the reason for this?
Vinyl art toys are the perfect presentation of limited edition pop art. They are like limited edition sculptures and it makes buying art exciting for anyone. Vinyl toys and contemporary art, particularly street art, have risen together which is why a lot of artists are using them in the same way they would use a screen print, their work made collectable yet accessible. Kaws for example has embraced the vinyl toy as a medium of its own, and you can easily translate the inspiration he uses in his art to his vinyl toys.
The culture around vinyl stems from Japan and its design culture for characters and mascots. This in turn was interpreted by artists in Hong Kong with a more stylised aesthetic which took it a little away from pop culture. When it hit the US it was very much a sub-culture, but they have a well established toy collecting culture there and the vinyl toys coming from the Far East were just a different style. It all arrived at the right time and quickly spread to the rest of the world. Vinyl toys were the reason I travelled to Taiwan for the Taipei Toy Festival and Japan to exhibit a project titled "The Joy of Toy".
3. What attracts people to vinyl toys in your opinion
I'm not sure why people fall for these things. For me it stems from growing up playing with Star Wars figures, the idea of collecting was instilled in me from an early age. What vinyl has done is present a certain style of art object, made it accessible, affordable, collectable and the wider the variety out there the higher the chances are of finding something you really love.
4. How do you find the artists you work with
The greatest resource to any emerging artist is the internet. It allows artists to connect and propagate their ideas to such a huge audience. We looked at creative talent pools such as Behance as a first point of research, but we also looked closely at vinyl toy culture and the artists who were using toys as a canvas - a lot of our artists do great work with customising vinyl toys and this is reflected in Dudebox Plus, our curated gallery of custom Dudes. This will work to our benefit in the future as we can see just how people use the shape. Customising toys is a whole other culture of its own.
5. What's one artist you know that you would love to see a vinyl toy by but has never done one?
There are so many! I would really love to work with James Jean, his work is a totally different level. Its visceral and fluid, abstract yet stylish. Everything he does just blows my mind. I'm not sure how his work would translate into vinyl, but there are elements that could be adapted. It would also be interesting to work with Word To Mother but may be consider using a different material to vinyl.
6. What made you start Dudebox?
Dudebox was started out of a feeling that the vinyl toy world needed an injection of fresh talent, new focus and better ideas! I think we have accomplished a lot in a short space of time and have brought a lot of new talent to the scene. Part of our focus is to both foster and facilitate enthusiasm for vinyl toy culture. Presenting the community with an unprecedented business model, emphasising co-creation and ownership, I really feel that Dudebox represents the next generation of art toys. Our motivation is simple. We want to INSPIRE TO CREATE.
7. What's next for Dudebox?
We are working with Pete Fowler on the Pete Fowler and Fiends collection. He is one of the greats of the vinyl toy world, has been there from the beginning and its a pleasure to work with him. His enthusiasm is infectious and its always good to sit down and go over ideas with him. We realised that he had never worked on a platform figure for any other company, except a couple of unique figures for Medicom. So we came up with the idea of Pete designing a family of platform shapes that were identifiably Pete but allowed for other artists to work on it. The artist roster is great, with Tristan Eaton, Devilrobots, Jon Burgerman, TADO and loads more really talented artists. We also held the 'Design a Fiend' competition where anyone could design on to one of the shapes. We were planning on picking one winner but were so overwhelmed with the amazing entries we ended up picking three. They will all get produced and released throughout the year. We are off to New York for the Comic Con in October which should be great fun, we will be bringing something big to the US!