Jaki C. aka Jactoon of ‘JactoonAndCo’ is an Australian artist hailing from Newcastle, NSW.
Art for Jaki is a compulsion. She has always created, and always will. With all her art hinting at childhood joy, seen through the lens of experience.
(Picture below of the Sad Hatter resin from ‘JactoonAndCo’)
With support from ‘Tenacious Toys’, many many followers online, and a busy 2014 ahead, now is the perfect time to get to know Jaki C. AKA Jactoon of ‘JactoonAndCo.’ by reading the Art Talk, below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Jactoon, December 1973 ( a while ago)
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
(Picture below of Jaki in toy making mode)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Jactoon’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, uni… ANYTHING ma’am.
* age 10 – pre pubes:
It’s all a little hazy to be honest. I had had a few life hicups before this age.
Had half my face bitten off by a dog at the age of 3, folks divorced at age 7 and also managed to get myself hit by a car just before my 9th birthday…..my poor mother! If one of the kids was going to be injured it was me, lost count of how many dog bites I had as a kid.
In reference to Art, all I really remember was Coloring in many coloring-in books and ‘Footrot Flats‘ comic books…Remember those?
As a young kid all I really wanted was to be able to draw like my eldest sister. Favorite toy back then was a Huge Mr. T Action Figure; in denim overalls (never knew what happened to him)
* age 15 – pube rage:
WoW! 15 was a massive year for me! Spent my 15th birthday making a geographical move with my mother and sister from Melbourne, Victoria to Newcastle. I honestly thought I had died.
I wasn’t from a beach community and we initially lived in a little town called Caves Beach…. Great place for a holiday for a city kid but one major shock when it came to living and going to school etc.
Hated school as I had moved from a High School in Victoria with one Wicked Arts program, with separate classes for each medium to a High School that simply had 1 Art class and by this time I knew that I wanted Art to be a part of my professional life.
Besides watching my sister’s skills get better, and her teaching me a little, I had also discovered that my mother was one heck of a painter. It was in my genes so if I practiced I knew I could do it too but always lacked the confidence.
* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:
It’s really interesting the ages that you picked to ask me about as the last two were pretty major pivotal points in my life (as I guess it is for everyone really) by the age of 20 I had realized that I was a gay woman and had had a pretty major accident that stopped me from working.
I ended up leaving school at 17 and working any job I could get.
However, after my accident, I didn’t work for some period of time. I just spent my time in recovery mode and re-training…..sinking in my own self pity.
(Picture below of a resin skull – seen at day, and at night – sculpted and painted by Jactoon)
I Have Two!
“Everyday in Every way I’m getting Better & Better!”
…This relates to a couple of things…it started out as my meditation chant in recovering but I still try and use it in reference to my art skills….Believing in the theory that the more you do something the better you get!
“Life is a Test; It’s ONLY a test!”
The Cure, Fruit (Adelaide band), Pet Shop Boys, and of course like a lot of Aussie’s I can always go a bit of INXS or Cold Chisel!
Favorite TV show(s)?
Toy Hunter, but I rarely get to see it.
I will admit that we do watch The Block…..we like to discuss what we would do.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Don’t love or hate any sports but I really don’t like watching any of it on TV.
Maybe the Olympics, but even then it’s not every event.
I just get bored unfortunately, as sport fans always seem to have a great time!
Favorite books and comics?
‘First Person Plural’ by Cameron West, [and] ‘Many Lives Many Masters’ by Dr Brian Wies.
Don’t Grow Up ~ It’s a Trap
(Picture below of some ‘JactoonAndCo’ art)
What are the worst aspects of working in resin?
The mold making process can sometimes be a drag and I guess one would say the smell and the mess if you happen to have a spillage.
As well as if you live in Australia, the costs can really blow out for quality supplies.
What, to you, are the best aspects of working with resin?
I like taking two free flowing liquids and forcing it into spaces I create in the mold making process to create an entire new Solid 3D piece.
This I particularly love when the original piece being molded is one of MY original sculpts.
Are art-toys for the kids?
This is a tricky one…in MY opinion it all depends on the “type” of art-toy it is.
If it’s a one of a kind Custom Vinyl toy with lots of bits that could be broken with rough handling, or a Toy with an Adult theme, then one would say No, these types are not for the kids.
