Barry Allan is a man who can use resin to the fullest – self producing sculptural resin pieces of the highest quality that pay homage to the vast world of Japanese ‘kaiju’ (meaning strange creature).
Barry is also an artistic craftsman who can produce works in many mediums – sculpture, digital and 2D. With his skill in all mediums in apparent in everything he creates, from kaiju sculptures, to 2D paintings and drawings.
(Picture below of Barry and some of his creations)
With a recent major art show – ‘Monster Kolor: It Came from The Pressure Pot‘ only recently behind him, new sculpts ready to be unveiled, and a scene eagerly following his work, now is the perfect time to get to know Barry Allen and ‘Gorgoloid’ by reading the interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Barry Allen 9/1/1980
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Portland, OR, USA
(Sketch below of a kaiju called Oculis, created by Barry)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Gorgoloid’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, college, Halloween… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – pre pubes:
I started drawing a lot around this time. I would draw monsters that I made up on the inside of books on the blanks pages.
Dinosaurs, monsters and Nintendo pretty much ruled the early years of my life.
I was completely fascinated by Godzilla movies. Anything in the form of action figures or cartoons as well.
* age 15 – pube rage:
Comic books and metal music just took over my teen years.
I grew my hair out, picked up skating and started to really get into most lowbrow art forms and artists while trying to find my artistic voice.
I played in bands and created visual art to coincide with these projects.
* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:
I was out on my own for a few years by this time and I was working full time at a successful glass blowing and pottery studio.
Working with the many artists at this studio really planted the seed to strive to be a full time artist and make my own path in art.
I listen to everything so it really depends on my mood.
I stay on top of new music too, not radio pop but internet micro-scene stuff like witch-house and vapor wave, it’s amazing what these artists are putting out without ever charging anything for it.
I’ve been spinning a lot of Earth, Witch, and Sunn O))) while I work in the studio.
Favorite TV show(s)?
Ultra Q, Ultraman, Spectre Man, The Space Giants.
Pretty much any tokusatsu series. Neon Genesis Evangelion series. MST3K.
I don’t watch any current TV shows except for some nature shows.
(Picture below of the sculpt for the Avilar kaiju by ‘Gorgoloid’)
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Oh golly, sports ball huh? I hear that Michael Jordan fella is really good at making scores in the points zone…..
Anything Godzilla or Gamera related. Matango. Yojimbo. Documentaries of any kind.
Favorite books and comics?
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Any art or toy related book. Prison Pit by Johnny Ryan is a hoot.
I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to reading much.
So many!!! Hedorah, Gamakujira, Alien Zarab stand out for me. I really dig the Ultraman monsters.
Specifics on Art
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
I definitely consider what I do as art, but there are a lot of design aspects involved as well.
That’s part of the appeal; it’s a blend of many different practices and art forms. The artist has to wear many hats.
The art toy resides in a sort of strange area where pop culture and folk art blend. It’s consumer culture and DIY/indie.
It’s everything you grew up with as a kid but nothing you’ve seen before.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (toys, drawings, paintings, anything)?
I worked in a lot of other mediums before getting into the art toy scene, but I started sculpting my own creations around 2010.
I was bored with 2D art and I had been watching the art toy scene really mature over the course of the years so I decided to start sculpting.
It just kind of grew from there. Soon after I was casting, painting and making my work available.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
I sold some 2D art pieces in 2008 at a group show and I was so stoked! I loved the whole process and transaction but I was unsatisfied with the actual art I was doing. So I wanted to try again but with something new.
I took a break and found my way to sculpting.
(Picture below of Barry’s work desk, including many ‘Gorgoloid’ works)
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
Completely self-taught in all the mediums I have used.
I have friends with higher art training and education so I have been exposed to traditional art methods and techniques, but I tend to not adopt their methods in my process.
It’s considered a bit naïve in the art world, but I enjoy the creative freedom with a more organic approach then chaining myself to the subject/composition/palate/study methods.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
In the toy scene I really dig dudes like Blobpus, Paul Kaiju, and Plaseebo. They are the whole package y’know? They are so solid with their design, sculpts and paint.
MechaVirus is a beast. Skinner is killer. I like Cupco. Takahiro Komuro. Double Parlour.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Getting your work out to be seen but not getting swept up in the sea of abundant artists.
There are a lot of people doing art and sometimes it can be hard to get your stuff to stand out or to get the attention and find your audience.
It takes time, patience and perseverance to build it up and push it out.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Witnessing the amount of incredible talent and fresh material being created in real time and being influenced by it.
Every week it seems there is something new that bubbles up out of someone’s little studio.
‘Gorgoloid’ Art Questions
Describe the method of making a ‘Gorgoloid’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)
– your resin sculptural work?
Some sculpts start from a conceptual sketch, I have a few pieces done in that way. I usually dive right into the clay though and build it up from the inside working my way out.
I don’t do a lot of studies or turnarounds. It’s already alive and worked out in my head so I just need to get it out.
I can visualize in 3D in my head pretty clearly so it’s actually easier for me to just make it out of clay than to draw the idea out.
(Pictures below of the sculpt for a as-of-yet unreleased Gorgoloid kaiju)
– your custom work?
I tend to work with the sculpts textures and material color to develop my palate and ideas.
Recently I have been getting looser and softer with my paint applications.
I haven’t been customizing as much these days since I’ve been busy with my own creations, but I’d like to get back into it.
– your 2D work (drawings etc)?
My 2D work is really neglected and not my strongest work so it tends to be a lot of conceptual inking and sketches with an occasional painted piece here and there.
I would rather spend the time sculpting. I do all of my own logos and digital stuff for the website and related fields so that gets a little more attention.
