The following series of blogs are about my trip to Tokyo, Japan to participate in the “In Living Kolor” toy art sale and demonstration show.
The basic idea of this show was to introduce a new type of paint for toys, called Monster Kolor. Matt Walker ( aka Dead Presidents Designs ) is the developer and creator of this paint, but has also gained much attention within the Art Toy world as a top notch and sought after toy painter. By setting up several airbrushes and having plenty of paint to use, invited artists could use the paint in person on an actual toy.
Joining us on this trip was Keith Fulmis of BeBop Designs, artist and designer and maker of most awesome pins ( Like the Kaiju Eyezon pin, ;-P ). This was his first foray to Japan.
Tokyo, Day 3 – I’m still jet lagged and not really sleeping much… what sleep I do manage to get is so deep that I do not dream and simply awaken to various sounds from the street below. I’m also paranoid that i will sleep through the alarm I’ve set… finally I drift off and awaken to the alarm. I turn the TV on … ya I can not understand what is being said but there’s something comforting about hearing some voices in the morning, even if in Japanese ;-P .. besides I’ve managed to see some kid’s shows, an episode of YuGiOh! and such … even part of a program teaching simple English .. Hmmmm, I may need to watch that ! Matt, Keith and I meet up and we continue with our daily routine, up and out by 8am, and off to McDonalds to meet up with Yo. Today was the day we were waiting for … In Living Kolor ! I’d been thinking about would artists show up and if they did would they be willing to paint in front of everyone ? The weather up to this point was cloudy and cool … as we set up the clouds parted and the Sun came out ! Ah the Toy Gods are shining on us .. it’s going to be a good day to paint outside after all ! Awesome ! Traveling from Shinjuku to Harajuku was 2 stops via the subway, and once again a short walk down the main street and across another intersection, finally a left turn till you get to the Design Festa building. We set up, drag the tables out, place all the figures out and Matt and Keith get the compressors ready and the paint lined up ! At this point, like setting up a lot of shows you really don;t have much time to process whats going on .. there’s too much to do to really worry about everything (!) well for me, I wanted to make sure whoever showed up would at least get to paint something if they wanted too, or have any questions answered that we could .. it’s tough as we only had Yo to translate fully, there are a few others but they are not as confident .. and I don’t blame them .. it’s not easy switching between languages and what we are doing, airbrushing, well that is something that may have technical terms .. same with the paint …
I decided to grab a Kaiju Drazoran …It’s best to prep the soft vinyl figure by wiping it down with alcohol, this will remove and surface grease and allow the paint full adhesion. Good thing i brought along my sunglasses !
It was actually a bit too sunny to paint, as the brightness makes it hard to see subtle color transitions… but no worries I broke the ice and started painting …
Here I am with Kaiju Korner blog, Andy and his girl, Irene .. doing my best to make it look like I know what I’m doing ! ha-ha … it is different to spray in front of others knowing your every move is being watched (!)
Here’s Matt airbrushing a Glow In the Dark Koi fish, that Doki-san of Yamo Mark gave us… within the hour this would be the last time either myself or Matt had time to spray anything ! There is an expression, “Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true ! ” .. well that is exactly what would unfold on this day, as a steady stream of artists, friends and well wishers descended on our little set up !
One thing that many did not realize is the paint is ready to spray .. there’s no need to thin it out, just pour from the bottle to the airbrush and spray onto the figure.
as the crowd got bigger we ran out of room for the artists.. we had 4 airbrushes going practically non stop, all day … I’m sorry to say I was so focused on whomever I was helping that I probably missed talking to many of the artists standing to the sides .. it’s only now that I see these photos ( many taken by Keith ! ) that i can see who was there looking on !! Kinda weird because I was there, and yet as I look at these photos frozen in time .. it’s like I’m looking in on myself … in the third person 😉
Here, Yajima-san of Dream Rocket uses the paint first by spraying on red all over the top portion of this Neo Eyezon figure.. than using a paper towel with some thinner on it he slowly wipes away over the top surface …
as he does this, the result is red paint left in the deep cracks , while wiping off the top surface. After that, transparent colors are sprayed over and hand painted details such as the eyes are painted in.
above is the final result .. impressive indeed !!! Yajima-san is a master of painting Kaiju.
Here is myself, Doki-san/Yamo Mark and Matt strike a pose for the camera… Doki-san sculpted the Mini Kaiju Alien Xam for my toy company, Max Toy Company.
