Saturday, January 30, 2010

AMANDA VISELL... Monster Mash?

Did you ever believe that there was a Monster living in your wardrobe, or under your bed?

You have probably blocked it from your memory now, but you know what I am talking about, there is no denying it. That unexplainable shape in the darkness...
Your parents probably told you that Monster's aren't real, and you believed them. Why? Because parents are the law until you are about 16. But my friends, I'm here to deliver a message:

 And there is something even more shocking, Disney was involved. 

Her name is Amanda Visell, and she is a Superhero of the Art world. Amanda has painted, sculpted, and designed her way to work with the likes of Kidrobot and Disneyland USA. 
She runs her own brand, and is also one half of "The Girls Productions", a collaborative effort with fellow Artist Michelle Valigura.

Enjoy your time with Amanda, and remember to look closely at her work, you may just see someone or something familiar. But be warned, since speaking with Amanda, I have had two Zombie dreams in the one week, which just proves my point...she is still in charge of the Monsters. 




BW: When you go to sleep at night, do you ever encounter characters from your Art in your dreams? Or any surprising new characters?

AV: Uh no, I do see a lot of zombies.

BW: I love all of your random photos on Twitter. And I find it intriguing that objects are always strategically placed so that we can only see your eyes and the top of your head. Is this to stop you being recognised by your fans, or is it to add to your mystique as an Artist?

AV: I just don't like my picture being taken, I come from a long line of people that aren't photogenic. 

BW: In a battle between Batman and Spiderman, who would win and why?

AV: Spiderman. He is part spider. Batman is just a man. Sad to say, I like Batman more.

BW: So, the Art world seems to be a lot of 'who you know', which makes it hard for new Artists to break in. Was there a particular moment or event, when you knew you had finally broken into the Art world and felt you had arrived?

AV: Did I arrive? If it happened I think I missed it. I just work hard every day, and try to stay in the world.

BW: In the words of 'Napoleon Dynamite', you have amazing 'skills' with your Art. What other skills have you needed to refine or develop to make the Amanda Visell brand so successful?
Do you have a team of people you work with, or is it a one woman show? 

AV: Friends. I couldnt do this without the amazing people around me there to help, especially Michelle.
(Michelle Valigura is Amanda's business partner. Together they run "The Girls Productions", in which they develop their own concepts for animations, books and products. Both have lines of products with Disneyland USA)

Click here for a tour of Amanda and Michelle's studio...

BW: What has been your favourite project so far? Or is every day a new adventure?

AV: It depends, I'm pretty into the show Im working on right now. Trying to mix it up a bit.

BW: Have you had any 'demons' you have have had to face, that have stood between you and where you want to be? 

AV: Yes, humans.

BW: Will Manly the dog feature in any upcoming work?

AV: No way. Hes trying to steal my cookies right now.
BW: I collect limited edition toys, and my best friend collects tin toy robots. Do you have any selfish indulgences?

AV: I'm kinda an electronic geek. but not in a stupid boy way. Also I have Battery operated musical plush tin toys, and vintage animation concept paintings.

BW: Last question...What is your theory on making dreams come true?

AV: I have no freaking idea, but I do feel lucky every day. I just wish I could stop grinding my teeth.
Thanks captain.

Massive thanks to Amanda for taking the time to chat with me! Please check out the links below to see more of Amanda's work. 

Until next time....
Baby Wasp :)

Amanda's Website

Kidrobot - Creator of Designer Toys and Apparel

The Girls Productions

My Switcheroo - A place to buy Amanda and Michelle's work!

Monday, January 18, 2010

FACEBOOK RUINED MY LIFE - The "Normal Watches" Story.

If there was a statement that sums up the Facebook revolution for a lot of the world's population this would be it. 

Everyone has had a friend that they love some days, and loathe the next. You know what I'm talking about, that friend you need in some way, but you always have to keep them at arms length? Because they are a little bit crazy.

