Art Whore

Art Talk – The Angry Beast – Artist, Toy Maker and Member of the ‘ToyRonto’ Art Crew

The Angry Beast is the nomme de guerre of a Canadian artist and toy maker who works anonymously to keep their identity hidden from stalkers, haters, copyright lawyers, US Drones and the potential wrath of their conservative employer. Over the last few years The Angry Beast has gained a reputation internationally for his unique resin creations – which are made through a combination of kit-bashing, hand sculpting and the occasional use of fabrics.

The Angry Beast creates whole worlds, character biographies and narratives for his resin creations; setting him apart from the majority of the resin scene who mainly concentrate on pop-culture mash-ups. Additionally, his creations are expertly crafted, unique and just plain fun!

Describing his own troys, and creative process The Angry Beast states,

It’s a combination of many skills actually, packaging design, mold making, resin work, illustration, writing, sculpting, photography, doll clothes tailoring, and a little bit of marketing.

(Photo below of a gang of clear resin figures from The Angry Beast)

Aside from their own internationally loved work, The Angry Beast is also a member of the recently created ‘ToyRonto’ art-crew, a group of like-minded artists, all living in Canada, who work in the medium of designer toys.

We have already interviewed some members of the ToyRonto crew, Lab Monkey Number 9, and Naomi Knaff; and will be interviewing other members of the crew over the next few months – so stay tuned for those!

But, at this very moment, get to know another of the members of the ‘ToyRonto’ crew – the ever talented, and surprisingly not at all aggressive artist, The Angry Beast – by reading their Art Talk Interview below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

The Angry Beast

City, State n Country you currently call home?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

City, State n Country you’re from?

South Western Ontario.

(Some resin figures by The Angry Beast below)

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

Okay, going to focus all of these answers towards art toys, but will try and pepper in some juicy gossip…

* age 5 – beginnings:

I liked the A-Team (Mr.T) and camouflage.
My Pet Monster,M.U.S.C.L.E., GI Joes as I got older, C.O.P.S., Pee Wee’s Playhouse was a big thing for me.
I have fond memories of drawing a lot as a kid. Hulk Hogan, Elvis…

* age 10 – continuations:

Drawing a lot. I loved Dick Tracey, the toys, the movie, the trading cards.
Ultimate Warrior.
Collecting hockey cards, towards the age 12/13 I got into Jimi Hendrix & Seinfeld.

* age 15 – getting serious:

I certainly wasn’t getting serious about anything at this point. Video Games, hockey, TV, Spacehog, WWE Attitude Era.
Also I was a chronic doodler. Doodle all day if I could, in fact I think I probably did on many occasions. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time but I was customizing some of my GI Joes, swapping legs, using hockey tape to replace a missing arms with a sharp objects, using sticks to give multiple arms, burning their heads with matches.

* age 20 – young adult:

It seems trivial but I was really into character creation in video games (WrestleMania 2000, No Mercy, Knock-Out Kings). Spent hours designing characters and building backstories.
University, perhaps a little too focused on having a good time. Although, in my last year of school, I got permission from the Fine Arts Faculty to take a drawing class (I had a very different major) which rejuvenated my creativity and desire to create art.
I was really into drawing skulls at the time.

(Photos below of some resin figures by The Angry Beast)

* age 25 – adult mode:

After university I applied to OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), for which I required a portfolio of work. I didn’t have one so I spent months drawing and putting one together.
I really just wanted to see if I could get in. I made it through the interview process and was accepted into the school. Didn’t end up going there, but the act of creating a portfolio reminded me that making art felt good.
Late 20’s I opened up a T-shirt factory in my broom closet apartment (more on that later). Really got into Jack White and Third Man Records. Inspired by how industrious White was/is.

* age 30 – fully formed:

Spent a lot of time creating my zine, Wack Science (more on that later too!) Married my beautiful wife!
Started making toys.

* age 35 – adult continuations:

Down the rabbit hole with art toys.
Found that creating art in multiples scratched an itch I didn’t really know I had. All systems go on my art toy initiative.
Also had a beautiful baby girl in 2017, who changed my life in the best way possible. She also loves art toys but currently prefers sofubi over resin. Going to have to work on that.
Personal motto?
I am the biggest collector of my own stuff.

Art Questions

Why the name ‘The Angry Beast’?

