Art Whore

Art Talk – Adam Pratt aka ‘Small Angry Monster’

SAM - Logo

Mr. Adam Pratt aka ‘Small Angry Monster’ is an American multidisciplinary artist known mainly for his work as the designer toy scene’s go-to painter and custom guy. Originally releasing figures under the ‘Halfbad Toyz’ brand – along with Ahren aka ‘Improbable Cast’ and Alex in 2009, Adam’s reputation has grown exponentially since then and seen him work with an impressive roster of artists and groups such as: ‘Goodleg Toys’, ‘Tenacious Toys’, ‘Forces of Dorkness’, Tim Stephson, ‘Argonaut Resin’, ‘Pickman’s Vinyls’, ‘Miscreation Toys’ and countless others.

Adam has a simple and poignant reason for his art:

“Art is escape for me, it is a way to channel all the howling ghosts in my head in a constructive way. I have fought depression my whole life, and mental illness is no fucking joke.

I think without art to be able to focus me, the world would have crushed me a long time ago.

The truth, to me, is the world and all of it’s unforgiving harshness. It is good to become aware of it and become used to it, but we need to be able to deal with it in our own way.

Some people shoot heroin, some people play video games. I paint monsters and robots.”

(Picture below of an Gergle figure by ‘Miscreation Toys‘ – painted by Adam)

SAM x Miscreation Toys - Painted Staple Baby 001

With a ever increasing reputation and many many projects in the works, now is the perfect time to get to know Adam Pratt aka ‘Small Angry Monster’ by reading the open, honest and very very informative Art Talk, below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

‘Small Angry Monster’ (Adam Pratt)
10/12/76

(Picture of Adam, below)

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City, State n Country you currently call home?

New Jersey, USA

City, State n Country your from?

East Windsor, CT, USA

(Picture below of some resin figures by ‘Goodleg Toys‘ – painted by Adam)

SAM x Goodleg Toys - Painted Dinos 002

SAM x Goodleg Toys - Painted Mecha 001

SAM x Goodleg Toys - Painted Dinos 001

SAM x Goodleg Toys - Painted Mecha 002

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together your pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING!

* age 5 – beginnings:

I remember being obsessed with autumn leaves.
In New England the trees explode in color in the autumn, and as a child one of my first memories is just sitting on the ground and being transfixed by the color and texture of all the leaves on the ground. The reds and browns, golds and orange shades. They were brittle and decaying, but beautifully colored.
I think this speaks a lot for why I am so attracted to the weathered and entropic things in life.

* age 10 – continuations:

Opening the Millennium Falcon as a Christmas present.
I grew up fairly poor, and I can’t imagine what kind of overtime my father had to do to get that for me. It was amazing, and so huge.
I remember just being stunned and looking at it..and then like most kids I crammed Yoda into that little space between the front two parts of the ship. To me that is where he rode, that little green bastard.

(Picture of Adam as a kid, below)

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* age 15 – getting serious:

My parent’s divorce was the first time that I understood the impermanence of things in life. I think this was the time when I began to see that life is not a set game, we have wins and losses and have to keep trying.
It was a difficult time and I withdrew internally during it. I focused on my miniature painting and drawing, and art was there for me.

* age 20 – young adult:

I spent a summer travelling across country to Portland, Oregon and back. Twice.
It was an eye opening experience to be able to see the country and experience different places like that. I think it gave me a respect for people, and to be tolerant of the way that others are.
I always tell younger people to travel, it is very important we are exposed to how the world is..it gives you insight and appreciation to your place in it.

(Picture below of Adam in his 20s)

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* age 30 – adult mode:

The loss of my father.
It impacted me in so many ways, but the most poignant was to continue to drive harder at my artwork. I stumble sometimes, but I look the things that he had to go through in the last few years of his life and it makes my difficulties seem trivial.

Personal motto?

‘Exitus acta probat’ (‘the results validate the deed’.)
It isn’t just fancy Latin shit. Sometimes I really do feel that no matter how we get there, we must achieve the outcome we desire. I suppose this makes me a bit of an asshole.

Favorite band(s)?

Bad Religion, KMFDM, Crywolf, Mastadon,The Pogues, Joy Division.

Favorite TV show(s)?

