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Aug 02, 2006

TWEEQIM Revealed

Talented designers, illustrators and painters -- miQ willm0tt and THUY3 are perhaps best known for their amazing toy customs seen at shows around the country.  Their new studio, TWEEQIM, is set to let loose with a torrent of art and toys over the next year and into the foreseeable future. We're stoked to bring you this look into the toys, life, passions and everything else in between of the blisfully happy and talented pair of miQ and Thuy.

Why don’t we start with each of you telling us a little bit about yourselves?

Reaper Girl - THUY3
Thuy3’s art style is … ?

Thuy3: … constantly changing and still developing. I’m still learning and having fun.  I’m influenced by many things that I see everyday and I keep a mental note of what I like about it.  I try to approach whatever project I’m working on as a unique challenge.  I get bored easily with having one style that I have to confine to over and over again.  But there are a lot of artists that I like because of their style.  I’m just grateful that people have given me positive feedback on my work and to have been invited to all these cool shows.  When it comes to customizing something, I like playing with color, designing organic shapes and forms that flow well together. I’ve developed things digitally sometimes, before I slab paint on it or sculpt it.  I also love to paint.  After traveling throughout Italy a year or so ago and visiting its museums, I told myself that I have to continue painting to get that good one day.  Seeing the old master, Michelangelo and Sandro Botecceli, and the modern master, Mark Ryden, work in person, have inspired me to paint and do things in detail.  Please ask me what my style is again next year?

miQ’s art style is …?

Paintings by miQ
MiQ: Oh, I don’t know….i think I tend to travel around a bit, creatively. I get inspired very easily by the slightest of things (be it art, or an experience), and it tends to effect whatever work I am doing. It’s a good thing, as it keeps me a bit of a chameleon, but at the same time, it keeps me from being an artist with a trademark “thumbprinted” style, and that has always been a true path to success in fine art. I like to try different things all of the time, and that keeps me
happy……being known for a certain style is just not that important to me. I’m a sick, twisted kid, at heart…i think that will always define the art I create, no matter what path I take.

You both have had long careers in graphic design and art.  Do you remember the first time you ran across designer vinyl?  Were you hell bent on taking part right away?

MiQ: I have been collecting toys my whole life, and they have always played some sort  of influence in one way or another in my work. My interest in designer toys was a natural progression of that. My first real interest was in Qees, and where I saw their role in the art community. I thought it was the coolest thing, creating a toy canvas for different designers and artists to do there own thing, and help promote their own identity through this medium. I started to collect them, and one thing lead to another….different toys, platform and independently designed, started to share shelf space with my vintage toys and what not. Years later, and many Qees later, I was in Hong Kong on bizz, and had the pleasure/luxury of hanging out with Steven Lee, Eric So, and the guys at Brothers Free. They were all so friendly, generous, and wise. We hung at their studios, then they would take me on these little mini tours with them at different times, checking out the Hong Kong toy scene, and the experience just opened up so many doors in my psyche. Just listening to these guys talk, who were all at the forefront of designer toys, and their totally different approaches, was very inspiring. Those guys definitely  played a huge part in my passion for designer toys.

Thuy3:  Miq brough my interest to designer vinyl.  Miq has travelled throughout Asia several times and brought back tons of toys and vinyl toys for us.  I’ve been a fan of it ever since.  We’re like kids when it come to toys.  We actually take them out of the box and play with them.   

miQ, you’ve been recognized as one of the practitioners of ‘dark’ vinyl – that is edgy as opposed to cute.  Does that label suit you? 

MiQ: I never really gave it a whole lotta thought, but I have heard that…so I guess that’s where my work lives. My whole life I have been creating things that have gotten me either into some trouble, or have been created for some notorious trouble makers. I don’t know how many times I have been watching the tube, or flipping through a publication, and some troubled kid or young adult who just did something very wrong, and is wearing a tour shirt I designed for some metal band back in the day….its either one of mine, or Pushead’s, as far as I have seen. That’s just where I have always been with my art, really.

