How Ted Stilson Created Moody and Lived To Tell The Tale

so what's a Moody?
< from a charcoal sketch to a full bodied platform vinyl figure, Moody is the creation of Ted Stilson (the above video is of artist Darren Booth's custom Moody) - i had an opportunity to chat with Ted just, to catch-up on Moody and find out about his plans for vinyl-world domination :)

TOYSREVIL: how are things with Moody? what's been happening so far? he giving you any problems? is it even a "he"?

TED STILSON: The Moody Project has developed into something different from what I first set out to do. I initially only intended it to result in a few shows featuring Moody customs, however it has now gone way further than I expected. I sent out about 30 Moody's to friends. From there, I have been receiving requests from other artists who contacted me after reading my first post on Vinyl Pulse. There are now over 50 artists from 8 countries working on customs for my first scheduled show at the University of Lethbridge Helen Christou Gallery in November. The feedback has been incredible and the customs that have been completed are impressive (and totally viewable on bovinyl-blog) - Moody has been a lot of fun so far, no real problems. Well, maybe storage and finding an inexpensive way to ship them to other countries. But other than that, the Moody Project has been one of the best things I've done so far as an artist. It's also allowed me to develop new friendships with other artists from all over the world.

TRE: is everything going according to your plans then?

TED: Yes, everything is going as planned with the project. I did have to fire my first website designer, however is ready to launch within the next few weeks. The site will allow me to promote the project and the artists who are creating Moody customs. I am currently working with a couple of artists on the first of a series of limited production run toys using the Moody platform. It's still in development, however I am excited to be working with a great company in China who specializes in designer vinyl toys. It's too early for details, however I am excited about how this new venture is looking so far.

TRE: damn that sounds mighty intriguing, Ted! would it be mini-Moody trading figures? hhhmmm - ya so gotta keep me in the loop, dude! LOL ... so does Moody actually harbour any intentions of conquering the world?

TED: I am very excited about what is happening so far with the Moody project, however the marketplace is incredibly competitive. There are amazing new toys coming out every day and I can only hope that I can capture a small piece of that market. It's a passion and I love what I'm doing, but I'm not going to get ahead of myself. I'm going to start 'small' but think 'big'. Will Moody conquer the world? well in my mind it already has. I have artists in Russia, mainland China, The Netherlands, UK, USA, Singapore, Japan and Canada working on customs. That's really cool.

[image above by Aaron Keeling]

TRE: how long has it been, since your first pen and ink doodle of a cow/demon? and how long has it been, since the day the moody arrived at your doorstep?

TED: It took about seven months for the project from the time I created the first sketch to the Moody's arriving back in Canada. I was really naive about the whole thing. Although I did some research, I basically flew by the seat of my pants. I financed the whole thing by myself, which was definitely not for the the feint of heart. The factory I worked with was extremely helpful, however they don't specialize in the production of designer vinyl toys. I would definitely do things a lot differently next time, however the results were perfect for what I set out to accomplish.

TRE: don't worry, i wouldn't so "crass" as to ask you how much everything cost (as much as i want to *ahem*), but what inspired you to draw the cow/demon in the first place? were you possessed by a cow-demon? or was it curdled milk? LOL

TED: It's really hard to say what was going through my mind when the Moody form was created. It probably has a lot to do with the environment I live in. Alberta is cattle country. You can't avoid it growing up here. I had the opportunity to take part in a branding last summer. All I can say about that experience is that you never want the 'nut bucket' job. Oh yeah, and don't wear a white shirt to a branding. I guess the cow form has always been a part of my life. The demon side of the face, well that was inspired by the horns. I thought that it would allow the artist to have a variety of choices when creating a custom ... a kind of good versus evil idea.

TRE: or maybe even "good idea" versus"evil-disobeying-hands" LOL ... let's put aside the "creation" for a bit and talk about it's "creator" - who is Ted Stilson? tell us about yourself, what's your dayjob?

