September 13, 2018

Arcane Divination’s Demon Dunny Artist: JPK

The precursor to the highly anticipated Arcane Divination Vinyl Dunny Mini Series, the 5″ Demon Dunny by JPK stands as the fallen angel or Demon piece to the word of tarot. The piece itself is textured, detailed and so beautiful that we thought we would ask the man beyond the piece a few questions. Read up my friends and learn more about UK based artist, JPK. 

  1. If you could travel to one place (real or imaginary) where would it be and why?

Man, that’s a hard one to start with! Well, I’m a bit of a history nerd, so the opportunity to go back and see something like dinosaurs roaming the earth or the Saxon kingdom of Mercia during it’s height would be amazing… but then that could be mundane compared to an imagined world. Stepping into the world of Slaine from the 2000AD comics would be pretty amazing; a misty world of barbarians, magic, dank druids, goblins and worship of the Earth Goddess. The things you could see and experience, but still grounded in a familiar place.

2.) How did you get involved in the vinyl toy word? I was always into collecting toys; vintage Star Wars and Transformers figures and even specialized in Model-making as part of my design degree. Then a friend of a friend introduced me to this world through the Vinyl Pulse blog, and particularly their coverage of the making of Muttpop’s “El Panda” figure. Taking in the entire story from sketches and turn-arounds, to the sculpts and revisions, to the packaging and paint samples. I’d never seen such an in-depth look into the development of a product in this way. This coupled with the fact that these were produced in small batches by independent companies and even individual artists was pretty mind-blowing and made it seem so accessible, some kind of brave new world of potential.

3. What statement does your Art aim to say? To me it’s less of a statement and more of an interpretation and journey. Blending together ideas from pop culture, history, surrealist art and tattoos to create new themes, images and characters. I like to tell a story with a character. Sometimes this is very literal; with their story etched upon their body in the form of tattoos referencing their life. other times it’s a little more oblique; the costume they wear, the patterns that reference an era or culture and even the sparse colours I use to shade them. The journey part comes from seeing the development in my world; the exploration of these ideas and seeing where that leads. Each piece I paint or design is unique however there are recurring themes and references that pop up across different works.

Why do you think Art is important? Art allows someone to explore the impossible; to daydream and to leave the world of linear-thinking behind. Creativity unlocks potential beyond the concept of art and craft; allowing you to see things differently and think about things in a different manner. There’s also a soothing, meditative aspect to it. When I’m painting, my focus is fully on my work. My mind zeroes in on what I’m doing and all else fades away; worries, chores and even time. Just being in that moment of total focus and peace is reward in itself.

What is one of your favorite books? A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The title says it all really and it talks about so many subjects, from geology to sport and explains things in such an interesting and entertaining manner. I strongly recommend everyone should read it. 

Your Art has an INCREDIBLE amount of detail and realness to it… it makes me wonder if you have a deep interest in history/war/actual events… can you touch on the where the inspiration for your art and its inspiration stems from?Oh yes your assumption is correct! I have a pretty deep interest in history and the different cultures from around the world. Whilst working I listen to a range of podcasts and about half of them are historical, and I drink it all in greedily! Part of it is finding explanations or understanding the meaning behind things around me; parts of our culture told through architecture, art or religion, whose meaning has been lost or forgotten. Peeling back the layers to find out fascinating aspects of human nature and creativity that could be lost to the casual viewer. Taking this a step further, I compare that to other world cultures that fascinate me to see the contrasts and parallels through time, and drilling down on researching the different aspects of that art and craftsmanship.

What does your imagination look like? Ummmm…. Like a large, dark ball seen through the thick mists on some moorlands. There are shapes and colours moving around, swirls of fog..

How will the world end? With rebirth in some fashion. Soundtracked by the thunderous rhythms of Neurosis, whose songs do sound like the apocalypse.

How do you think we can learn from the past? Nothing if we don’t pay attention :/

Tell us about a moment in your art career that you will always remeber?-good or bad. Properly meeting with J*RYU in 2013. We’d bumped into each other and spoken a few times and that year at NYCC we did a signing together at the Tenacious Toys booth (Thanks Benny!) we got along well and had a laugh. he has an unusually cruel sense of humour for an American. Which I love! In 2014 I stayed at his house during DCon and a show, and the conversations we had, the direction and advice he gave me turned my professional life around. Changing my perspective from being a sort of hobbyist who was part of a scene, to an artist and independent business within an industry. We talk regularly and at length about so many aspects of the art world; what we are doing, how we can add depth to our ideas and narratives and really push those ideas to the margins of their possibility. He really did change my life as an artist and I owe him so much.

Does the human soul exist? What does it look like? It’s a round, yellow disc. It has pastry around the side. Is freshly baked and has “PABLO” printed on the top. 

What are three things you cannot live without? Rambling walks in the countryside (I’d lose my mind without those), painting and spending times with loved ones, especially my wife. 

What does your work space look like? What about it gives you comfort to work? I can’t provide a picture – it’s too messy! I have a tall desk at the end of a narrow room, right by a large window, so there’s loads of natural light. There’s paint splashes and blobs all over the desk, as well as half-completed figures, scraps of sand-paper and racks of paint pots. There are bookshelves with a few figures and loads of reference books to the right of my desk. It’s efficient for the space I have, but we’re looking to move house soon and one of my priorities is either a larger studio or room to build one. Painting, long walks…

How do you deal with stress? I’m not sure I deal with stress well. I ignore it until it builds up enough that I have to do something to clear my mind and get away from it. 

What is your favorite thing you worked on with KIDROBOT? Without doubt the Arcane Divination series with J*RYU; he curated the series, but we spoke at length about ideas for the series, bouncing around ideas and narratives for weeks before the designs even began. Once the designs were started, he then encouraged us to push the boundaries of what a toy was and the limitations of the production. The series won best Mini series at this Years Designer Toy Awards, and deservedly so. Knowing how hard we all worked on that, and the depth of the thought processes behind it. It’s something to be proud of.

What was the hardest thing about the creation of the Demon Dunny? Translating the idea I had in my head to an actual design and drawing the turn-arounds. Kidrobot have done an amazing job realising the figure; when I saw the 3D prototype for the first time, I was actually speechless as it was exactly how I’d imagined it looking. I don’t think any other toy design by me has been produced that is so close to my mental picture of it.  Who is another artist you look up to?

Who is another artist you look up to? I’ve already mentioned J*RYU a couple of times, he really is a brother as well as mentor to me. I love discussing ideas with him, having a laugh and creating together when we have the chance. I admire Chris Ryniak and Amanda Louse Spayd too; the way their works blend together in such a complimentary way, how they exist entirely within their own world and they have such a unique focus on what they do. Man, there are so many, even within this industry; there genuinely are too many to list and even then I’d forget some.

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