Gavriel Discordia your Ninja Blogger,
Urban Vinyl Daily broke it down last week about the state of the Designer Toy scene.
Watch here before you proceed: LINK
I can only speak for myself and my own experiences as blogger on Tenacious Ninja, shop owner at Discordia Culture Shop, event vendor, and of course, as organizer behind several events including Designer Toy Summit. My experience is limited compared to others, so keep this in mind.
The UVD guys mention the Rotofugi hiccup. And at Discordia Culture Shop we were having our best month of sales over the last 9 years. How or why we are doing so well right now, I have no idea. Did we steal their collector base? Doubtful. What are we doing different? As far as I can tell, it's all Vending. We have been vending for the last three years and reaching tons of new collectors. And its not really a matter of expenses, vending costs a lot to pull off. The Display Equipment, Gas, Meals, Hotels, Vendor fees, the Vehicle and the constant maintenance there of. It adds up as much as running a physical store.
We are not the best store out there. We know that. I just sell what I like and run a shop so I can prop up all the artists I love. We buy ads in Clutter Magazine like everyone else. We get a few blog posts here and there from other blogs. And as far as I know Ron English is the only artist we represent who has ever told his fan base about our shop. (I cant imagine how much more retailers may sell an Artists goods if all those Artists let their public know about the shops that stock them. We need more of that type of thing.) So again, I think its the Event Vending. Maybe Rotofugi and other retailers should consider at least putting an event on in their areas. Finding new collectors, while lifting the scene. Discordia Culture Shop would be there in a heartbeat to take part and assist whoever wants to do so.
Innovation! The UVD guys keep coming back to this through out this episode. I have to agree with UVD on this. Some kind of innovation will always be needed to not only increase ones own individual prosperity, but consideration for the growth of the entire scene and how we can reach more potential collectors.
Retailer vs the Artist Direct Sales. This is an important point UVD brings up. As we have to question how good or bad it may or may not be to sell directly to fans and hog the funds while the overall exposure in city after city may be keeping the scene hidden from all new collectors who will never see Designer Toys in person. Also, how can any one artist sell as much or more than 10-20 stores across the country?
I dont have numbers to prove that one way or another, but something tells me a dozen retailers online, in cities, and at events will bring way more to the table than a single artist ever could, for the overall scene, and the longevity of the scene.
Gallery Stuff. UVD also gets into the conversation over artists undercutting galleries by selling things on the side of art shows. Which I wont get into as I personally have absolutely no knowledge of the gallery scene, but it is a serious issue to consider as an artist. And I have heard from custom event organizers about this happening around their shows, so it is a Designer Toy issue up for pondering if you are a toy customizer. Don't side sale on a gallery or promoter that is hyping your work and putting in effort on your behalf. That sort of thing can only cannibalize your hustle.
UVD brings up a lot of thoughts in me so here are my random ideas.
Imitation. How long are we going to watch big retailers release pale imitations of DIY platforms and other Designer Toy like items? We need to break into that realm as artists and producers and get the cool stuff into those stores. Even if we only do it once each. Lets face it Limited Edition is only a big deal in our scene because mostly, we can't afford to make 10,000 of an item and breaking into chain store retail is not easy, you have to be able to front the product to those retailers, take a loss on discounted items, and take back shelf worn goods covered in price stickers when they dont move. Very few of us can manage that kind of game.
But it would be nice if it started happening at some level. Seeing real, legit, artist involved goods hit random national chain retailers would do more for this scene than we could ever imagine. Licensed goods no matter how much they imitate the Designer Toy world are not exposing the public to artists and do little to help our scene grow and reach new collectors. Artists are the core of Designer Toys, the rest is hollow and commands no loyalties. And as retailers we need to cultivate collectors not customers. Again, that's just my opinion, but I stand by it all the way. And I'm working on it myself.
Animation. How long is it going to take before some of our artists team up and consolidate some funds and start an animation company to release an animated series about some toys on a shelf in a collectors room? I want to see that show! And I would bank role it myself if I had it like that. This Designer Toy scene is home to some of the most outstanding artists. I watch these amazing, talented dynamos of style and skill struggle to get by and I am constantly wonder stuck at how this is happening. Where are the investors and producers and promoters we need to represent and develop what all these Artists are capable of? How is this even happening?
Public Outreach. This is the key to building the collector base. Vending at all events, not just the 'big four' or whatever, is a great way to find the parents who want something new, more hardcore, and definitely more grown up to start collecting themselves. Get a booth in the mall during Christmas season, do a pop up store at a local cafe, vend at a tattoo convention. Discordia Culture Shop finds these new collectors all the time. They are out there waiting to discover Designer Toys, go find them!
A Directory of all things Designer Toys. Someone really needs to build a directory hub of some kind with all the retailers, factories, and supply companies, 3d printers, etc. etc. all in one place, so we can all access the connections for every level of production and distribution.
In Conclusion. Buy something from Rotofugi, Take part in the Designer Toy Awards, Subscribe to the Urban Vinyl Daily mailing list, Get an exhibitor space at Designer Toy Summit, Listen to the For the Masses Podcast, Watch the Suckhour every week, Do a search and make sure some retailer or artists store doesn't have an item before you get it off eBay. And Share everything you love across social media because Likes really don't help anyone get any exposure, seriously its true, Likes only boost egos, Shares boost scenes.
Thanks for reading all this and I hope it inspires all of you with ideas of your own. I would love to hear them too. Send your thoughts or essays on the Designer Toy Scene to: firstname.lastname@example.org
THX, Gavriel Discordia,
Discordia Culture Shop, etc.
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