I don’t watch television on any kind  of regular basis. When I do I am usually in awe at how fucking stupid it is.
If I had to pick I would say Twin Peaks, but that is an old show.

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

Soccer, New York Red Bulls!

Favorite movie(s)?

Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner , Inception, Sonatine.

Favorite books and comics?

I read voraciously, so it is hard to pick a favorite book or comic.
I would say ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite books, and my favorite comic series would be The Punisher. He has always been so cool, no superpowers just guns and angry determination. I can dig that.

Art Questions

Why the name ‘Small Angry Monster’?

It is a joke, and a reminder to keep my humility. I am not a small man, and I can be a raging asshole sometimes if I don’t keep myself in check. I picked this name as a personal inside joke to remind me that no matter what route my art may take me, humility should be first and foremost.
We all have a small angry monster inside us. heh

Favorite other artist(s)?

I am influenced daily by many great people. Sometimes it is their drive, sometimes the art they create, or their personal philosophy.
I would say that in no particular order: Skinner, Soko Cat, Extratruckestrial, Eric Diaz, Chip Souper, James Groman, Travis Louie, Ashley Wood and Kris Dulfer.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

The lack of honest critique, and the inability of people to hear one.
You can’t grow if you don’t learn from your mistakes, and you can’t become better at something if you don’t seek out others that are more adept and learn from them.
There is a taboo in this community about giving critique, it often times turns into one big congratulatory circle jerk. I am not down with that. If I am making shit, tell me, and if you are, I will tell you. We both stop making shit and start to make better works of art.

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

Working with some amazing, hard working and creative folks.
I have met some of the realest people in my time in this “scene”, and it makes all those shitty days worth it.

(Picture below of some custom ‘Food Fighters‘ figures painted by Adam )

SAM - Custom Food Figter 001

SAM - Custom Food Figter 003

SAM - Custom Food Figter 004

Thoughts on the rise of the resin art scene in general?

You know, I have to wonder what the guys who have been making resin garage kits for the last twenty years think about it…
… I don’t know, I think in one hand I have seen some amazing stuff come out, guys like Argonaut Resins really setting the bar for making resin a fine art form. On the other hand there is a lot of stuff I see that isn’t so hot. Nobody is taking these new guys aside and saying, “Look man, you need to step up your game and learn your craft”  Your work speaks for you, you know? If it looks like shit and you don’t care, I can’t have any respect for you.
If you are going to invest time and money in something, at least care enough to try your own ideas and do your craft well.
Back when I was doing ‘Halfbad Toyz‘, Ahren (‘Improbable Cast‘) really schooled my buddy Alex and I on learning how to do things right. I am proud to say our figures we came out with were well made, and original. That is a badge I can wear proudly.

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

I consider myself a craftsman for about 90% of what I do, and an artist the other 10% of the time.
Many of my customs and collaboration are almost cottage manufacturing, and my paintwork is done to fit the project. There is creativity there, but it is usually done to fit the work. Does that make sense? There is a lot of craft in it, and talent, but not a lot of artistic freedom.
I recently started to paint on canvas for the first time, it was enlightening and I realized I have so much to learn about my own creativity.
That is art to me… open doors with rusty hinges…

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?

I have always loved to draw, even as a child.
I first made “art” by painting wargaming miniatures. My father painted historical miniatures, and as a child I would watch him. Of course skeleton warriors are cooler to a kid, so that is what I painted.
I still paint minis in my spare time.

What did you draw as a pre-teen child?

GI Joe blowing the shit out of Cobra, Skeletons, werewolves and wizards. He Man and all the stuff that influenced me from comic books and Saturday Morning cartoons.

What did you draw as a teen?

It was all angsty bullshit, we will leave it at that. lol

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

The first show I was in, it was ‘Tenacious Toys’ and ‘London Candy Co.’ doing a pop up show. My piece sold to another artist there, and I realized “Shit, this is real now. I have to start taking this seriously”. It was eye opening.

(Picture below of a Grim Creeper figure by Tim Stephson, painted by Adam)

SAM x Tim Stephson - Painted Grim Creeper 001

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

After I left ‘Games Workshop’, I was looking for a way to use my creativity and make money. It really just fell into place. It was an organic transition to go from miniature painting to toy painting, and it all kind of fell in line.
This was 2009, so the scene was just getting momentum and I am glad to have jumped on board when I did.

