Mar 28, 2008Interview: Nakanari
Name[s]: Tony Shiau a.k.a. “nakanari”
Country of Origin: Orlando,Florida , U.S.A
Genre: Vinyl Toys, Canvas
Forms of Art: mix media, subculture, character design and illustrations
Mediums used: acrylic, wood, toys and canvas
THE SERIOUS BIT:
TS: Alan, thank you very much inviting me first interview on your blog. I’m very excited about this interview and upcoming project.
FM: Thanks to you for taking your time off to answer these questions. Let’s start, shall we? What do you do for a living?
TS: I used work for a Taiwanese toy design company called B.B. Birdy(www.bbbirdy.com) as the designer and marketing executive. I also help create some adverts for events in the studios. I work in the Logistics Department for almost a year now at a local retailer store. I am currently doing two jobs and am also working with my own crew in Orlando called “agiagi”.
FM: So in your spare time, you do a lot of things that involves art, namely making custom vinyl toys, stencils and painting as well. Which do you focus most on?
TS: I do research all the time for new media for my upcoming projects. This time around we are planning to do some laser cutting on the wood with our illustrations. I love mix media art work so I’m always working on any type of media, it doesn’t really matter whether it is 2D or 3D, as long as is cool to work on.
FM: Your love for toys is pretty apparent. Tell me, when did you first decide that you want to customize vinyl’s, and how did you go about learning? Did you have a mentor?
TS: I fell in love with toy customization since I saw the artists work on the Dunnys. I used to customize lots action-figures so I had some experience and tips to customize. I decided to use my knowledge on vinyl toys. Sometimes I use super sculpey to create and produce some cool character designs.
Pretty soon I found myself working for B.B.Birdy and I gave them the idea for a “funny club show” which featured over 150 artist worldwide. The show was travelling from Orlando, Chicago, L.A. and Taiwan. That show was the one and only customized toys show that was created by a Taiwanese toy studio.
FM: You’re one of the upcoming toy designers; I think you are rank no.4 in some poll somewhere right? You are certainly very hardworking and dedicated to it. How much time do you spend on production?
TS: I was very surprised to see myself on that ranking… I wanna say thanks to brain from plasticandplush.com, who had ranked my dunny in the contest…I’m a very picky person when I paint and I do take my time to work. Maybe 10 hours a day even, it all depends on the design and scale of the toys. On all my productions, I try hard to achieve clean, crisp lines and make ‘em as perfect as possible. I never like to rush my work on the customized toys.
FM: Your Kaji Cubes are awesome, and I do know that they are in great demand. And you’ve also got some love from Kid Robot recently and you custom designed a Spiki Dunny for them. That must have been pretty awesome, huh? Tell us a little about that.
TS: I have too much thanks to give to my agiagi crew and especially to Kidrobot’s Fumi and Nichole who gave me the chance to show my work at their new store in Miami south beach. I really enjoyed working my first 20″ dunny and lots peoples did email me and asking me when KidRobot was going to put it in production. So we’ll see what happens in the future! My development for the Kaji Cubes basically evolved from a sketch idea. We did lots of research before we started this project. We have been trying to find a lot of info on using the right materials and fabrics to create our first agiagi plush series. This project took us almost 2-3 month to complete. This project includes hand sewing, moulds, casting, hand paint and also assembly of each cubes. This hard work finally paid off with lots good feedback and compliments. Good feedback gives us energy and uplifts us.
FM: Has life always been this good? Tell us a lil about your background please. Like when did you first start drawing, to the time you realized that you could make a living outta this…
TS: I was born in the south of Taiwan. I have lived and came back to the US twice. The first time was a 2 year stint in L.A., and the 2nd time was longer [almost over 5 years]. Life is always good for me and I do feel awfully thankful to my family and friends who always support my work and whatever I do. I never realized I could become an artist. I’ve never taken any formal art classes and I’m self taught on everything, which includes sculpting and painting. When I had my first ever show in the subculture event I never thought I could get this far. I do this just for the sake of fun and never thought to make a living or a career on this, but it happened. The best thing is I enjoy about it is creating new designs with my friends and to share them with everyone.
FM: We’ve got some mutual friends around, like Gavin from Jam Factory and so forth. I know you did some sort of colab with him, but who else have you worked with around the world?
TS: I love working with different artists doing collaborations. I created a show not too long ago called “cross over” in rotofugi and gallery nucleus. This show was with 5-6 vinyl toys artists: mad, andrew bell,sket one,b.b. birdy, atta boy and Jermaine Rogers. What we did was swap our toys with each other and customized each others toys with our own style. The show was dope!!! Every one love it! So far there are 10 artists in my project now. They’re ready for my New York show coming March 2008.
It is true creating own products is big investment for small crew like us. We didn’t get any financial support. Me and others always spending cash from our own pockets for every new project that happens. We take this seriously and spend our time working together on our projects. We are all satisfied with our productions because our hard work is finally paying off and people are starting to recognize us.
FM: So I hear that your first solo show is coming real soon. Congratulations on that. Tells us a little bit about that please.
TS: Yes. I have been wanting to do a show in new york badly. Last year I was supposed to have a show with MPH in May but my schedule was kinda tight working on the kaji cubes and a local show so I decided to push it to early 2008. I really wanna thank Vincent fron MPH let me have chance work my frist new york show. Vincent been support my work since I first started. This show is basically me and my best friends Dave Quiles, we are both creating our show called” Technobabble”. We are each gonna have 10 origanl artwork which also includes hand cast toys ,skateboards, plushes, and some products we made. The most exciting part for this show collaboration with 10 artists from worldwide.
THE POTSHOTS SECTION:
FM: What do you do in your spare time?
TS: After I return from work.. first thing is my email and art work. I live a very simple life.
Also, I love to wash my car:)
FM: What are the five things you’d take with you to a deserted island with no electricity?
Toys- because they doest need electricity!
snowboard- I have seen people surf it in the dunes before. Looks kinda fun.
sneakers- keep me walking while I try to find drinking water
watch- so i need to know when is time to ready to cover my self to sleep
my car…i dont think gonna work but good to try driving around in the sand!
FM: That’s the weirdest list ever! I’d like to learn how to make toys myself, can you drop me some links as a good place to start?
TS: You can always drop me the email or check my flick’r..some time i post some progress stage to customize the toys.
FM: Thanks dude! If you could meet one famous artist, who would it be and why?
TS: I think Takashi Murakami. his work is colorful and cute..but sometimes have too much nudity…
FM: Any Last Words?
TS: Thanks to Alan for spending his time doing this cool interview with me [aww shucks- ed]. and i do wanna say thanks to lots peoples and friends ..especially to dave, agiagi crew, jack (vinylpluse), brian(plastic and plush) J.me(http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/luciferjackass/) ,Suzy(asiatrend) and andy(toysrevil) whose always supporting my work. Also to every one who always comment on my work on flickr !