TED: I grew up on the bald-headed prairies. A flat-lander through and through. I live in a relatively small city, population 75,000. I graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Fine Arts Major. The U of L has one of the largest and most diverse art collections in Canada and it was there that I was first introduced to the art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

From that moment on, Pop Art has had a huge influence on my art and designer vinyl art is definitely an extension of that movement. I think that its amazing that Keith Haring's art is now being translated into designer vinyl art toys. My interest in art history led me to my day job as the managing coordinator for the local main street project. I do a lot of work restoring historic buildings and working with local artists on mural and public art projects. However, my true passion is designer vinyl art.

TRE: what were you doing, before you embarked on the Moody project?

TED: Before I embarked on the Moody Project I was mostly working in 2-D. Pen and India Ink caricatures mostly. Large format pieces. All the while, I was collecting Designer Vinyl Art and soaking in all I could about this exciting subculture. One of the first toys I purchased was on a trip to Vancouver (Michael Lau's J.A.M.E.S. from the SFCC Series). It's still one of my favorite pieces. Very little is happening in Canada in regards to designer vinyl, however there are a few retail stores such as Voltageland in Vancouver and Magic Pony in Toronto that are actively promoting designer vinyl with custom shows, exhibitions and events.

TRE: it's always cool about a "collector-turned-creator", IMHO ... what inspires you?

TED: I am inspired by the incredible diversity of what's happening in the designer vinyl art movement. Artists and toy companies are definitely pushing the boundaries. My studio is filled with hundreds of toys and prints. It's a great place to relax and create.

TRE: sounds/looks like a great place to chill, Ted! ... if you knew then, what you knew now, would you still have done it the way you did? would you still have started this whole journey?

TED: Absolutely! My bank account is smaller, however the experience and sheer joy of creating something from an idea has definitely been well worth it. Taking an idea and implementing it doesn't happen all the time. There are lots of great ideas out there, however very few people actually take the chance on making them a reality. If nothing else, the Moody Project has been a lesson in how a simple doodle can turn into something more substantial.

TRE: and what a journey it has been, im sure! c'mon, if there was one single thing you would have done differently, what would it have been? not about "regrets", but rather, to improve?

TED: Well, I wouldn't have sculpted Moody out of polymer clay. It is probably good for small pieces with no articulation, but with larger pieces it is definitely difficult to create precise contours and details. I will be using wax to sculpt with from hear on in. I have done a few bronze castings out of wax before. Other than that, it has been an incredible experience and has been a lot of fun. The support from the artistic community has been overwhelming. I'm truly blessed with a supportive wife and a great group of friends. I couldn't have done this without them.

TRE: what does one need to do, to get their hands on a Moody? like say, a non-known wannabe customizer like myself?

TED: What's remaining of the first casting, approx. 375, will go on sale on the Bovinyl website in a few weeks. They will retail for $15.00 Canadian. No fancy packaging, no coloring books, no accessories ... just pure, 100% rotocast vinyl.

TRE: what can we expect from Moody in the near future? what's planned, before your exhibition in November 2007 at UL?

TED: I am working with Christian from Voltageland in Vancouver on a custom show for June. The show will feature customs by Vancouver and area artists and some of the pieces that will be part of the U of L show in November.

There's a lot of exciting stuff happening in Vancouver and the folks at Voltageland really have their finger on the pulse of what is happening in the designer vinyl art world.

TRE: to round off the chat, what has Moody done for you and what do you hope the Moody Project can do for folks?

TED: The Moody toy has changed a lot about my life. I have turned it into something more than just a 'little' art project. I hope that the Moody will be an inspiration to other artists who don't think that they can make things happen with their art. I see a lot of artists with incredible talent who never show their art. That's a real shame. I hope my 'toy story' will inspire others to take a risk and put themselves out there and just go for it.

TRE: sorry dude, but i have to ask - what was he/she ever named Moody?

TED STILSON: My wife actually came up with the name. Since it is basically a cow form, she thought 'Moody' was an appropriate name for it. We never really worked on other names after that and it kind of just stuck.

TRE: cheers for the chat, Ted and i wish you the best of Bovine-World-Conquering-Luck! LOL

- go peep the excellent Moody-customs by various artists on BOVINYL@blogspot :)

[original post circa 02.04.07]


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