I’m of a certain vintage where, early in High School, having your own personal email was just becoming a thing. So my teenage-self came up with this really badass email address and the name Angry Beast has stuck with me (the email address has not).
I’ve used it for all artistic pursuits. It’s fun having an alter ego. It’s a very misleading name. I’m not angry, I’m very nice.
I like how the name contrasts my actual character. It’s a theme I have in a couple of my toys, RICK for example. He’s a super tough dude, stone cold, but he also sews his own vests, enjoys Bud Light Lime and is trying to quit smoking. An ultra-macho man but has these really soft sort of characteristics. Same with RICK’s frenemy CRAIG who is super sensitive about his hair.

When and why did you first start making art of any type!?

As a kid drawing, it was a fun & natural way for me to play.
Later as an adult when a strong desire to make things hit me. It’s still also a fun & natural way to play.

Any pivotal artistic moment(s) / influence(s)?

I’ll start with Mom and Dad. Serious collectors of cool stuff, antiques, vintage, etc. and very influential on my current status as a collectable creator.
When I figured out how to do silk screening that was a pivotal moment. That was when I realized I could make non-traditional art that wasn’t drawing. Also making t-shirts introduced me to the idea of multiples. I love that idea, making a bunch of stuff as one thing.
Playing around with consumerism and production, multiples is where it’s at for me.
Silk screening taught me about process, how to plan, got me comfortable with the idea of failure. Failure is an important component of toy making, it’s how you figure out how to do things that are worthwhile.
Another inspirational moment was in the early 2010’s when I found Healeymade on Instagram. Right away I felt like I intrinsically understood the art form and bought a toy from him to examine. Around that same time I also saw a couple Lab Monkey Number 9 toy sculptures when I was bar backing at this gallery here in Toronto. After finding these 2 guys I almost immediately started trying to figure out toy making.
Meeting Lab Monkey IRL was very influential. I stumbled across him at Fan Expo Canada and bought a Robert Cop off him, we chatted for a minute about toys and then I took it home to cherish. A few months later I had it figured out, landed on the process of resin and ran with it. Started by making Battle Totems, He the North, Contra Bros and Raisin’ the Dead. A huge thanks to all who bought this early stuff, production quality was rough compared to where I am at now.
In 2015,I had my RICK figure planned out but wanted to take my production and quality to the next level so I found Lab Monkey Number 9 AGAIN (on this thing called Facebook) I asked him to show me his pressure pot…and we formed a friendship over talking toy production. 🙂
Recently sharing a table with Toyronto (a Canadian Toy Artist Collective) at Fan Expo Canada. That was really inspirational, so many great toys to look at that weekend.
Also gotta give it up for Instagram. Certainly a catalyst for my toy career.

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

It’s art man!
My goal to make something unique. I want people to look at my toys and see something new, like with my Arborist or Xenolith figures. With those guys I was trying to create a feeling of nostalgia with the old wrestler bodies and then contrast that with confusion, introducing the abstract nature elements.  I’ve had a mixed reaction to those figures, but seeing people that get it with those toys, that buy them, makes me really proud.
What I’m doing is not just about making a toy, or head swapping. It’s about colour, texture, composition and storytelling. All of that makes it art. 95% of my toys are original characters. Sure I use bootleg parts but the stories and characters are new. Of course there are a couple exceptions to this, but even my Dune toys are original, based off of my interpretation of the novels.
What about my Darth Hockey figure? The Galaxy’s Greatest Goaltender? Re-hashed crap.

(Photos below showing some of the many variations of the Rick figure by The Angry Beast)

Worst aspect(s) of the contemporary art hustle?

I can talk about the art toy hustle… My biggest challenge is toy pricing. It is difficult for me to figure what cost to put on a toy. If I calculated the amount of time spent working on the craft, creating concepts, and actually making the toys my prices should be astronomical. But I would rather sell a toy at a reasonable cost to ensure that it ends up on someone’s shelf. I’m afraid to price myself out of someone’s range.
On the other hand I don’t want to undervalue my work (which I feel like I have done many times before) so it’s tough.
Also I’m not in the position where people are lined up to buy my toys, so I have to do what it takes to sell. I’m on the fringe of a fringe art scene.
I get annoyed when my art toy making gets referred to as a hobby. It’s not a hobby it’s a side project. It’s a skill that I have developed. It’s a combination of many skills actually, packaging design, mold making, resin work, illustration, writing, sculpting, photography, doll clothes tailoring, and a little bit of marketing.
Bird watching is a hobby.

Best aspect of the contemporary art toy hustle?

