Mr. Frank Kozik is art. Art is Frank Kozik. Simple as that really.
Why? Well Mr. Kozik has been in the art hustle since the early 1980’s, working in poster art, video directing, record label ownership, design, and recently the realm of art toys; all to much acclaim. In fact, IF there was a venn diagram representing pop-art since the 1980’s, Mr. Frank Kozik would be the centre of it – independent, yet connected.
(Picture below of Mr. Kozik putting the finishing touches on some of his art)
So get to know Mr. Frank Kozik, and his art in the interview below…
Basics/Getting to Know
Name + D.O.B?
Frank Kozik 1/9/62
City, State n Country you’re Repping?
The 415 , motherfucker.
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Kozik’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, college… ANYTHING man.
* age 10 – pre pubes:
Summers on the beach/ocean.
* age 15 – pube rage:
Coming to the USA and doing shit for the first time like smoking weed, driving cars and so on
* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:
Getting to Austin and meeting punk rock.
(Picture below of a Nike SB sneaker, designed by Mr. Kozik)
‘This shit isn’t going to_________ itself”
Many. But mostly crap like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and their modern equivs. Electric Wizard. Church of Misery. I like hillbilly shit too.
Favorite TV show(s)?
None really. Not a tv sort of person. I guess Star Trek back in the 70’s…last few years I have liked stuff like American Horror Story, GoT, Deadwood.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
NONE. That shit sucks. I stopped playing war when I was like 10. Grow the fuck up.
The list is exhaustive. Mostly sci fi stuff. Historical dramas.
Favorite books and comics?
Historical, science fiction and fantasy books. Comics..MAD magazine, weird DC era Kirby, EC. Mortadelo Y Filemon. Heavy metal in the 70’s. Euro shit. Some weirder manga.
(Picture below of Necromorth the Christraper art + figure, by Mr. Kozik)
Specifics on Art
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
You got me man, it just happens. Mostly people seem to like it. I do a lot of it.
When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (toys, drawings, paintings, anything)?
Age 3? First memories where drawing stuff, making stuff.
Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle full time?
Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?
NONE. Pivotal moment.. ‘what, I get paid for this?! AWESOME’ – around 1982.
Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?
All of them. Except for that one dude who is a douche.
Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
The loss of stat cameras and amberlith. Really fucked up silkscreening.
Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?
Freedom from douchebag societal work rules.
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?
It’s a new genre of popular art. ‘underground sculpture’. I sella huge amount to [people who are not nerds in any way.
Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)
Right now Paul Kaiju‘s stuff.
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…
The ‘non’ Skullbrain scene is amazing. ‘Skullbrain’ is 6 dipshits talking crap out they ass. Fucking shame Japanese toys are cool.
What are your thoughts on ‘The Sucklord’, and his role in the art-toy scene? (I ask as he is kinda the ‘ur’ toy-bootlegger; and as you have collaborated with him)
I think he’s a good performance artist. The actual ‘toys’ are just incidental.
(Picture below of the Kozik x Sucklord ‘Krono Pussy’ resin figure + card-back)
You teamed up with ‘KidRobot’ back in 2003 to release your Labbit character in vinyl form. What are your thoughts on ‘KidRobot’s’ position and role in the toy-art scene? They seem to be a very polarizing company…
Its been a long road and very good for me. No complaints. The reality of the business is brutal, and people need to understand how fragile it is and quit bitching.
You recently teamed up with the brand ‘Mishka’; painting a release of their bootleg sofubi toy, and working on some t-shirt designs with them for their new San Francisco store. What are your thoughts on Mishka’s position and role in the toy-art scene? They seem to be a much loved company.
They are the new Bape. Very important. Dig their shit. Fun guys too. Deep nerds with spicy flavor.
You have been collaborating with Skinner a lot recently, painting a run of his Ultrus Bog sofubi, and also allowing him into your art-space to work together – how did you 2 start your artistic relationship/bromance + how has collaborating with him affected your practice?
I saw those giant sculpts he did, the Wizard, Swamp Hag and barbarian on his website and emailed him. We sort of became instant friends and spend a lot of time together. We understand each other. Its good. I REALLY like his art AND his personality.
(Picture below of the Kozik x Skinner ‘Ultrus Bog’ release)
You were recently involved in the release of a new head sculpt for the NagNagNag toy by Shig. What is Shig like as a person and an artist?
I like his figures, he seemed OK. Have no idea what he’s really like, immense language barrier.
What are your thoughts on NagNagNag in general?
Cool concept, figures are nicely done. Are they worth 3000? No idea.
What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
She also collects stuff, and toys. So its perfect. But , understand, I don’t take the toys home. Theres a place for toys and collecting and then theres real life.
