Toys by Design: The Pete Fowler Interview

Written on by jeremy

Design Bureau: Toys by Design with Pete Fowler

We’ve reached the finale of Toys by Design for Design Bureau, and I’m “chuffed” to conclude my column with that polymath, Pete Fowler. Here’s an artist who was an early player in the designer toy game, but he didn’t pause on plastic. In fact, he didn’t pause at all. For over a decade, Pete Fowler has let loose a panoply of woodland critters and seafaring sprites in mediums as disparate as toys, trophies, tables and thread. You can drink out of or eat off of his artwork. You can jam with his creations. Some might even say his characters raise awareness.

Truman billboard by Pete Fowler

Pete and I had the following conversation back in April, and the truncated column appears in print in the August issue of Design Bureau. Notably, this marks the final “toy art interview” I’ll be posting on my website for the foreseeable future. But…stay tuned for 50+ interviews with creators and collectors in Toy Art 2.0, the coffee table art book I collaborated on with Okedoki, out before the year is over!

Pete Fowler

JB: Where does this missive find you today?

Pete Fowler: At home in east London, enjoying a coffee [ed note: perhaps?] on a Saturday morning while the elusive sun streams through the windows with Ulrich Schnauss playing on the Hi-Fi. I’m signing at ToyCon this afternoon, looking ahead to a busy weekend of catching up with friends and fellow artists. I’m sure there’ll be a few drinks later.

Beer doodles by Pete Fowler

What are some of your favorite places to be?

I really like being in Cornwall, the part of Britain where I went to art school and later spent a chunk of my life before I moved to London. I love being near the sea, and Cornwall has an amazing coastline. It’s an inspiring place for me–not just the landscape, but the myths, stories and characters that live there. Also, it’s an excellent place to relax.

Creatively, my perfect space can be anywhere really. Good pubs are as good a place as any to ponder and plot. My local, the Carpenters Arms, [ed note: "granny annex"???] is a great pub once owned by the most notorious east end gangsters: the Kray twins!

Pete Fowler Secret 7 sleeve

You work in a splendid array of mediums! Does the medium or the message come to you first?

I’m inquisitive by nature, and I think that’s reflected in the different mediums I work with. It’s also a patience issue, so it’s useful to have several projects running at once so I can dip in and out of them. I often get ideas from one project that can be transferred to another, and the mixture of mediums seems natural for me to explore. Sometimes coming across a new medium can excite me to think of a way to use it. Other ideas search for a medium. It can happen both ways.

Pete Fowler's paint brushes

How do you organize your ideas? read full article

Posted in Features, Interviews, Toys By Design | 1 Comment

The End of the Man by Sergey Safonov

Written on by jeremy

The End of the Man by Sergey Safonov

I’m preparing to take a sabbatical from writing this blog, so following up an epilogue with an end seems pretty perfect! I’ve got one more interview and one announcement coming, but this will be my last post on an objet d’art for a bit. I’m happy to coincide this conclusion with the final chapter of Sergey Safonov‘s Godot character.

The End of the Man by Sergey Safonov

As soon as I received this piece (made in Moscow, couriered to a hotel in San Francisco by a friend), I knew I’d inevitably carry it to a beach to take these photos. The End of the Man is a nearly-life-size porcelain sculpture that represents the last stage of the Godot story arc. We were with Godot as a chorus boy, and we knew him as a man. Now it is time to say a fond farewell.

The End of the Man by Sergey Safonov

The 9″ x 6″ unglazed bisque porcelain bird skull is impeccably crafted and subtly nuanced. It’s available with free worldwide shipping in a limited edition directly from the artist here.

Posted in 3D, Art, art multiples | 1 Comment

Philographics: an Epilogue

Written on by jeremy

Philographics in Philo

Two years after I first wrote about Genís Carreras‘ project that mashed up complex philosophy with minimalist design, I now hold his Philographics book in my hand! There were posters and then more posters and finally a Kickstarter campaign (that blew past its goal more than 4X over). From cover to cover, Carreras has distilled 95 philosophical terms into simple visual design and accessible academia. While Philographics now exists in wonderful, portable book format, it’s more of an “art book” (or an artful educational tool) than a “story book.” So since I do love a good story, I’ll add this unsolicited epilogue. While driving up the California coast, I passed through a town called Philo. The book had just arrived and was with me, so Serendipity called for a quick pit stop photo (above).

