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A community-driven blog focused on the weirder end of the art collectible spectrum. Seeking new contributors - if you collect it, and we don't cover it here, contact us!

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May 18, 2009

Designer Toy people in mainstream media


I was both amused and a little unnerved this morning when I flipped open this month’s issue of Fast Company magazine and poked through their “100 Most Creative People in Business” article… A big full-page pic of a giant red KAWS figure was on page 95! WTF?!
On further investigation, I found that 3 of the 100 people Fast Company chose are in the designer toy industry!

Here they are:
#54: Masamichi Katayama, Principal at Wonderwall
#56: Charles Rivkin, President & CEO of W!ldbrain (FYI Wildbrain owns part or all of Kidrobot)
#70: Brian Donnelly (KAWS): Artist/designer/owner of OriginalFake

This mainstream media coverage of players in our little designer toy industry is exciting, to be sure, but does this mean that our industry is now considered “legitimate”? And if art toys are now legit, is that good or bad? I mean, as a store owner, I can only be happy that more and more people are getting turned on to designer toys. More people buying toys means more customers for the shops. But, when a subversive idea hits the mainstream, does it continue to be subversive?

And what will happen to our subversive “toys” once the general population gets their hooks in? Will our toys become “Disney-fied”? Will a sufficient number of artists and companies continue to push the envelope of subversion, and continue to test the limits of people’s comfort zones? Or will many of our beloved manufacturers embrace the growing mass interest in their products by developing more cartoony, less offensive, less explicit art toys so that they can make bigger profits?

I mean, profit is good. Me and Stephanie were collectors first, before we started Tenacious Toys, but without generating some sort of profit, we’d go out of business fast. So profit is a good thing. But would increased profits be worth the price we’d pay once the art toy community starts catering to the masses?