And Facebook is technology's version of this. At first I was caught up in the hype, but over time I have grown to feel suffocated and developed a paranoia that Facebook isn't my friend...I think it could be the enemy?
Friend's have  expressed their concern at the decline in my status updates, and the increase of my presence on Twitter. But, I have good reason for this. In the last year I have:

-Agonised for days over how to hide a break up from Facebook. 

-Been found by people that should have remained lost. 

-Been stalked by those people.

-I've blocked these people, only to find an abusive email in my inbox as to what my reason was for blocking them? Uncomfortable.

-Been guilted into not blocking people in case I encountered them in day to day life.
When did we allow Facebook to have so much control over our lives???

It was in my time NOT on Facebook, that I discovered an American Watch Company that had created a product that aligned with my feelings of this social networking tool. Don't get my wrong, Facebook hasn't ruined my life....YET.


Matthew and Shayne (Creators of Normal Watches) met at the Hell's Angels San Clemente rally weekend in '77.

Shayne, on his blue-flamed Chopper and wearing his trademark red/white/blue helmet, accidentally backed into Matthew's bike.

"Get your crap bike out of my way," Shayne taunted.

Matthew took off his helmet, letting his hair fall down past his waist.

"It's a crap bike, but it's MY crap bike. You gotta a problem with that?" The graphic on Matthew's motorcycle simply showed an owl giving the finger.

Then Shayne noticed the extremely rare Skull and Fireworks tattoo that Matthew had on his underarm. "Holy shit, you're an Ace Jumper?"

"How do you know about that?" The Ace Jumpers were a super-exclusive gang of bikers who had done the following within 36 hours: rob 4 banks, drive 2000 miles, recite "A Clockwork Orange" by memory, and drink 10 bottles of Jagermeister -- all without sleeping or eating.

"This is how I know." Shayne lifted up his ZZ Top beard to reveal the exact same Jumper tattoo on his chin.

"Brother!" "Brother!" They hugged, knowing that there were only five more of them in the world.

"Hey, you wanna start a watch company?" Shayne asked.

"Man, that's a great idea. We could make kick ass watches and sell them for as cheap as possible."

"Yes. Let's do it."

Ten bank robberies later, they had their start-up money for Normal Watches.

So, what possessed me to randomly email Matthew and ask for an interview? 

Well he just seems like a cool guy in all aspects. The Normal Watches concept is totally unique at less than $20 a slice, backed up by a super sweet website, and their fun take on the world had me intrigued...

WHO IS MATTHEW NEWELL from NORMAL WATCHES, and what is he all about?
So I plucked up the courage to email Matthew, and being the most awesomely approachable guy that he is...he responded. Enjoy!! 

Baby Wasp: Since I was a kid I have always liked to believe I have been destined for "greatness". I've wondered whether this unwavering belief is a genetic trait between successful people. Did you have dreams of greatness when you were a kid? What did you dream about?

Matthew: "You know, I never fantasised or wanted to be a rockstar, I never fantasised about being the President, I never fantasised about a lot of things as you say "people who are destined for greatness", I don't know if I'm destined for greatness, I'm certainly trying.

When I was in High School I was obsessed with David Letterman, the tv talk show host here in the States. Obsessed with him, watched the show every night, practiced all of his jokes, watched his interviewing techniques. I don't know why, I was obsessed with him. Because of that I ended up going to College and becoming a Broadcasting Major, and then once I got to to College I kind of became obsessed with the whole Mod Musical Movement of The Jam and The Who and Ben Sherman and all that stuff. Obsessed, absolutely obsessed and kind of haven't gotten, I still like David Letterman, but kind of haven't gotten over the whole Mod thing...yet.

Baby Wasp: What inspired you to create "Normal Watches"?

Matthew: "Well, my business partner, Shayne, and I wanted to do something...he's got a background in Graphic Design, I've got a background in Marketing. And with our jobs we were always trying to push the envelope, and do, not crazy stuff, but stuff that would get us noticed, or get our products noticed, stuff that would get the company recognition. And we were always being told "No" alot, so we wanted to do something where he could from a design persepctive and creatively really go bonkers. And we both kind of brainstormed the ideas, but he makes it look like what we talk about making it looking like.
And then I just wanted to do something that was, I don't know,  I didn't want to work for anyone, I wanted to work for myself, and I wanted to be the one responsible for whether the company succeeded or failed. No-one could tell us no, but then again no-one says yes. If we don't sell watches, we don't get paid, it's just that simple. We wanted to do something where we were in charge for all of the good things and the bad things."