I had a pretty colorful upbringing, which pretty much defines my chosen route. My parents were very much into the paranormal when I was growing up, and it was a daily subject of one kind or another throughout my childhood. My godmother is a pretty well known parapsychologist in San Diego, and she was a big part of my life as well. Ghosts, UFOs, communicating with the dead, mind reading/control, etc…that’s what was discussed at our dinner table. Between that, and my mom taking me to the drive-in to see horror and sciFi films since I could crawl, I think has just made all that is creepy, my normality. We also spent 7 years in the Mojave desert, living on a military base that was “on ice”…till the army was to reopen it. We, and a handful of other families, lived in a massive military ghost town, basically. My playground was the desert, the “off limits” suburban ghost town, and the empty houses/swimming pools. I created my own skate scene called the “Dead Lands”, and I was its only member. My friends were pretty much imaginary, or ones I caught in a coffee can. This was all fuel for a twisted machine…so yeah…cute?…nah, not really. Cute is great, I own a lot of it…it just does not come out of me, without a real fight.

If you don’t mind my asking, how did you two meet?  Also what’s it like working so closely together?  All bliss? Do each of you have particular specialties  and a way of dividing up work, or is it pretty much the both of you doing anything and everything?

MiQ: We were both working for that big toy company when we met, and we started hanging out as friends……going to art shows together and that sort of stuff. The more time we spent, the more it became obvious what our destiny was, and here we are! In Thuy, I have a brain sharing telepathic soul mate bestest friend…and now she is my wife, and partner in all things creative.  I can honestly say that I have been rewarded for something I did in this life or previous…what, I don’t know, but anybody that knows Thuy, knows that I am a very lucky cat.

We pretty much divide up the work according to who feels like doing what. It used to be more of us doing what our strengths brought to the table, but in reality, the more we work together, the more we have found a real balance in doing it all...our strengths are really matching up well with each other.

Thuy3: It has been a little more than 6 years that we’ve met at our corporate toy gig.  I was a designer for Barbie and Miq was in Hotwheels.  Then later I worked on Matchbox and Miq was still working for Hotwheels.  So we got to see a lot of each other.  We had really similar work ethics as well as our passion for art and toys.  We like to laugh, have fun, and I think that we will always be young at heart.  So it has been bliss ever since. 

It has been fun working together. We communicate a lot. We talk about what our daily plans are all the time and what project we’re going to work on.  Our minds are always filled with ideas for things that have to be finished and just crazy ideas for the future.  And sometimes we don’t agree but we compromise and move forward.

The truth is that we both do anything and everything.  Sometimes I start on a project, and Miq would put his touch on it and then hand it back to me to complete it.  Sometimes Miq does some awesome sketches and I paint it or color it in illustrator or photoshop, then he finishes up the rest.  But sometimes we just do our own thing, and ask each other for feedback.

When I think of the two of you, the very FIRST thing that comes to mind is insane out-of-the-box customs.  I’m convinced you’re incapable of doing things small – say just rely on paint.  Do you make a conscious effort to push the envelope with each piece? Also, how does it feel to be recognized as two of the top custom artists?

Santo Circo Punk Ante Los Sagrado Fuego
MiQ: Thanks for that!……For a while there, I, personally was feeling the need to “top the last one”….but when I made that the priority, it kind of took the fun out of the process…so I am very much getting back to the plan of just making what I WANT to make, and if it comes out over the top, well alright then. We are both painters first, and that is probably why we have relied less on paint and more on fabrication, as we like to do things different, other than just painting when the opportunity arises. But I am, however, very interested (and am doing) some custom toys that are just paint. There are so many great custom artists out there now, that are going huge with fabrication, I don’t know if I can keep up!

Thuy3: We’ve been having a lot of fun designing and customizing vinyl toys.  Before vinyl toys came along, we’ve been customizing things for our little curio shop at home.  It’s a lot of work and energy that we put into these things and it has been a great experience for us.  There are no boundaries or restrictions when you create something for yourself.  So we just go nuts, and all the positive feedback from people everywhere, is a nice reward for us.

Your customs always push the toy canvas with 3d extensions and body mods. Where did all those serious fabrication and wood-working skills come from?  Did you start tinkering with models and such from waaaay back?

The Lab
MiQ: I was never into models, at all, other than the typical destruction of them with fire crackers and BB guns. My first venture into fabrication came from being interested in the dissection of toys. I was a lot like the bad neighbor kid from Toy Story, that used to take his sister’s (I have 3 of them) toys, break them down, and rebuild them into something hideous. I actually would buy them tons of toys for Xmas every year, knowing that eventually I would be taking heads and limbs from them all. I'm surprised they still talk to me.

