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Contemporary Toys Presentation

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this is a presentation about research i've been doing on using contemporary toys as a topic for investigation in the art classroom. topics for discussion, as well as activities, and a background on …

this is a presentation about research i've been doing on using contemporary toys as a topic for investigation in the art classroom. topics for discussion, as well as activities, and a background on the moment is included. PLEASE DO NOT COPY WITHOUT PERMISSION.


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  • 1. toys investigating big ideas through Melissa Mudd
  • 2. Across time and cultures humans have interacted with aesthetic and functional objects called toys.
  • 3. The values, technology, and culture of the groups which produced these objects are mirrored in their functions and aesthetics.
  • 4. The design, production, marketing, consumption, and use of these objects have a relationship to the arts that is both cyclical and symbiotic.
  • 5. Toys, especially in the contemporary sense, are an aesthetic synthesis of visual culture themselves as well as an artifact of visual culture as a whole.
  • 6. Contemporary Designer Toys: An Introduction
  • 7.
    • “ I was making an animated film with my friend Tristan Eaton and friends in Asia began e-mailing me pictures of bizarre toys they’d seen in little stores in Harajuku, or found in a back alley shop in Hong Kong. The pictures were always excitingly blurry: a stylized mechanical shark with glow in the dark eyes; what looked like a big blue monkey with a stereo speaker for a head; modified GI Joes with orange afros and highly detailed miniaturized hip-hop clothing. It was as if artists were taking toys that I remembered from childhood and imposing an adult aesthetic on them. They were cute, scary, hip, violent, scarce, expensive, and beautiful.”
    • – paul budnitz, kidrobot founder
  • 8. appropriated (and stolen) characters & images Folk art High culture References to local subcultures Low culture Pop Art Manga Comic books Kawaii Graffiti culture / street artists Anti-nostalgia D.I.Y. movements
  • 9. “ In many ways the toys are a form of folk art, or pop art – folk art because many of the artists are not formally trained, and pop art because the toys appropriate aspects of popular culture in their design , but do so in a way that creates new objects that have aesthetics and meanings that far exceed the culture that they refer to.” – paul budnitz, kidrobot founder
  • 10. Contemporary Toys: A Brief History
    • most people agree that designer toys seemed to have appeared simultaneously in Japan and China in the mid-nineties
    • Hong Kong artists (Michael Lau, Jason Siu, Brothersworker) began taking apart GI Joes and recasting their heads and hands, and selling them at toy and comic book conventions
    • asmall Goth-rock clothing designer and boutique in Tokyo (Bounty Hunter), made limited edition vinyl toys to supplement their Halloweenesque clothing line
    • also in Japan, Medicom created “Be@rbrick” – the first “platform toy” (which share a single physical design, but may be painted different ways by different artists)
    • the movement exploded from there -
  • 11. They come in all shapes, sizes, and of course… C O L O R S
  • 12.  
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  • 18.  
  • 19.  
  • 20.  
  • 21.  
  • 22.  
  • 23. Particular trends
  • 24. DIY BLANK TOYS                        
  • 25.  
  • 26. Say hello to Munny.
  • 27.  
  • 28.  
  • 29.  
  • 30.  
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34. munny gallery
  • 35. plushies
  • 36. custom plush toys
  • 37. Ugly Dolls
  • 38. platform toys, serial and limited editions
  • 39.  
  • 40.  