You talk of how you got into toys, and abandon music – your label, and career in poster art – in the early 2000’s when you turned 40; typical mid-life crisis I take it?
The opposite. I was super bored with ‘the music scene’ and ‘low brow’ art and the ‘toy shit was sort of really interesting. Its been a LOT more fun to create the toy type stuff, way more reach and scope.
Frank Kozik Art Questions
Describe the method of making a Frank Kozik piece? (dot point all o.k.)
There’s a thousand different scenarios. It depends on what it is. A toy? A painting, an illustration? An ad campaign? Voice over work? A book cover? A motorcycle?
I mean at some point a pencil and paper is involved, but after it depends on the piece/situation. I could use clay , a welder,or a computer its always different.
(Picture below of some of some of the many Labbit art toys, by Mr. Kozik)
Are all your works by made by yourself? If you use collaborators; whom and in what capacity?
I use pro sculptors to do the masters for toys and figures. Everything else I do myself. I can sculpt, but its not time/cost effective.
You have mentioned briefly your contribution to the ‘mail art scene’ which was prevalent in the late 1960’s through early 1980’s. What were your mail-art pieces like? And please describe the mail art ‘scene’ at the time.
My stuff was basically shitty new-wave looking drawings and collages. Xeroxed…I sent shit to people for a while, got some stuff back, It was exciting and weird because basically back then, we ahere all really spread out and it was cool to make contact..
Some of that shit had a big effect on my head…the possibility of weirdness. I then realized I could make a living making weirdness.
You talk about corresponding with members of COUM Transmissions/Throbbing Gristle in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. What are your thoughts on the legacy left by COUM and TG, both their art and music?
Basically there is none, except for a few older people that maybe still care. It was all very ‘interesting’ and ‘we have a secret’ back then. It may have ‘informed’ street art or fashion photography at some point.
I stopped being ‘industrial’ around 1989 or so and got colorful in my designs. The older I get the less I like it..I really like ‘life’ and ‘color’ and cheesyness’ now.
(Picture below of a poster by Mr. Kozik for ‘The Butthole Surfers‘)
You have directed in the past, including the video for Soundgarden’s 1996 track Pretty Noose. Why did you abandon directing? And how and why did you originally get into film art?
I did like 3 ‘big videos’ ( art direct 1 and directed 2) I really like doing it and working with the bands and the crews, but the ‘music label/mtv’ assholes where UNBELIEVABLE to deal with such dicks.
It was an interesting experience, and I did have an opportunity to do a lot more but just didn’t want to deal with the ‘industtry’ asshats at all. That medium died pretty quick anyways. But it was fun, and I was good at at it.
Frank Kozik General Questions
You talk of how you have ‘little to no attention span’, and how this has contributed to your career as an artist, but how does your ADD/short-attention affect the rest of your life?
I get a lot done fast. I can absorb a huge volume of information, and am able to forget negative shit right away and get on with more life. Its an asset.
I don’t sit around thinking about the past at all. Ever. No paralysis. Forward motion always. Shit gets done.
What does ‘punk’ mean to you?
Making fun of everything, especially punks.
What is your relationship like with The Melvins? – I ask as you not only provided the cover art for releases such as Houdini, but also released a Melvin’s LP on your old record label Man’s Ruin.
It was excellent for a long time, then went to hell when the label folded and I walked away from the music thing. It happens.
(Picture below for Mr. Kozik’s art for the Melvin’s ‘Houdini’ LP from 1993)
Much of your work references the military, what are your thoughts on conscription?
If it was universally applied to EVERYONE it would be a great thing.
Teach people a few reality lessons. I spent 4 years in the military and it totally improved me as a person. I went in a useless idiot and emerged as an effective adult.
You have stated that you feel a government’s primary role in to ‘control the populace’, and that as a result, you prefer a government that is insufficient. Do you think such a role for government is inevitable, or can there be room for the existence of a government whose primary role is to ‘care for the populace’, using ‘common sense’?
Look man, the Federal Government should be VERY LIMITED. End of story. Local rights, States rights etc.
You have stated that you are respectful of religion, whilst not being a believer yourself. What role do you think religion plays and/or should play in today’s increasingly atheist society?
People should be free to think whatever they want. If having a God makes you happy, cool. If your like me and are real comfortable with being a temporary speck of nothing, that’s cool too.
Tell you what..’religious people’ over the course of my life have been a lot kinder to me than non religious people. So, go figure. I respect their right to believe.
What are your thoughts on the ‘war on drugs’ and the slow but gradual legalization of marijuana in the USA?
Make it all legal, tax the shit out of it and spend that money on my toys.
Any collaborations on the horizon?
Many. People will HATE but still WANT. LOL.
Any major projects you want to hype man?
I got 7 decks with Creature hitting soon.