Later in life, I started making the same hideous toys for gifts. I would go thrift store shopping, and just find the ugliest toys…some really funny looking ones that I just could not believe were even made for children. Then I would just do my thing to them, and they would all go to different artist friends for their birthdays, etc…The more I did, the more elaborate they got. Then when I went to work for Hot Wheels, I learned a lot of “polished” skills from other artists. I then found myself buying a shop full of tools specifically for customs…multiple Dremels…scroll saw….etc… I just applied those new skills in my own perverse way to what I do now…

Thuy3:  I remember when I was nine and my brother’s walkman broke and I tried to fix it for him.  I took apart everything and looked inside to see what was wrong with it. And I found more little parts, and took that apart.  Of course I had no idea what I was doing but the thoughts were there.  Growing up I was very curious of how things are made and I liked taking things apart and trying to put them back together.  I learned how to use all the tools that I needed to make art in art school and from friends.  I’ve learned a lot about sculpting from the model makers that I used to work with.  And Miq is like the master of all trades.  I learn a lot from him as well. He knows how to do everything, so he’s quite handy when I get lazy.

Many of your custom pieces have diverse cultural and spiritual themes.  Do you find particular inspiration in these themes?

MiQ: I was brought up with a lot of mystic and cultural art in our home. My mother was an artist who really tapped into our family’s native American roots, and channeled that energy into creating art that lived somewhere between southwestern and sci fi art….so I have a built in influence there. Thuy and I have traveled quite a bit, and one of the most important destinations in any trip  has always been temples, churches, shrines……places of worship. We are very inspired by the art that is created out of faith, and passion for one’s superior being. Some of the most beautiful, inspiring art on the planet, is work created out of devotion to one’s deity ……whatever the faith, great or small……mainstream or cultish.

We are very influenced by this, on both the light and dark sides of the coin. I love to inject a bit of mystery into what we do, be it through a cultural influence, mysticism, or creating our own mythologies.I liken it to creating relics or shrines to mysterious toy cults long forgotten or not here on this planet yet. I like to create things that might be worshiped by inch high beings that might just be smarter, and kinder than humans…..and i'm just building it for them through their abilities of mind control….heehee…

THUY3: We have traveled to different parts of the world within the past  few years, and have been inspired by the magnificent art that people create based on their beliefs and cultures.  When we were in the Vatican City in Rome, we could just feel the energy of a higher power.  It was also so inspiring to see 1001 wooden sculptures of the thousand-armed  Kannon at the temple Sanju Sangendo in Japan.  The craftsmanship on them is just so beautiful. We’re always amazed and inspired by not the forms that people believe in but the faith and dedication that they have for their beliefs.  So worship, and higher spiritual things is sometimes part of a theme we go by.

Custom 20" MAD*L's
The one custom that sticks in my mind more than any other is miQ’s Voodoo 20” MAD*L.  Can you tell us a little bit more about that design.  Was the final product close to the original design, did it evolve?  It seems like you got going and kept adding more and more detail?  Finally, do you ever amaze yourself?  You know, take a look at it and shake your head in disbelief?

MiQ:  My disbelief is that it finally got done. I worked on that thing for months, and was still working on it the day of the show. As a matter of fact, I delivered the body the night before, and the head 2 hours before the show. Rich VanOver was not real thrilled with me about it, and I really could not blame him. But it was as you say, something that I just kept building on, and that meant a seemingly never ending project…….had I planned out everything I did with that thing, I would have had more of a reality check on how long it really would have taken, and maybe pulled back a bit.
As for the design itself…

Ouija boards were always around the house when I was growing up (again, weird parents). They always intrigued me, although I was always skeptical of them. They always had such a catalystic role in some of my favorite books and films, like “The Excorcist”, and to this day still seem to scare even the most Hollywood style of mystics and psychics (they will tell you NEVER to play with a Ouija board…..you will open up “forbidden doors”).  When Rich sent me my MadL20, I knew I was going to do a Ouija board face to it, as soon as I pulled it out of the box. It was begging for me to do just that to it. So I knew what I was doing, based on the face, and went to town. All the other things that came of it, were basically like looking at it, and asking myself “what can I do with that chunk of real estate”, and keep it in the same theme. I then found myself building a graveyard on top of the head (Rich poured me some mini MadLs to use for the Zombies), then making caskets for regular sized companion MadL Zombies, then detailed clues all over the piece that leads to one overall message that the piece itself is the answer to…..my own “Da Vinci Code” if you will……and I will die with the anwer.