Philographics © Genis Carreras

Philographics © Genis Carreras

It’s terrific to learn all this lingo in this lovely format. If only I’d previously known about Hylozoism (“the philosophical theory that all material things possess life, or that life is inseparable from matter”), I’d have been peppering my posts with philosophy long ago! I think you missed your shot at the book if you didn’t support the Kickstarter campaign, but prints of the individual Philographics are available (and affordable) here. Good going, Genís.

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Tim Peaks = Music + Coffee + Art

Written on by jeremy
Tim Peaks cartoon by Tony Husband

Tim Peaks Diner cartoon by Tony Husband

What do you call a clever cartoon about coffee? How about a “brew-haha”? Have you been (caf)fiending for a product with a good story? One that hits all those tasteful notes? Something that, to quote Pete Fowler, when imbibed in great quantities allows you “to see into the future and the past”? Here it is.

Tim Peaks x Pete Fowler coffee labels


Tim Burgess  of The Charlatans started a brand of coffee over twitter. Really, he did. It’s called Tim Peaks, and it combines four of my favoritest things (music, coffee, art and Twin Peaks)! Creating Tim Peaks was rather a happy accident. Here’s Tim:

Tim Burgess, Tim Peaks

And here’s the 7Am missive that started the mission: “Morning tweets x coffee?” More:

Each morning there’d be a song, the breakfast banger–from The Fall to Two Fingers to Jim O’Rourke–songs that people knew, songs that they didn’t. It was kind of like an inverse version of The Emperor’s New Clothes–nobody pointed out there was no actual caffeine and nobody burst the bubble. It was metaphysical and metaphorical and it was a daily routine.

And then things got real:

Tim Peaks coffee cups

I’d played at a brilliant festival called Kendal Calling in The Lake District and they called offering us the most perfect log cabin that for three days this summer became Tim Peaks for real. Real jukebox, real diner booths, real everything. Even down to our own blend of coffee. I was summoned to Glasgow by a coffee roaster and questions were asked, thoughts were shared, beans were ground and blended and after a day of slurping and some spitting out we’d made it. Tim Peaks Coffee was real and it was fantastic.

Agent Cooper would surely approve, and Burgess even donates a percentage of profits to the David Lynch Foundation. Burgess looks like he’s having a blast, and I can’t wait to try this coffee. Click through for a video and more info.

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Posted in 3D, Art, Design, edible art, packaging | Comments Off

Junko Mizuno Signs New Manga and Meets Super Fan in San Francisco

Written on by jeremy

Junko Mizuno x Last Gasp Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU

A decade after the debut of her trippy manga, Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU, Junko Mizuno did a signing outside Kinokuniya Books in San Francisco for the release of PELU Vol. 2. PELU, for the uninitiated, is neither a cat nor a dog, but rather an adorable alien in search of an earth-based bride. You see, PELU was once half of an interesting spin on the reproductive cycle, and he lived on a happy planet populated by naked ladies. That is, until a star-spangled space hippo ate his host, leaving PELU without a partner or platform for making babies.

Junko Mizuno in conversation with Deb Aoki

Junko Mizuno in conversation with Deb Aoki at the book signing

So, PELU lands in chaotic Japan where he encounters sassy girls, bad boys, beach maidens and body-switchers…but not his one true love. PELU Vol. 1 concluded with what looks to be a murder-suicide, although perhaps Danko has returned as a ghost? I’ve only just begun reading Vol. 2, and I’ve already learned about Soapland and watched Big Pharma get a taste of their own medicine. Exciting stuff! Also exciting? A convergence!

Junko Mizuno and Alloy Ash

One of the most popular posts on my blog is a 2011 feature on the 100 Best Tattoos Inspired by Toy Art. In the story, we meet Detroit-based model-welder, Alloy Ash, who has a full sleeve of tattoos based on Junko Mizuno’s characters. Well, over the weekend, Alloy and Junko met each other in real life for the first time!

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Posted in 2D, Art, books, Events, Signings | Comments Off