As a toy maker seeing my figures on other people’s shelves. When someone really gets whatever it is you’re trying to convey. RICK fans…I love ‘em.
Also for me, as someone who uses bootleg parts it is really satisfying when the borrowed parts disappear. Take Tex Hex (from Bravestarr) for example, the head I use for my world famous RICK figure. I’ve had a couple people mention to me that it is strange to see RICK’s head on Tex Hex. That feels good. To tell new stories with old toys, making the old toys disappear.
Meeting other toymakers is also pretty good. Sharing tips, nerding out, trading toys, being super vague about a new resin trick discovered hoping that they don’t totally figure it out.
And the galleries. The shows are really fun. They bring people to the next level and help validate the art form. Also it’s fun to see Instagram materialize IRL.

Favorite other artist(s)?

Jack White – Face melter/vinyl record king
Healeymade – Resin/design master
Cojica Toys aka Hiramoto Kaiju – All about the dinosaurs
Lab Monkey Number 9 – Canadian Toy Legend/resin lord/mold god
Frank Herbert – Dune rules. Not the movie though, it’s crap.
Moucoyama– insane 3D Print/vinyl mash up artist
Also all of my favorites from Toyronto! – more on this group later.

Whilst we know you through your art toy work – care to share with those at home the details of your other creative endevours… if any?!

Sure! For a bit I was into making silk-screens and t-shirts. This is where the Angry Beast started. A Lindsay Lohan print was my first masterpiece 😉 Followed by a Cindy Crawford print (hubbahubba), followed by a Huey Lewis design (yup), followed by a ‘Mutiny’ rip from an old pirate comic, and my t-shirt career came to a screeching halt with my last design – a Vanilla Ice t-shirt. Was waaaay too early for the 90’s resurgence. Might go over better now though.
After T-shirt Time came the zine, Wack Science. Started as a solo project but then spiraled into a collaborative thing with some buddies. Wack Science was a science fiction,  Archie Digest style comic illustrated by me with all kinds of super weird stuff happening. Comics, crosswords, Guinan pin-ups, fake letters section and strange advertisements. My pal Chad, a writer for the comic, also animated some of the stories and did all kinds of crazy music and SFX for the clips. I did 3 issues and have half of the 4th finished. Might release a compendium one day.
For both of these projects I just gave the stuff away. This was pre Instagram, before I realized people out there might actually want/pay for this stuff, that there might be a community of makers similar to what I was doing.

(Photos below of some early The Angry Beast art in the form of screen printed t-shirts and a zine called Wack Science)

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.)

  • Usually an illustration to kick things off (quick or detailed depending on my mood)
  • Parts sourcing (if needed)
  • Harvest parts
  • Sculpt
  • Mold
  • Magic
  • Writing (if story element is part of the plan)
  • Packaging design
  • Photography
I hold my process very tightly to my chest, it has taken me a long time to develop. What I do and how I make toys is very personal. That doesn’t mean I don’t share tips or haven’t received advice from others, I’m just not into throwing it all out there. That being said I’ll share some process pictures here that I haven’t shown before. A TMZ exclusive.

(Some exclusive behind the scenes photos below of The Angry Beast creative process.)

Digital Vs Hand sculpting – what wins and why?

Both are good.
I’ve never attempted to 3D sculpt or print so I can’t really comment on the process.
I like idea of sculpting by hand though, specifically for certain types toy making. Gives things an organic feel.  I just made my first fully hand sculpted piece, a shelf accessory called Getaway. I’ve sculpted bits before like the heads for my Tuft Boy figures, and the alien symbiote from my Ancient Alien, but never anything 100%. I can see myself going in that direction though – more of a sculpt/bootleg mix.

Are art-toys for the kids?

Art Toys are for lookin’ at and taking pictures of on a Friday night.

Is the rise of art toys an indication of the changing nature of art? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much money and time?

I am not a nerd and I have no money so it can’t be that.
An indication of the changing nature of art? Sure. Pop art has been mainstream for decades, add to that the Low Brow movement and the rise of the modern collector, all are impacting the nature of art.
People want art that they can relate to and many art toys hit that nostalgia button hard!

(Photos below of some resin ‘Dune’ tribute figures by The Angry Beast)

Thoughts on the current state of the Canadian Art Toy Scene?