  • 41. The Designer Toy Movement’s Major Players Artists & Companies you should know
  • 42. Kidrobot Video clip Additional interview
  • 43. Kidrobot
  • 44. Toy 2 R source
  • 45. Max Toy Company
  • 46. Wonderwall
  • 47. Friends With You
  • 48. Super7 Toys Art & Design
  • 49. Amos Toys
  • 50. Michael Lau Art
  • 51. Jamungo
  • 52. Kaching Brands
  • 53. Munky King
  • 54. Mind Style
  • 55. Medicom
  • 56. Muttpop
  • 57. Ugly Dolls
  • 58. Red Magic
  • 59. Secret Base
  • 60. Strange Co
  • 61. Adfuncture
  • 62. Tokidoki
  • 63. investigating toys as a big idea in the art curriculum
  • 64. Potential Big Ideas
    • play
    • design
    • appropriation
    • consumption
    • marketing
    • nostalgia
    • memory
  • 65. Toys are (or can be) about …
    • alter egos
    • alternate worlds
    • artistic vehicles
    • fantasy becoming real
    • child-centered vs. adult-oriented
    • child-proofing reality
    • collectible
    • consumed
    • a sense of comfort / protection
    • cultural artifacts
    • escapism
    • existential mirrors (creation drama)
    • gender roles/expectations
    • haves & have nots
    • idealization
    • imaginary friends
    • imagination
    • innocence
    • making things child/age/gender appropriate
  • 66. Toys are (or can be) about …
    • mass culture
    • mass marketed / advertised
    • memories (ideal or fictionalized)
    • metaphors for real life experiences
    • miniature
    • nostalgia
    • Play
    • play acting / role-playing
    • power
    • rites of passage
    • ritual objects
    • roles we aspire to
    • secret worlds
    • simplification
    • societal roles
    • substitute for something else (to pacify)
    • technology
  • 67. Essential questions : multiple lenses
  • 68. Aesthetic issues, big ideas, intriguing questions
    • Is it okay for artists to “borrow” images that already exist?
    • What role does memory play in one’s experience with toys?
    • What role does nostalgia have in acquiring or collecting toys?
    • What themes or ideas are reoccurring in narratives about toys?
    • Do you change the way you look at everyday objects when you see them in a museum or gallery setting? Does their value change?
  • 69. Artistic processes and decisions
    • How can/do artists use toys as an aesthetic vehicle?
    • How do artists create characters?
    • Where do artists get inspiration for their artworks?
    • How do artists learn to see the objects and images in their everyday lives as a source of inspiration for their own art?
    • Who are the famous toy designers of today?
    • What careers are available for those who are interested in toy or character design? How does one prepare for these careers?
  • 70. History, cultural context
    • How are different aspects of the art world interconnected? (for example, popular culture, consumer culture, “street art,” works seen in galleries and museums)
    • Can toys be viewed as a mirror to the larger world?
    • What are the functions of toys across times and cultures?
    • What is the historical/cultural significance of toys?
    • What do the characters people/culture create tell about the artists and cultures who make them?
    • What is the contemporary/designer toy movement?
    • How is the designer toy movement different from mass marketed toys?
  • 71. Marketing, advertising, and consumption
    • How are toys marketed?
    • What are the differences between the way traditional (mass-marketed) toys are marketed/advertised/sold and the way designer toys are marketed/advertised/sold?
    • What ethical decisions must be made when marketing a toy?
    • How do you make sure children aren’t mindless consumers?
    • How are consumers manipulated in advertising?
    • What strategies do marketers and advertisers use when selling products to children?
  • 72. Concepts & Vocabulary
    • ancillary markets
    • appropriation
    • branding
    • editions
    • juxtaposition
    • kawaii
    • mass culture
    • mass production
    • mold-making
    • nostalgia
    • platform toy
    • play
    • pop culture
    • prototype
    • visual culture
  • 73. Subject Matter Explorations
    • Alter egos
    • Alternate perspectives
    • Appropriation
    • Heroes and villians
    • high/low art juxtaposition
    • Maketing/advertisin
    • Memory / nostalgia
    • Pop culture
    • Power
    • Toy stories/narratives
  • 74. The art teacher can help students artistically and creatively investigate and express the big idea(s) by…
  • 75.
      • providing opportunities for multidisciplinary connections to student’s own world
      • highlighting connections between cultures, styles, image stores, and art movements
      • posing juicy and intriguing questions throughout the unit which encourage thoughtful artistic response and dialogue
      • challenging students to become cognizant of their personal aesthetic choices, individual art making style, and taste
      • modeling personal thought processes and reflections in and on action and creation (teacher’s own)
  • 76. Possibilities for Art Making
  • 77.
