One of the last people I spoke to on the last day of trading at KR LDN was the jolly sole known as Podgy Panda, while I was there with a tear in my eye he was there with a grin and telling me to buy a box of T-Shirts. Since then Podgy has gone back to New Zealand so we had an e-mail catch up to fire our questions at the man with the blue pencil.
So…Introduce yourself, what’s you name (other than your artist/business name)?
Hello! my name is Richard Kuoch. I create under the alias PodgyPanda.
Are you an artist from the get go, or developed through time and being in the hobby?
I’m an artist from the get go. I’m trained as a traditional 2D animator (hence the obsession.. I mean love of blue pencils), a graphic designer and have a degree in being awesome (well.. my mom says i’m cool). Wanting to stamp my mark on the art world was something I always wanted to do, and working on other peoples styles (during my 2D animation days) reinforced my ideals to create on my own.
How did you discover the world of designer/art toys?
I stumbled across the old Munky King store in Chinatown, LA during a family holiday to the states. My eyeballs popped out of my head and I spent a good solid few hours just absorbing everything. I left that day with a Luke Chueh print and a few LA series dunnys, and the rest is history.
What inspires You?
Living life. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel through my art, meet amazing people through my art, and eat amazing food (from selling my art :D) All of these life experiences creates lightning bolts in my brain which turns into rad little drawings. Without all the amazing experiences, friends and food, I don’t think my inspiration levels would be very high.
Who/what is your biggest influence?
The biggest influence in my life would have to be my dad. He’s always been creative, from drawing my pictures for my homework assignments when I was 6, to building our household furniture. Dad’s always had a mentality of “I can build it, and it will be WAY awesomer then anything you could buy”. He’s an experienced carver, carpenter, and ideas man. Our defunct spa pool is now our family fish pond (with working waterfall and greenery). Having that exposure to that level of creativeness left a mark on me from a very young age.
Pity i’m rubbish at building things.
When you sit to create, can you describe your ideal setting? For example: do you have music playing, if so what kind or artist, what kind of drink do you have next to you and what are the tools that are a must for you to have on your desk?
Back in the day I would have my drum and bass pumping, energy drinks/beer/wine on the table and packets of candy to get me through a creative session. In my ripe old age of 29, i’m now the complete opposite. I need silence, the energy drinks and booze has been switched to green tea and the odd wafer or 2. *cough*
Do you have a favourite piece of art, that you created, that you cannot part with?
I don’t really have attachments to pieces of art I create, as most of the time they’re created as commissions or for gallery shows.
Is there anything you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I’m currently thumbnailing for my first American solo show, which will be early August at Dragatomi in Sacremento (conveniently after SDCC. hitting 2 birds with 1 stone!) I’m super amped for this show, as my first solo show I did was held in Calgary, Canada in 2010. Being given a whole gallery space to showcase and portray your art the way you want it to is daunting, but an amazing challenge.
Who are some of your favourite toy artists?
Collection-wise, I try to collect McBess, TADO (hi Mike and Katie ^__^), Junko and some Circus Posterus figures. I recently acquired my first Kaws piece which is bloomin’ ace.
What do you think of the current designer toy scene?
It’s a bit weird being back in New Zealand after spending the past 2 years right in the thick of a vibrant toy scene. I was privileged to work behind the scenes at Kidrobot London and saw both sides, and, even with KR LDN closing, I still think the current scene is healthy. With upcoming UK events like Toycon, and events in the states such as Designercon and SDCC/NYCC growing, there is still a demand for collectable vinyl figures, both mass produced and artist produced. I’ve recently teamed up with my local games store here in Takapuna, Auckland to help grow a vinyl community. My goal is to expose kiwis to the lovely world of vinyl toys, through workshops and popular products, hoping to one day emulate the vinyl communities of the UK and the United States.
Plus I get to play with toys again. highscoreeeee.
Do you have any words of wisdom for an aspiring artist wanting to begin showing his/her work?
Be humble. People don’t HAVE to look at your work. If you’re humble, and you’re a nice person, you’ll soon find that your fanbase is genuine, and they want to look at your work.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us, finally where can people check out your work/contact you?
I’m all over the place! My main point of contact is my website. Or you can find me at Facebook, Twitter> or on Instagram. PodgyPanda; all up in your interwebs 😉