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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Budnitz’

Talkin’ Toys with Kidrobot Founder Paul Budnitz

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ARTGIANTS4FootDunnyArtist, designer, author, filmmaker, entrepreneur, creator of stunning titanium bikesPaul Budnitz is a man of many talents, but he is best known as the founder of Kidrobot. More than a decade after its founding, the company’s ever-changing family of limited-edition art toys ranges from blind-boxed, collect-them-all figures to a high-gloss uberDunny that stands four feet tall–and will set you back $5,000.

Budnitz returns to his toy design roots with a new twist on the DIY Munnys that remain among Kidrobot’s top sellers: on October 16, Skillshare will launch his “Beautiful Plastic” online class in toy design. We seized the moment to ask Budnitz how he got his start, the first toy he designed, and what toys have caught his eye lately.

How did you get started designing toys?
In 2001 I fell in love with some very early Michael Lau toys that I saw in Hong Kong. And almost simultaneously, discovered that Bounty Hunter was making toys in Tokyo. I thought they were beautiful–a perfect combination of pop-art, design, pop culture–just these amazing little sculptures. Because they were all limited edition, when they sold out they were gone forever. That made them precious. I founded Kidrobot in 2002 to make toys with my friends, mostly street artists and designers and graphic artists.

Do you remember the first toy you ever designed?
I think the first toy was actually Dunny, with Tristan Eaton. I have to credit him with the brilliance of that toy, he is one of the greatest illustrators alive in my opinion. We spent about a year on it (I think) trying to get the design right. The idea was to make it the best canvas possible for other people to draw on. That is why the face is so big and flat and round. It’s also got attitude. We put one foot in front of the other, and cut the shoulders at an angle, so when the head turns in looks a little menacing. It’s still Kidrobot’s most popular toy.

What is your toy design pet peeve?
I left Kidrobot several years ago to work on my bicycle company and do some other things, since I just felt like it was time for me to move on. I love the company, but it is difficult for me to see the direction it has taken. I know that the people over there are working to renew some of the original spark and originality. I encourage them to do so.

To me it’s sad when great things get watered down and become obvious and corporate. Creating magic through design is difficult to maintain!
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Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy

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Hold on to your Dunnys and Munnys, design fans, because Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz is making time in his new life as a maker of beautiful bicycles to guide Smorkin’ Labbit lovers–and anyone else who is interested–through the process of creating a great designer toy. Budnitz has signed on to teach “Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy,” an online course that launches October 16 through Skillshare.

“The goal of the class is to help artists sketch their own toy,” Budnitz tells us. “I talk about the basic history of designer toys, since it’s important to know the medium in which you’re working. There’s also a discussion about appropriation and juxtaposition, two elements of design that are found in most good art (and toys), and some ideas of how to apply this to your own toy.” And of course, he’ll offer plenty of pointers on how to design and draw a toy, with an eye to getting it off the page and into into production.
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Core77 Owns Up to the Great Tobias Wong Switch

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When the guy to the left took the stage pretending to be Tobias Wong (the guy to the right) at Core77′s Design, Wit and the Creative Act, Stephanie’s BS radar blipped right away. However, this was a panel on design wit (more disturbing perhaps was the fact that the crowd of designers didn’t seem to get the joke). A few months later, Core77 has finally delivered the punchline. So who was this impostor?

Rama Chorpash, chair of the Undergraduate ID Dept. at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a great designer to boot, did what can only be described as a pitch-perfect job of presenting Tobias’s work (and later answering, Q&A as Tobias, remaining authentic to the designs as well as the philosophical underpinnings of the Wong oeuvre.

You can watch video of the event for proof of his acting skills; Chorpash never breaks character, and neither does Wong (oh, how we wish we could say the same for Jimmy Fallon). Wong assumes Chorpash’s identity during the cocktail hour and praises Wong’s “genius,” a priceless little moment in design wit itself.

Also up, and every bit as funny, are videos from the rest of the presenters: Ze Frank, Paul Budnitz, Steven Heller and Kelly Dobson.

Paul Budnitz, the Kidrobot Guy, Hires Girls and Makes Them Cry

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We’ve got deep admiration for the mind behind Kidrobot, Paul Budnitz, who had a lot to say about creativity today. Like how we’re born as kids who have total abandon and freedom, that slowly deteriorates, dropping down below what he calls the “miserable fine art line.” So true.

