Hello Vinyl Interview

originally posted – sunday, february 21, 2010
Kevin Gosselin Interview
Hi, can you give us a brief intro to Kevin, day job, lifestyle etc
Day Job? Haha, well that’s a good place to start. I don’t have one. I was a graphic/web designer for about 10 years when I decided just this last September to quit it all and pursue fine art. So each and every day I get up and work on art. As for my lifestyle, I casually practice Buddhism, eat a vegetarian diet approximately 90% of the time (don’t sweat the other 10) and love ultra trail running.
What was your first vinyl toy custom? How did it come about. Were you pleased with the result?
My first vinyl toy that I customized was actually two munnys I purchased for my wife’s sister and her husband as a gift about two years ago when we all went down to Miami for the Ultra Music Festival. We saw them when we went into the Miami KidRobot store and thought they’d be a cute gift. I used the markers they came with and made caricatures of them both impromptu like. They came out horrible and I was really terribly embarrassed to give them. So for that reason I generally don’t list those as my first. I usually say my first real custom was done for the Munnyworld contest. When I quit my job to pursue arts, my very supportive older brother told me about the contest. I think it was just one week after my decision and I had less then a week to enter. I did and won. At the time I did it I was pleased but as with all my pieces I quickly turn from pleased to critical and only want to move on to the next piece to try to better myself.
To be honest, I really don’t like that piece although my brother says it’s his favourite. My very cool mother-in-law owns the piece now.
Describe a typical day in the life of Kevin
My typical day begins at about 7:30-8:00. First thing first, the dogs need walking. I have two awesome dogs who are my kids. After my walk I feed them and make myself coffee. Then I go to my home office/studio with said coffee and check out my e-mail and TweetDeck to see what conversations are going on. I check all the blogs that keep me informed of all the cool art out there, I check out the Huffpost cause I’m a touch political and I check out my twin brothers photoblog. By 9:00 I get sculpting. Around noon I get a bit to eat but bring it back to my desk where I’ll check up on the blogs and huffpost again. As soon as I’m finished eating its back to work. I like to listen to music while I work to get me in the zone but I also am known to have long conversations with my best friend from high school who now lives in Georgia via Google Talk. It’s like he’s in a cubicle next to me while I work. It’s a very good practice for someone who has worked from a home office for over 5 years now. That’s it. Fast forward to 5-6:00 and I stop to help make dinner and then it’s relaxing with my beautiful wife until we head to bed at a reasonable time of 10-11.
You are about to have a little baby girl in your life, how do you think this will influence your work load, time ?
Yikes. I’m trying not to think about it. How about you Mark? Let me say this though. Without the coming birth of my baby girl, there would be no Custom Kevin. I did a job for ten years that I did not enjoy. It was only with the reality that I was going to be a father that I realized life is up to us. I didn’t want my child(ren) to have a father who was lame enough to continue doing something he didn’t enjoy and too scared to try to achieve something he dreamed of. What kind of example would I be for them? It was perfectly clear that by any means I had to try fine art. So how will she change my life? I have already thanked her many times in my head and can’t wait to do it in person. As for the question, well, she’s going to kill my productivity I’m sure, but in return I’m sure she’ll give me inspiration.
Your inclusion in Munnyworld show with your brilliant custom Dunny Eater really put you in the spotlight, how did you come to be in the show?
The DunnyEater was a lot of fun to make. I loved working that big. As I said in the prior question, I owe thanks to my brother for telling me about the contest. Once I won KR sent me the mega and I had about 3 weeks to make my best impression. I had a lot of other ideas that were really out there and some I still hope to create but I owe my wife for steering me into a more simple concept. She said, and I’m paraphrasing, “don’t try to do something crazy, just do something simple like your troll idea and do it to the best of your ability. It may be something people have seen before but if it’s good work, people will respond to it.” Boy was she right. She’s right a lot.
What vinyl figures do you collect, and what is your all time favourite Piece?
Honestly, I don’t collect much. Not because I don’t desire it though but rather because it’s expensive and I’m a starving artist. When I have money though look out, there’s so much I would love to have. Gotta win me some of these contests out there. But I do have a few toys I love. Revoltech made some cool Gai-King toys. Stikfas, cause I’m a artist and they’re like cool little armatures. But my favourite toy happens to be a blue Mini Munny signed by Kozik down in Miami. It was the same trip I talked about earlier. We were just walking around and suddenly I was like, oh jee willikers(cause that’s how I talk) there’s a KR in Miami. I didn’t know that. We go in and as luck would have it Kozik was going to be there for a signing for a release party. What are the chances? So I got 3 Munnys. Two for my in-laws and one for me. I had Kozik sign it “Stop Whining! Start Designing!!”
It stands on my desk right above me and is a constant reminder to work. Oh, And in my pic, Frank isn’t asleep. But what’s cool is back then I had no idea what would eventually happen.
What is your favourite piece you have produced?
