Saturday

Of Sheeps and Moles: An Interview With Metin Seven

moving rapidly from prototype to actual toys very soon, Metin Seven X Crazy Label's Seamour Sheep and Marty Mole [blogged] are set to invade our collective toy-shelves sooner than we think (@ Taipei Toy Festival?) ... but before that happens, i had a long chat with Metin about the creation and genesis of his goggled-diary farm duo made vinyl :)


TOYSREVIL: tell us about Seamour Sheep and Marty Mole? who are they and how were they conceived? were they created specifically for the online comic strip?

METIN: Seamour Sheep and Marty Mole are two anthropomorphic silly characters that are featured in a weekly online comic at Seamoursheep.com, and they are currently being materialized for the real world by Crazy Label, well-known from their designer vinyl figure Treeson.

TRE: what inspired the creation of Seamour and Marty? why a sheep and a mole?

METIN: Well, the actual creation of Seamour Sheep and its environment goes back to a commercial assignment for a national broadcast company in the Netherlands.

In may 2005 I had to create a number of animations for a quiz programme, visualizing old Dutch sayings. One of those sayings was "Once one sheep has crossed the dam, more will follow". It was then when the Seamour character was born. Although the deadline was tight I invested the necessary time and care in the creation of Seamour's 3D model and environment, because I wanted him to become the next addition to my Figure Farm project, an online character portfolio I was building in those days.

After Crazy Label and I agreed to go for Seamour as a designer vinyl figure, I decided to start a comic strip series about him and conceived Marty Mole as a sidekick. I figured that a mole would make a fairly believable co-star in a sheep's environment. :)


TRE: at which point did they turn into "toys"? was that always a part of your "master plan' when you created them?

METIN: I have actually been dreaming of seeing my character designs realized as toys ever since the days that I was a graphic artist for commercial computer games in the early Nineties. When I started my Figure Farm character showcase project in 2004 my main intention was to present my character designs to possible toy producers in a nice online portfolio. So Seamour was indeed one of the candidates to be turned into a toy, but only after Crazy Label had fallen in love with Seamour his path to the real world was paved.


TRE: how did they end up being produced by Crazy label as vinyl toys? what's the story?

METIN: At a certain point in time, somewhere in the Spring of 2006, I had to stop my Figure Farm project because it took too much time to keep actively developing that, and I still hadn't found a toy publisher willing to invest in realizing my designs. So I decided to bundle my characters in a dedicated section of my main portfolio Sevensheaven.nl and to keep posting my character artwork at several online urban vinyl communities, such as the Kidrobot forum. Not long after that I received a private message at the forum, sent by Andy Woo from Crazy Label. Andy was enthousiastic about my character designs and offered me to produce them as designer vinyl. Of course I was delighted, although I did not know whether this was another case of temporary interest or a great chance. Luckily it turned out to be a great chance, as I am very charmed by the quality and presentation of Crazy Label products. I definitely consider it a privilege to be among Crazy Label's represented artists.

TRE: quite an "inspiring" tale for toy-designers trying for a break-thru! altho admittedly, i would've imagined Seamour as a plush toy, why "vinyl"?

METIN: Good question. :) I guess Crazy Label is crazy about vinyl. :)


TRE: i can only but imagine the joy of seeing one's creation materialize into an actual "toy"! with that, how much say did you have with the production of Seamour and Marty? how has working with Crazy Label been so far?

METIN: Working with Crazy Label is a real delight, and I'm not being political. I have come to know Andy as an experienced, hard-working professional who is very respectful, honest and patient. He has proved to be a skilful toy creator and I also have full confidence in his capacities as a clever entrepreneur. Mark my words: you'll be hearing a lot more from Crazy Label!

TRE:: no doubt! as i too am a Crazy Label-convert! how did you feel / what went thru your mind, when you first received and held the Seamour and Marty prototypes in your hands?

METIN: It was pure magic. The moment I unpacked and held the toys I was suddenly a seven year old boy again who had just gotten the toys he had been dreaming of. Don't we all cherish and want to preserve the child we once were? Crazy Label turned out to be the key to that desired rejuvenation. :)


TRE: i've actually imagined Seamour as a "life-sized" figure (hence "plush") - so how exactly big are Seamour and Marty actually? and how soon will we expect them to hit our shelves?

METIN: Marty is about 3 inches high and Seamour is about 6 inches high (from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head). So Seamour is a relatively large figure compared to average vinyl sizes.


TRE: tell us about yourself. WHO IS "Metin Seven"? what's your "dayjob"?

METIN: My daily bread is earned by creating cartoons and illustrations for magazines and newspapers. I create a daily news cartoon for the largest Dutch news website (Nu.nl), I've got a weekly cartoon in a Dutch newspaper (NRC.next) and I create a lot of editorial illustrations for various magazines. I also accept assignments from the advertising business.

My background involves commercial computer games creation, animation production for television and working as a freelance writer for various magazines.

TRE: what/who are your influences?

METIN: Too much to mention, but I'll name a few. :) First of all I love the golden days of Disney. The original Fantasia movie really touches a sensitive chord every time I view it. It's a timeless artistic masterpiece.

I'm also a very big fan of Pixar. My favorite Pixar movies so far are The Incredibles, both Toy Story movies and Monsters Inc.. I've always been a sucker for monsters. :)

My last hero I'll mention is the late Belgian comic artist André Franquin. His very humorous Gaston Lagaffe comic scenarios are a big inspiration for my Seamour comic strip, although I can only dream of touching Franquin's greatness.

TRE: how do the concepts of your creations came about? what inspires you?

METIN: I love anything cute and whimsical. I don't like grotesque macho characters with big guns. :) My wife and I both love the distinctive style of Asian cuteness and I love to visit my wife's candy-coated website Kao-ani.com and smile while viewing all the utterly sweet Asian characters.

When I create a character I usually have a global idea in my head of what it's going to look like. Usually I don't sketch first, but start creating in 3D right away, and sculpt until I really like what I've got.



TRE: in addition to creating characters and toys, are you yourself a toy-collector? casual or passionate? what do you collect?

METIN: To be honest I'm only a casual toy collector so far, although that is likely to change now that I've entered the designer toy world myself. But my true interest lies in creation rather than collecting. When I was a youngster I was crazy about playing computer games, until I started creating them myself. Creating gave me much more satisfaction than playing, and that's still the case today. Different medium, but the same kick.


TRE: do you customize toys are well?

METIN: Not yet. My fear is that the custom artwork won't be good enough because I haven't touched traditional media for a long time now. I used to draw on paper, but I'm a completely digital artist for many years now, because it is the only medium that can satisfy my strive for perfectionism. My level of self-criticism is too high to allow the imperfection that comes with the use of traditional media.

TRE: back to your creations: are there any further development of your creations planned? any other characters in your comic strip getting the toy-treatment?

METIN: :) Some nice surprises will be coming your way in the near future, but I leave it up to Crazy Label when they think it's the right time to reveal those secrets. :) Let me just say that Seamour and Marty aren't the last characters from the Seamour comic strip series who will be realized in vinyl. I guess that should be enough to stimulate speculations. :)


TRE: tell us what you hope for your creations Seamour and Marty) to do, for you and for the toy collector?

METIN: First of all I hope Seamour and Marty will be welcomed by designer toy lovers. And if the figures turn out to be popular, then that will make me even happier. The thought of my creations being a part of many rooms across the world is truly fantastic. It's a really exciting time for me, I'm enjoying every day of it.

TOYSREVIL: my thanks for your time and trouble for the interview Metin and best of luck for Seamour and Marty! :)

[image sources via / via / via]

[original post circa 23.04.07]

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