When we sat down with Frank Kozik for an interview a few weeks ago, we knew we were in for some serious stories from the veteran artist. Most popular in the toy world for his Smoking Rabbit character, Kozik turns out more toys than any other designer in the business, so it's no surprise that vinyl fans with down-from-day-one attitude get a bit frazzled over his release style. However, for Kozik it's an old story; he's no stranger to creating for subcultures. Before vinyl hit, he ran the independent record label, Man's Ruin, and he was a successful poster artist who cut his teeth in Austin's punk scene in the early '80s. In our interview, he explains how he's created for and sold to the underground for over 25 years and that, though the players and products have changed, the same dynamics exist in the toy, music and art worlds. It was a compelling interview that really shows the cultural connections between underground toys, art and punk from someone who's been hugely successful in all three worlds.
Perched high in the studio, Kozik's Mao Tse Tung with Mickey ears (aka The Bird is the Word) sits next to Bounty Hunter's life-size Skull Kun. Kozik's first figure release, the initial Smoking Rabbit, was produced by Bounty Hunter in the late '90s. Kozik cites Bounty Hunter's Kid Hunter as an early inspiration on his vinyl career!
Next, we're taken through the creative process on camera.
From pencils and graph paper, all the way to computer turnarounds and package design, it's equal parts art and science.
Lifestyle! These fiberglass smoking rabbit chairs are rad.
Whether designing his own toys or hand painting recolors for Japanese micro-brands, Kozik keeps rolling. Here, an army of Real Head figures designed by Mori await the finishing paints.
Near the far wall of his studio, Kozik goes big on canvas! Belzor is the sickness.
Finally, check this small sampling of the man's massive toy collection. Whether you're an artist working in the industry or you're new to vinyl, it's about creativity and excitement for these cool objects!