Japan October 2010, In Living Kolor – Part 4

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.
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Part 4 – Sunday, Pin Stripe Demo

It was much harder for me to get going this morning .. I think all the stress leading up to Saturday is taking it’s toll on me.. and now I finally feel like I can exhale !

Ahhhh !

I felt like sleeping in late this morning … but, as is always true on my trips to Japan, it’s go, go, go … !

On a personal note, I had recently come back from a trip to Florida to talk about Kaiju at the Morikami Museum , my first time addressing a crowd of nearly 200 … add to that (and I rarely talk about my family life) taking care of my mother who has Alzheimer’s can be a challenge… and to find that right balance of work and family obligation is not easy at all.. but, I digress … I know this is life ( my life ), and some folks out there have it even tougher than I … but, all this to say, I’m really glad the busiest part of my kaiju projects are now done for this year ( not really, but I like to think they are ! )

… once again this morning our headquarters is McD’s … we all look like a truck has rolled over us !
Hey, it’s not just me !!! Traveling the way we do is not easy .. this is not a vacation as much as it looks fun to those looking in from the outside .. there are periods where absolutely nothing is happening and we are sitting around, suddenly we have to pack it up and get going !

Any how, the route we take today is the same and we arrive at Design Festa gallery and prepare for Matt’s Pin Stripe class. Matt has made quite a name for himself, by being one of the first to apply the pin stripe style popular with the car culture to soft vinyl toys. And combined with his Monster Kolor paints it’s a one, two punch, knock out !

I’ve never, ever pin striped so figured I would give it a try … we followed Matts diagram which lay below a sheet of clear acetate , load up a pin stripe brush with One Shot paint and try our best to lay down a smooth, NOT shaky line … hmmm, my pitiful attempt was simply awful .. others fared much better then I !

Matt said you’d have to do these practice sheets and others for many thousands of tries .. yikes ! I have to say it’s something i will leave to the pros like Matt 😉

The one stand out student,turned out to be Andy’s girl, Irene ! With her background in art she had a steady hand, so steady Matt let her do a more complex sheet and she did it ! There seems to be a common theme of woman artists on this trip leaving us men artists in the dust ! Ha-ha …!

above, Dol Roffo comes back to try his hand at pin striping .. I’ve got one his knitted creatures on my bag .. he was so nice enough to give me this awesome knitted Lion creature .. the tag said , ドルロッフォ ノ(Dol Roffo’s)カイキ (bizarrerie)アミグルミ(knittedーCreatures) I like the TriPus like tentacles on the bottom !


Yajima-san of Dream Rocket doing the pin striping for the first time … and doing very good ! Matt tells him to keep practicing 😉

and our Italian friend, Giuseppe returned to pick up the Kaiju TriPus he painted with Monster Kolors .. excellent job !

and below, Adam also returns from the day before to try his hand at it .. and I have to say he does very well and tells me that he actually enjoys it (!) Well I wouldn’t go that far, ha-ha … but good times all around …and at a much more easier pace …

Toy Shopping ?!!

After a couple hours it’s time to close up the class, and clean up. Matt has to do some final pin stripe on some figures. Once done, we decided to hit a few shops. Later this night we would meet up again with Tulip and her friend in Shibuya for dinner.

Close by we are able to see Erostika, and Secret Base … than onto Billiken shop about a 25 minute walk .. which was made a bit longer as it starts to rain !

Of course, I did not bring an umbrella … no problem, right ? … those clear umbrellas will magically appear for sale … but, somehow the direction we are walking in there is not a single one for sale any where ! Ugh !! .. I’m soaked .. and my shoes are squishy .. I hate that ;-(

Finally we spot a Lawsons and buy some umbrellas… a few minutes later we finally get to our intended destination, the Billiken store.

Astro Boy greets us from the street … !

