« 'Patchwork' Custom Qee | Main | Quick Hits »

May 13, 2005

Sket-One Interview

Sket-One started as a graffiti artist and  is now recognized world-wide as a premier toy designer.  His  contribution to the original Dunny series (series 1) marked his arrival, and the release of his own toy,the Eggster,  cemented his reputation for designing compelling toys.  Recently, Sket took some time  to answer a few questions so we could peer into his world.

Q: Tell us a little about Sket-One?

Well let's see I have been writing graffiti since 1986. I have a great family and live in New Haven, CT, which is about 1 hour and half outside NYC. I have been working in all aspects of art, (i.e. design, marketing, fabrication and printing), since I got out of school in 1992. After school, I created and managed a clothing company through mid 90's called Unitee, while I focused on getting a full time job in the design field. I am now working for a marketing firm full time, I mainly design a lot of Sports Corporation collateral, but I still have time for my real passion, which is with designing toys, painting graff and also doing canvas work.

Q: How did your experience as a graff artist influence your current art and design work?

Colors/Movement/Concepts/Style and I am sure a whole lot more. Graff is great. I suggest to any artist if ya have the time pick up a can or whatever. Just paint a wall or paint a train, you’ll see how massive it feels. A day off painting is good mental health."I’m gonna go every Sunday now" quote from style wars.

Q: Which other artists and bits of pop culture have influenced your design style?

WOW EVERYTHING, I mean specifically on the pop culture part you’ll see the iconic logos and images that I use. If it was prominent in my youth you will probably see me touch upon these images.

On artists: Everything from Warhol, Lichtenstein, Mondrian, Jasper Johns, Miro and Basquiat.

On Graff: Eros16t5, Seen, Doze, Cavs, Sent, Key, Wane, Dero, Ghost, Reas, Dash and crews like TFP, AOK, Cod, Imok, SV, UA and FC

Q: Sket's design style can be best described as

" layered pieces that are street influenced and commercial art inspired"

Q: What's "hot" for you now in terms of collecting?

I am grabbing some old joints, MEGO and Star Wars plus anything that appeals to me on the designer level. [Editor: Check out part of Sket's impressive toy collection at the end of the interview]

Q: Best toy ever?

Mego Micronauts and Mego 12”

Q: Most wretched toy of all time?

When it comes to toys “to each his own” ya know. What I like someone might hate and vice versa.

Q: What was your first toy to be produced?  What was it like to see it live and in person for the first time?

My first Toy design was for Kidrobots Dunny Series 1. When I first got to hold my Dunny it was at Tristan's 3d show in NYC at Soma. He let me hold it for the night cause Kidrobot needed it back. I was so excited to see something come from my design to an actual object. I am and always will be honoured to be included in the Dunny series. I love the shape. I think Tristan did an excellent job on that piece. The curves on the little Bunny. Oh the curves.

Q: How do your kids feel about Dad as toy designer?  They must think
you're the coolest ever!

Well Daelyn,my 8yr old, loves it! -- more for the ART factor. She likes my canvases and wants to do them with me all the time. We have collaborated on a couple of projects =).
My others just see it as an opportunity to play with Daddy’s toys.

Q: The art work you showed last year at Kidrobot NY and SF is so alive and dynamic with the  2.5-d cut-outs.  Were these your first art shows?  How do you manage the balance between your art and toy work?  Does the considerable difference in "canvas" size necessitatedifferent approaches?

Thanks appreciate that. These were my first solo shows, but have been in group shows before them. I see my canvas work as just another path to express my design. My toys one way, my graff another and my canvas another. I think you dig your self into a hole if you don’t look for different avenues to play around with. I try to make each project I work on fun.

Q: Are the  pop-culture mash-up pseudo-product designs featured in your art influenced by your daily experiences as a commercial designer?   Does the experience from your day job also carry over into your toy designs?

Sket's other collection -- REAL video games!
Yeah and No, the overall design and balance probably comes from my day job, but the images I usually represent are iconic images from when I was young. Lately BMX and Video Games I have been playing with. Soon some ole school skate icons will pop up here and there also.

Q: You have three figures in KidRobot's upcoming Dunny Series 2. You've mentioned that the design for the "Dae Dae" Dunny was inspired by your daughter.  How did this father-daughter collaboration come around?