Baby Wasp: Your watches follow cultural trends. I bought my little sister "Facebook ruined my life", because a few times Facebook nearly has! How do you know you are onto something good?

Matthew: "Well, I know this is going to sound like, kind of like an obvious answer, but sales! You know, there are some watches that we put out that we absolutely think are going to destroy, and no-one buys them.  And there are some watches that we think are pretty good and then they end up being our best seller. So, you really don't know, and I think that's another great thing about the approach that we have taken is we do our best, we put out stuff that we think is really really cool and then we just see what works and what doesn't work. The things that work, we push em on and push them through as quickly as we can and things that didn't work 'eh, we tried' and we just go onto the next thing."

Baby Wasp: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with starting the company, and how did you smash it? (Why I chose to use the phrase 'smash it', I'm not entirely was 3am! It seemed to bring amusement to Matthew!)

Matthew: "The biggest challenge is obviously our watches are affordable, because they are affordable we wanted to make sure they are below $20 and the only way to do that, literally, is to have them manufactured in China. So the biggest hurdle, and it's a hurdle to this day is both the time and the communication gap in working with our manufacturing partners in China or Hong Kong. It's really really difficult, most of my business with them has to be  done at 8 or 9  o'clock at night, which is 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning there time, plus it's a different language, plus all sorts of other things. That has been, and continues to be the biggest struggle and I don't know if we've 'smashed it', it's certainly gotten better. (Laughter)  We do a lot of things on email, because I think that everything is in English and it gives them the chance to translate things, if there are things that they might not understand. But it also means that it takes a while because we can't sit all day long and email back and forth because I'm asleep or they're asleep. We haven't smashed it, but I like the enthusiasm of smashing the challenges, but we're working to make it better. "

Baby Wasp: What is the coolest free advertising you have ever received?

Matthew: "You know, we have been very very very very fortunate that blogs like yourself, and magazines, and newspapers and stuff have for whatever reason thought that we were something fun and interesting to cover. We've been in 'Nylon Magazine', we've been in the Los Angeles Times, we were on German TV a couple of months ago, so  I don't know if there's one thing, I would pack together all of the publicity we've gotten as something that we're super super grateful for. "

Baby Wasp: Normal watches in the and universal domination?

Matthew: "I don't know, you know some people would say that you should only start a business if you plan on being the biggest and the best there is out there, and I don't know if we want to be the biggest. I know we want to be the best, but when people think of being the best watch company they think that we wanna be Rolex or Tiffany or whatever.  We want to be the best for kick ass watches, we wanna be the best for watches that have an edge, have attitude, that are clever, that are fun. I don't know if that means global or universal domination, in fact it probably doesn't just because 'not everyone get's the joke', if you know what I mean? So maybe not global or universal domination, but we're definately going to step on a few toes on our way to the top. "

In 2009, Matthew and Shayne made 1 video per day to promote Normal Watches for one whole year. Here are a couple of videos from this series that made me smile. And mega respect to Matthew and Shayne for doing for 365 days, I know I clean my teeth 365 days a year...but create a video every day?...RESPECT guys!

I would love to create the soundtrack to my it just made sense to include Matthew's video of what wearing a Normal Watch would sound like. Immerse yourself for a few moments....

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" has become a cult movie, and according to Matthew is the most structurally perfect romantic movie ever. Each watch is a different character, how Matthew remembers who is Nick, Norah, the Drunk girl, the 2 gay guys in the band, and Nick and Norah's exes I'm unsure. If you like the movie, watch it, Matthew's adaptation provided much amusement for me!

