Creative Quality Control With Erick Scarecrow

artist. toy designer. product manager. Erick Scarecrow of ESC Toy seems to be is living the vinyl-dream and we have been treated with teasers of his creations on this blog, with his plush Shiitakes and vinyl belle Liberty ~ who will be making her "official" debut this coming NYCC @ ToyTokyo's booth#126 [details here]

now before you go bugging looking for Erick there (do check the dates where he'll be signing), i'd recommend you to read this interview, where i had the opportunity to pick his mind and motivations, in between his jam-packed schedule :)

TOYSREVIL: who is "Erick Scarecrow"? tell us about yourself, dude. what's your "dayjob"?

ERICK SCARECROW: Erick Scarecrow is a creator/designer/project manager/ESC-TOY Boss. It's my professional name that I took up back in 1993. As of now,  I work full-time all the time at ESC-TOY LTD. I wear alot of hats with a big smile with the help of my growing staff. My strong arms are Dizign and Tadone.

TRE: why "toys"? and how long have you been designing toys?

ESC: I've been designing toys for 5 years now .. and I got into toys because I needed a job. LOL!

TRE: so which came first: "toy designer" or "project manager"?

ESC: The toy designer position came first. I became a project manager back in 2005 when I founded ESC-TOY LTD. My first project was the award winning Carnival Cartoons' Buzz Carney vinyl. [reviewed @ Plastic&Plush]

As a toy designer I landed a gig as an Art Director after several attempts at an "undisclosed" US toy company for several years. I learned ALOT there. Mainly what do to and what not to do. One of the most important things I learned was you always have to spend your time for the quality of your goods.

TRE: and how did ESC came about? and please pardon my noob-ness, but what does "ESC" mean actually?

ESC: After the toy company I was with had downsized I was left with nothing. I didn't know what to do. Other companies didn't give me the time of day. So I had to sit back and think for a bit. I had seen alot of opportunites to handle projects for other designers and companies. That I knew I could handle. So I took the risk.

The meaning to the ESC part of the company name. Just like on everyone's keyboard on this planet it means to "escape". Well I wanted to escape from what everyone else was doing because I knew what I was doing  was so different. From the products and brands that the company is behind to the supervision on other projects.

TRE: now that's a button i've been pressing a lot lately! (way much toy-info/pics clogging up the hard-drive LOL). now it's very interesting that you wear both a "designer-hat" as well as a "product manager-hat" ... how does being a designer help in your execution of ESC-Toy and for other artists/designers, as a Product Manager?

ESC: Being a designer helps big time because I understand artistic integrity. Ask any of my clients how I approach their projects. I treat them as my own and I have a very strict quality standard. It benefits my clients that are new to the toy scene.

It also feels great because I'm not just developing my own product but I'm helping other designers and companies with their dreams and goals. I am approached weekly with new projects and there's the excitement that comes with new ideas. It's a beautful thing.

TRE: beautiful for the end-collectors as well! there's nothing more satisfying than a product that's made with effort and quality in mind, as opposed to some obvious flash-in-the-pan production pieces, IMHO ... as an individual who currently straddles both the business and creative aspects, what/who are your influences?

ESC: My influences span from many mediums. But to narrow it down I would have to say video-games, animation, toys, and comics. There are very few creatives that I admire but if I had to pick one I would have to say Walt Disney. If you do your homework on him you'll learn he wasn't just a creative, he was a risk taker. That's something I really admire and respect.

TRE: would you consider yourself a risk taker then? in both the creative and/or business aspect? how do you ever judge the development, or even accepting a new project?
ESC: Let me say that whenever you're involved in any form of business there's always risk. As a creative, you have to be a risk taker. I try my best to be different and always look at my work with different eyes. I follow my instincts with respect to budgets. I always judge new projects whether my own or ones that are presented to me. I have a lot material but I like to review every project thoroughly. As far as outside projects, I don't accept everything that comes through the door. There are 2 things that make me come aboard. The first thing is the energy behind it and the second thing is my schedule.
TRE: quick question - do you consider yourself an "artist" or "designer" first?

ESC: I'm definitely an artist.

