Art Whore

Art Talk – Doug E Fresh Of ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’

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Ole Doug E Fresh of ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’ entered the resin game with a bang – his debut figure the ‘Behemoth’ gaining great reviews and promptly selling out when released in 2014. Recently he has released the ‘Salt Witch’ figure – a glow in the dark, clear resin figure that perfectly illustrates Doug’s blossoming skills.

My Fresh is humble and honest when it comes to his art toys, stating how,

“I mean, I don’t buy $45 “art toys”…so i don’t expect anyone else to either…i see it as a really special thing when someone decides to pay me money for the object i have created…”

(Picture below of the ‘Salt Witch’ resin from Hemlock Bootlegs)

Hemlock Bootlegs - The Salt Witch - 002

With plenty of collaborations ahead, and a drive and commitment to the game which is to be admired, now is the perfect time to get up to speed with everything ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’, by reading the Art Talk below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

Doug E. Fresh…
10.21.1978

City, State n Country you currently call home?

Americus, georgia…usa

City, State n Country your from?

Cuthbert, georgia…usa

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

I am and have always been an outsider…as a kid i lived in my head and imagination most of the time…i hated school, authority, institutions, groups, teams, church, most people, and most things…
Toys (specifically gi joe and star wars) were very important for me…they were my escape from a grim reality…i was still really into collecting and playing with action figures far into my teens (when most dudes are trying to get laid) and this was a source of stress for me because i felt ashamed and immature…
When i was 16 i set up a table in a yard-sale and sold everything…it has taken 20 years for me to re-establish an interest in toys…i am not a serious collector though…when i became interested in bootlegging i had to build a library of source parts and occasionally i would obtain something that i just couldn’t take apart…thus began my modest collection…

(Picture below of Doug age 13)

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Personal motto?

Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed…

Favorite band(s)?

I don’t know…i listen to stuff on you tube while i’m making toys…mostly playlists…lately i have been on a garage rock kick…before that it was black metal and anti-music…
I guess my desert island choice would be ‘The Band‘…they have an organic groove that i really dig and also a sense of humor without being silly…
All in all music has been really toxic for me…there was a time when i thought of myself as a musician…it ended up being a really un-gratifying experience, then i had to sell my equipment…i wish that i had learned to play the drums…
Sorry, i got off track…

Favorite TV show(s)?

No time for tv these days…

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

Fuck sports…
Some people dig that stuff and that’s cool for them, but i can’t relate…
When endurance drinking and chain smoking become official sports i will go professional…

Favorite movie(s)?

Three movies i like:
  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. First Blood
  3. There will be Blood

Favorite books and comics?

Books

Moby Dick is one of my favorite books…it is a bizarre and experimental work…i have read it 5 times and i get more out of it with every read…
I love Cormack McCarthy, especially Blood Meridian…other writers i dig are: Hemingway, Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Camus, Salinger, Phillip K Dick…

Comics

Jeff Rahuba is the best comic artist/writer ever…his stuff is dry and gross and human…he produces his art under the name Choreboy…
I have never really been into a serious comic scene…i hate super heroes and all that muscle-man bullshit…
I was really into the Star Wars expanded universe stuff…(some serious geeks behind that)…
I love Alan Moore…some Spawn…Hellboy…Love and Rockets…
Also, Mike Diana (Boiled Angel, Super Fly)…

Art Questions

Why the name ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’?

One time when i was a kid my dad was talking about Socrates for some reason…he said that he was poisoned with hemlock…i don’t know, it was an evil-sounding word that stuck with me…
A few months ago i was driving and thinking about what to call my toy thing…hemlock was regurgitated into my conscious mind…
… And bootlegs…well, that’s what i consider these objects to be…

… and why the nom de plume ‘Doug E. Fresh’?

doug e. fresh is who i had to become in order to make this stuff…it’s me right now, as i type this…
doug e. fresh is not my wife’s husband, or my kids dad…that is a different doug…
It’s important for me to exist as both characters, and keep them in their respective worlds…

Favorite other artist(s)?

During my brief time in the resin world i have had the privilege of working with some brilliant graphic artists:
neil “the last boss” devlin
chris “the olive knight” hernandez
frazier robotics
– jeff  “choreboy” rahuba
There are so many awesome people creating things right now…bootleggers, sculptors, custom work guys, visual artists…i will name 5 and move on…
  1. d.a. marx toys (Buzzard Guts)
  2. Falcon Toys
  3. Killer Bootlegs
  4. Healey Made
  5. Fog City Bootlegs