However we at ‘JactoonandCo’ try to make sure we cater to ALL age groups, making solid resin toys with no breakable or removable parts for the little ones, as well as those toys that are more suited to adults.
After all, the kids of today are the adults of tomorrow and being in Australia where the culture is quite small we to need introduce the little ones to the greatness of Art Toys as soon as possible.
What, to you, are the best and worst aspects of being an artist in Australia – a place previous Art Talk subject Mr. Ray Ahn critiqued for being culturally barren and backwards?
It certainly can feel like that at times that’s for sure!
One of the best aspects is it’s possible to be “new and exciting” but at the same time the lack of knowledge of our product can also be very frustrating.
I have found that the general public does not realize the passion that goes into these toys. Nor do they understand what resin is….. How often have we heard are they Playdoh??? Like, what is that??
Or the other question we commonly hear is “What do you do with it?” my regular come back is what do you do with your GI Joe?? Or Barbie??
Unfortunately it can sometimes feel like if the toys are not from a big company then they don’t think it’s any good…..what the general public needs to recognize is that these toys are almost ALWAYS made better than any bulk made toys.
You also run an airbrush tattoo business – care to elaborate on this for those playing at home?
Yes, we do! ‘The Girls at TAT – Temporary Airbrush Tattoos’ we set up just over 10 years ago now.
We mostly attend Music festivals in NSW including Defqon1, Stereosonic, Fat as Butter, Coaster, Groovin the Moo, Jazz in the Vines etc
We design and cut ALL our own tattoos. (that drawing practice eventually paid off)
‘The Girls at TAT – Temporary Airbrush Tattoos’ are Proudly Sponsored by ‘Pillfreak Australia‘.
(Picture below of ‘the Girls at TAT’ logo)
What’s it like living and working in Newcastle, NSW, Australia? – In my opinion one of the most beautiful cities in NSW.
Yes you are right; it certainly is one beautiful city. I certainly appreciate it much more than I did at 15 that’s for sure.
Working out of Newcastle is not too bad, however all my suppliers are either in Sydney or Overseas.
You have discussed with me about breaking your back over 21 years ago as a result of falling off a horse…
* How has your back issues affected your art?
Well, in many ways if it wasn’t for my back injury I don’t even know if I would have found the passion to go back to my art.
Being a party animal in my younger years it was all about making $$$ so I could party. Even when I first broke my back, I tried to continue on working a “regular” job for 10 years afterwards.
Eventually, poor pain management and age caught up and forced me to stop working…
Art saved my life!
I slowly started drawing again and getting back in touch with skills I forgot I had as well as teaching myself new ones. And this is where I find myself today.
I can only do short stints at a time without changing it up a little. Always got five work stations going at the same time, just so I can change my body position.
I did spend a year in a wheelchair about 3 years ago from over doing it. It was the toughest twelve months I have put in since my accident and mostly because most of my art came to a holt until I found Instagram, and got back to my drawing…it always starts with drawing for me.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
There are so many of them! Just to name a few…. And I will put their Instagram user name for those at home…
@CashCannon1 from ‘4TheLuvofToyzNY’
@Extratruckestrial from ‘E.T Custom Toys‘
@PlayfulGorilla aka Alex Rivera
@JohnnythePezDunny from ‘RandomSkull’
@Renonelab – All Round Artist and Top Quality Guy too!
@DaveOlteanu aka My Tattooist
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Self promotion but without it no one will ever know who you are or what you do.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
The like minded people you meet along the way, new friendships formed through collaborations. As well as knowing that my little creations are bringing joy to others…after all, that’s what it’s all about.
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Yes I consider what I am doing is Art, with design thrown in.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (toys, drawings, paintings, anything)?
As mentioned earlier, Art has always been in my life in one aspect or another.
I remember making Fimo Bear badges around the age of 8 and I do remember selling a few of them and feeling pretty special, even had two go to England!!
In regards to Art being the ‘ONLY thing I do, that got serious about 10 years ago.
My first Art Toy was a custom Painted Vinyl Rabbit about 3 years ago named Stoned Bunny.