To the far right is the one and only Mori-san of RealxHead ! In one of our biggest blunders of the day, Mori-san was ready to paint and for some reason nobody told either Matt or myself ( D-oh ! ) … at that time all the airbrushes were being used so Mori-san could not paint… ah, Mori-san is a good sport about it, but dang it’s one of the times I wish I had two of me …! Big time apology, Gomen Nasai !
The learning curve for all these artists was VERY quick .. some had experience with an airbrush, so it was only a matter of grabbing one, a figure, and deciding what colors to use…
Yamashita of Nakayoshi, brought one of his figures to try the Monster Kolor on …I watched as he carefully thought about the colors he wanted to use, one by one I loaded colors for him as he layered them in. Its obvious he knows exactly what he’s doing and each stroke is laid down without hesitation.
above, Ichimiya-san ( in far background ) sprayed his mini dino figure … I didn’t get pictures of his process, but I did glance him spraying down some white as a base on the head, and going back over that with color .. this would result in not only an opaque paint layer but also a brighter surface to layer colors over …
Amidst all these “boys” with a Peter Pan complex, the artist Tulip arrives ! I ask if shes ready to try to airbrush and without hesitation she says, Yes ! I ask if this is her first time to airbrush, which it is .. and, by the way we had several other artists who had never airbrushed before … I basically showed her the operations for the airbrush, using your finger, down for air, and pull back slowly for the paint release.. now, let me say I have been using an airbrush for 26 years .. so I can do it in my sleep … but starting out it’s not an easy thing to master on your first try…
I load in some paint, and to my amazement and Matts, she starts layering in the colors.. clear pink first .. in smooth, even, and steady strokes… at first, there’s a only a few miscues, but I can tell she’s getting it, and very quickly !
we change out colors, she picks clear orange, followed by clear blue … done ! I step back and it’s perfect ! Seriously, this can not be her first time I am thinking, but I take her word for it ! ha-ha … I might as well quit painting, I think …! Its not easy to subtlety use the airbrush but Tulip has no problems at all. Yes, fellows women can paint kaiju !
another person to try the airbrush for the first time is artist Dol Roffo .. here painting a Boy Karma figure …
and like Tulip within minutes he’s off and running … spraying away ! I know I can speak for Matt, when I say, that this is exactly what we wanted to happen in this event .. which I believe is the first of it’s kind in Japan … but historical aspects aside, the ability to show these artists a new tool and to see them jump right in without shying away ..willing to make a few mistakes in front of everyone else .. well I really appreciate their positive energy ! I could see several random folks off the street also trying their hand at it … there was also one guy from Italy who stopped by and painted up a Kaiju TriPus figure ! Amazing ! I have no idea how many hours it’s been but I’ve been on my feet helping out for hours … I still have not had any time to process what’s happening .. I know it’s all good, because it’s getting dark and we still have all the airbrushes going … in fact we are running out of some of the paints !
Touma-san arrived with family in tow .. not only did he paint and of course perfectly spraying down clear colors, but his kids even tried ! Wow ! I decided not to publish those pictures out of respect for his families privacy, but believe me he’s got another generation of super talented artists in the future !
Artist Hariken arrives and begins to paint this Drazoran in his character, Mad Panda, color way ! By the way, Hariken was so nice to bring me an order of Takoyaki ! I had one quickly and went back to helping out when i went back for more they were all gone ! It was delicious 😉
the staff at Design Festa gallery were kind enough to film a brief segment of the show for us .. above is the YouTube posting 😉 But gives you a sense of the atmosphere and sometimes chaos going on ( hee-hee )
I feel like a broken record here, but another guy who neither Matt or myself knew of prior to the show, is this young airbrush artist named Momiyama-san. We both knew he would have no problems with handling an airbrush as his artwork below illustrates … but he really got into the figure painting .. I do this sometimes, as i paint .. and it’s a good thing, but you get into a zone where all time stands still … it’s called getting into the “Zone” .. and for sure Momiyama-san was in that zone, as he painted nearly non stop until it was dark !
It was getting colder and dark as night fell … but, the artists kept on spraying !
TTToys Makino-san painted this his own figure … and like the others used very subtle shades and layers creating different colors on the figure. You can not tell from this picture but there are areas that have a glitter coating and others that do not … this conscience choice is a mark of a master painter.
Artists Ilanena steps up to paint a clear vinyl Kaiju Dragigus … and gets into the zone as he paints … I’m sorry to say we had to ask him to hurry up as the gallery was closing at 8:00pm ! So as we started to pack up and bring the tables inside, he was still painting ;-P
above: Artist Namy (in the background with red beret) arrived … next time i would like her to try painting !
