Parlayin’ with Huck Gee

April 9, 2012

Being toy collectors since the early 90′s, we’ve seen countless artists come and go. Some more influential then others… some just down right amazing. The new millennium spawned many great toy artists, just like the 90s… the only difference is, the market is super saturated with options and creations. Which, in our humble opinion, is a great thing because it inspires people to be more creative. But also makes it harder for alot of new toy makers to break into the industry. One man has stood against all odds and through his amazing work ethic and vision, he has become today’s leading custom toy designer. Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to introduce you to Huck Gee.

Wasap Huck… how ya’ doin’ today?
I’m awesome. Got a nasty kink in my back but other than that, awesome.

What’s the favorite part of your day?
Spending time with my daughter. She rules my world.

Aww… that’s awesome…
Let’s talk about this custom toy fad that has been takin’ over the world in past few years shall we? What steered this ship into this direction in your opinion and where will this go?

Passion got it here. All these folks that were artists or toy collectors or just plain art or comic or animation fans, realizing they can do this themselves. Build their own characters. That it’s this accessible. It’s great to see the creative spirit growing like it is. I see parallels between this and the explosion of other arts of our generation, take turntablism culture as a great example: Kids making music in their bedrooms. Busting their asses. The competitiveness. Building this new creative culture. So much passion. So inspiring to others.

We just went through a period where the economy of this industry took a serious hit, trimmed off all the excess fat, but it’s growing again. And with amazing new artists climbing to the top. I see creativity and growth for a long time to come.

There are a million and one artists around the world. Who are some you admire and think are doin’ a kick ass job in pushing the design envelope?
There are far too many to mention. And I will feel guilty if I miss someone. Needless to say there are quite a few talented badasses airbrushing, laying down clay and pouring resin right now.

Most of your customization work is Asian themed, or in your words “Bastardized Asian Pop Culture”. What is it about the Asian culture that inspires you so much?
Asian culture has resonated with me from an early age. It still does. The history, ethos, the design sensibility, fashion, illustration and animation… for whatever the reason it’s always struck a chord in me.

You might have been asked this a million and one times, but we find it interesting hearing it from different artists… how do you break down your creative process (be it sketching, designing, illustrating or toy making)? Is there a certain formula that you have when working on a project (client based or personal)?
Pretty much everything begins as pencil on paper. Either rough sketches or writing down ideas in my sketchpad. From there I usually scan it in and build it up in Adobe Illustrator. If it’s for a handmade custom design I will print that out and use it for reference while I’m sculpting, etc. Factory toy design templates and most of my illustration work are designed almost entirely in Illustrator.

Formula? Playing the right balance of cute and dark seems to always get a reaction out of people.

In every artist’s career, there is a moment where they look back and think…”Wow, I can’t believe that happened. That was a really humbling experience.”, when was that humbling moment for you in your career?
The first Dunny Show in New York. I recall standing outside, seeing the street packed with people, the roster of talent in the show, press folks being turned away at the door and realizing, “oh shit, this toy game is gonna’ be big.”

You would’ve worked on a million projects by now (close to anyways), but there’s gotta’ be one that, through the years, still stand as your favorite. Which one would that be?
I think the elephant centerpieces for my 11/10 show. It’s the largest conceptual project I’ve put together. Pouring huge molds, I went through so much plastic and resin, worked nonstop for months setting that up. That’s my favorite to date. Looking forward to topping that project soon.

Coming off that, what are you currently working on? And have you got a long list of future project you can share with your fans?
I’m working on a ton of stuff and, unfortunately for my fans, nothing I want to discuss at the moment. I like surprises.

Surely you would’ve looked up to someone from the design community when starting out. Who would he/she/they be and why did you like their style? What did they do, that influenced you to start drawing?
In my late teens I met a handful of graf kids in LA that inspired me to buy a sketchpad. While I no longer write, that was my introduction to the graffiti scene and it remains the catalyst to my life of creativity.

If given a chance, who would you like to work with and on what?
Colin Christian. I want to peek inside his studio and see how he makes such amazing asses.

What does being a perfectionist mean to you?
A lot of work.

Everyone has a life motto, what is yours?
Keep it simple, don’t be greedy, have fun.

I’m sure you’d agree, we never stop learning and experiencing new things in our lives no matter how old we get. What are some key things you’ve learned along your toy making journey?
You pour your heart into something, honestly, and the world will pay you back tenfold.

If you woke up one day and weren’t able to design and make toys anymore…. what would you do?
Dance or drive cars fast. Depends if my knees and ankles would take the continued abuse.

When I was 17, I was… Dumb.

On a lighter note, what’s you’re favorite youtube video?

Because it’s awesome.

If you were a 70s porn star… what would your name be?
Disco Super Fuck

Super human powers are awesome. What would yours be if you had one?
Disco Super Fuck

What is your favorite cartoon series while growing up?
Robotech. Because it had giant robot planes and people died. Shit was real.

What’s on heavy rotation in your stereo at the moment?
A bunch of Dirty Bird Records mixes.

I’m sure there are heaps of kids these days that want to do what you do… have you got a few words to motivate them into taking that first step into the design world?
I am an artist because I decided to be an artist. And I am successful because I decided to be successful. To bust my ass and see what happens. It is a simple line of thinking to cross: “Never be in awe of anyone, always be inspired”. Being in awe means that someone is holding something over you, that they are a better human being than you. And they’re not. We’re all in the same game. We can all succeed. It’s simply a matter of trying. It’s simply a matter of perspective.

To wrap things up, have you got anyone you’d like to thank for having supported you throughout your years of being a toy designer?
Thanks Mom.

Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
www.huckgee.com

Huck, thank you again for taking time off to be with us today. We really appreciate your time and hopefully we’ll catch up soon in the near future. We wish you all the very best in your future endeavors and we look forward to all the awesome projects you have lined up for us.

words by Benny Teh

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