He also had a lot to say about toys. The newest KR product is Peecol, his modern take on Playmobil features dictators and ravers, and has launched with Nuke, an American Gladiator-looking guy. Forget limited edition, you can’t even buy Nuke. KR only gives them away. But they’ve taken on a life of their own; the few proud owners have taken photos of Nuke around the world and started a blog. Check out the heinously-spelled whereisnuke.com to see the photos of Nuke. KR is rewarding their faithful consumers by slipping secret messages to those who become friends with Nuke on MySpace by sending them to secret locations to get their own. This was pretty awesome.

So. For all you who’ve been drooling during this entire post, get out your portfolio: Kidrobot is hiring a web designer and illustrator. Send your work to designjob AT kidrobot.com

But you might not want to because in his final statement during the Q&A, Budnitz reveals the truth about what it’s like to work there. A young female intern was commissioned to work on a children’s clothing line, maybe too hard. “We pushed her,” says Budnitz. “I made her cry.”

That made us want to cry, too.

All AIGA NEXT coverage here.

Core 77′s Offsite Highlights Design, Wit and the Creative Act

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You’d be crazy to miss an opportunity to see UnBeige heartthrob Ze Frank in the flesh, and in this instance you’d be especially crazy, since Frank will be headlining a well-rounded roster of folks all very special to the Un, for an entire afternoon sponsored by Core77.

Their next offsite event on November 9 features Paul Budnitz, Kelly Dobson, Steven Heller, Tobias Wong talking about using humor, wit, irony, even subversion, to entice and entertain a new type of consumer. It will be moderated by aforementioned witty designer Frank, who even has a fancy, new and quite appropriate job description: Digital Age Satirist.

Early bird prices end October 19, so snag a seat, won’t you?

Core77 presents Design, Wit, and the Creative Act:
Leveraging the power of humor towards great customer experiences

November 9th, 2007
Art Directors Club, 1106 W 29th St., New York, NY
2 to 6pm
$125 by October 19th, $175 after October 19th

Register here.

Core77 Sows Creative Seeds

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Core77′s Coroflot site has launched Creative Seeds, a new blog all about giving creatives the tools they need to succeed. In addition to featuring portfolios from the Coroflot community, they’ve launched with a really interesting piece by Petrula Vrontikis about how creatives take credit for the work of a team. We also like a cool feature named “What do you look for in a designer?” where they ask top peeps like Paul Budnitz and Sagmeister what they look for when hiring juniors.

AIGA’s NEXT Conference Promises Big Names, Beer and Drama

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Lots going on at the Organization Formerly Known as the American Institude of Graphic Arts that we need to catch you up on. The site has just launched for AIGA’s national design conference, NEXT, which is taking place this October 11-14 in Denver. Kurt Andersen, Marian Bantjes, Janine Benyus, Paul Budnitz, Katherine & Michael McCoy and Christoph Niemann will all be hitting the mainstage, and you can look for us poisoning young minds once again. Tickets to the concurrent Great American Beer Festival are sold separately, but the $15 designated driver ticket could come in very handy for either event, depending on your idea of “design thinking.”

Secondly, they’ve just announced the component of the conference we’re looking forward to the most, Command X, an onstage reality show/design contest that will unfold in real time throughout the three days–get it, Command X? We’d say it’s like “Top Design” but we’d rather say it’s like “Project Runway” because that show was better.

Contestants get to attend the conference for free; the winner will get $1000 and other prizes. You must be 26 or younger and an AIGA member to apply, deadline is June 30, details are here, and anyone who makes it up there better make it interesting for us–we are creating an entry for “Hysterical Designer Threatens Peers With X-Acto Knife” right now.

Baseman and Biskup Engage In Tomfoolery at Kidrobot’s Not-So-Standard Event

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Forget the toys, lines were the theme at Kidrobot’s party at the Standard Hotel. One freaking long line to get in. Lines to get up the escalator. Lines for cotton candy. Lines for drinks. Lines to get your limited-edition “Hello My Name Is” Dunny signed by Huck Gee.

To give you a sense of this event’s urgency, the hotel’s uberglam roof was empty–hipsters were squeezed into conference-type rooms on the second floor and more eager to customize their 3-inch Munnys at several art tables. Peanut Butter Wolf spun old school hip hop in the corner; accompanying videos played on a monitor (we saw a sweet Tribe one from the ’90s). Sadly our buddy KR founder Paul Budnitz was nowhere to be seen but folks like Tim Biskup milled about. On the way out, Mena Suvari was spotted wearing this hoodie.

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