Kyle Renard is a UK based artist currently making major moves in the art toy scene with his company ‘Secret Demon Services’, and his latest sculptural creation: Smalmack.
(Picture below of the Smalmack vinyl, by ‘Secret Demon Services’)
With Smalmack currently being promoted by ‘Toy Art Gallery‘ – one of the meccas of the sculptural pop-art scene – and a busy 2014 planned, now is the perfect time to get schooled on Kyle and ‘Secret Demon Services’ by reading the Art Talk below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Kyle Lee Renard.
Jan 8th 1978.
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
Deep in the hills of Northern England.
(Picture below of Kyle getting his art on)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Renard’s pivotal moments.
Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, crime… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – beginnings:
1988 – Looking back i was definitely showing signs of being an obsessive collector even back then and back then it was GI Joe figures which captivated me.
I remember lining them up and just admiring the site and that same routine still applies today only with generally much more expensive mainly Japanese pieces but it’s that same warm content feeling of accumulating a collection of whatever which still drives me today…. it never left me and i’m glad it hasn’t.
Also discovering the world outside my house on my own.. with the aid of my first skateboard, a second hand purchase by my dad from a car boot sale which was the start of many years of skateboarding and the new freedom it brings to your life having this new form of transport.
I remember a group of us traveling to the next town on our boards on the hard shoulder of a motorway, i don’t think my parents new about that… then again they was a lot of things i did which my parents didn’t know about.
* age 15 – getting serious:
1993 – I left living with one parent following a divorce years previous to live with the other in a new town and starting a new upper school which was very hard on my young brain.
I left armed with my super nintendo, a ghetto blaster, a tape box with my Nirvana, GnR and a few other choice cassettes in a box and a box with my painted games workshop lead figures in to start my new life with.
My previous friends were all rockers as i was….. my new friends were all ravers…. breakbeat soon got under my skin which lead to a whole lot of fun over the next few years and it wasn’t long before i got my own turntables and the discovery of Hip hop and scratching.
* age 20 – adult mode:
1998 – I was driving the second VW Golf i had owned which was a Mk2 GTI 16V and was feeling pretty damn good about myself, i had always been a fan of Golf’s and owning this particular car was a big thing for me.
I had also starting being the designer for the Kitchen / furniture company i worked for so it was around this stage of my life when i really started paying attention to the world of design and gaining a much more in depth understanding of aesthetics, materials and colours etc which is the line of work i am still in today.
(Picture below of Kyle’s art station)
You never know whats around the corner.
Beastie boys, Jedi Mind Tricks (Vinnie paz), Nirvana.
Favorite TV show(s)?
I don’t really watch that much T.V really but what i have watched and loved over the years is:
Gavin and Stacey
David Attenborough’s wild life documentaries.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
Sports ?….. none, nothing, zero, your asking the wrong bloke mate.
Ever ? … That’s a hard one, certain films you see at certain points of your life particulaly when growing up really connect with you and tend to stick with you, so i would have to say
Stand by me
Back to the Future 1,2,3
Evil Dead 1,2,3
Joe Dirt (i just put an e on it, pronounce it dirte, sounds pretty cool)
(Picture below of a Kaws Child’s Play figure, painted by Kyle)
Favorite books and comics?
I’m not a big reader of books and i can count all the books I’ve ever read on 2 hands (probably).
I’m currently really enjoying looking for old mystery / horror and ghost comics like ‘The house of mystery’ by DC, i love those old style of stories and its turning into quite an obsession hunting them down.
What are your thoughts on ‘The Sucklord’, and his role in the art scene?
He does his own thing and he does it well (or badly, which ever way you look at it).
There is something about the way he conducts himself which is quite alluring and people who collect his stuff will know what i mean, he is such a character and has done many many strange and interesting figures over the years, i have a large collection of his pieces my self.
There’s no denying he has most likely paved the way for many of the bootleg resin artists that are doing it today, ‘Killer Bootlegs‘, ‘The Markultra’, ‘Retroband‘, who are all doing it there own way but i’m sure if the Sucklord hadn’t started it who knows who would have been or not be doing it now.
I think he showed that there was no rules and no end to oddity you can put out there and also to shamelessly bootleg the hell out of anything you want with no apparent repercussions, just do what you want with anything and fuck everyone.
He inspired me to do my own line of 334 figures a few years ago called ‘Toy wars’ a star wars and toy story mash up.
(Picture below of the Salem’s Lot version of Smalmack, by ‘Secret Demon Services’)
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?
Like most things its probably a combination of a lot of elements. There are various important factors which have fuelled its rise. The internet No. 1, and a generation with a star wars, he man, gi joe background who subconsiously had unfinished business with toys…. they made such an impact on people like us.
It also allowed people who maybe couldn’t draw or paint well to still express themselves in toy design, customising etc similar to how rap music allowed somebody who couldn’t sing to still have a voice and put them self across.
It’s modern and rebellious, fully grown men and women putting so much effort and time into what is still considered to many a child’s play thing and making something desirable, collectible, valuable and beautiful, how can that not be appealing, it suits our genaration perfectly.
(Picture below of two Smalmack one-offs for ‘Toy Art Gallery’)
Are art-toys for the kids?
Why not if a kid likes it and sees some beauty or playability in it, why shouldn’t he have one.
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 don’t know i haven’t given it much thought.
Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)
Again hard to say, i know which pieces knock my socks of today and the ones that i find my self examining the most but there has been various pieces throughout my life which have done it for me at that time:
A young child = Bobafett, Trap Jaw, Fakor.
Getting older = Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Zartan – i severely loved Action Force (GI Joe).
First discovering designer toys early 2000’s = Pete Fowler’s Monstrooper.
Now = bang into modern kaiju.