Describe the method of making a ‘Small Angry Monster’ work? (dot point all o.k.)

I have this weird thing I do, when I hold up a toy/figure/platform. I just kind of stare at it and I see it finished.
I don’t sketch or plan out paint schemes, I just kind of let my brain tell me where the colors go. Like a paint-by-number.
I know this sounds fucking strange, but it is how my creative process works about 98% of the time. The other 2% I just fake it.

(Picture below of Adam’s workstation)

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* your original resin sculpts (such your Original Gangster figure)?

Our original sculpts were sculpted by a talented sculptor named Steven Patt, from Oregon. Steve did Skekiltor and Podiagon, and we let him really take creative license with them.
I am not much of a sculptor currently, so credit where it is due to Steve.

(Pictures below of the Original Gangster bootleg resin by ‘Halfbad Toyz’ – associated art by Erica Bettencourt)

SAM - RESIN WORK - Original Gangster 001

SAM - RESIN WORK - Original Gangster 003

SAM - RESIN WORK - Original Gangster 002

* your customs!?

Ah, this gets back to the craft vs art that I was discussing.
Sometimes the color schemes are dictated and I paint like a robot, just doing what the figure needs to come to life.
Sometimes, like in most of my 3A customs, I really just think about how the piece would look if it were real and standing next to me..and I get to work.

(Pictures below of a custom 3A figure by Adam)

SAM - Custom ThreeA robot 002

SAM - Custom ThreeA robot 005

SAM - Custom ThreeA robot 001

Your Facebook lists you as being involved in another art company called ‘Argonaut Resin’…

* what is your role within ‘Argonaut’?

Up until recently I was working with Eric from Argonaut Resins on many of his Tuttz and Houndz platforms.
I think creatively I have moved apart from the visions that Eric has for his original sculpts, but I really respect him and he is a role model for me. I have never seen anyone hustle as hard and as smart as he does.
Much respect to him, and hopefully we can work together in the future again.

(Pictures below of some ‘Argonaut Resin’ works – re-worked by Adam)

Argonaut x SAM - Painted Resin 001

Argonaut x SAM - Custom 001

 

Argonaut x SAM - Custom 002

Argonaut x SAM - Custom 003

* why the decision to branch out under the ‘S.A.M’ name?

That was made after Halfbad Toyz dissolved, I decided to start doing things on my own.
It was the right choice business wise.

Benny Kline of ‘Tenacious Toys’ has been an avid supporter of your art ventures from the very beginning…

* how did you and Benny come to connect?

Benny has been there since day one.
He was a big supporter of ‘Halfbad Toyz’ and ordered our first retailer exclusive of our Skekiltor figure. We met in person at Toy Street when that was still going on, and we have had a great rapport since.

(Pictures below of the Skekiltor figure by ‘Halfbad Toyz’ that led to Benny and Adam connecting – both the ‘Tenacious Toys‘ white exclusive + a painted version)

Halfbad Toyz - Skekiltor TT Exclusive

Halfbad Toyz - Skekiltor 001

Halfbad Toyz - Skekiltor 002

* what role has Benny played in your artistic and personal development?

Benny has always given it to me straight, and he has always given me a lot of respect for my work.
I don’t know many people that have the drive and energy he does to make things happen, and without Benny I would not have had the opportunity to work on some pretty amazing projects with other great artists.
I really feel that he is the glue that binds the community here together.

* IF you could imagine Benny as any Comic character – who would it be and why? (Feel free to draw it up too!)

I wish I could draw and do him justice, I think he would be like a Professor X of artists..gathering them together and putting their skills to use where they are best suited.

What was it like working with rising designer toy artist ‘Pickman’s Vinyls’ on a painted run of his works?

That was a blast.
Pikman’s does some great stuff. I have been a longtime Lovecraft fan, and I really enjoy the work he is putting out.
It was a great experience and I hope someday to do another project with them.

(Pictures below of some Cthulhu Idol figures by ‘Pickman’s Vinyls’ – painted by Adam)

SAM x Pickmans Vinyl - Painted Cthulhu Idols 002

SAM x Pickmans Vinyl - Painted Cthulhu Idols 001

Odds n Ends

What role did toys play in your childhood?

