I've always been artistically creative in one way or other. At university I'd studied Fine Art printmaking, and in England I'd been exhibiting 2D work, painting and etchings, predominately abstract landscapes based on coastal surroundings. When I came to Japan about 18 years ago I started focusing more on the unfamiliar structural forms; the monorails, the overhead wires, buildings and so on. Working in mezzotint and copper plate etching, these shapes started resembling some kind of floating extraterrestrial assemblages.
At the same time I was becoming interested in the Japanese toy culture. First, licensed toys such as the Akira Gachapon series and the Medicom Toy's Star Wars Kubricks. Going to festivals to pick those up I came across indie sofubi makers like Real Head
and Skull toys
. Rather than making licensed characters those guys were creating and producing their own characters. I started looking deeper into the history of Japanese toys. I discovered Henshin Cyborg, Astro Myu 5 (which I talked about earlier), Kamen Rider and all the Bullmark Kaiju.
I had absolutely no intention of making any characters myself, but one day I started playing with a ball of beeswax that I'd bought for some painting technique. That became a character called Chirops, and I kept going.
I can see similarities between traditional printmaking and soft vinyl production. Both editioning methods, both heavily process based. I'm planning a series of etchings based on the toy sofubi toys. Kind of completing the circle.