Cal of ‘Cal’s Customs’ + ‘Zumps’ fame is an Australian toy designer making major waves in the global pop art sphere thanks to his sculpting skills and the amazing world he has created with his ‘Zumps’ creatures.
Fans, foes and friends can find Cal most days in his lair – the ‘Calstars‘ shop in Newtown, New South Wales, Australia. Here he can be found working on his plans for world domination via designer toys, art and pop culture!
(Photo below of Cal in his lair)
With Cal constantly evolving as an artist – word on the street his newest figures have magnetic articulation – and making major waves as mentioned with his ‘World of Zumps’, now is the perfect time to get to know the man and his creations, by reading the Art Talk interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
I was born on the fourth of the fourth 1984.
City, State n Country you currently call home?
Currently live in Concord.
City, State n Country you’re from?
I was born at Westmead hospital Grew up in Bents Basin.
(Photos below showing the process behind Cal’s latest art toy creation)
Describe a memory from some stages of your life ….basically trying to piece together some pivotal moments. Concerts, art, toys, romance, school, crime… ANYTHING really!
* age 5 – beginnings:
My parent’s owned a Toy World growing up so I was fascinated with toys. As an only child it was a great escape.
I learnt from a early age from my Mother who was also a antique dealer how to collect and what would turn into something valuable in the future and look after my toys.
* age 10 – continuations:
I was really into comics!!
I wanted draw comics when I grew up.
* age 15 – getting serious:
I started playing drums loved playing competition basketball and was really into collectables, comics toys etc and riding bmx and listening to new metal!
* age 20 – young adult:
Was party time!
I was singing in a heavy metal band playing drums and going to Australian institute of music.
* age 25 – adult mode:
Was mostly a blur… still singing in heavy metal bands and playing drums.. working at not very exciting jobs.
* age 30 – fully formed:
Basically now I run Calstars Pop Culture store at 76 Enmore road where I sell comics toys collectables and work on custom commissions for people (funko customs) and also trying to start my own toy comic animation line the ZUMPS.
‘The artistic adult is the child who didn’t die.’
When and why did you first start making art of any type!?
Started drawing when I was in primary school mostly X-Men and video games.
Any pivotal artistic moment(s) / influence(s)?
A big influence was my best friend Jason… he was a amazing artist and was very talented in any kind of art!
(Photos below of some ‘Zumps’ figures by Cal)
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
I started sculpting in my mid 20s and never took it seriously just making little sculptures for my friends and family!
I started taking my sculpting and painting seriously when I started the shop in Newtown. I had no idea what I was doing but just kept trying to get better.
When I started making wedding cake toppers I knew it was getting more serious!
Do you consider what you are making to be art, design, re-hashed crap?
I have never called what I do art!
I find it off putting when people call them selves artists ? I don’t know why it just doesn’t sit with me well…
(Photos below showing the progression of a custom ‘Funko’ figure by Cal – from sketch, to sculpt, to finished product!)
Worst aspect of the contemporary art hustle?
The worst part is mostly people who don’t understand or appreciate what I make and either pick it apart or think that it is lame.
Best aspect of the contemporary art hustle?
It’s a fun but trying venturing into something that’s new and unknown to me.
I just keep sculpting and making moulds and hopefully I get better and improve and make more contacts within the scene.
Favorite other artist(s)?
Frank Ghery architecture.. amazing brilliant really gorgeous work
Francis Bacon… I love how dark and disturbed his art is!
Designer Toy Questions
Describe the process of producing your toys? – from original sculpt, moulding, production, to finally holding that sweet sweet finished product in your hands… (dot point all o.k.)
• I start sculpting with super sculpey and never draw a concept design,
• I have a basic idea or inspiration then I start sculpting and what’re starts to take shape I go with that..
• After I’m happy with the sculpting I bake
• Then I make a two or one piece mold.
• I then pour the resin then sand dremil and then start to paint and seal.
(Photos below showing the progression of a custom Abe’s Oddysee figure by Cal)
Digital Vs Hand sculpting – what wins and why?
I have honestly never tried digital sculpting.
But I think sculpting with your hands is more rewarding 😉
Are art-toys for the kids?
I think art toys should not have a age range… but obviously you would not give a 5 year old a $500 piece to play with! Haha!
Is the rise of art toys / designer toys an indication of the changing nature of art? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?
I have no idea if it’s getting more popular I definitely do not have my finger on the pulse. I just do what I do and hopefully someone gets it.
(Some ‘Zumps’ inspired art below)
Thoughts on the current state of the ole Australian Art Toy Scene?
I’m sure there is a scene but personally I have only been to one art toy exhibit.
It’s definitely not as big as it Is in the US.. but that’s standard here.
What role did toys play in your childhood?
Toys played a huge part!!!
I was always playing always escaping and taking off TMNT LIMBS and re-attached to other characters.
Toys were a great escape also to imagine other worlds battles and my friends.
(Photos below of some custom Funko by Cal)
As part of your art toy work, you have created your own independant world of charecters called ‘Zumps’…. For those reading at home…
* what exactly are ‘Zumps’?
ZUMPS are a mythological creature from outer space that got attacked by a mysterious monster and have fled their planet and crash landed in Australia.
* do other creatures exist within their world – what are they if so?
They have technology, spaceships and robots and their are different versions / factors of ZUMPs.
* how did the very first ‘Zump’ come into existance?
The first ZUMP was created in 2015. I wanted to make a cute but also a little scary creature.
I was very much inspired by 80s toys and pop culture characters… Like: Gizmo, Ludo ( the labyrinth), Ewoks and Critters!
(Some more ‘Zumps’ inspired art below)
Odds n Ends
Please describe your experiences growing up in Australia?
Growing up in Sydney was a challenge… kids can be cruel.
Please describe what you think the Australian Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?
The mentality is quite odd… I have traveled through America and Europe and always felt we a lacking in culture and art… especially compared to Melbourne.
(Some Zumps by Cal ready for adoption!)
Who was your 1st crush and why?
1st crush was a girl that was a bit older than me she worked as a secretary at my Mum’s antique business… And…
Does sex change everything?
…Yes!! Sex changes everything!!
Which cartoon character, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?
Sex toy definitely pickle Rick !!
(Photo below of Cal’s Pickle Rick from ‘Rick and Morty’ tribute sex toy.)
Who would win in a fight and why: A gang of Zumps Vs. A group of adorable Ewoks ?
In a fight definitely depends on which ZUMP?
There a different kinds eg hippy ZUMPs that love peace and unity and there are the voodoo skull ZUMPs that a full of adventure and and pure warriors/protectors.
(Photo below of the battle in all it’s violent beauty!)
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
Since I started smoking again I can’t remember my dreams 🙁
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
Remembered for hopefully the ZUMPs!
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
Love hate relationship with drugs…
It’s great when you start taking experimenting with drugs but there comes a time if you have a addictive nature they start using you!
What are the top 3 items you own?
(Please include photos or art of them!)
(1) My hikari set of batman
(3) Heath ledger hot toy
If people wanted to collaborate, work with you or just buy some art – how should they get in touch?
Email, Facebook or Instagram!
Calscustoms84 / cals customs instagram / firstname.lastname@example.org
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Not as yet but keen – get in touch!
Any major projects you want to hype?
Working on a animation theme song for the ZUMPS.
(Photos below of the Rari creation by Cal)
- Cal’s Customs – Facebook
- Cal’s Customs – Instagram
- Zumps World – Instagram
- Calstars Pop Culture Shop – Facebook