“Some years ago, I traveled to Tokyo and found out about the world of art toys, and I fell in love with it,” Bazak explained to me. Although the About page of his website describes the Barcelona-based artist first as a graphic designer, I was especially intrigued by his passion for art toys. “I could not stop buying toys and more toys. It was crazy. Stores everywhere, filled with all those small figures, collectibles, miniatures…”
Each of Bazak’s art toys comes with a personality and a story. There’s J. Cricket Da Hustla, a smoking cricket with a gold chain, carrying stacks of dollar bills on a forklift. There’s a cyborg farmer, a fried egg from a parallel universe, and a street version of the King Baltasar. But one toy in particular caught my eye – OMGZ, The Blasfamous.
OMGZ is dressed in ornate purple & gold clothing, with intricate designs and golden trims. His hands are clasped in a prayer position at his chest. He stands in a pure white chapel. When closed, the doors proclaim his name. When the doors are open, OMGZ is surrounded by logos – Adidas, Sprite, Jolly Rancher, Rolls Royce; his shoes display the iconic Nike swoosh. And around his hands, he has a chain ending with a single charm – the Bitcoin logo.
Emily Braun: How did you get into making art toys after visiting Tokyo? And what are your main inspirations for the toys?
Bazak: When I went back to Barcelona, I really wanted to do something that had to do with everything I had seen over there. So, I went to a school to learn all of the basic techniques to create my own toys. My partner Jay Bisual and I created the brand TWA – Toyz Wit Attitudes, and we began experimenting.
My main inspiration is urban culture and everything revolving around it. Graffiti, rap music… I also take inspiration from the Kaiju, the Japanese monsters. I’m fascinated by the creativity and originality [of the Japanese] when creating these kind of characters.
Braun: I love that you post images of the process on your blog! I especially liked seeing how you sometimes test different things out before deciding on the final design. What is your favorite part of the entire process?
Bazak: The part I love the most of the whole process is when I choose how to proceed and the materials that I will use. The final part, when the sketch has become a real toy and there are only the final touches to be made, is also very satisfying.
Braun: What materials are involved in making art toys? Do you have a favorite material to use?
Bazak: There are so many materials to be used in the creation of art toys. I normally use two-component epoxy putty or polymer clays like SuperSculpey. [For OMGZ], I used solid foam for the basic structure. I then covered it with a putty surface to hide the porosity, and I finally polished it to achieve a smooth surface.
I don’t have a favorite material, but polymer clays are a good starting point, since they are pretty easy to use.
Braun: Your graffiti is incredible too! How would you describe your graffiti style? I read that you like to experiment with different techniques – what are some of the techniques that you’ve tried?
Bazak: Thank you so much! I think my style is humorous and comic, graphically speaking. I love sarcasm, and I love to laugh at daily situations. I like to play on words, and I’m always looking for parodies of different characters and situations. I like to take everything with a bit of humor and to laugh at everything from my point of view. Sometimes, though, you just look for a visual effect, and the theme or messages stays on a secondary level.
About the techniques, I use spray and many others; it all depends on what you want to achieve. On the wall, I have tried plastic painting, stencils, stickers, sticky paper, markers… You name it.
Braun: So I originally discovered your work because the OMGZ toy includes the Bitcoin symbol. Can you tell me a little bit more about this toy?
Bazak: This toy is part of a collective exhibition about the retro future organized by the artistic collective Art Toy Gamma in Santiago de Chile. It’s based on the idea of those virgin statues that you could take from home to home some years ago in Spain. We did a new version, adapted to the not-so-distant future. Our vision of this religious icon includes adding an urban touch. Also, [we’re placing it] in a world where everything is connected digitally, in a world where donations are made via Bitcoins, PayPal and credit cards. Our guru is a black pagan futuristic God, which is a mirror of a new culture that does not believe in a conventional God anymore and looks for alternatives.
To get a futuristic touch to the box without losing that retro style, we maintained the classic wood structure but added a white finish. We filled the inside with 80’s symbols and brand names to prove that this God loves fame, expensive clothing, and the bad life.
Braun: What aspects of Bitcoin made it a good fit for this character and his followers?
Bazak: When we imagined how the believers of OMGZ would be and how would they make their donations, we thought about a future where transactions are all made via digital mediums. We thought Bitcoin was a very new concept, and we also love its logo. It was great for our God.
Braun: Are you a fan of Bitcoin? How did you first hear about it?
Bazak: I found out about Bitcoin a couple of years ago, and I love the idea, even though I haven’t used it yet. I think I still need more info on how Bitcoin works, about its pros and cons.
– Emily Braun