A well curated array of classic tin toys, robots, and Japanese vinyl lay within, and toward the back a nice art gallery. We are very tempted by several toys but in the end leave without any purchases, sorry to say …. Ah, well it was good to get the eyes looking at vintage toys finally ! I’d almost forgot that is how all of this got me started .. it’s the toys !

We make our way back to the gallery and make our final clean up, pack our bags and take off for Shibuya.

We make a quick stop over to the Medicom store, Project 1/6 store to look at the preview Kaiju Drazoran and Alien Argus figures on display .. nice set up !!!

That is my original art for the header card for the Kaiju Dragigus figure, hanging from the ceiling ;-P

Once again we did not have much time to spend looking as we were running late .. so we gather our stuff and leave as the rain stops … my shoes are still soaked .. grrrrr…

Shabu Shabu Dinner –

We met up once again with Tulip and her artist friend, Onaka-san, who have just finished a meeting about a Design Festa show they are doing with several other friends, in November at Tokyo Big Site. I give Tulip her now clear coated mini Captain Maxx figures, she can now see the full Monster Kolor effects, glitter and all…!

Onaka-san shows us his work .. whoa, it’s awesome ! Various illustrations and Flash animations he creates for many commercial clients …

You know I am getting the feeling that what i do, make toys, is pretty dumb compared to what everyone one else is showing us ;-P I am simply surrounded by so much talent .. I wish I could harness it in some way .. well, i have projects with many of them .. but still I feel like there has got to be someway to get their work out there .. ya i know that is what every one is trying to do on some level …but as creative people I know it is not an easy road we have chosen, sometimes your super busy and other times not so much .. the artist life can be a tough choice .. but Tulip, Onaka-san and all the others I meet stay true to their vision and determination to be artists.

We’re eating Shabu-Shabu … Yummy … it’s a hot broth you can place meat and/or vegetables into , and than dip into a ponzu sauce or sesame sauce ( my fav ).

We make our way to the restaurant and it looks very familiar to me ( note, that is because I ate there with Sunguts and Dream Rocket on a previous trip ! )
Tulip does her best to try to converse in English, but it’s very difficult to keep that up for an extended period of time, as we both fumble for the right words .. of course, Yo is there, but he’s tired and I can tell he’s just about had it with translations today ! Its so frustrating to not be able to communicate and I know it’s the same for them too …simple communication is possible but to convey more complex ideas and thoughts … or esoteric ideas … wow, that is really tough … !

We all still manage to have fun and of course the food is fab !

ha-ha … well next time, I’ll come prepared with a few more words in Japanese for these guys ! It all ends much too soon and it’s really too bad Japan is so far away …

A short walk to the subway station and we part ways. I have several projects with Tulip which will unfold over the next few months and into next year, so you have not seen the last of her ! 😉

Fading Fast ….

Another long day is coming to a close, we go back to our hotel. The next day we have scheduled from morning till night, again .. it will be our last full day in Tokyo, but truth be told the one day I am looking forward to the most … we visit, Shimizu-san and his vinyl factory, Goto-san and his paint studio, and for the first time, Nakadai-san and his iron molds factory and Koboyashi-san and his paint mask factory !!! Whoa !! the last two are parts of this toy making process that I have no clue about but am dying to find out more!
I love making and creating toys, but i also take as much interest in the process and the craftsmen who make it possible …

As I lay there in my now familiar bed in a small hotel room in Shinjuku … I imagine living here …working here … it’s not a easy life my fellow artists lead in such a busy city ..prices are not cheap and the lifestyle is for the youth … could I make toys and live in Tokyo ? In my dreams perhaps 😉 ! I never say never, but this dream is perhaps beyond my reality … sleep comes swiftly tonight …. Yume 夢

Next blog – The Masters of Vinyl, Paint, Iron Molds and Paint Masks !

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Tulip website: http://www.lovelych.com
Onaka-san website: http://www.onakatakeshi.com
DolRoffo website: http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/dolroffo
Yajima-san/Dream Rocket website: http://www.dream-rocket.com/

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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