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

It is a real drag having to validate one’s creation based on whether or not people pay money for it…i have tricked myself into believing that certain toys i have made will sell out instantly, and when nothing sells i am like “what the fuck? is this stuff garbage?”…
I was forced to re-evaluate my reasons for doing this, and i now know that i do it out of pure enjoyment…
As i understand it, bootlegging is a three headed monster:
  1. Figure design/mold-craft…
  2. Duplication…
  3. Selling the complete and packaged product…
With that being said, i try to view the “hustle” aspect as a component in the medium…i would love to sell out of everything all the time, but it really doesn’t matter too much…i have a job as a line cook and that pays the bills, so my toy making is really an avocation…(although its nice when the hobby is self-perpetuating)…
I mean, I don’t buy $45 “art toys”…so i don’t expect anyone else to either…i see it as a really special thing when someone decides to pay me money for the object i have created…
I guess what i am saying is that i get bummed out when dudes allow their entire motivation for toy-making to be hinged on their toys selling…it can also bring up some nasty jealous feelings toward more successful individuals…in this world, when you feel like you are better than someone else and talk shit about your contemporaries you are fucked…that’s just my humble opinion…

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

It’s cool when i can sell some figures and have that finance the next project…

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

Those words are for the people scrutinizing my work…
Of course, what i am doing is totally un-original…i saw Healey Made’s instagram feed last year and caught the bug…i always get inspired by other artists, and i borrow, steal and appropriate techniques and ideas constantly…
I am sick of  the word “art”…it has become the weapon of critics, and critics are disgusting…
I am a toy maker, and the toys i make are someone elses’ intellectual property…i think that this medium is very complex…where it fits has yet to be determined…hopefully it will stay on the outside of the hipster art vomit party…

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

I have always had a need to make stuff…i don’t know why…it has been a real obstacle to my being a successful and complacent individual…maybe in the next life i will be a dentist or accountant…

What did you draw and make as a pre-teen child?

I drew dinosaurs, jets, guns, monsters, robots…i really suck at drawing…

What did you draw and make as a teen?

Me and a couple of friends made some really silly movies, and some bizarre music too…

Any pivotal artistic moment/influence?

In october of 2014 i ran into dain e marx…i hadn’t seen him in years and he turned me on to this crazy toy stuff…i became interested and then obsessed…then i saw the 3.75” series of gi joe/starwars mash-ups that healey did and that was all she wrote…i want to have a world based on an aesthetic…healey has that…

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

I poured my first mold in feb. 2015…my first release (behemoth) was a month later…
As for why: selling the stuff is part of the medium…or everybody else is doing it…or i needed beer money…

Toy Questions

Describe the process of producing your resin creations? – from original sculpt, moulding, production, to finally holding that sweet sweet resin in your hands… (dot point all o.k.)

I don’t work quickly or spontaneously…inspiration is elusive, but mostly comes from long drives…it always starts with 1 part (cool arm or head) and builds from there…
When i have decided to go ahead with a new figure i make separate molds of the individual parts, cast, clean, paint and assemble…
I work with other artists on the package graphics, but i assemble the packaging/cards myself…

What are the back narratives / tales to some of your resin creations such as:

I tried to cook up back stories for my figures, but i am no good at that sort of thing…i make the toys and let them be a conduit for other peoples ideas…

* ‘Behemoth’ ?

My first release…he belongs to the cyborg assassins line…i only made 5…i wish i had kept one for myself…

(Picture below of the Behemoth figure from ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’)

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* ‘The Green Knight’ ?

I chose to do a fully articulated figure as a challenge and as a way to turn heads…my pal jeff did the art and i included a cdr of  music jeff and i made in 2008…
It was a flop as far as sales go, but it was a success in execution…

(Pictures below of the Green Knight figure and some associated art by ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’ X ‘Choreboy’)

Hemlock Bootlegs - The Green Knight - 001

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Hemlock Bootlegs - The Green Knight - 002

Hemlock Bootlegs - The Green Knight - 005

Hemlock Bootlegs - The Green Knight - 003

* ‘Striborg’ ?

This figure is awesome…i cast the run but had no idea what to do about paint…i posted some pictures of the blanks on instagram and soon after small angry monster approached me about painting them…that was a great day!!!…
Adam and i had the same basic idea about how he should look, and he is so talented i knew that he was the only person that could give striborg the treatment he deserved…
I was aware that conventional blister/card packaging was not an option…i knew that i would need to make boxes…i approached fraizer robotics about doing the graphics and he absolutely killed it…
I feel so lucky to have been a part of the team that realized that figure…it is haunting and dark with an absence of humor…
Let me say that striborg was a bitch to fabricate…the work that went into cleaning the parts plus the time adam spent on each figure must be somewhere around 10 hours per figure…

(Picture below of the Striborg resin by ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’ x ‘S.A.M’ x ‘Fraizer Robotics’)

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* ‘The Outsider’ ?