At the series 1 opening party in NYC, I remember Daelyn coming up to me and saying all the designs for the Dunnys were for boys.  I realized she was kinda right and was surprised how odd that observation was (gets it from her old man). So when given the opportunity to send in some designs for series 2, I called her over and gave her a blank dunny printed out. I said go draw Daddy a design of a girl dunny. So when she returned we copied what she did on her drawing and tweaked it here and there. I added her nick name to it. I played with alotta colorways but white seemed the cleanest.

I handed in about 10 different designs and that’s the one they chose. When I found out that it was also a chase I was really excited for the variant, Paul Budnitz suggested the colorway and we rolled with it.

(l to r): Dae Dae Dunny, Camo Dunny and the sweet silver and gold Dae Dae chase!

Q: You've been producing some amazing custom work recently from the Wolverine Dunny to the Bobba Fett Toyer.  What do you see as the connection between your production designs and your custom work?

Thanks appreciate that. In customs you are able to do whatever you want, so I can reference a comic character or a star wars character, in production you’re limited to colors and techniques and what’s been done out there all ready. I see them in two totally different lights.

Q: 2 inch or 8 inch?

They both need love.

Q: As the creator of the Eggster, you are one of a small number of designers to get an original character design produced as a toy. Is it difficult to get original character designs made into toys?  Also, care to weigh in on the recent debate on the merits of customizing toy canvases vs. producing original character designs?

Green (limited) and Purple Eggsters
YES it is! It’s difficult to do all the aspects: design, promote, sell. Most of all MONEY. If you have money and a design you could do whatever you want, but you still have to sell, promote and even then you won’t make a profit on your first venture. It’s a serious labor of love.

And on the other hand you have customizing pieces for people, people respect what you can do and they look to you for something personal. On the same level you'e directly supporting the artist and at the same time getting an original. Most of my favorite pieces are hand customs and sketches from my peers. Customizing seems more of the roots of toys, more personal.

Q: Who would you most like to collaborate with on a toy project?  Also on that note, what toy "canvas" would you most like to produce a design for?

I would like to collaborate with MADL, that would be really cool working on a Madl production piece. Also wouldn’t mind working on another design with Tristan again. Qee’s are on my list -- I have customized so many of them, but never been accepted in a designer series. Hopefully some of those wishes will come true in the future….wink wink …nudge nudge…say no more.

Q: What's the biggest challenge of making and working on "designer toys" ?

Production definitely production. If there is one thing I have learned about the production of vinyl toys is that it takes time, you need a well thought out design plan.  Be patient and get things right from the get-go cause in producing toys there always seems to be surprises.

Q: What's the best thing about designing toys?

Creating something from nothing.

Q: Your ultimate goal for your toy work is "…" ?

Goal? Umm Longevity’ that I get a chance to design as many designs as I can and work with as many people possible.

Q: In two years, the designer toy movement will be "…"?

Don’t use the M word. It will be fine and dandy, toy production takes so long we’ll still just be getting ready for new series by then (lol)

Q: Do you anticipate having the luxury of focusing on toy design full-time in the future?

We’ll see, as Mimic says You Never Know……

Q: Any plans on doing either limited-prints or additional posters of
your art work?

Yes, Silk screened prints will be at Comic-Con in a limited run and I plan to start selling them also through my site Sket-one.com.

Q: What's next?  Care to shed some light on any new upcoming projects?

Sure. Shows to look for including myself:

I am 8-BitGallery 1988 (LA)
Drastic Plastic Train Show- Double Punch (SF)
CrossOver Custom Toy Show at Gallery Nucleus (LA) and Rotofugi (Chicago)

Toys out now:

Eggster full color version - by Play Devil

Eggster limited green mono version - by Play Devil

Punking Eggster - by Circus Punks

Dunny Series 2 - 2 Designs and 1 Chase Design (June 16th)

Toys coming out soon:

Eggster Limited 2005 SDCC Version

Sket-One CI Boys

Dunny 8" King TUT

Sketbots by Kidrobot

I'd like to thank Vinyl Pulse for the time and effort of all they have done for us artists. Keep up the great work!

Just a small part of Sket's  toycollection. See anything interesting? Click for larger image.

Posted by Jack @ 06:34 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (3) |


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sket-One Interview:


SKET is super talented, it's a shame he's so damn ugly.

soma addiction

SKET you are so freakin talented, bro! You have contributed to the mega revolution that my art style is undertaking. You are an amazing artist and above all an amazing friend! Love ya tons, bro!

Stay up! Keep killin it, kid!

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art,

Post a comment