In the final hour Matt had to spray each figure with a final clear coat to seal in the paint but also to bring out any pearl or glitter effects. So as we wound down the event a cloud of mist wafted into the air !
A nice array of finished pieces ! from left to right, Momiyama-san’s Eyezon, Pico Pico’s Fetish Mode, and Doki-san’s Drazoran… there were many more pieces, too many to show .. but I think over all each one a success !!!
Yajima-san, Matt and myself … just before the final clean up. I’m too tired at this point to even think about everything that has happened this day … I have not checked in with Yo to get his read on what the various artists thoughts were of not only the paint but the over all event… but, from what i can tell I think the event was a hit. I’m sure there will be some converts to Monster Kolor paint 😉 and as they get use to it more will come on board. We didn’t even get a chance to tell them that you can use the paint on most any surface from soft vinyl, tin, metal, canvas and more … we bid our final goodbyes and close up… dinner is next …
Design Festa has a great all you can eat ( or as they call it Viking ) restaurant next door, so we move on over to there … it’s okonomiyaki all you can eat !
Somehow the English guys are put into our own table, ha-ha … I think the guys from Japan are sick of translating for us ;-P well i don’t blame them … at our table we have Kaiju Korner Andy, his girl Irene, Matt, Keith and myself .. I’ve only watched okonomiyaki being cooked in front of me a few times …. we order a mix of types, veggie, shrimp, beef … they arrive in metal bowels with egg, sauce and the ingredients.. you have to stir this up and make a batter out of it … in the mean time you add some oil to the hot grill and spreading the oil over the grill…you dump out the batter and form rough pancake shapes .. let cook and than flip for the other side to cook …we all looked at each other as to who was going to do the flipping ( and I’m not talking about selling toys here, ha-ha ) Ok so I decided it’s me, and proceed to flip .. and flip and flip … hmmm, not bad ? after they are cooked you can add tonkatsu sauce, Mayonnaise, some Ao-nori (green seaweed) and a lighter colored flake, which we were not sure what it was, perhaps bonito shavings ?
The flipping master ! Not really ! I suppose if the toy thing doesn’t work out I can always become an okonomiyaki chef !!
Friends + Food = Fun
After some good conversation we call it a night .. it’s close to midnight and another long day… tomorrow, Sunday, Matt will be giving a pin stripe class for a few hours in the morning, but other than that we will need to clean and pack up. Also, up to this point we have not set foot in a single toy store ( gasp ! ) so we hope to do that in the afternoon … back in my room, i look at the pictures on my camera and think about what went on this day. I smile to myself .. I don;t know about Matt, but I think it was better than I had hoped for, so many artists from different areas of the Japanese art world showed up today.. I think they had fun and also enjoyed watching each other paint, which as I said is mostly a private affair. As much as this was an event to promote Matt’s paint, I looked forward to the event as a chance for me to interact with these artists one on one. In that respect it was a homerun ! Even now I’m still processing the whole event. I think I really got a glimpse into how these artists approach their craft .. I know it was only small glimpses but not knowing the language this was my way of connecting with each in a non verbal way. I’d love to be able to sit down with some of them on my next trip and simply draw or paint together.
Back in my room, I’m finally getting use to Japan time… post a few Tweets for a bit and close my eyes … and fall asleep … at some point I wake up and can not remember where I am …Oh ya, in Tokyo, Japan .. hmmm, I know I’m a lucky guy .. Thank you, Toy Gods ! おやすみなさい。
The artists featured:
Touma website: http://touma.biz/
Yamashita-san/Nakayoshi website: Not Available
Makino-san/TTTtoys website: http://tttoy.michikusa.jp/tttoy.html
Tulip website: http://www.lovelych.com
Akamatsu-san/Marmit website: http://www.marmit.co.jp/
Ichimiya-san/Sunguts website: http://www.sunguts.com/
Yajima-san/Dream Rocket website: http://www.dream-rocket.com/
Hariken website: http://hariken.net/
Doki-san/Yamo-Mark website: http://yamomark.blog19.fc2.com/
Mori-san/RealxHead website: http://www.realxhead.jp/ and http://realxhead.us/
Pico Pico website: http://picopicoshimbun.at.infoseek.co.jp/
Nerdone website: http://www.nerdone.org/
Momiyama-san website: http://katy.jp/air-brush-legao/
Namy website: http://namiko-sonobe.com
Ilanena website: http://www.ilanena.com/
DolRoffo website: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/dolroffo