My favourite song from Nick and Norah by Devendra Banhart. It's not a music video or anything, you can study a non moving picture of Devendra for a few minutes, of feel the music and get up and dance. should get up and dance. Or just figure out how many different ways you can sit in a chair and move your shoulders to the beat. This one is for you Matthew! :)

You can follow Normal Watches on:

Massive thanks to Matthew, Shayne and the Normal Watches gang for giving us a kick ass way to wear our thoughts on our wrists!!


I speak with:
Australian and New Zealand paper Playground, "MAG NATION". Dip me in ink and throw me to Mag Nation, where all of my magazine wishes can come true!

The ridiculously amazing AMANDA VISELL. Painter, Toy Designer, Sculptor, and creator of things I only wish existed in my imagination. And to top it off, Amanda has worked with the likes of Kidrobot and Disney USA. Woah!

Until next time, Keep Yourself Nice!!

Baby Wasp

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doing things differently leads to something exceptional...

Welcome to "Baby Wasp's Culture Hound"!

This blog has been born out of many hours of trawling the web searching for things to stimulate, grow and colour my world. There are so many amazing people and products on this fair planet, I want to share what I have found in one place. And in turn, give you something you can check in with on a weekly basis. 

What you will find in your visits to "Baby Wasp" is:
New Products
Designer Toys
Websites to die for...
And, Interviews with Exceptional people.

All the things I am interested in really lol. If you know me in real life, you might say I'm slightly unusual for a 28 year old female... I get excited about the smell of paper, limited edition designer toys, and a mass of other random things. But if my calculations are correct, there must be at least a thousand people like me out there...perhaps even a million. So, if you are reading this, I hope you will come on this journey with me and I hope that I can contribute to your world in some way. And if you would like to contribute to mine, shoot me an email.

In the spirit of "Doing things differently leads to something exceptional.", the first brand I would like to feature is...ABSOLUT Vodka. ;)

Peace and Love

ABSOLUT Creativity

My love of "Absolut" began when I met an astonishingly good looking English woman, with curly golden locks and clear blue eyes. Her accent had me in seconds, as did her style. She also had legs and an arse to die for! ;) 
In her home she had the best looking fridge I had ever seen, and inside her fridge was a bottle that was nearly as beautiful as she. And it was called 'Absolut'. And that for me, was where my love affair with Absolut began. 
So what is Absolut Advertising all about? The experimental, cutting-edge nature of the brand has inspired some of the world’s leading artists to create their own interpretations of ABSOLUT. Beginning in 1985 when the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol painted the ABSOLUT VODKA bottle, over hundreds of artists, designers, fashion designers, photographers, musicians and craftspeople contributed their talents to the ABSOLUT VODKA advertising campaign. N June Paik, Rosemarie Trockel, David Cameron, Versace, Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan and Louise Bourgeois are just a few. 

The most recent campaign gave artists the opportunity to spell out the phrase "Doing things differently leads to something exceptional" across various landscapes, and with random objects. 

The ad itself is beautifully shot, and a piece of epic art work that I would have totally gone to a movie theatre to see lol. No really, it's true! Check out the video!

"Doing things differently leads to something exceptional."

Most recently Absolut has secured the likes of two beauties well and truly worth cult alcohol status. The latest ads are a step away from the nature theme, but these two are freaks of nature in the looks department!
First up, a personal favourite. Kate Beckinsdale, who came to fame for me in tight black leather in "Underworld" lol.

Secondly, the amazing Zooey Deschanel. This lady takes uber cool to a whole new level, to a different universe! Why can't I live in an "Absolut World"? I would be good, I promise! lol

Here's some of my favourite Absolut videos, brought to you by the Absolut channel on "You Tube".

"Cut the Crap" Absolut Ad

I love the absolut honesty of this ad, so clever lol. 

Absolut "Moon ad"

All hail to the Absolut Advertising Executives. haha

"Currency is kisses" - Absolut Ad

This one gave me goosies, and made me smile. After watching this you will absolutely be with me on living in an Absolut world. ;)

Well kids, time to get back to reality. But I've got a little piece of Zooey on my desktop now, to remind me to live exceptionally/Absolut style.

I have some great interviews coming up, so stay tuned! Thanks for joining me. I trust you will be back. :)

Baby Wasp