I grew up not so wealthy, so the toys I had were really prized.
I had tons of plastic soldiers and drugstore dinosaurs, so for me they were treasures. They allowed me to escape and pretend and mold my reality.
They are still important, I have a whole shelf of plastic dinos.

Please describe your experiences growing up in America?

I think it was a typical childhood of the 80’s, two working parents and raised by television. I went through the typical things that most kids do, and fell into a nerdy pattern like many of my peers that are in their 30’s.
I think we were shaped by pop culture and music in the 80’s, and that really influenced a whole generation of creatives who can’t put that imagery down.

Who was your 1st crush and why?

Oh man..I am trying to remember her name… Maria something or another.
She lived a few apartments down from me, made me feel funny. I used to ride my BMX by her trying to do tricks to impress her. I don’t think it worked. She was beautiful though, and sang really well.

Does sex change everything?

Yes, it is just like art. Once you do it, you are never the same, and you can’t do it and have it mean nothing, and when you do it you should do it as passionately and creatively as possible.

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

I was standing in a stone stadium, built in dimensions that are too big to describe. I was walking a labyrinth in a set pattern, and I could not deviate from that pattern. I woke up feeling a bit like it was a fever dream.
It was unsettling.

Have you ever tried psychedelics of any sort? And what was the experience like?

I never have.
I don’t have anything against them, they just aren’t for me. I feel like any insight that I am going to have to the nature of the universe and myself will come through me at the time that it is meant to.

(Pictures below of some custom ‘Kid Robot‘ Dunnys, by Adam)

SAM - Custom Dunny gang 001

SAM - Custom Dunny gang 002

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

I had a really hard time answering this…
…I am not sure I want to be remembered. I think perhaps for being compassionate, or joking and making someone laugh.
I really like the simple things. My art will eventually faded, we are all fading after-images in the end.
I am happy if someone remembers me as being an okay guy.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

Eh, they are what they are. A good way to relax sometimes. I see people use them as a crutch, or an excuse for behavior, or a lifestyle.
To quote Henry Rollins, it’s just a fucking plant.

Please describe what you think the American Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

We are becoming a nation of techno-hermits. I watch the younger generation turning into a million little nation states of “I”. People connect but only technologically, and I feel as if we are losing the face-to-face that is so important.
I might just be an old bastard though, and grumpy.

(Picture below of some custom ‘Forces of Dorkness‘ figures, painted by Adam)

SAM x F.O.D - Painted Kaiju 002

You included the following quote in your ‘About Me’ section of your site:

We have art in order not to die of the truth.” — Friedrich Nietzsche.

* Why meaning does this quote hold for you?

Art is escape for me, it is a way to channel all the howling ghosts in my head in a constructive way. I have fought depression my whole life, and mental illness is no fucking joke.
I think without art to be able to focus me, the world would have crushed me a long time ago.
The truth, to me, is the world and all of it’s unforgiving harshness. It is good to become aware of it and become used to it, but we need to be able to deal with it in our own way.
Some people shoot heroin, some people play video games. I paint monsters and robots.

* What are your thoughts on Nietzsche – both the man and his philosophies?

I think that life-affirmation is important. We need to understand and embrace the truth of the world around us while we are here, and not focus so heavily on the “after”.
Still, I break from this and argue with nihilism. I think he had some good ideas, but I don’t agree with all of them.
Plus, without him we wouldn’t have cool shit to put as quotes on T shirts.

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

I am working on some great upcoming collabs, notably with a really bright artist from Portland named Mako Miyamoto.
I am doing an action figure for his character Frank Aberdean, who stars in a bunch of short videos. Really cool stuff and I am glad to be branching out to work with artists in the film medium.
You can check out his work here http://www.makomiyamoto.com/

Any major projects you want to hype?

Nothing just yet, go check out my page at Tenacious Toys and buy that damn custom Autopsy Baby … I have bills to pay.
Seriously though, I go so fast with projects that by the time I talk about them they are done. Look for me this year at New York Comic Con, I will be there with some exclusive releases.
I just got back into resin casting as well, so look for some upcoming original figures.

Links

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