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Designer Toys 101: Why would an artist want to make a Designer Toy?

If you are new to this column, it is truly meant to be read from the beginning to the most recent.
Please start with the first installment, "What are Designer Toys?"

So a reader asked me a valid question: Why would an artist want to make Designer Toys? I don't believe this was intended as a slight towards the industry, but rather a pertinent query regarding the nature of these 'collectibles.' And, quite possibly, what is art? Designer Toys — to me — are the logical progression of the reaction against the classical institution of art… Think about Pop Art, specifically the work of Andy Warhol: to understand his work, you didn't need to have studied art theory for half your life or read some dissertation on his intent, you merely had to know what a Campbell's Soup Can was. Art for the masses, art that every average Joe could comprehend... hit the jump for the full explanation!

No one questions whether Andy Warhol's works are art; they might question the validity of that art, but it's commonly accepted that he was an artist who created art. So why would Designer Toys be regarded any differently? They are a format that keys into a childhood nostalgia that almost everyone shares (having toys) while elevating the design to something far more artistic and inspired.

Above we have a multitude of versions of Ron English's "Mc Supersized" design, which you might be familiar with from English's original painting that was featured in the film Supersize Me. The top row show the figure cast in traditional sculpture mediums (Porcelain, Bronze, and Copper) while the bottom reveals three version of the exact same design in Vinyl. So why would some be considered art and others not?

In fact, for this design the vinyl format almost seems more appropriate, allowing for a bright colorful rendition that — in feel — harkens back to the Happy Meal toys of old. And while it's wonderful that high-end materials can be used to produce the same design, English has crafted a cultural commentary that almost begs to be owned by the common man… who might not be able to afford the Porcelain, Bronze, or Copper versions but can surely splurge on the Vinyl format if he so desired.

As I said, this was a reader requested answer and I hope I did it justice. If there's something specific you'd like me to discuss in this column, please feel free to ask in the below comments section.

Next Week: What is a Dunny?

Designer toys used in the example set are (L-R):
"Mc Supersized - Porcelain" designed by Ron English and manufactured by K.olin Tribu
"Mc Supersized - Bronze" designed and manufactured by Ron English
"Mc Supersized - Copper" designed and manufactured by Ron English<
"Mc Supersized Full - Vintage" designed by Ron English and manufactured by Secret Base
"Mc Supersized - 1st X-Ray Edition" designed by Ron English and manufactured by Secret Base
"Mc Supersized - Devil (X-Ray with Hamburgers) Edition" designed by Ron English and manufactured by Secret Base

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