After all of the complicated and intricate work that striborg demanded, i needed to have some fun…i had recently gotten the adventure people space lady and i knew that i wanted to do a project with the parts…
It was also my first figure cast in clear resin…
I contacted neil devlin of last boss comics and he made this hilarious and beautiful card art…
The figure is so simple and silly…the colors are fun to play with, and people really got what i was going for…
The outsider has been my most successful figure so far…i have produced 3 variant runs that have all sold out, as well as a shit-load of custom one-offs…
The outsider has also inspired me to do an entire line of related characters collectively known as “space force”…it will be 4 new figures plus a new edition of the outsider…neil is doing the art, it is so fucking delicious!!!…i want to take my time on production and have all of the figures finished before i drop it…there is a heap of work to do…
I am shooting for spring 2016…

(Pictures below of the Outsider figure from ‘Hemlock Bootlegs’ x ‘Last Boss Comics’)

Hemlock Bootlegs x Last Boss Comics - Outsider - 001

Hemlock Bootlegs x Last Boss Comics - Outsider - 003

Hemlock Bootlegs x Last Boss Comics - Outsider - 002

Hemlock Bootlegs x Last Boss Comics - Outsider - 004

Please explain what it was like working with ‘Last Boss Comics’ on the card art for your ‘Outsider’ figure?

Neil is a peach…i present very sparse concepts and he produces the images i see in my minds eye…he is fast as fuck and he will make changes without hesitation…the guy is brilliant, funny and a super nice dude…he designed my logo that i love so much…

… and what about working with ole ‘Choreboy’ on your ‘Green Knight’ figure?

Jeff is one of my best friends…i met him in 2007 when he joined my friends band and we traveled across america playing music for 31 days …the two of us had a crazy noise project called the green knight, and we released “the eternal om” on cassette in 2008…
When i got the idea for the figure i went to jeff and he hooked it up…
He is another genius that i have the fortune to know…read his comics!!!…they are so funny and the drawing is perfect…please check him out @choreboy (instagram)…
We have a new project on the drawing board…the art is actually finished, i just have to make the toys…

What was it like collaborating with ‘Small Angry Monster’ and ‘Robotics Club’ on the technical and intricate Striborg resin?

It was amazing…adam and fraizer are really nice and sincere people and they do their respective crafts without ego, which is important when realizing a vision through another persons hand…
These incredibly talented individuals took the time to make my work look beautiful…i am very lucky…

Resin Vs. Vinyl toys – who wins and why?

I don’t know enough about the art toy scene to even have an opinion…there seems to be a few different genres…
I am only concerned with bootlegs…and bootlegs will always rule!!!…outlaw for life!!!

Are art-toys for the kids?

It depends on the kid…
I intend for my work to be looked at and displayed, but if the person that bought it wants to play with it, what can i do?…

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?

I am unaware of any rise…but i really have no idea what is actually going on…if nerds or spazzoids with too much $krilla need a toy fix, i will be their huckleberry…

What does your family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter Pan aspect of toy art + toy collecting?

My wife is awesome…she supports what i am doing 100%…although i test her patience with the perpetual mess in my little work room in our house…
I love you sweetie…

(Picture below of Doug and his wife in Halloween mode)

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What role did toys play in your childhood?

I was extremely misanthropic as a child…toys were an oasis for me…toys were a  relaxing escape from the stress and pressure of being a child…it is so wonderful to be able to re-visit the old friends that were always there for me…they are more beautiful and interesting than they have ever been…

Odds n Ends

Please describe your experiences growing up in America?

It was a very american experience…apple pie, baseball, bitchin’ camero…i am really glad i didn’t grow up somewhere else…

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

I took acid a few times when i was much younger…
It was fun, i had a clear conscious back then…
I would not touch that stuff now…i can’t commit to 8 hours of introspection…i require a guaranteed euphoria when it comes to chemicals…

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

Yes i have several releases planned for 2016…
The space force line i mentioned earlier will be a large scale collaboration with last boss comics
Choreboy and i have something really special thats gonna drop on 4.20.2016…
Other than that i hope to do some more work with d. a. marx toys…dan iartand i have been friends for a very long time…he is so much fun to work with…the last time we had a sweat shop session we made the molds for a new figure (zuru zuru)…the molds are probably the best i have ever made, the casts are flawless and the figure design is the dopest ever…i really want to get a run fabricated, people are gonna dig this one…

Any major projects you want to hype?

On 10.31.2015 i released my latest figure the salt witch…
She is cast in translucent blue resin with tons of glitter…she glows in the dark also…
Anybody that wants to buy one can get the hook-up at www.hemlockbootlegs.bigcartel.com

Links

Hemlock Bootlegs – Online Store

Hemlock Bootlegs – Instagram

Hemlock Bootlegs – Site

Hemlock Bootlegs - Logo 001

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