Valerie G of Cultured Critter Collective knows monsters really well - she creates them! But they aren’t the hide-under-your-covers kind of monsters, more of the aww-look-how-cute kind. Her critters have such a funky and fun style you don’t have to look hard to see that Valerie has true love for toy design.
We first crossed paths with Valerie at Comicpalooza in Houston, TX and we were all stoked to meet a fellow vinyl nerd. She’s a very talented artist, a super nice person and Bean Pot Toiz is extremely grateful to her for doing this interview. Thanks Valerie - you rock!
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
Actually, I had no idea that I was going to be an artist- my degrees are actually in music!
My dad is a jewelry designer/creator extraordinaire, so I’m sure my artistic ideals have transferred over in some way from him. When I was six, I did glue a bunch of his semi-precious stones on my construction paper for school- maybe that was a hint of things to come.
How would you describe your style of art?
I strive to impart whimsy, humor, color and different textures into my work. I just love when I meet people at shows and they giggle and truly enjoy the personalities of my critters!
What inspires you to create? Where do you get your ideas from?
My inspiration usually comes from pop culture, movies, television, vinyl toy platforms and sometimes just a new cool color of paint! Often when a new vinyl toy is released, I can immediately imagine what I will create with it. In addition, many of my interesting characters and stories have been “born” while sitting in music rehearsals and counting rests.
What kind of materials do you use?
Definitely a wide variety of items: Vinyl toys, acrylic ink and paint, polymer clay, modeling clay, semi-precious stones, pompoms, glass, poly fur, leather- you name it, I use it!
When did you first get into customizing toys?
As an avid Uglydoll and vinyl toy collector, I got to know some awesome toy customizers, and they were very helpful in getting me started. I had been studying ceramic sculpture for five years, but when my last three pieces blew up in the kiln, it was definitely time for a change! My first show was the Mini Custom Skully Show at Chuckwa in 2009. After this show I became completely hooked!
What’s the biggest challenge with your projects?
Probably my biggest challenge is creating the actual critter that I had in my mind when I first started. Often things do change a bit as each project progresses- sometimes more than I intended! Of course, I always strive to create the highest level of professional work at all times.
Outside of your art, what do you like to do for fun? What else are you passionate about?
I still love to collect vinyl toys and Uglydolls, and I am totally addicted to Etsy as well, and all of the awesome handmade goods available for sale! Every now and then when I have a few free minutes, I like to step away from everything to just read or play tennis. I am still quite passionate about music and the oboe as well- though between making reeds, practicing, and my art, I often wonder when I will find the time to sleep. Maybe someday I will!
What do you see yourself doing in the future? What’s your next project?
In the future, I really want to have my own vinyl production toy, and have another solo show.
There are many new projects in the works, including Halloween mini vinyl customs, a Halloween monster blind box series, and monster jewelry! I’m also working on some handmade “hybrid” plush critters, as well as a book project with an awesome Houston-based photographer, Mark Chen.
Her art & toiz can be found (and should be added to your collection) at:
Cultured Critter Collective Shop
Cultured Critter Collective Blog
Cultured Critter Collective Website