So hard to say, i love many many pieces… Cure’: boogieman, ‘Nagnagnag’: Boryoku genjin Og head is a fascinating thing, there’s so many.
(Pic below of a Boogieman by ‘Cure’, one of Kyle’s favorite toys)
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
She is sick to death of it and has pretty must lost all interest in what i show her.
I’m sure at some point years ago… i think i can remember it evoking a slight bit of interest but through a ridiculous amount of exposure to toys she no longer has any patience or interest left in what i love ….if i’m being totally honest…. although she has a few moments to spare for my own stuff but the collection…. Fak all.
My kid’s think they are cool though especially my daughter i think she is showing signs of really appreciating them as objects of beauty.
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.
I personally think you should try and be original and if some else has jumped on a particular idea then leave it to them for your own credibility.
To me it’s like someone telling the same joke as someone else just after someone else has just said it… that’s how i feel anyway.
There is a lot of ideas in the world to use and to try and make your own and identify yourself with… but obviously there are no rules to art and people do whatever takes them, and if someone else feels compelled to go with an already used theme then it’s up to them.
I just think you are on your way to more respect and greater success with a new idea, but that’s just my opinion.
I like originality and i respect it, it’s hard to do something totally original nowadays and as the years go by its getting harder and harder but when someone does something totally original then that’s cool and it gets my total respect.
(Picture below of some unassembled Smalmack heads + the original head sculpt)
What are your thoughts of the toy forum scene as a way for fans and artists to communicate? Is it a real ‘community’ or just a virtual locker-room shit talk? I ask as we are both members of ‘Skullbrain’…
Skullbrain is a great source of information for everybody but comment wise and from what i have seen not always the best place for positive interaction.
It’s too easy for some people to get carried away with their comments but i think Skullbrain is a cornerstone of that particular kind of toy scene.
I really like Instagram, short and simple comments and pretty much zero negativity and attitude and all the good shit you want to see.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Getting buyers for your stuff you have made and love and have put everything into.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
I love all aspects of it, seeing your finished product in front of you is a good feeling.
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Definitely all 3… how can it not be, there is definitely art about what i do, and a whole lot of thought went into the design and considering how pretty much everything has been done before then its also re-hashed crap but not in a bad way.
(Picture below of a ‘Futura‘ Nosferatu custom by Kyle)
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, anything)?
I always remember having a little sketch book when i was 9 or 10 and doing little horror doodles and iv’e always delved in and out of drawing, painting, model making throughout my whole life.
I remember customizing matchbox cars when i was young, painting them up and gluing guns on top mad max style and making little backpacks for my GI Joe figures in class from plasticine when i was about nine, then i really got into painting games workshop figures when i was 11 or 12.
I pretty much stopped from about 15 to 24 until i discovered designer toys in 2002 and a couple of years later after immersing myself in the scene i just decided to paint one up my self and that was it i was back at it and i haven’t stopped since.
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
No official training as such with a recognized qualification or anything but i was trained by an amazing artist in perspective drawing and bespoke kitchen / bedroom / furniture design when i was 19 for the job i had and iv’e done that ever since and now have my own business doing just that.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?
The first pieces i hustled were my ‘Toy wars’ carded pieces about 3 years ago.
I just did one for fun for myself.. thought it was cool and decided to make a few of them and see if i could sell them.. and i did.
(Pic below of one of Kyle’s ‘Toy Wars’ works)
Describe the method of making a ‘Secret Demon Services’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)
* your sculptural work?
On an evening, in the living room, night after night, a little bit at a time and a whole lot of thinking in between.
* your 2D work such as your header art?
I love creating images / headers on my laptop.
I usually just think of a theme / style i want then find the relevant images / fonts and play around with it until it looks right…. fairly simple really.
(Picture below of a ‘Secret Demon Services’ header for Smalmack)
What was the process involved, in producing your sculptural vinyl work, Smalmack – from initial sketch, to sculpt, to holding that sweet sweet vinyl in your hands…?
After practicing with super sculpey i set about designing the monster i wanted making into a toy.
I actually sketched him up one saturday morning at work and i immediately fell for the freaky little fellow and couldn’t wait to get started sculpting him. So i started that evening and worked on it nearly every night until he was ready to send of to Ricky at the fort in Japan.
I knew it would be quite a while until i got the vinyl pieces back with me but that gave me time to get the paints and really practice with an air brush as well as really studying sofubi paint jobs.
Then many months later they arrived so assembly started then painting began… then voila a little army of finished Smalmack’s.
(Picture below of Kyle’s original sketch of Smalmack)
What is the back narrative to Smalmack?
When i started thinking about my toy and what he would be i had the idea of something who poses as your friend but who has a secret much nastier intention… Trust no one !!!
This evolved into an entity who would pass into our world from another realm who has a friendly face / mask that conceals their true identity…. a complete fucking beast.
Then i went from there.. oozing boils, a mouth in the stomach with razor shape teeth to devour you after initially befriending and charming you, the horns and hooves…. obvious features for a demon like figure and fingers that have become bent and twisted over the years from countless wicked deeds committed with their own hands…..Lovely eh.
Does your self-directed work all exist in its own ‘universe’? (Yes; I am basically asking if you see your characters all interacting in your head.) IF so, what do they get up to?
Smalmack is simply a metaphor for people that exist in the world.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
No collaborations at the moment confirmed…. although iv’e got one in mind that i would like to see happening.
I’ve been asked to do a painted run of someone else’s toy, which i’m up for doing, he’s a great guy who’s done a great toy so i’m exited about that.
Any major projects you want to hype man?
Started sculpting another creature.
Planning my next Smalmack release.
I’m gonna do some customs as well this year, I’m about to paint up a full size ceramic skull for somebody.