Friday, September 30, 2011

INTERVIEW: Spanky Stokes and his Borracho de los Muertos resin figures

How can you not love this guy?
While many of us "know" Spanky Stokes already as a blogger and figurehead for all that is cool and current in designer toys, you might be surprised, as I was, to learn that John has been hard at work for quite some time producing his own resin figure: Borracho de los Muertos.  This fact sorta flew under my own radar so I thought I'd shine some light on it for anyone else that missed out:

Tenacious Toys: So Spanky, most of us know you as one of the hardest-working bloggers in the art toy world. I, for one, read your blog frequently to see what new toys are coming out. But your Borracho de los Muertos figures took me by surprise: when did you move from customizing vinyl toys to pouring your own resin?

Spanky Stokes: Awwww, thanks Benny... and I really appreciate you visiting the site on a constant basis, means the world to me. As for the leap from vinyl to resin... well it all actually started because I was asked by the folks over at Dragatomi to be a part of their "Not Vinyl" show back in May of 2010. Initially I had just customized vinyl figures up until that point, and I knew I needed to do something original for this show, and this figure was created as a way for me to get my "feet wet" with creating my own resin figure! For the longest time, I had bought and held onto an old plaster figure from a trip down to Baja California, San Felipe, Mexico... and for over 20 years I held onto that figure. It wasn't until a few years ago I wanted to try resin casting so I took that figure changed up the main characteristics like the face, hands, feet, and other little nuances then I hit up Dodgrr, a local resin legend, who helped me cast my figure. From that point on I started having fun with the new found medium that was resin, testing out dyes, mixes, clears, tints, inclusions and have released close to
30 of these figures. Now what does the name "Borracho De Los Muertos"mean??? Well, it roughly translates to "Drunk of the dead"... why the name, well he has a bottle, and he's dead :-) All other
interpretations I will leave up to the viewer.

TT: So your family goes down to Baja frequently? You must have been a young'un when you got the original figure!

SS: Yeah I was really young, and actually consider B.C. my second home. I grew up in San Diego, and seeing as we are so close to the border my parents would always bring us kids down... not just the regular trips though as my father is a huge outdoors man, and raised both my sister and I on hunting and fishing... the primary reason for traveling south of the border. Growing up my father would take us to two cabins, one was halfway between Mexicali and San Felipe, and the other was in a town on the coast called Santo Tomas... both of these places was where I learned to shoot a gun and use a fishing pole. While we were down in B.C. we would take trips to other towns/villages and that is where I
picked this original figure up, on the boardwalk in San Felipe.

(below are pics of the original figure, the cast I made, and the primed cast)

TT: That's so cool! It sounds like a lot of fun... I've never been to Baja but I've shot plenty of rifles- riflery was my varsity sport in high school!
So basically you took an existing figure and re-worked the concept to make it your own. Did you do your re-working in clay or some medium like that, in order to develop the prototype for the mold?
And did you do that carving and re-imagining of your figure with your own hands, or did Dodgrr help you out with the sculpting?

SS: Geek alert!!!! Hahaha honestly who does riflery in high school :-) Just bustin yer chops dude!!! When I reworked the actual figure into what you see now I used a 2-part resin sculpting epoxy called Magic Sculpt. That stuff is awesome to work with and unlike the typical Sculpey material where you have to bake it to cure it, Magic Sculpt firms up chemically in about 5 hours... the downside is that your working time is a little rushed so you really have to have a vision for what you are working on, and be able to execute that vision before it dries!
I also used some plastic skeleton parts that I had lying around for the hands and feet... they just so happened to fit the figures shape and size perfectly and with little modification. As for doing it myself, yes 100% of the sculpting was done by me... the reason I brought Dodgrr into the mix was for his expertise in making molds and casting!

TT: So to date you've released 30 Borrachos in various colorways. Can collectors still purchase any Borrachos anywhere?
How many different colorways have you made public?
And, do you plan on making more? What's the next step for you as an artist after you retire this sculpt?

SS: I would say around 30, give or take have been released. Either for shows, for friends, for giveaways... now that I think about it... there are probably more like 50 of em out there as I had to make a second mold because the first one bit the dust! As for purchasing them... there are none available yet, but I will have a handful available at your booth during NYCC in an exclusive blue pearlescent colorway (way to set up the plug) hahaha!
Most of the time when it comes to colorways I would just do one-offs... I think the only time I did a run of one particular color was for SDCC 2010 with my "Azul" series (below). Once these guys have run their course, I want to do another sculpt for sure, maybe a 100% original this go around instead of using a previously existing platform.

Scratch that... I do have a few available HERE at the Rendition Gallery site. 

TT: So I take it you dig resin toys! I was a vinyl-toy-only kind of collector until I met END from Argonaut Resins and saw the work he was doing. Now I can't get enough resin! Where do you see resin going as a medium in our art toy world? What are your own personal preferences in terms of what you like to collect? I know you try to support everyone in this scene, as I do, so I'm not trying to get you to pick sides. I'm just interested in what types of pieces, what genres, excite you the most. You, out of everyone I know, probably see the highest number of toys every day.

SS: What?

TT: OK, sorry buddy, let me simplify that question:
Do you ever see resin toys overtaking vinyl as a material for designer toys?
And, do you have any resin toys in your own collection?

SS: Hahaha... that's more my speed! I think resin toys will always be there alongside with vinyl toys. What a lot of people don't realize is that this has cycled before... resin kits were the jam back in the
mid- to late 1980's, where people were doing all this amazing stuff in their garages... making monsters. This died out in the late 1990's [Benny's edit: Bad Applez are resurrecting resin garage kits right now], and if are familiar with the vinyl toy 'rise' time line... this is about the same time vinyl came into the picture... so I guess what I am getting at is that there has already been an established cycle. One thing I do see happening though is a lot more creativity in the resin world, making it a totally different time for this medium. Back to the question at hand though, do I see resin taking over vinyl... no. I do however love the medium of resin and have alot of it in my collection. I own pieces from Jay222, Steven Erst, Paul Kaiju, Smash Tokyo Toys, Halfbad Toyz, Skinner, Dodgrr, Nebulon5, Chris Ryniak, October Toys... just to name a few :-)

TT: Spanky, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview! Looking forward to meeting you at the con!

SS: Yeah man, thanks for taking the time to squeeze this interview into your already crazy schedule and I can't wait to hang at the convention!