Jason Freeny : IPMM Exclusive Interview
Words by Evan La Ruffa
Jason Freeny updates his fans of the daily progress he’s making in reconstructing the innards of a multitude vinyl toys. Mario, Coarsetoys Jaws, Care Bears, and even the ubiquitous Munny get their insides anatomically re-invisioned and sculpted in clay, creating a more introspective version of its former self. The dexterity and precision of Jason’s creations are what most impresses us, while his ability to recreate the intestines, lungs, and kidneys of these toys, is comical, absurd, and awesome.
Upon finding Jason, his perspective seemed like the perfect mental backflip from the plasticized, aesthetically-driven world of vinyl toys. The world of urban vinyl is a scene whose three-dimensionality and accessibility is the crux of its allure. Artists ideas are given life, in that they exist beyond the canvas as a toy, sculpture, or figurine. The logical extension of this 3D extrapolation, becomes the inquisition involved with Jason’s journeys into the souls of these hollow-art-spawn mutations. We’re excited to take a look inside.
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EL: So, I don’t remember exactly how we came across your work, but as soon as I saw the rubix brain, I was intrigued… explain that project to us if you would…
JF: I try to come up with different projects each week or two using different toys. That week it was a rubix cube. I like to customize toys that aren’t usually on people’s radar. I wanted to sculpt something that was smart, no pun intended.
EL: Is the rubix brain available for purchase?
JF: The brain cube is in it’s early production phase. Hope for it to be available by end of this year…
EL: From reading your bio, we know that you traveled a lot in the 90’s doing murals, and that you made the leap to work as a freelance designer for MTV… How did those experiences inform your own idea of how you best fit into the art world?
JF: It helped me understand how art is used at a corporate level. It also helped me realize I didn’t really enjoy painting murals. My time at MTV was a blast. I really enjoy working in television. Love the energy, lights and the vibe.
EL: Your work is playful… you also have experience working for a toy company… is that levity something you need to be part of the work, or is it just the function of your personality being accessible through your work?
JF: I think the playfulness has always been there, working as a toy designer really brought it to the surface.
EL: Another thing I like about your work is the commonality factor… We all know Mr. Potato Head and mario… again, just subject matter you relate to? Why select these characters?
JF: It certainly helps to use characters that are recognizable, people can relate to them almost immediately. The downside is that these are all the intellectual property of someone else. I can’t really create more than one of each piece. I’m trying to slowly work in my own characters over time. Character development us an art to itself and one I am just getting started with…
EL: What is it about the idea of anatomy that intrigues you? We have our own suspicions, but… did you take pre-med courses, then bail, or what?
JF: No medical training at all. Everything is from my own studying. Anatomy is a visually beautiful thing. I like complex and detailed things. The anatomy sculpts are one of the few things I do where I’m just as surprised at the results as the intended viewer is. I don’t get too caught up in the process and technique, I enjoy watching it evolve in my hands. 🙂
EL: Your “Skelanimals” are your foray into your own toys. As a vinyl enthusiast, I’m happy to see those accessible price points… Have you done any bigger toys as of yet?
JF: Funny story on the Skelanimals designs… I originally submitted ideas that were 100% non anatomy because it wasn’t what people expected from me. When I saw the final lineup of the series, mine were the only non anatomical designs and didn’t fit with the rest. I quickly put together a mock up of new designs and poof, those are the toys you see today. I was expecting to refine the design some more :B
But to answer your question, yes, I have 8″ anatomical gummi bears in the works as well as a 6″ anatomical Qee, both should be out this summer…
EL: How long do your projects take?
JF: Just about all my projects are 1-2 weeks for completion. I haven’t found much success in projects that go longer and subsequently a higher price. If the interest is there I’ll raise the bar accordingly…
EL: If you were to describe your aesthetic in 3 words, what would they be?
JF: Fun, clean and quality.
EL: Name one artist or musician IPMM readers should check out.
JF: Robert Williams….
EL: Awesome, and why is Robert such an important artist for people to know about in your mind?
JF: Robert Williams is the godfather of lowbrow art and one artist who inspired me to do just about everything you see on my site. The pop surrealism movement as well as the designer vinyl movement (which I would consider myself in) were both spawned from Robert Williams Lowbrow artwork.