The zombies, tombstones, and the “MiQja” planchette, were all magnetized (and the head lined with sheet metal) so the zombies and the planchette could sit anywhere on the head and face, defying gravity. In a sense, it made the whole thing a “playset from beyond”, but I like to call it a “communication device to the land of dead toys”.

One last custom toy question, what is your favorite toy canvas to work with and why?

miQEE 16
MiQ: I'll have to answer that in a few ways…….the 20” MadL was by far my favorite to work on. But that thing really was not a toy, but like working on a mannequin…a lot easier to work with on a lot of levels, especially when it came to being solid structure (the thing even had a metal pipe running through it!). I really think the MadL is one of the better toys out there designed for customization…..a great canvas all around.

I loved working on my Qee 16 as well, but learned a lot about the limitations of how much weight you can heap up on vinyl!……that poor thing really had a hard time standing up when I was done with it. I had to bolt it down to a stand for the collector who bought it. But now I know how to relieve those problems in the future. I like working on the bigger toys…..i cannot stand, and will not work on the smaller scales with a bunch of moving parts anymore……way to frustrating. Ive got a few of those under my belt, and am “retired” from it…..it's too much tinkering, and i'm not good with tweasers…….i let little tiny arms pop out of my stronghold tweasering ruin my mood too many times. Then when you get them back from being shipped to some show, they come back in a zillion pieces. …no mas.

In terms of new things, I just got some blank 10” Teddy Troops sent to me, and I am in love with them……im gonna go nuts on those……I really dig the shape and canvas. We just got some 20” Dunnys sent to us from Kid Robot for a couple shows, and I can't wait to tear into those. If I could ever get my hands on one of those larger than life Qees, I would take a year off to work on that sucker.

THUY3: My favorite toy canvas has been the MADL as well.  It was easy to work it and I like the shape of it.

You recently moved the mothership up to the Pacific Northwest, Portland to be exact.  How does your new home base compare to Los Angeles?  Plus and minuses to the move?

Perdido Hombre

MiQ: It was a great move for us……something that I really needed. We left our corporate toy gigs, and home town, to move to a relaxed environment to focus on our art, start our own design bizz, and start our family. In LA, you spend more time in you car, trying to get somewhere, then when you get there, finding a place to park your car, then spend less time at your destination then you did getting there…….then you have to get back in that car and sit forever to go home, or to the next destination. On one of our first days here (in Portland), we went to a giant waterfall, went to a gallery downtown, got our business license, had lunch (the best Pho, ever), then went to the mall to buy snowboard clothes, and we were home by 1pm………I knew that day that we had made the right choice.
What you get for your money in terms of housing is a insane improvement as well. We now have the ultimate working/living environment. 2 painting studios, full design studio, custom/woodwork/sculpt shop……all that with full on living quarters, garage, tons of storage space, and the biggest backyard I have ever had.

We miss our family, friends, and the incredible art scene, but we had to make that sacrifice, and we are doing plenty of work with things grounded in LA anyhow, so we will be there quite a bit in the future.

THUY3: I grew up in Los Angeles and have lived there most of my life.  So it was exciting to go to a place and live where I’ve never been before. We love nature and after hearing about it, we decided it should be the place where we should live.  We made this decision in a day by the way.  We said that we both were going to quit our jobs the next day and give two months notice, and plan the rest from there.  It rains a lot here but we love the rain.  I’m really enjoying watching the plants, flowers and trees changes with the seasons.  It’s beautiful.  When it snowed here for a day, we were outside writing our names on our car and playing in the snow like we’ve never seen snow before.  We’ve always found ways to amuse ourselves.  The people that we’ve met here are really nice and genuine.  We’ve made some good friends.  Minuses to the move?  We miss our friends and family in LA, especially our nephews.  I also miss the Thai food in LA.  I haven’t found any good Thai food up here yet.

What’s the art scene in Portland like?

