May 18, 2010
Interview: Daniel Goffin
[German artist Daniel Goffin creates original resin sculptures full of life and style. Before he hopped on a plane for his joint show with Martin Osuna (5.29 @ TAG), we caught up with him in cyberspace for this lil mind dump (errr… interview)].
VP: Hi Daniel. Can you tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do when you're not dreaming up and casting toys?
D: Hi. In the past few years I have been studying Visual Communication with a focus on comics and illustration at the school of art and design in Kassel, Germany. Next to that I have worked already as a freelance illustrator and sculptor on a few projects. One of them being Classics, an e-book reader for the iPhone. I drew a few of the covers and helped with the concept art. At the beginning of the year I also worked on a game for the iPhone. I don't know when it will be out but probably in the next few months.
VP: How would you describe your style?
In my drawings I have limited my palette to simple black and white and I am working solely with brush and ink. My sculptures focus on expression and bringing the character alive in a way that I envision them. Articulation limits this somewhat which is why I haven't used it much. Japanese culture, old and new, is a big influence and I think it shows in my 2D and 3D work, yet there are numerous other references to cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s, haute couture fashion design, etc. One of the best things about my art is the blank face of my listeners I get when I try to describe what I do. Try describing my Karl Diesel character in a few words and then compare the results of the audience's imagination to my toy. Fun.
VP: Your Netzwerk concept revolves around the idea that technology has enabled people to choose their own body, customizing their external appearance to the last detail. Is this concept a wish, a prediction, or fear ? If you could choose your own body, what would you be?
I would call this concept an assumption. I have always been a big science-fiction fan and many of the books I've read in the past few years are revolving around an idea called "the singularity". Basically a point in time where the distinction and barrier between analogue and digital vanishes and the human race fuses with technology beyond simple implants. For me this concept isn't frightening and it is born out of observation. For example, all the spam that I receive everyday caters to some basic fears and desires of us that our bodies are possibly not what we would like them to be. On the other side people are already designing and decorating their bodies through the means of plastic surgery. As for me, I can't really say what my ideal body would be and that is exactly the point. The question: Will I/we be happier in a future where this is possible? I just know how difficult it is for me to design my own website...
VP: Originality is a preciously rare trait in the designer toy scene today. Your figures are nothing if not original, with a real sense of dramatic style. Are your figures based on characters you've been drawing for years or are they new creations to explore the possibilities of 3D expression ? Do you have a ready surplus of awesome figures begging to be sculpt and cast or does inspiration come when it comes?
They all are rather new in their current form yet they contain design elements I've been using for a few years. I have worked in 3D on and off before my current run of sculptures but not with as much perseverance. My sketchbooks of the last years are full of characters and there are some that I look at and still marvel how I got there. Am I going to sculpt these? I don't know. There is a big difference between a drawing and a sculpture. Design decisions for a drawing might not work in three dimensions, especially if you're leaving the realm of realism. My ideas are always evolving and there is never a point where darlings can't be killed.
VP: Speaking of originality your new very mini-mini Metamorphins are extremely novel. You've cast them in isomalt and encased them in gelatin capsules for a vision of toys as edible nanotech. Which came first the desire to explore isomalt as a material or the art concept ? Can you briefly compare working with isomalt to your experiences with resin ?
Actually the desire to work with the material came first. I came across it through a fellow student who used the material for her graduation project. I wanted to test isomalt and needed a simple shape. This spawned a chain reaction of thoughts around the subject of toys vs. pills vs. a future with custom bodies. Now, compared to resin isomalt is rather easy to handle. Melt the granulate in a pot in your kitchen and pour it into your desired form. Best of all is that it is not toxic and you can reuse any excess material almost perpetually. On the negative side it is extremely fragile and doesn't lend itself well to any sort of complex shape. At least, if you want to ship your sculptures by mail. Also, the molten material is hot as hell!!! I've burned my fingers several times already.
VP: Hand-crafted resin toys continue to flourish and grow in popularity. Rather than release editions you seem to have approached your figures as small art sculptures with editions hovering around a few pieces. Can you tell us more about this approach?
This is approach is born out of necessity and not so much out of not wanting to produce a big run. My sculptures are bit more complex than the usual resin creations and so producing a bigger run costs a lot more time. Again, this makes the toys a bit more expensive then average and I simply didn't want to put a lot of effort into a big run and then having to realize afterwards that the demand is lower than the supply.
VP: Beyond creating your own toys, your blog Reduced Figuration highlights the world of hand-cast toys. Why have you chosen to spolight creators who sculpt and produce their own figures?
Well, production toys get a lot of coverage and customs get a lot of coverage but somehow unique handcrafted work does not get the same attention. Out of my own experience and observation I realized that there are many talented people out there that do not get to show their work. The blog is fueled by interest in sculptures that go beyond the usual. The vinyl toy industry has established a lot standards and many of them are boring to me but unfortunately this also applies to every other realm of art as well. My initial excitement for vinyl has worn off a bit and I see it as a medium for expression like any other. The material itself doesn't make a product great.
VP: What are your plans going forward? Are you interested in creating production pieces in either resin or vinyl ?
I am a big fan of Japanese vinyl and I'd love to create a production piece there. Other than that, which is probably the wish of many, my plans are to stay with resin. I'd love to make small living out of what I do currently but at the moment it is not possible. Hopefully I can increase the production and the runs will be higher numbered than before so that more people can enjoy my art in person as opposed to the screen.
VP: Your toys seem to answer this question but.... Matte or Gloss? Why?
For the past year I have been working with automotive colorshift paints and the effects are a lot less interesting if there is no gloss coat. Also, industry grade colors seem a lot more robust compared to other colors I've used previously on toys. However I still need to find a good matte clear coat. My supplier here doesn't have anything that works too well in that regard. I love both and for me it is a question of necessity rather than preference.
VP: You are going to be making your first trip to LA for your joint show with Martin Osuna which opens on Satuday May 29th @ TAG. Beyond your mighthy Metamorphins what other figures will you be offering? Any super secretive projects you want to spill here? ;)
I will be offering two complete sets of my Netzwerk toys, four custom one offs of my "Cheburashka Tank Driver" (above), the last run of 7 "Maneki Tora" (lucky tiger), an edition of 10 of Charlize Harlow which is now a compatible with Onell Design's Glyos System and finally the first release of 20 sets of Metamorphin capsules. I have plans for a custom collaboration with MonstreHero but I can not reveal more at the moment.
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Goffin's Cheburashka Tank Driver
is a work of his I would like
in my collection. Thankfully
I already have one of his
Maneki Tora figures.
The man who has made up his mind to win will never say "impossible".