Munny Totem Pole

All in all, I think it looks pretty cool. It\’s based on an authentic totem pole my wife and I got up in Alaska just a couple months ago when we got married. The story behind the totem is great.

It is about a lazy young man who does not help support his uncles tribe. While the others work, he plays and watches eagles all day. The uncle in his infinite wisdom casts the nephew out of the tribe and tells him he needs to learn the customs of the people before he can return. The boy is all alone and becomes very hungry. The wise eagle sees the boy and offers him a salmon. The eagle then says he will not help the boy again until he learns the customs. Many years later the uncle\’s tribe is unable to survive so they move their camp down the river. They then come up to a new camp of a strong man. It is the nephew. He has learned the customs of the people and started his own tribe. He welcomes the uncles tribe to join him and share in his great fortune.

That\’s about how I remember it told anyways.

SO….After I won the Munny World Custom contest it became glaringly obvious that I needed to get to work. In just two short months I\’ll have a chance to show people what I can do but the reality is I have nothing to show. Jenn and I started brain-storming on what concepts would be cool to see. Almost immediately Jenn pointed out the totem pole that we recently received as a wedding gift from her sister and husband. We both agreed that it would be pretty cool to see a Munny totem pole. But had anyone done it yet? We scoured the web and all we managed to find was one guy who had done some really cool totem designs painted on the Munny but no literal totem poles. It seemed like the project was a GO.

This one was a lot of fun but technically frustrating. I\’m not the best at creating straight lines in sculpture, something I\’ll need to improve on for sure. The one saving grace on this concept is that a totem pole is in itself a work of art so there\’s certainly a level of leniency in reproducing it. For starters I screwed a Munny head to the bottom and the top of the whole Munny. Eventually I would end up super-gluing the head of the whole Munny so it wouldn\’t turn and then I used plumbers putty to secure the bottom head to the feet of the whole Munny. I had Originally just used sculpey under the feet but the weight ended up being too much. I purchased some craft wood and cut the wings using a band saw(my wife\’s dept at the university had a nice work shop at her disposal). I then used a dremel to cut the designs out of the wings. Once I had my final sculpture in place I just managed to fit this into my oven and bake it for 15 minutes. I discovered that the exposed vinyl gets very soft. I didn\’t come across this on the first one because the entire piece was covered with sculpey. By the time I took it out of the oven it was sagging over. Fortunately all I had to do was prop it up so that it could cool in the right shape. This was a very good thing to learn before I start on the mega. It\’s clear to me that the mega will need an internal armature to support the weight.

As usual the painting was the most frustrating part of the process. I figured coming into this that the only real challenge with the painting would be to capture the wood color. The rest of the piece would simply be flat color and wouldn\’t be too difficult. Well, that was true but it took forever to get the wood color. In fact, I ended up moving past the wood color and painting in the flat color just to get my confidence back up. Things did get easier once the flat color started going in and I could finally see it looking like something other than a totem pole looking piece of poo. I then went back and filled in a more appropriate color base. Finally I glazed on some wood grain to finish it up.

MunnyWorld Custom Contest


So I told my brother Chris that I quit my job and he was psyched about it. But more cool than that was him sending me all these websites that had contests on them. The first one was the Kidrobot sponsored Munny World Custom Contest. And the deadline was in a week and a half. I\’ve been a fan of Kidrobot for a few years now and even purchased a Munny at the KRMIA Chumps release party where Frank Kozik signed my Munny \”Stop Whinning, Start Designing! Kozik \’08\”. But aside from drawing two really improvised sketches on a pair of Munnys purchased in Miami for my in-laws, I\’d never done a custom Munny. But I had been working on a sculpture in my spare time over the last year and both my brother and I thought that it would be cool to see it transformed into a Munny.

SO I went out and purchased a mini and started sculpting. I was still finishing my two weeks out on my old job so I had to work in the evenings. I think I spent 3 evenings working on it for a total of 12 hour, then I got a full day to work on it which put me up to about 24 hours. Then I had to bake it and then paint. The painting was trying as I was so rusty. I think I put 4 coats of paint on it that I hated. I was trying to go realistic with greys and greens and it just looked stupid. Eventually I figured out that my stylized reds and oranges just looked better. I really got nervous toward the end as the acrylic was started to build up and fill in some of the detail. In the end though I learned a lot and was pretty happy with the paint job. Painting has always been my weakest area and I knew that it could make or break the piece.

When I was finished I felt that at the very least I would get honorable mention. I could look at it and honestly say I was happy with the result but my perfectionist eye was saying, \”jeesh, you\’ve got a long way to go before your stuff is truly professional looking.\” I wrote my letter and submitted the piece. I had looked all around the web at other customs out there and really didn\’t think I\’d win. I mean mine\’s OK but I have seen some unreal customs.

But I won anyways. As a winner(1 of 5) I get a 20\” Mega Munny to Design and then have shown in a gallery Nov 12-15th in Soho New York. I also get 60% if it sells. And all the PR that this show will offer me. So here I am, just days from being officially unemployed, hoping to make it as a fine artist and I already have my big break. I had thought I\’d struggle for a few years before anything like this would happen. How lucky can one guy get? Now I understand that a show in NYC doesn\’t equal success, but it sure helps me.

A New Career Direction

Recently I came to breaking point in my professional life. About a month or so ago Jennifer and I went to the SAM(Seattle Art Museum) and it left with me some strong desires of changing my life. The next morning as I lay in bed I was in tears thinking how I\’ve wasted 10 years of my life not pursuing my true passions. I reflected how I had spent the last ten years running as my favorite pastime. How I had tackled various running goals like completing a marathon, then sub 4 marathon, then ultra and finally 50 mile ultra. All seemed daunting in their own right but I knew that if I simply trained hard for each one the goal was attainable. So why had I not taken that approach with my art? It was then that I decided I would waste not more time and being my slow comeback to the world of fine art. I decided that just like running I would practice my art 3 times a week.

Well, I did it for one week. I went to a figure drawing meet up which was very cool. And a drew for a little bit a couple other times. The following week I wasn\’t as good. However, the next week I did something that was not planned but had been building up for a long time. I quit my job. I realized that I was not going to get much art done when I spent most of my energy doing work I didn\’t like. I had asked Jenn first to be sure and she practically encouraged it. So with the support of my wife, I quit my job during a time of recession.

So, this blog will be a journal of everything I do from here on out in my new fine art career. I\’ll be posting pics of my work and discussing it as I go along. There\’s already plenty to post about which I\’ll get into in my next post.