      • Assemblage – found objects
      • basic sewing – felt, fabric, notions
      • character design (2D) – hand-rendered sketches (pen & ink, marker, mixed media, digital illustration)
      • combining multiple sources for inspiration
      • concept sketches – hand-rendered sketches (pen & ink, marker, mixed media)
      • designing advertisements
      • designing brands/logos – hand-rendered sketches (pen & ink, marker, digital illustration)
    Techniques, artistic behaviors, suggested media
  • 78.
        • digital illustration - Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator
        • drawing from imagination
        • figurative sculpture – polymer clay, modeling clay, modeling tools
        • packaging design
        • push molds & casting - polymer clay, 2 part putties (for example amazing mold putty, silicone plastique, super elasticlay, miracle molds)
        • soft sculpture – basic sewing supplies, found objects
        • stylization/abstraction as it relates to caricature
  • 79. potential project ideas
  • 80. Communicative sketches & protoypes
  • 81. Using conceptual ideas gleaned from connections to toys
    • (students propose materials and methods)
    • Childhood memories
    • Real and imagined
    • Secret places & characters
    • Nostalgia vs. memory
  • 82. toy design career research, interviews, journal entries
  • 83. developmentally appropriate toy design problems
  • 84. Designing toy prototypes
  • 85. character design
  • 86. munny design
  • 87. plushie character from children’s drawing
  • 88. conceptual age learner Connecting to the
  • 89.
    • Conceptual age thinking involves navigating through a barrage of information, combining elements from disparate sources into a new whole to produce meaning. Exposing students to subject matter that reaches across time and cultures gives them the opportunity to connect their personal experiences with toys to a broader, yet interconnected, perspective. These experiences change and enhance their individual perspectives to create additional connections and deeper levels of meaning through their art making.
  • 90.
        • Toy design is often a product of the technology and values of the society in which it is created. Changes in their designs over time mirror changes in their represented cultures (whether wide-spread or sub cultural undercurrents). Contemporary toy design, specifically, is unique in its synetic appropriation of the design from many sources.)
    Teaching for design:
  • 91.
        • Story, in a literal since (as narrative), is often apparent when individuals play with toys. These narratives can be personal and based on individual experiences, such as when children use toys to role play developmental dramas or based in fantasy. There are countless stories which include toys as characters to entertain or to serve as metaphoric purposes, Life lessons as well as social rolls and expectations are often learned (and taught) using toys, and play, as a vehicle.
    Teaching for story:
  • 92.
        • As aforementioned, students need opportunities to practice synthesizing information (textual and visual) from a variety of sources to create something new. This unique conceptual age ability is highlighted in the study of the designer toy movement.
    Teaching for story:
  • 93.
        • Through investigation of something that everyone has experiences with, toys become a launching point for discussion of discussion at both the micro and macro levels. For example, students can discuss and make work informed by their experiences with toys in childhood versus their perceptions of them today and in turn comparing their experiences with other cultures. Students may recall feeling left out when they didn’t have the toy someone else did, facilitating conversations of the value of material objects as status symbols in visual culture. The potential for rich personal connections here is limited only by the questions asked.
    Teaching for empathy:
  • 94.
        • Across time and cultures many similar types of toys have emerged (dolls, construction toys, etc) as a “facilitator” for play. One might say that play IS the function of toys. Having students produce work which is playful (in a way that is playful) – toys especially - helps them not only put themselves in the perspective of a potential client (in the case of toy design) but harkens them back to a simpler, less judgmental time in their artmaking.
    Teaching for play:
  • 95.
        • Students have the opportunity to create, and investigate, meaning through personal and historical investigation of toys. Opportunities for decoding meaning in images and visual culture contexts (such as advertising) are also easily connected when discussing toys.
    Teaching for meaning: