I guess first and foremost congratulations are in fashion since you're the next artist chosen to be part of the elite Monster Family line of designer vinyl figures from Super7. How stoked you must feel to have one of your figures immortalized in soft vinyl... how did all of this come about?
Thanks John I‘m super excited to be part of the Super 7 Monster Family lineup and It’s really awesome to be working with Brian, Glenn and the whole Super 7 family. I had my first show at Super 7 in August of 2009. After the night of my opening show they asked me to be a part of the Monster Family series. Needless to say I was very happy. I had to pick myself off the floor, I’ll never forget it.
Let's backtrack just a bit... so an introduction really isn't needed for you, seeing as your an international superstar, but for those out there who don't know you, who is Arbito?
I live in Seattle, I work from home making art full time. I love experimenting with new materials creating objects, and selling my art in my web shop or at galleries. It’s about creating art that you hope will be around for 100 years or more. Arbito is a made up word I started using in the mid 90‘s to sign my paintings. Since it’s a made up word, there is no right or wrong way to pronounce it. Recently I’ve seen Arbito popping up for a Mexican name on the internets. I like that, especially if you roll the rrrr.... hit the jump for much, much more!
Your own work stems from some amazing resin creations, in fact that's where we were first introduced to the majority of your 3D work. Was the choice of making your "Patty Power" figure into vinyl instead of your other characters your own, or was that just recommended?
We talked about which of my characters would work best for the Monster Family series and after a series of initial character proposal sketches we decided that Patty Power was the best. Also Monster Family toys are made of two vinyl pieces and Patty Power’s body shape and blobby nature worked great for a two piece soft vinyl toy. It’s cool that Patty Power will be the first food item to join the Monster family. Some of my other characters could have worked for the M.F., but I’m really happy to have Patty be the one. I should also probably mention that Patty Power is a boy with a girlie sounding name.
Looking at "Patty power" in resin form and now "Patty Power" in vinyl, there seem to be some pretty significant differences... the arms and legs being the most noticeable. Was adding the arms and legs a requirement, or was this just the next step in the evolution of your character?
You’re right Patty now has saucy arms and legs. He was my second sculpt I created after Cosmic Hobo. I sculpted the resin version of Patty fairly quickly. I think he took me about 2 days. My resin Patty figure is inspired by my first painting of him riding a bicycle. I loved how in the painting he appears sweaty and worn-out but still determined in a dopey kind of way. I continued to make more resin figures like Seeker and Sammy, and I thought about how Patty power fit into the story with my other characters. I would imagine them interacting with each other, and it was sad that Patty didn’t have any arms or separated legs to do funny things with. He kinda had the body mobility of an armless squidward.
Are you happy with the outcome, and how many changes/revisions has this sculpt gone through to where we see it now?
I’m super happy with the outcome. Brian and Glenn from S7 are really great guys to work with. We had a few revisions through the process. For example there were some sketch versions of Patty that had a lot of unnecessary details like drips, and meaty bumps, frankly just too much shit, and Brian suggested I pull back on the details. I’m really glad he had me do that. Being a small sized toy if we had gone with all the extra details I had originally drawn Patty would have looked like a mess. I feel fortunate to have had Brian Flynn (artist, Owner Super7), who’s been around the toy making block a half million times give me some good advice. I couldn’t be happier, Patty’s perfect.
So your resin pieces look STUNNING in person, the bright colors, the multiple layers of texture... all of this you can control, and if it's not up to par you can scrap it. Are you confident that this style can be pulled off in vinyl form, and how involved are you with the approval process for the final piece?
I really enjoy painting my resin figures, and look forward to designing new color schemes and patterns for them. I paint most of my resin with a combination of airbrush and hand brush, so If you are familiar with the previous releases of Monster family or any Super 7 toys then you know how awesome the airbrushed painted toys looks, so vibrant and colorful. The perfect company is making the Patty Power toy, he’s exactly where he needs to be. I can’t wait to hold him in my sweaty hands!
Back in February, Toybot Studios did an interview with you at your "Far Out West show" at Super7, and you eluded to a two legged Patty Power... how long has this figure been in the making, and how are the guys over at Super7 to work with?
Yes I did! Like I mentioned earlier I was talking about where patty was heading as character. I said it because I didn’t want people to be confused if they saw me paint him with two arms and legs for other shows and projects. I was worried that I had unknowingly tipped off the toy. It’s been a long time coming and hard to keep tight lipped about. Working with the Super 7 team is so fun. Love those guys!
No plans for other toys at the moment, but if there were I couldn’t say... Haha! For the names most of the time they just pop in my head, or from something like a song. Like the song title “The Seeker” by the Who. Sometimes my wife comes up with a great name. She’s so good with names, it’s why I married her.
Hahaha, that's a fantastic reason :-) So... when you first start concepting for the characters you create, do they all start as sketches... and can we get a peek into that sketch book?
Oh sure I have some early sketches. All my ideas start out as sketches, then paintings. I’m fairly new to clay sculpting. I’ve always loved 3d sculpture in general and I’ve worked with wood in the past, but carving clay is fairly new to me.
Looking at you work I think hippies, no money, peace, hairy armpits... basically everything that epitomizes the 60's culture and life style. What would you say is the biggest influence in your art?
I’m all about no money, and peace, but let’s ditch the pits and stink. Though I do have a character ‘Stink Fry’ that’s a play on the stinky dead head. My other characters like Hobo, Seeker, Patty Power, and whole gang are more cosmic space adventuring wanderers. Warriors Hippies and hobos, but not necessarily stinky, unless you don’t like the smell of burgers.
I get my inspiration like other artists from vintage art, movies, toys, products from the 60-80’s. As I get older it’s harder to pinpoint my favorite great years for art movies etc. because every decade has awesome shit to get inspired by. Also for inspiration I can’t forget my friends like Le Merde who influenced me to start sculpting and casting resin, and others like Shawn Wolfe, Pinky, Martin Ontiveros, Bwana Spoons, all amazing artists, are influential to me too.
What's next for Arbito, where you going, new art shows, conventions?
Yep, all the above. This will be my first year to SDCC, and I’ll be there in person with Le Merde, Bwana, Josh Herbolsheimer, and others for the Monster Family toy signing at the Super 7 booth. Please come to the booth and buy a Patty Power toy and say hello and I’ll draw on it. More Super 7 shows coming and other projects. It’s going to be a busy but fun year.
I would like to personally thanks Jess for taking the time out of his crazy busy schedule to answer all these questions and for providing the majority of the images and also to Glenn for hooking this all up. Jess will be signing at the S7 booth at SDCC 2010 were this will also be the 1st release of Patty Power and will retail for $30 each... more info very soon on this figure!