(Picture below of a painting by Barry of Krang from ‘T.M.N.T’)
Your Rhaal figure is amazing: organic, clunky and creepy all at once…
Thanks! I am excited for this kaiju.
It was a fun and spontaneous process to create this monster and it has a lot of room for color ways. I have a lot of ideas I’d like to explore with this sculpt.
(Picture below of the original Rhaal sculpt)
– what is the back-story/narrative of Rhaal?
Rhaal is monster born from our own ignorance.
The Rhaal is a amphibious Water Elemental Guardian of Gaia rising against the human’s attacks in their respected geographic territories.
The Rhaal have become deformed and delirious from our toxic waste, pollution, and over fishing of our waters. They are retaliating with prejudice and fury.
We have provoked a slumbering giant. Rhaal is the high cost to our blind consumerism.
– what was the process involved in producing the Rhaal? – from initial idea, to sketches, to final 3D figure…
Rhaal came pretty quickly. I hadn’t even created a sketch for him.
I created a wire armature for another monster I was working on but when I started to add clay to the armature I decided to make a sort of lanternfish faced kaiju influenced by a nature show instead.
The back-story came as I sculpted. I liked how the sculpt turned out so I decided to make a mold and start pulling some resin.
Your mini sculpts of classic kaiju – NagNagNag, Maza, Zudon etc – are brilliant!
Thanks! Those minis are fun to sculpt. I’ve got a few others around the studio that might make it out too.
– why the decision to bootleg the classics in mini form?
I just started doing them for fun, they looked pretty bitchin all tiny like that.
I had a few ideas for releasing them as sort of a bootleg kaiju package but I had a lot of projects I was juggling so I scrapped that idea and they just sat on shelf in the studio to entertain me.
(Picture below of the mini kaiju tribute sculpts by Barry)
– you sold the original sculpts to ‘Monster Island’ who is now casting them in resin… How did you and ‘Monster Island’ hook-up?
Yeah, he has a bunch of the sculpts now.
I actually met him at Clutter in NY at a show but he didn’t know I sculpted. He saw the minis on Instagram after I posted them and wanted to do something with them.
I liked the ideas he had in mind and I had abandoned the idea of releasing them myself so I sold them to him.
‘Gorgoloid’ General Questions
What are your thoughts on the current status of the art-toy ‘scene’, and why?
I like where it’s at. I think it’s a good time for the scene.
Things like Instagram and social media are great for sharing new work and finding new artists. The artists are making some great pieces and everything is still fresh.
It’s been great to watch it evolve and become so diverse and multi-layered. There are so many different avenues to explore and lines are blurring.
I mean there is sofubi, resin, wood, ceramics, and metals to name a few. Original or bootleg. Kawaii or Kaiju.
Whatever your into, there is a genuine interest in it from the community and you can find your niche.
What are the best and worst aspects of living in Portland, U.S.A? – a place many of us know through the brilliant sketch show, ‘Portlandia’…
Portland is a trip man. It’s totally weird and incredibly fun to be here.
There are loose marbles everywhere but it still has its shit together.
It’s a cool environment as an artist too because seemingly everyone here is an artist and a large interest in the arts is apparent, and not just fine/high art.
Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?
Ha, yeah…I think a little bit of both. I believe that it is another form of art that appeals to a certain group of people that maybe aren’t really into other forms of art. It resonates with them because of its nostalgic nature and contemporary content. It’s relative to their interests and the subject matter is relatable. Most people have a respect for art and hand made things; it’s just a matter of finding what you are into.
Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)
Man, that’s tough. I love the vintage and older shit. I think the Bullmark Hedorah vinyl is top for me.
As far as the newer stuff is concerned the Raoh by Blobpus and Plaseebo’s Real Monster series are doing it for me.
(Picture below of the 1971 ‘Bullmark’ Hedorah vinyl figure – Barry’s most loved toy)
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
My wife is cool with it.
She is a full time artist so she loves the creative side of it. She has even sculpted a few toys of her own.
She has attended shows with me and what not. She doesn’t really get the otaku/obsessive collector mentality though. She likes some of the toy artist’s work too.
My family doesn’t really get it, but they like what I make.
What are your thoughts on the current rise of mass-production in the resin-art world, and the move away from hand made pieces? The 2012 Designer Con Suck-con figures as an example…
It’s all good man. Just as long as the consumer is aware of what they are getting and no one is getting duped.
I think it’s okay to mass-produce, just understand that it’s exactly that: a mass produced toy.
It’s a slightly more affordable item of design from the artist. Some people are okay with that and simply enjoy the item for what it is.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Possibly, but nothing I can reveal yet. We will see how things pan out….
Any major projects you want to hype man?
I’ve got a lot of new sculpts finished and in various developmental stages and some shows in the works too.
I’ll have some pieces in the Monster Kolor show this November. Keep an eye out!!
Note – since interviewing Barry in October, the Monster Kolor: It Came from the Pressure Pot show has come and gone – on November the 9th 2013. So Art Whore decided to ask Barry some more questions via email…
(Picture below of the ‘Monster Kolor: It Came from the Pressure Pot’ show flyer)
What was it like taking part in the very recent ‘Monster Kolor: It Came from the Pressure Pot‘ show?
It was a cool show, it had a nice mix of customized pieces and originals from some talented casting artists.
I revealed two new kaiju, Avilar and Oculis, which were greeted with a good response.
The Avilar is the only piece left from the show which can be found on Monsterkolor’s store.
I look forward to working with Matt again.
(Picture below of Barry’s three submissions for ‘It Came from the Pressure Pot’)
Favourite other piece from the show?