The Canadian Art toy scene has never been better. There is currently a solid group of toy makers creating with different voices.
One thing I try to do, and I think a few other Canadian toy makers do, is create new characters, the Canadian scene seems to be more focused on that aspect of toy making, rather than pop culture tributes (they still happen though).
Also, we tend to go big up here. Large scale resin seems to have been a bit of a trend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go small.
Also it’s more of a bag and tag scene, compared to down south. I call what’s happening in the states the ‘American Carded’ scene. 3.75” scale, on card seems to be the recipe for success down there. Make your toy reference something from pop culture in a clever way and you’re off to the races. I would like to make a carded figure one day – just waiting for the perfect idea to hit.
The Canadian scene is making moves, we had a killer gallery show here in Toronto in March 2017 called Action Statue, and this year we came together to do the It Came From Canada show in Philadelphia (All hail Mothership Gallery and Trashbury!) As a group we can put on a good show, with a very diverse collection.
Also we have a gang now. Toyronto! A really talented group of toy artists that have joined up. Toxic Fumes Toys and his Money Mantis (among other great figs!), Darth Salesman who can sculpt the crap out of anything and has made the best little Owl DIY toy, Naomi Knaff the kaiju Queen, the insanity of Liege Toys (his Nurikabe is one of my prized possessions), Miawcomic from Montreal and her glowing cat ghosts, Modulicious convention overlord and Surveillance Tank Bot Specialist, the Legendary Lab Monkey Number 9 (his stuff is good guys, like really good), and honorary member 8BitMike #FreeResinToys
Also a shout out to Eric Clement, an insanely good painter who has dipped his toe into toy making, and Squiggly McPickins who has crafted some beautiful toys for the Toronto and Philly shows.
Also Santa. He lives in Canada and makes lots of toys, solid dude right there.
While there are definitely people who know what’s up, the general Canadian population has relatively no idea what art toys are…so we’ve got that going for us too.

What role did toys play in your childhood?

Highly influential. I was always playing and rarely without an action figure, in hand or in my pocket.
I always like the bad guys and the more flamboyant the better.
Gnawgahyde from GI Joe is an all-time fave.

What are the top 3 toys you own?

Spinodon by Cojica Toys, Cyclops Monster Beetle by Moucoyama, Sir Simian Savage by LM9.

(Photo below of The Angry Beast’s three favorite toys)

What impact do you think 3D sculpting and printing is having, and will have, on the art toy scene?

I really don’t know.
A good idea is a good idea, 3D printed, hand sculpted, or bootlegged, resin or sofubi, or any version of vinyl, it’s all good, unless it’s not.
I recently received some toys from a Japanese artist called Moucoyama, a mix of 3D printed and vinyl parts. They are the greatest toys and very inspirational.

If people wanted to collaborate, work with you or just buy some art – how should they get in touch?

Insta! DM @theangrybeast

Odds n Ends

Please describe your experiences growing up in Canada?

I’m very thankful/lucky/proud to have grown up in Canada. It’s a beautiful country, all people and places.

Please describe what you think the Canadian Psyche/Zeitgeist is today?

North America is a confusing place right now, and Canada is feeling it.
Are we stepping forwards or backwards? Pot is becoming legal but on the other hand, here in Ontario, our modern sex ed. curriculum is under attack.
Trump kisses the buttocks of Kim Jong & Putin but acts like a jerk towards our Prime Minister? But Bieber just bought a mansion near his old home town here in Ontario, so things are looking up.

(Photo below of some resin figures from The Angry Beast)

Who was your 1st crush and why?

Princess Peach, she needed my help!

Who would win in a fight and why: A bunch of angry, hungry Ewoks (from ‘Star Wars’) Vs. Bubbles (from ‘Trailer Park Boys’)?

No question.

(Art below by The Angry Beast of the battle in all it’s violent beauty!)

Please describe your latest dream in detail…

When I wake up I’ll be sure to tell you… lolz.

Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?

Tough one. Everything? If any one of my resin toys sits on a shelf long after I’m gone that would be nice. Or, maybe I haven’t made it yet.
I’d like to take one idea and really blow it out. Toy, Zine, T-Shirt, Stickers, Accessories, etc. Just have to land on a good one.
I also have a beautiful daughter (the ultimate kit bash) hopefully she remembers me as a good dad.

Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?

If you are of age, and it’s legal, please enjoy responsibly.

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

Nothing to mention…yet.

Any major projects you want to hype?

2019 List (subject to change)
3rd and final Angry Beast from my nature inspired triptych. (See: Xenolith and Arborist figures)
3rd figure in my Angry Beast Dune toy line. (See: Fremen Naib and Sardaukar)
A small run of Ancient Aliens.
More sculpture, more bootlegging, more nature inspired work.
I’d also like to do a new RICK this year with more articulation and accessories. He’s my Barbie, I’ll never stop making different versions of him.
Also I need to come up with a new mascot. The very famous Toronto landmark that inspired my He the North figure has firmly, but politely, asked me to stop making them. I’m famous!

(Photo below of some resin figures from The Angry Beast)