My favourite piece is always my current piece. Cause I’m so new at this and learning so fast, each time I work on a new piece I’m exploring something new and more advanced. I’m always pushing myself to try something just a little harder. Each piece also has a special space in my heart though. I think you’ll find that with most artists. We put so much time and effort into each piece that there are solid memories and associations linked to each one. It’s been 14 years since I finished art school and when I hear some songs I still clearly remember painting specific pieces. It’s that strong. So one piece? Nope. Well, how about that Labbit. Cause it was my first commission by a private collector who had some faith in me.
Please describe the toy you’d create if money wasn’t an issue?
Oh jeesh. Grendizer! On second thought, I’m no good at straight lines. Give me something organic. I love the human figure. Actually, I’m holding on to an idea that I think is a gem. Sorry, got to keep this one secret less someone beat me to the punch.
What in your opinion is the best thing about customising toys?
I think it’s the complete freedom in this industry to create whatever you want. The artists and fans seem to be just the coolest bunch out there. And I like how even though we take our art very seriously, it’s not too serious. And for the most part it’s not pretentious but a sincere, “wow, that’s cool.” But what it all comes down for me, whether it’s toys or not, is the moment when I start placing the clay down. The moment where it just starts taking shape. There’s nothing but potential and it’s all just so much fun pushing the clay around and seeing the gesture of the concept. I love that. Then it turns into work. I love that too but not as much.
You do a lot of sculpting in your customs, where does this great skill originate from? Do you enjoy sculpting?
The first thing I remember sculpting was when I was maybe four or five years old. Must have been a boy scout meeting. Someone shoved a knife in my hand(ah, those were the days) and a bar of soap. I saw a whale in it. So I sculpted the whale. And sculpted. And sculpted until the bar of soap was just a tiny chip. I just couldn’t get it right the way I saw it in my head. Eventually someone took the knife away but I still had that desire. Over the years my twin brother and I would constantly be told by everyone that we had “talent” and we should pursue it. And we did. We both went to art school for illustration. But aside from that whale and a couple other pieces I never did sculpture. It wasn’t until I worked as a painter for a props shop that I realized that I was just colouring someone else’s artwork. So I decided to move to the sculpting department and try my hand at it. I would do that for a year before I left it for a better paying job in web design. But after ten years I had to get back to it.
hah! Me with my blond do. What was I thinking. Must have been all the toxic fumes.
Where do there fantastic characters you dream up come from?
That’s very generous. All my ideas so far are pretty basic I think. What I do try to focus on is functionality. For some reason in my head it’s got to make sense. That’s sarcasm if it doesn’t go over well in print. So with the Custom Labbit I did, I wanted to add anatomy. I see these blank DIY toys with no features and I say, what would that guy look like with anatomy. I’m just not a 2d person. I want to see all the dimensions and see things come to life.
Any artists that influence you at all?
There are too many. I could spend all day every day searching the web for amazing artist and to be honest it can get quite discouraging to see all the amazing work out there. You begin to wonder how in the world could you compete with that. Of course all the traditional masters are great. Some wonderful books I have are Michael Whelan, J.W. Waterhouse, George Bridgman, Thomas Eakins, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta and Darrel K. Sweet. As for contemporary toy artists there are many. But I’ll just name one as I think he’s very similar to my style and well, I dig that. Fplus.
The worst or most challenging aspect of customising toys.
The cost. I’m really thinking I need to do some print pieces so I can easily make reproductions and bring some money in. Did I mention I’m going to be a father soon? But seriously. Sculpting is a very expensive hobby and it’s not the wisest choice for those who want to earn a living.
Any shows or exhibitions you involved in coming up at all?
Uuummm. Nope. Anybody got a spot open.
What music do you like listening to when you working?
Oh boy. Ok, so I’m a geezer when it comes to music. I stopped listening to new music back in the nineties. Don’t know why. Just happened. I explored all the older music and found I liked it more. Scroll through my itunes list and you find stuff from Elvis and Neil Diamond, to Misfits and Iron Maiden. Throw in some Zeppelin and Who, a dash of Pearl Jam and Modest Mouse and that pretty much says it all. For me the overlying theme has got to be upbeat though. I rarely listen to moody music. I discovered long ago that if I wanted to be happy, listening to melodramatic music wasn’t going to help. But music is so essential to getting a lot done. Leave me alone with music going and a lot will get done.
What are the next plans for Kevin, anything you can share with our readers?
Sure. The most immediate thing is a custom Munny I’m making that will most likely be on sale toward the end of next week. It’s my own thing so I’m sort of creating it as I go along. All I know right now is this is going to be in a similar vein to the Dunny Eater but be made out of a regular sized munny. It’s going to have tusks and be kind of a boar like creature who has a spear and shield. Check out my twitter account for WIP pics. After that I’m going to get started on a really cool collaboration with an illustrator from the east. He’s more of a sci-fi fantasy painter who wants me to sculpt one of his creatures for him. We’re thinking of making a limited run of resin casts. All I can say is that I can’t wait to get started.
Thanks Kevin for a fantastic interview.