Sunday, April 22, 2007
We get a lot of insight into the toy production process at Gargamel. Pictured here are some sculpts in progress, plus a finished sculpt for the mini Smogun figure. As you can see, from clay sculpture to the final toy, shrinkage happens. Kiyoka has to consider this when adding the fine details. A versatile master sculptor, Kiyoka acutally cut his teeth sculpting silver jewelry.
The gang at Gargamel. After the shoot, the fellas brought out some Japanese cakes. We ate and chatted while listening to death metal. Good times and a tremendous bunch of people!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Insanely talented sculptor and equally nice guy Kiyoka Ikeda sculpted and painted in front of the camera. Our whole crew just sort of stared in awe during the process.
Here's Kiyoka smiling and laughing as he paints the recently sold out run of camo Hedorans.
Monday, April 9, 2007
But first, we spot this amazing Three Tides sign made byTokyo-based sign painter, Nuts. Nuts has mastered the craft of traditional American sign painting and pushed it to the level of fine art.
Inside, we talk with Masa, owner of Three Tides and a genuinely cool guy. The shop is meticulous and overflowing with quality work. It becomes clear in moments that Masa is the soul of the operation. In addition to Three Tides, he also owns Trigger, an upcoming Osaka brand that's putting out sick art decks and clothing from the likes of Mike Giant and Usugrow. Keep your eyes out for a shirt collaboration that Masa has coming with BXH in the near future, too!
On the first floor, there's a spacious gallery housing dope paintings.
Back upstairs, Three Tides tattooer Mutsuo shows us his own sleeve. Mutsuo is super talented; he's also Akio from Balzac's artist of choice.
Vinyl inspiration! Bounty Hunter toys line the shelves in Mutsuo's work area.
Meanwhile, we talk more with Akio (below) about his history with tattoos and his own clothing sublabel through Balzac called Culture...
Here's a quick video still of Masa's right hand man, Ussun, as he shows off some wild Microman work. Ussun is also good friend of Secret Base's Hiddy and he's got the passion for toys and comedy to prove it!
All in all, Osaka was an eye-opening experience. The city felt a bit more gritty than Tokyo and it boasts a wellspring of killer creativity. Due to a tight filming schedule, we had only a day to spare for Japan's second largest city. We realize that we barely scratched the surface, so next time we're building in more time! Most of all, it was fascinating to uncover the deep connections and distinct differences between the Osaka and Tokyo creators we'd interviewed so far. Osaka is aces. Thanks a lot to everyone from Shocker, Balzac and Three Tides Tattoo!
Masa also hooked up some fresh shop t-shirts illustrated by Chris Garver. Before Miami Ink-ed stardom, Garver spent six months working at Three Tides with Masa and crew.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Inside a lit glass case at Shocker, Balzac houses items that are inspirational to them. A sketch for a painting by master artist Suehiro Maruo sits next to a bass guitar given to Balzac by the Misfits.
From clothing to records and a plethora of insane vinyl toys, Balzac has been dropping the fresh goods since 1992 when the band began. Balzac's members all contribute design and product ideas. In the year 2000, Shocker opened its doors catering to fans of the group's music and punk fashion.
The Skullman toys in the picture below are ultra rare and absolutely stunning--from the well-defined sculpt to the pristinely clear Japanese vinyl. Balzac's Skullman mascot was designed by Hirosuke.
These posters were all over Tokyo record stores promoting Balzac's new CD box set...
After the interview, we begin the stroll to Three Tides Tattoo which is only several blocks from Shocker. On the way, toypunks' Carl and Hirosuke talk about music and art in Osaka.
Balzac bassist Akio's super sick sleeves are pictured here--one side in neutral blacks and grays, and the other in full color. Akio gets most of his work done by an Osaka-based artist named Mutsuo who tattoos at Three Tides. Next stop: THREE TIDES TATTOO!