MiQ: I feel like we are too new to it here to really be experts, but ill give it a shot……
First off, there is a HUGE art and design scene here. I find it to be very diverse, and not so segmented. I come from much more of the lowbrow school, and here, its seems to be more scarce than LA, and integrated into the other art categories.  In LA, lowbrow hangs next to lowbrow, really. And here everything just feels more dispersed among all the art cultures/categories…….more of a mix bag when you got to a group show, and I actually really like that…….its very refreshing. There is a lot of work here that is of a positive nature, and organic in approach…I think it is a representation of the artists attitudes here.

In terms of favorites, the fellas at UNKLbrand, Guy Burwell, Apak, Ryan Bubnis, Charlie Kraft, and of course, Bwana  Spoons. I gotta say though, my friend Martin Ontiveros…..he takes my cake. We met with Martin after being here a few months, and we hang out from time to time (we have a very small worldish parallel background), and he has become one of my favorite artists as well as human beings in a very short amount of time.

There are a lot of great galleries here as well, but we are big fans of JustBe/Compound gallery. The owner, Katsu, has been so supportive and kind to us since day one, and we are moving slowly towards doing something with him here, as our first PDX exposure. Every “first Thursday” there are artwalks on one side of the river, and then other openings every “first Friday” on the other side……..then of course “last Thursday”, in our neighborhood, the Alberta Arts District. There is always something that pops up in the middle of all of this that just blows you away……im rarely disappointed. We are getting asked to do a lot of local shows here now, and I feel very passionate about contributing to what is going on here. You really do feel a creative buzz in the atmosphere here, and to be a part of it now is about the best I have ever felt about communal creativity.

You recently took the big step of going freelance with TWEEQIM studios.  What was the motivation behind that move and what are the primary goals.  Also, where did the fun name come from?

MiQ/THUY3: We decided to make our move into running our own bizz, simply out of the need to have creative freedoms, work with different people, and have fun again, doing what we do best. It is no secret that we worked for rather large brands within a very large toy company, time that I do not regret at all.  But we found ourselves doing more and more of our own art on the outside of those jobs, and that work became what defined us, and made us happy. We realized that we worked very well together, and got ourselves into a pattern of handing work back and forth in different stages, and loved it. So, we made the decision to make a business out of it, and start it up in another location, so everything would feel fresh to us, and to ultimately, be “reborn”.

The name, TWEEQIM……is textbook merging of our names, but in a symbolic fashion of our approach to things. The phonetic spelling of Thuy’s name is TWEE, and QIM is just my name backwards. The proper pronunciation is “Tweek’em”, which really speaks to what we do with our design work, as well as our fine art/customs. Our logo symbolizes  many things about us….there are letters that are flipped, rotated, inverted, as well as the backwards spelling of my name. This all points to our approach, and interest in looking at and creating things from all angles…… not sticking to convention. We also developed a series of graphics that are part of the logo, that are symbols of our different styles, and how they work together…..our own yin and yangs.

Is the transition from commercial graphic design to fine art a difficult one?  Do the two  endeavors build off each other or do you try to keep them separate?

MiQ: Because our business encompasses graphics, illustration, and fine art, etc., we tend to view it all as art….plain and simple. We have rather interesting things happening for us right now, that really blur those lines to begin with, and I think the work we produce supports that approach. Since we launched, we have had a great, diverse amount of new clientele work with us, and every week seems to be a different fork in the highway. With all that, and doing work for exhibits, be it painting or custom toys, it all just has a genuine “creative factory” feel, that I love.

THUY3: We are equally passionate about our graphic design work and our fine art.  We motivate each other to continuously to push ourselves forward and bring some kind of innovation to projects.  We always try taking our concepts, styles and techniques to the next level, in our design work as well as our fine art.  It’s always refreshing to get away from the computer and paint or create things with my hands.  The only drawback is sometime I forget that I can’t hit the command+Z button when I’m not working on the computer.

Altered States

Tell us about  TWEEQIM’s  plans for the next year or so?  I know you have the show scene wired.  What’s cooking?

MiQ: We have been very quiet about what we have brewing, and been keeping the finished work under wraps, simply because we have been asked to. That, in itself, has been very hard for me, because im usually shooting pix of pieces and posting them on the web before the paint is dry. But, my wife is teaching me the fine art of patience and humility…..so I am learning.

