Toy Karma 2 report

OK, what time zone am I in ?!!, I suppose not as bad as traveling to Japan but still I was on East coast time than Central time zone back to East coast now West coast … so excuse the typos and/or if I get someones name or toy mixed up (email me with any corrections, please) To recap, just got back from Toy Karma 2 art toy show at Rotofugi in Chicago. As those of you who attended know, the show looked hands down Awesome ! All due to Kirby, Whitney and David of Rotofugi ( and if I am leaving out others my apologies ! ) Of course, I did not take near enough pictures .. hope to have more soon, but will post a taste of the show here …I’m not showing nearly enough examples and to those who do not see their work here don’t worry it was in the show and look fab 😉 A record breaking 184 pieces from 70+ artists are on display ! Go on over to Rotofugi’s web site to check out whats left for sale .. still some amazing work to be had .. in a funny side note, when i showed up to a small get together at Cleo’s down the way from Roto …
… someone said to me, “oh, all your pieces have sold…” “hmmm, really ?”, I said, “how can that be… the gallery isn’t open ?” D-oh !.. there was a preview email that went out on Thursday that I did not get, so I had no idea that over half the gallery offerings were sold out ! Yikes … so much for trying to score Ralph Cosentinos art (!) No matter, the goal is to get sales for everyone.. so I’m glad we had such a strong showing given this sluggish economy..

you’ll have to forgive my rambling, as I sit here reflecting on the last 2 years since the first show I can see the growth of the Kaiju / Japanese toy movement .. and although there have been ups and downs, for the most part the movement is inching it’s way into more mainstream markets and influence. I think both Kirby and I felt this show should reflect not only established guys, but also up and coming artists .. I feel pretty strongly about having new blood ,as they say, to be able to show their work.. thats not to say that anyone can be included ( sorry ) but still I’m a firm believer in helping out artists and spreading the good karma around.
My first impression of the show as i walked in ? Well, I didn’t want it to end 😉 I was hving so much fun looking at everything ( and under my breath saying damn to everything I wanted marked sold ) Even though we had so many pieces I could totally see double the amount some day (!) .. I say this as Kirby cringes ( ha-ha )… but I could also see these in a museum setting as well .. I may not be here to see this but after spending the previous day at the Art Institute it dawned on me that the movement we are all in now, although seemingly unimportant to most on the outside will some day be looked back upon as the dawn of this Kaiju art movement. If you study any of the popular art movements you will see that rarely are the people involved at the time able to recognize what exactly is happening , the big picture so to speak, or how their movement will be remembered…or placed in the context of the greater society… well, I leave this to future historians to muddle thru, as of here and now this art show will no doubt go down in Kaiju history as not only the largest and most diverse to date, but also a very successful one during a tough period for artists.
So, what makes me think this show is this good or have such a lofty point of view about it ?

I think because the level of artistic work since the first show has risen to a point that these works can and do sell in New York and London auction houses is to be considered… but also the creativity of my fellow artists is really at a very high point.. and it shows. Photos to be honest can never capture the subtle shading or pin point painting techniques I saw on these customized figures. The glossy nature of some figures makes it near impossible to photograph … but, in person the depth of paint and colors is like looking into a kalidoscope of fun !

Many will point out the role of speculators in all this, and thats always been a part of the Fine Art world, the battle between ones true art and the commercial aspect of it. I leave it to the market and other sources to figure all this out …this being the third rail of toy collectors 😉 To me the works speak for themselves .. and what marvelous work it is.

– great music for the event by dep

I was busy talking with many much so that I only got in a few words to Kirby and Whitney before I had to go 😉 anyways they were swamped on the other side ringing up sales ( so I’m sure they were fine 😉 ) As I was leaving someone said oh how about Toy karma for next year ? to which Kirby quickly said, no way next year but in 2 years, 2011 !
So there you have it my quick thoughts some pics ( more in future post ) and mark your calenders for 2011 and Toy Karma 3 !!!
oh and if your in Chicago, go to Greek town and have dinner at the Greek Islands resturant .. some yummy food and maybe you’ll see these really cute dogs in this random store front !

Next stop for me, Kaiju Blue show in Japan, Superfest, Kaiju show at Double Punch, more collabs, new toys coming soon (!) and much more 😉

About toykarma

Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets. Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps. After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. “I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says. Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past. “Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.” Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection. Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world. In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show. As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas. “Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”
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