TRE: as an artist, creative and a designer, what inspires you? how do the concepts of your creations came about?

ESC: Alot of my inspiration comes from nature and when I take some time out to sit down and look through my art over years. I sometimes forget the things I've done in the past because I have alot of material.

The concepts are random thoughts, things I see, dreams I have, or hunches I get. My creations are a reflection of everything that's in my head. I'm very thankful and blessed to have this ability.

TRE: how did you decide on the execution and presentation of your toys/projects? as either a PM or designer yourself?

ESC: That decision is made with the understanding that 2D art is going into a 3D stage. It doesn't matter if it's plush, vinyl, resin or a polygon. Somethings will be compromised. I hated it at first when I first got into toys then after time I've learned to make it work for me. Not everyone that's making toys understands this. I try to be as thorough as I can with the conversion from 2D to 3D. I also love to handle the packaging and hangtags of my products. The idenitiy and presentation is everything to me. Consistency is power!!! LOL!

TRE: it's not just "paint a pretty picture", isn't it? having taken all that in, how critical are you about your own designed-projects (ie: Liberty. Shiitakes), as compared to managing other folks' projects?)
ESC: For me it's not just a pretty picture. Whether it's my project or an outside one. I've very critical but realistic.
TRE: do you draw before you sculpt? do you have any conceptual sketches you'd like to share? did you produce them yourself? heck, do you even sculpt, yourself? :p

ESC: LOL! Sculpting is experimentative to me. It's not my focus but I love working closely with sculptors on my projects. I love to hear what their ideas and approaches are whenever 2D enters 3D.

I produce my artwork 100%. I'm very hands on. When I have sculptors involved I go back and forth with them to learn what works and what doesn't. Over the years, I've learned that you don't have to compromise everything. There's a valuable expertise to this because you can see alot of big companies translating very famous brands and losing alot of the brand's integrity. I'm cool leaving control in a sculptor's hands as long as they understand the my direction.

TRE: tell us about the vinyl-lady of the moment, who is LIBERTY?

ESC: Well let me say first that the Liquis Series is based on a world where there's a struggle for artistic freedom. In the city of the free, Liberty is their landmark and symbol of artistic expression. Even though she is holding a spraycan, that artistic freedom is not limited to graff but to any other form of art. I'm sure alot of people can relate to this because I felt this type of oppression many times.

I'm happy that the Liberty is a toy because when I first drew it the most I saw it was a t-shirt design back in 2000. I never imagined it as an actual 3D vinyl piece.

TRE: so why did you choose Liberty to be in vinyl, after 7 years?

ESC: Well when I got into agreement with Kaching for the Liquis Series, we were suppose to release the Still Depressed vinyl first but do to some rescheduling we decided to release the Liberty first.

TRE: well, im sure we're happy to see Liberty come to vinyl-life as well! ... totally trying my luck here, but are there any further developments of Liberty being planned? any variant / colorways?

ESC: Yes. I can't give out the details right now but there will be some exclusives coming.

TRE: dude! LOL fair enough (ya gotta keep me in the loop, yeh?) are there any further developments of your other creations planned?

ESC: Yes there is. Right now I'm talking to several networks and a software developer/publisher about an entertainment property I created back in 1997 called Mash-Out! I'm very excited about it because it's a brand that I spent so much time developing and research on. Later this year ESC-Toy will release several of my own plush lines: Erick Scarecrow's Shiitakes, and Mousey Micci.

TRE: exciting times, im sure! and we'll have another long chat about your Shiitakes, a little while later, yeh? (LOL) in closing, tell us what you hope for your creations to do, for you and for the toy collector.

ESC: It's not worth anything if I can't share my creative ability with others. It's one of the reasons why I am here. For me it's always been an outlet. I hope I can make people of all ages smile. If what I do can brighten their day that alone makes me happy. For the toy collectors I want to give them pieces that they never saw coming.

TRE: my thanks for the time and trouble you've taken for this interview, Erick! and here's hoping you have a blast at NYCC (im expecting photos, yeh? LOL) and may 2007 be an exciting year for yourself and ESC Toy!

[original post circa 23.02.07]


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