This week we sit down with Jared Cain, better known as NikeJerk, for a little one on one Q&A. So for you NikeJerk heads out there, grab a cold one, sit back, and enjoy ;)
How did you first get into customizing vinyl figures?
I had never even heard of Kidrobot let alone Dunny’s or anything else. I was interning in NYC in the beginning of 2006 and a friend of mine dragged me to SOHO for the black “Bubble Is Love” drop by Tilt. I didn’t really know what we were going to but I didn’t have anything better to do, so I went. I instantly fell in love with the scene. Not too long after that, they released the Munny for the first and hosted the very first Munny paint contest. I submitted a design... I didn’t win. I created my first Munny using Sharpies, white out and other paint pens. I admittedly was living in a share on the LES so I didn’t have access to my own cache of materials, but I still think it came out pretty cool. Once I got back to Atlanta in April of ‘06 I did 1 more Munny — Munnysuarus Wrecks. After that I got away from toys for almost a year at which point I started painting again and this time I submitted customs to a couple different exhibitions throughout the country. That was cool but since I couldn’t go to the shows and my pieces almost always came back to me damaged... I decided I wanted to find a different way to do customs. In February of 2009 I decided to do my own blind box series. 1 of the most important things I considered was how could I approach the platform in a completely new way. How can I do something completely different? Taking that mentality I created my 17 piece Teenage Mutant Ninja Dunny blind box series, which sold out in 5 seconds... since then I’ve been doing commissions almost non-stop. The thing I love about doing commissions is it gives me a chance to interact with new people and to work on ideas and themes that I might not necessarily have ever come up with on my own. I am a professional graphic designer so the process of taking on a commission and concepting something unique and personal is very familiar.
You have a very unique style in the details of your customs, what is your inspiration for this?
I believe that the process is a very important part of being creative. To me it's almost more important than the end result. So even though I make a sketch of most of my designs, as I’m working and moving along I almost always stray from my original intentions and allow for things to move in a natural direction. Working in this manner gives me unexpected results, it is very conducive for experimenting which I’m a huge advocate of, and ultimately gives you a final product that not only can you NOT trace the steps to how you got there but you also can’t recreate. This is why as seen in my Most Wanted Series 1 design, though there are multiples of the same design, each one is slightly different and I love that. So the way the style of detailing came about is way back when I did my TMND series, there was a a scratch or something on one of them and I tried to cover it up with a same colored marker. It didn’t work. So then I added more so it didn’t stand out as much. I really started to like the way it looked so I added more detailing in black, shades of that same color and complementary colors... and my style has really evolved from that. That is why I always tell people that you can always salvage a design. You might end up with something great that you never planned for.
Tell us about your involvement in series 1 & 2 of the "Most Wanted" project, not just as an artist, but working behind the scenes.
When the guys first decided to do Most Wanted, I was in a convenient position to apply because I had recently come off my TMND series and I had done a couple commissions since, so I had a decent amount of work to show in my plea to take part. Some people had tried this before and it was a total disaster but these guys really had things in order so I was very optimistic that this could really work. Beyond producing my own design and creating the vector of my own design, I did the vector drawings for at least 5 of the other designs. I am a professional graphic designer so I spend the majority of my work day in Illustrator and Photoshop so I am very adept at making vector drawings. It was coming down to the wire and Tim (timselF) had enough on his plate with the packaging and poster so I did whatever I could to get things finished in time for the drop date. For Series 2 I hope to collaborate with Tim on the design for the box design. One of the things that I’ve been doing since I started customizing is making custom boxes for all my pieces... so I feel like I can bring a level of expertise in packaging design as well as my experience as a professional graphic designer.
Tell us about your new design for series 2?
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it... one of the most important aspects of making customs for me is to continue to experimenting and executing unique and progressive ideas. When brain storming for my Series 2 design I tried to come up with ideas that would involve an execution that I’d never done before. One of the ideas that I came up with was to make a design where the head was not only removable but was intended to be displayed with or without the body. So at it’s core, the headless horseman was the start of the idea, and Sleepy Hollow instantly popped into my mind. I also really loved the concept of cutting the face out because no production Dunny had ever done that before. But I wanted to take it one step further... After cutting out the face out, I noticed that the head would squish together every time I tried to put it back on. I also didn’t like how you could see the socket through the mouth, which is why I decided to use the magnets . It made it easier to take the head off and put it back on, it created a cleaner facade inside the head, and I LOVE that the head can be stuck to anything magnetic. It’s like the head is floating around separate from the body.
After the success of your first solo show, "chomping at the bit", what else do you have in store for us?
I have so much stuff on deck that I can’t even mention it all. No production pieces yet but I love the process of talking to people when it comes to doing commission work, so that makes me really happy... and it's what I’ll probably be doing for the rest of the year. In the coming months I will be working on a Coarse Jaws, another Mega Munny, a 6-3” Dunny set, a couple of Mini-Munny’s, an 8” Dunny, a couple of standard Munny’s, 2 KR mascots, a special charity piece and a handful of 3” Dunny’s. I’m also in the process of designing some custom weapons for the 3A WWR robots, and I’m printing the 3A Legionnaire shirts again for the 2nd year. This time around there are 160 different members getting shirts, each with their user name silk screened on the back and a variety of other customizations. I have a feeling that will keep me tied up till 2011. I hope to do another show at Ultra Pop! sometime next year. Perhaps all original work, or perhaps all customized WWR bots. It’s too early to tell but there will be more solo shows in my future.
Thanks again for taking a moment to let us in to your head for a quick tour. Any last words you'd like to say to your fans? Are you currently taking commissions?
I am taking commissions but my list has quickly become quite long. I always have time to answer questions and talk about a commission even if it would be months down the road before I actually get to start it. I also want to thank everyone for their support. I make customs because I love it, and if you all didn’t like them then I wouldn’t still be making them... so again, I thank you for your interest in my work and for your overall support of Most Wanted.