(Picture below of Jaki’s first custom – Stoned Bunny)
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
The only Art orientated training I have had is in Photography; I retrained in photography about two years after breaking my back. I took it as far as opening a Black & White studio in Sydney; however things didn’t turn out so well after a bad business partnership choice…
I learnt so much through that experience though, and that may have something to do with the success that Jayne and I have had out on our own.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
As mentioned earlier my back injury pushed me towards where my true passion was. Jayne [Jaki’s art, business and life partner] and I set up The Girls at TAT in 2003 as it was something we thought we could pick and choose what we did (when my back was good)
Things went really well, however we found that come winter, business dropped off completely. So….we started creating our ArtRocks, which are a flash back to the old Pet Rock! Well, these guys are so popular that we are still doing them today and there are roughly over 3000 circulating..
One thing lead to the other, I got back into my sculpting and was selling one of a kind piece’s and then taught myself the resin process.
Describe the method of making a ‘Jactoon’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)
Sometimes there is NO method, no reason and I just wing it…
* Your 2D work such as drawings and prints?
I’m not really one for laying out a piece when I’m drawing.
I like it to just flow from me as this is when I find I get the most success.
Very rarely do I even have a plan in my head and when I do it always ends up different from my mind’s eye.
* Yours 3D sculptural works?
Can go one of two ways….
If I have a plan, sometimes I will just go for it on the original sculpt. Other times I will be sitting playing with some poster tac and just come up with something that I just KNOW I must recreate.
So it goes:
2) Sculpt and finish to 100%
3) Make a Mold
4) First test pour
5) Make any alterations to the mold if required
6) Second test pour
7) Cast full run
9) Finish with or without Clear coat. I do like the feel of raw resin without a clear coat
11) Up for Sale
How did you come to have your work distributed by the much loved ‘Tenacious Toys’ company outta NYC?
I am fortunate enough to have Mr. Benny Kline aka @TenaciousToys as one of my followers on Intsagram….(there’s that common link again)
He saw something he liked and sent me a message, the rest, as they say is history.
I’m hoping to get more to him this year!
(Picture below of the Resin Rig Blank, by ‘Jactoon’, available from ‘Tenacious Toys’)
What are your thoughts on ‘The Sucklord’, and his role in the art-toy scene?
To be 100% honest with you I am not that aware of him to have an opinion. Ooops Sorry Sucklord!
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?
Most likely a little of both. Haha, I would like to think it’s the changing nature of Art..
It would be nice to get the same recognition as say a painter or ceramicist. After all we all put the same passion and skills to use.
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…
I personally like smaller runs of around 12 pieces per run and my true passion is for hand sculpted pieces rather than bootlegs.
Don’t get me wrong though, there are many bootleg toys that I love and I too have done them and will do more before I am finished.
Do you think once an artist has re-used a piece of pop-culture, it becomes harem for another artist to use it/spoof too? …I am thinking of ‘The Sucklord’ + ‘Boba Fett’; ‘The Mark Ultra’ + the hangman mask head; ‘Buff Monster’ and ice-cream etc.
In my opinion just because one artist has done a bootleg using an already existing pop figure doesn’t take it off the shelf for others.
After all so many of us are on similar wave lengths as it is and can often be working on things at exactly the same time.
I do think that doing an outright copy is just wrong in regards to any art!
Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)
Ah Come On Josh!! How does a toy lover answer that one! There are way too many to list and even more on my wish list!
My favorite piece for JactoonandCo is my upcoming Bruce, your Burden Buddy.
(Picture below of Bruce, your Burden Buddy coming soon from ‘JactoonAndCo’)
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
My Family is happy that I found something that fulfils me.
And all that know me, know that I have always suffered a little from Peter Pan Syndrome. If you cant find me, look for the kids or animals!
Jayne is thoroughly supportive; she does most of the selling as I tend to get frustrated at times.
Her rules are….do whatever you like but stop playing with those toys while I’m trying to sleep!! One must test glow in the qualities!!! However space is getting a little tight.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
There are a number of things on the horizon, some of which I am unable to talk about just yet.
I have finally finished my pieces for @extratruckestrial ‘s “Masters of an Undead Universe” and need to get them out to him.
We also may just have another little “Blind Bag” collaboration coming up soon
There is a possible future between Mike [Strum] from ‘StrumsArtToys‘ and myself, but that is all a little hush hush at the moment. I’m sure you will be the first to know.
(Picture below of Jactoon’s contribution to ExtraTruckEstrial’s Masters of the Undead Universe series)
Any major projects you want to hype man?
Stay tuned for the Release Date of Bruce, your Burden Buddy along with a couple of surprise pieces…