We are currently working on our pieces for  “Altered States” at Rotofugi in September. It is us, along side Sket One, and Jeremy Gibbs, and is going to be a wide variety of custom toys. We are big fans of these guys, so it’s a huge honor to share the spotlight with them.Then, in January, we are doing another custom exhibit called “TWEEQIMDROME” at the new Kid Robot room at Circa Nightclub in Toronto.

I have a pile of sneakers that Pete from Sneaker Pimps asked me to do as an installation piece for the (still) traveling Sneaker Pimps show. The series Im doing is based on the one that I did 2 years ago, that is still in the show…….those will be fun……just gotta bust them out!

We are also in talks  with Wootini and  Munky King (Melrose) to do solo shows there in 2007.
We are also doing a handful of group shows throughout the year as well, really cool, diverse shows including Back in the Day (SDCC), Its All Wood (PDX), Lions, Tigers, and Bears (Wootini), and a bunch of others that have not been announced yet……bottom line, Thuy and I need to start having our kids, so we can put them to work! We have not even had the time to unpack half of our stuff yet since we moved here…….all of our vinyl is sitting boxes scattered all over the house……..i miss them!

TWEEQIM vinyl?  What? When?  Where do I pay?

MiQ/THUY3: Yesssssss. Some things are in the can, and some things still in the “infancy” stage. As for “in the can” we have just done a “guest designer” platform toy in conjunction with Kid Robot, as well as the packaging for the whole series.

And as far as our own designs, we are in concept stages with a few companies (including KR, Wootini, and Munky King), and are looking to bring completely different approaches to all of them. Lots of work to do……Vinyl Pulse, of course, will be the first to know.

The two of you were gracious enough to design the 1st Vinyl Pulse T-shirt and it turns out its the first TWEEQIM product to be available to the public.  Can you tell us a little about the design and its progression?

Shirt Design (alt)
MiQ/THUY: Well, first off, we want to thank you for thinking of us for such an honor. We are big fans of VP, and when you asked us to do this, we were blown away, considering your connections with the toy design community. In terms of the design, we approached it with the angle of  “what VP means to us”. You, graciously gave us the freedom to present our interpretation of you, without any guidelines, so here it is.

Vinyl Pulse seems to be very connected  (and your connections make me nervous). Whenever you “crack open” Vinyl Pulse  on any given day, there is a ton of new information. You seem to be steps ahead in your information, and you seemingly never sleep. A lot of people start their day with CNN…..we start ours with VP.

We wanted to have the design symbolize the connection, and the “plugged in” aspect of VP
We created the center characters as the hub, core, brains, worker bees of VP…(you, Jack and Francine). They are vinyl characters, connected at the hip, working as one. The heads are a hybrid of both a computer and a electrocardiogram monitor, to provide both data, and to measure the pulse and passion that VP displays by it’s commitment to the designer toy world. (and, no…they are not MadLs). The characters' purpose is to plug the rest of us into the pipeline of information, through a systematic rotating cycle of information, which the toys in their pods suggest.

When we approach a design, we are methodical in detail. We want there to be a reason for the outcome, and to give the viewer a story to pass on, or an assumption of our intent. It all goes back to building a mythology. I would love to think that in 1000 years, a future excavator will dig up one of these shirts from a tar pit, and spend millions of government funds trying to figure out what it all means. So lets all try and keep this our little secret, O.K.?

What’s a typical day like in the TWEEQIM Studio?

MiQ: Like creative chickens with our heads cut off.

THUY3: Eat, gym, shower, answer emails, conference calls, design work, nap, brainstorm, take a walk in the park, go hiking, work on art projects, little sleep, wear my pajamas all day if I know we’re not getting out of the house, not in any particular order. 

Best music to put you in the creative mood?

Part of the collection
MiQ: Funny, ive always been a hard rock/punk rock kinda guy… but I don’t really listen to that when im creating. If im in the car, im listening to Iggy, Supersuckers, Ministry, Supergrass, Black Sabbath... too much to mention here. But when im creating art, I have to have the audio create an atmosphere that feels in tune with my output. Im a long time Skinny Puppy fan (and worked with them for a few years), so that is a must. Others would be Boards of Canada, Massive Attack, Tom Waits, Future Sounds of London…that sort of thang. Cam De Leon turned me onto Lustmord, inadvertently, and that has become my probably the BEST background noise that I have ever worked with... but sometimes it scares Thuy!

