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
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.
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
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.
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 LabMiQ: 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?
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
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
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…
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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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……
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.
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?
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
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
Tell us about TWEEQIM’s plans for the next year or so? I know you have the show scene wired. What’s cooking?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
We wanted to have the design symbolize the connection, and the “plugged in” aspect of VP
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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