We had a chance to chat with the man behind one of this year's new, hot designer toy lines - Neth Creatures. It's a very unique collection and one that warrants a lot of attention.
What was the inspiration for the Neth Creatures project?
Honestly, just about every experience of my life has inspired and influenced this project. I get a lot of design inspiration just from traveling around the country and the world, experiencing different designs and different design philosophies. It's also an inspiration to meet people who are out their doing their own thing and are passionate about it. I began working on the figures on the weekends as an escape from my corporate gig. Neth Creatures was my chance to develop something on my own and create something deeply personal. I wanted to do something that wasn't mass market, that wasn't concerned with mass appeal.
Please tell us more about J. the artist.
I basically have used my work experience to refine my aesthetic eye. I think the figures have a good mix of my past experiences in toy, product, graphic and fashion design. I love that I'm continually growing as an artist and I want to continue to show my growth in my new work. I have always been drawing creatures, but they used to be very elaborate in illustration. Over the last few years, I've grown to appreciate design in a very raw, simple form. Lately I have been developing more print and canvas pieces exploring color, patterns and my love for nature and the beauty of simplicity.
Did you do all of the design work and artwork for the 9 Neth Creatures?
Yes, I designed, redesigned, mocked up, changed, reworked and tweaked everything. I never really showed the designs and figures to anybody during the development except for my wife, who is also an artist. I wanted the figures to only be apart of us. I've always felt that too many people giving opinions waters things down.
Were you going for more of an artsy feel as opposed to a "toy"?
Absolutely. I wanted to design figures that were more of an art piece for the home. Something that could blend into any environment as a whimsical accent with a touch of personality. Each natural, blushed and flora collection has its distinct mood and I like the idea of interchanging these figures to create unlikely combinations. I've always envisioned all the series 1 figures together as a collection to maximize the interchanging and to always keep the figures new and fresh.
Do you have a favorite figure of the Flora, Natural or Brushed lines?
Right now my favorite figure is NC1 in the Natural Collection. It has been a tremendous manufacturing hassle, but I've finally gotten it right. The wood pattern was originally released in an extremely limited lighter color. It took several months to get the intended wood color (a rich, darker color) to be produced correctly. This figure really captures a classic mood. I love the balance of natural wood graphic with the clear modern plastic and the metal ring which ties it all together with contemporary architectural feel.
It's a unique use of artwork, transparent plastic and metal. How did you come up with the idea of such a different figure?
I knew if I was going to do something -It had to be different. I loved the idea of interchanging and personalizing each figure. My original sculpts and sketches are much more involved in form and characters, but through the development process I began simplifying the look but finding moments to add complexity with materials and graphics. I was striving to find a balance with form, graphics, materials and colors.
I know there were QC issues with the line, as there are with every toy line. Was it a challenge to make sure everything was produced the way you wanted it?
That's the biggest understatement for me this year. There were definitely some bumps along the way with this project. The figures appear very simple but there is quite a bit of engineering involved. I worked very closely with the manufacturer to get the figures just right. This year alone I had 2 trips to China and daily e-mails to work out every little detail even down to the perfect imported card stock for the packaging to the black vac form inset flocked to protect the clear outer casing of the figures. I really did my best to sweat the details and push the factory to produce beautiful quality figures.
How could I have missed your booth at San Diego Comic Con?
Well if you had the urge to eat nachos you may have found us. We were right across from the café and the men's restroom. 2 distinctively different smells but both not all that great. To be honest, I was very lucky to even get a table. The con can be quite competitive for floor space. I was on the waiting list for awhile and beginning to think the exclusive con figures may not have even had a table, but it all worked out in the end -The con was an amazing debut for Neth Creatures!
Will you and Neth Creatures be attending this year¹s International Toy Fair?
Yes, Neth Creatures will be at the Jacob Javits in the heart of the Urban Bazaar area booth # 5845. I'm very excited to have my first Toy Fair table and I'm working very hard to have some fresh goods.
Should we be on the lookout for more Neth Creature lines in the future?
Definitely, the best is yet to come. I have been working on series 2. As well as new prints and original canvas work that I'm hoping to show soon. My wife Anna and I are also working on a joint project, not sure when we'll debut it.