THUY3:  Not the scary ghost stuff that Miq listens to, because I feel like there’s a ghost standing behind me when I’m working.  I listen to everything that is on my ipod. 
But lately I’ve been repeatedly listening to all of the Mazzy Star albums and all of the Cirque de Soleil soundtrack music.  I listen to most of the music Miq listens to.

Favorite toy of all time?

MiQ: O.K...we are talking all time here…and I am 42 years old…so im going to dig deap. It has always been the creepy type toys, for sure. The Thing Maker (which I just did a series of paintings of some of the Fright Factory molds for the Back in the Day show), Hugo-Man of a Thousand Faces (although I never put the faces on….his plain face was creepy enough), the Vincent Price Shrunken Head Maker (dry apple heads), Rock’em Sock’em Robots, and of course, Hot Wheels.

When it comes to currents in my collection, I would have to say all of our Scary Girl Vinyls (esp. Treedwellar) , the Medicom Balzac that Thuy got me years ago, the Doze Green Travela, our Junko Mizuno collection...jeez, too many to list.

As for the offbeat ones, I love the crazy Bandai toys that I got in Tokyo, they are beyond description, they just rule. My friend Kenny, who has his own shop in Osaka gave us this sick skeleton/pirate toy that he made for his own small company, MadToys. I have never seen it anywhere, and I am the proud owner of one. And I would have to say that the sculpts that my friend, Norman Cabrera, made for me for my b-day, of the underwater Nazi zombies from the 70s movie “Shockwaves” are some of my prize possessions.

On that note…Nathan (not Norman) Cabrera made me one of the coolest b-day gifts of all time…not a toy, but still a fave...a “miQ Tots” outfit for a toddler. Basically, a prototype for a clothing line for babies, with my face gracing the fabric. Very scary...i love it.

THUY3:  For a long time now I have been collecting toys that represent female figures, either it be vinyl or whatever.  I have a collection of them, most are in boxes right now because we’re still slowly unpacking.  So I can’t really show pics of them.  My all time favorite toys are the Junko Mizuno toys.  I love all of her work.

Favorite artist?

Thuy Honey-B
MiQ: Im going to lean more on the painter/fine art/lowBrow side here and say Chris Mars, Michael Hussar, Rick Griffen, Pushead, Mark Ryden, Michelangelo, Chet Zar, Robert Williams, Todd Schorr, Lucien Freud, RK Sloane,Vaughn Bode, Cam De Leon, Ed Roth, Martin Ontivernos, HR Giger, Greg Simkins, Aaron Cain, Marty Emond...lots more, but that is who roles off my tounge...and that’s just one group, I have not even touched on the all the graphic and toy designers that I flat out admire, and am inspired by.

THUY3: Miq Willmott, Mark Ryden, Sandro Botticelli, Elizabeth McGrath, Junko Mizuno, Makoto, Mr.G, Camille Rose Garcia, Michael Hussar, Tim Biskup, Lori Earley, Rockin JellyBean, and the list goes on.

What’s your opinion of the current state of designer vinyl?  The good, the bad and the ugly? What needs to be done to move things forward towards a better, more creative future?

MiQ: hmmmm…..good, bad, ugly. Maybe I just pay too much attention to what I like to have a real negative opinion about much…i know, safe answer. I guess my only beef would be that there is so much sameness out there, and i'm not real sure if it is companies trying to capitalize on what sells (or what they think sells), and keeping to a safe formula, or if it is blatant laziness. There are sooooo many uber talented artists out there that have zero exposure right now, that given the opportunity, would design some of the most innovative toys…but it just does not seem to work that way.
Magazines like Juxtapoz have really started to widen their scope...I only hope that toy makers would follow suit, and take a chance on artists that would create something new, that has not been seen before.

Now I may be jaded on this one, and I hope it does not rub anybody the wrong way…but I once had rabbits as pets. I had 2 and three months later that 2 turned into 27. I got my belly full of rabbits a looong time ago. It seems the whole animal kingdom is being neglected, so its killer to see things with tentacles creep their way into the toy scene.

I'm a die hard fan of what Critterbox puts out, as well as Wheaty. I think that they lead the charge in being diverse, innovative, and risk taking. I also love what both UnklBrand and Thunderdog are doing. Those new protos by Thunderdog have me the most excited I have been about toys in a long time…those guys really are taking different turns in the road away from everybody else, and I respect that, bigtime.

