Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself (i.e. where your general base of operation is, when you started designing, and how you first started out)?
Abe Lincoln Jr.: My name is Abe Lincoln Jr. and I’m based out of Brooklyn NY. I started doing art under this name in 2003 when I began putting stickers up around NYC of my pooping bird, Char. I started out with the concept inspired by a Mid Century Modern food court I went to as a kid called the Menu Tree that was decorated in a Cartoon Aviary motif. Anyways, long story short, I had quit doing art for almost 10 years when I became aware of the new Street Art movement from Wooster Collective and I was like “Hell we did all this stuff back in the punk rock days, I can totally do this”, I came up with Char and the rest is Marketing History!!
UVD: Would you mind telling us about some of the designs that you came up with when you were first starting out and how designs have progressed over the years?
ALJ: Well the first thing I did was Char, and I stuck to that pretty much for the first couple years. It was good because I became recognized for the character. The bunk part is that I had painted myself into a corner with a single image that people were expecting from me. It became a logotype of sorts and I kind of felt restricted by that after a couple years so I switched up to doing a mix of digital and hand made work.
UVD: What are some things that influence you and your work? Is there any artist’s work that inspired you and your style early on in your career? Are there any artists on your radar currently that have amazed you with the product they are putting out?
ALJ: Well, like many artists, the cartoons I grew up watching had a huge influence on me. Hanna- Barbera and the original Scooby Doo series were the reason I started drawing in the first place. I think that my work was definitely affected by the cartoons and comics of the 60’s – 70’s. Iwao Takamoto is probably the biggest influence on young Abe Jr..
UVD: I think the first design of yours that caught my eye was a painting of your birds. Was there something that got you started with drawing the birds and the other cartoony animal figures?
ALJ: The animal roster of Hanna-Barbera put me onto the cartoon animals. Laffalympics, while being fairly terrible, brought together tons of characters that rarely crossed paths in the regular cartoon continuity, that to me was an incredibly inspiring moment as a kid.
UVD: But I guess what some may associate more with you is your chase figure from Kidrobot Series 3. How did that relationship begin?
ALJ: Well, initially I did a story on Miami Bass with my friend Joe who runs a big Miami Bass forum on Yahoo. I did it for an online magazine called Friends of Sound, Little did I know, that the man who co-published the magazine was Chad Phillips, former Creative Director of Kidrobot. After a couple years of knowing each other and following each others creative pursuits he asked me to do a Dunny and I did.
UVD: I was a little disappointed that the “Snitches get stitches” design was not chosen to be in a series. Are there any other submitted designs that you have that were declined for a kidrobot dunny that you would mind sharing?
ALJ: I don’t do tons of Dunny designs in my free time, so I usually turn a design or two in every couple years. I just turned some in some stuff that’s based on what’s been really inspiring to me lately. But they’re in the mix so I cant show em. The Snitches Dunny was the only other design I’d turned in to them. I’ve had a couple designs I did for series’ that didn’t happen, I actually was working on a mini fig series of original characters with a company but it wound up falling through in the 11th hours, sadly. Eventually, I was approached by Dacosta of Chocolate Soop, and now they’re all available for download as “stickers” in his amazing Stikalicious App for iPad.
UVD: Other than what we can find on your site about Globulon, would you mind telling us a little about the designing of the character? And if you would mind sharing with the readers some of the struggles you may have had taking one of your designs from sketch pad to 3-D, and what they could maybe expect if they try to do something similar with one of their designs.
ALJ: Well I worked with Marc Mascot on the sculpt. I basically sent him a scan of the original illustration of Globulon. I told him to go ahead and freestyle the back I think he did an amazing job of capturing the likeness of the original drawing. So I skipped the whole “turnaround” step of the toy design process. Then I had Titanium Toyz cast him in resin so I think overall I got around a lot of the hassles of toy making this time.
UVD: With the different media that you have worked on (shoes, figures, paper, etc) which one proves to be the most exciting and challenging for you to work on when you take on a new design/project?
ALJ: New mediums I think are the most fun, I love doing some projects just because it’s a new medium and something about it is appealing. I just did a swarorvsky crystal phone case with playbling.com. That super luxury world is totally alien to me so I felt that would be a great place to bring some of my patented weirdness. I thought doing a “happy” clown piece in the luxury goods land would bring the right amount of weirdness to the project. I don’t just want to do stuff that sells nicely I’m usually making some sort of commentary with my work.
UVD: With your continued involvement in custom shows or “trading card” series, what approach do you take in order to produce a new piece of art for each occasion and not repeat?
ALJ: I’m good at creating strong concepts. I get an offer and think about what I want to do and then just go for it. I try to bring something either I’m really excited about to the project (like my minimal color treatments for the Star Wars and Art Hustle Cards) or just try to conceptually subvert what Im doing in that category. Like the evil clown phone case…
UVD: If you were in charge of creating a series of blind box figures, what artists would you tap to be in your series?
ALJ: Off the top of my head I’d pick MCA, Superdeux, Ryan Cox, Toru Fukuda, Scott Tolleson, Patricio Oliver, Paul Shih, KaNO, Cecy Meade, Helena Garcia, Sara Antoinette Martin, Ralph Consentino, Bubi Au Yeung, and myself.
UVD: Are there any future projects that you wish to discuss for the reader to keep their eyes open for in the upcoming future?
ALJ: Well I’ve got a new show opening in Chicago on Oct. 15th with Scott Tolleson and Patricio Oliver at Oh No Doom gallery in Chicago. I don’t want to reveal too much but its going to be a hum dinger of a show. I’ve got my side project Fugue State Records cooking, and a litany of other goodness coming up but its not ready to reveal yet.
UVD: What would your encouragements/suggestions be for artists/designers that are either just starting out or who are trying to get themselves noticed?
ALJ: I’ve found that at least in the toy world, many companies look to Artists who have established themselves in another area. Of course that’s changing now where custom artists are getting production figures but I think that’s relatively new. But do your own thing, don’t jump into a movement if its not really you. Also there are so many ways of getting attention now that weren’t widely available even 10 years ago. Try to up the signal to noise ratio and to thine own self be true. You cant fail with that recipe. I try hard to put out work that cracks me up and is visually appealing at the same time. I’ve been in situations where I could do art that would sell or do art that made me happy, I always try to take the path that makes me happy.