THUY3:  I’m so bummed that we will miss Comic Con this year.  I have a feeling that there will be a lot of different big/small companies with new vinyl toys coming out. And a lot of new/unknown designers and artists will be coming out with new vinyls too.  I’m a fan of Critterbox and Wheaty Wheat toys as well.  They seem to push the limit of the designs and stay true to the artist's vision. I respect that.

If money were no object, what would be your dream vinyl project?  Your dream collaboration would be with whom?

MiQ: If it came down to customs, I would have to say doing something with Jeremy Gibbs, but something tells me that in the near future, that will happen. I have been talking to both Playskewl, and Jesse Hernandez for a while now about breaking some plastic together.  And definitely  Doktor A…that cat’s work has just broken so many barriers…I would be honored to work with him…He is doing museum quality work. I think the ultimate would be to work with Norman Cabrera, Chet Zar, Cam De Leon, or Tim Gore…but I would probably just sit back and learn from them, as they are master sculptors in their field. I would just be in awe.

I'm a big fan of  Mike and Katie’s, so doing a TADO/TWEEQIM something would be high on my list. We would love to find something to do with Kathie and Brandt, that just seems like such a natural to us. Doing something with Tristan and Thunderdog would be the shite……

I don’t know…there are so many artists that id love to partner up with on projects…but time is always the killer, isn’t it? Its hard to do these sort of things when you are drowning in your own work…but you did say “dream”.

THUY3:  My dream vinyl project would be 30 feet tall by 15.5 feet wide and it comes with other attachable parts. That’s all I can say.  I don’t want anyone taking my idea, so I’m saving that thought, because it might eventually happen! I would love to collab with Junko Mizuno or Tim Biskup.

Let’s end with an easy (hah!) question – what five words best describe TWEEQIM Studios?
MiQ: Fuel Injected Booty Kicking Machine

Posted by Jack @ 10:15 AM in Interviews | Permalink  | Comments (13) |


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I like the custom qees and honey-b...

TWEEQIM, are the best peeps. Keeping it real and to heart. Very humble and overly creative with a splash of something wicked. Beautiful!
You guys rock my boat.

Miq is not only one of the most talented people out there, but he's also definately THEE sexiest muthaf*cker that I know...

Cheers MiQ and Thuy!

You guys are awesome! teh stuff just keeps gettign better and better. it still has your stamp on it but the stamp is quality and a good dose of teh "HOLLY SHIT...!?!?!?! What the???"

awesome awesome awesosme....

if you gusy are spawning I am scared... an army of lill TWeeQs wiht dremels and porer tools.......


can't wait ti see that you do with the blanks in your garage.... and WTF is that frankenstein turnaround??


Work of the highest caliber....... Whatever is on the horizon will be sure to blow us all away..

And MiQ..... It would be an honour!....Just say when fellow!


Can't wait to see all the goodies you have in store for us!!!

miQ & THUY - Two of the coolest reaons to love the arts. Give us a call - we should figure out this future project between the 4 of us - ;)

Guys... you rule! All the best to you :D Well cook something special soon

Miq and Thuy, humble and talented artists......and great people!

We gotta get a brew and talk shop again sometime!

thank you guys.......this is what happens when you have great supportive friends. im saying this to all of you who commented here (and to the ones who have emailed us today), as i didnt expect this, and we are in great appreciation........you guys are the best, and we are so stoked to be creating in the same arena with all of you, as you are all inspirations to us.

and thank you to Jack and Francine for their support and patience. they have been very loyal to us for a long time. truth be told they asked us to do their shirt design over a year ago, and they were patient through the whole waiting process of our move and getting our bizz started........that and the fact that they waited on us forever to do the interview is proof positive of their support and friendship.....thnk you again, kids.

and as for humble..........how the hell can you call someone who refers to themselves as a "Fuel Injected Booty Kicking Machine" humble?....Trag/JimK.....you two are two of the most coloful, humble artists i have ever met.

enough smoochy........time to kick booty.

NICE! you guys are two of the most talented people on the face of the planet. awesome interview.

Very proud of your work, missed you to in LA

That was an interesting read and probably the longest I've read, without pictures, since Miltons Paradise Lost!
Looking forward to meeting you in person(and olive).
Your work inspires.

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