Monday, January 16, 2006

The Monster Factory Year in Review.

The Monster Factory spent last January recovering from our busy Christmas season, including our first One of a Kind Show. We lost little time starting up our production for the spring OOAK and by the end of the month we were in full swing.

Lucy the monster was featured in The Magazine Not for Adults.

February was highlighted by our Valentine’s Day window display that we did for the store “Propaganda”. The store’s owner Regina, who we are all quite fond of, had seen our monsters during the winter and invited us to create something for her shop. We had a fun time displaying Mitch, Otis, and Lucy in and amongst several dozen plush hearts.

Full steam ahead on One of a Kind Show production. We also were able to squeeze in just enough time to design two new monsters: the lovely Penny and the gigantic Philip. The spring OOAK began on the 24th and ran through Easter Weekend. The OOAK was definitely a great success. In stark contrast to the Christmas show there were actually enough monsters to last the entire show. Lucy and Otis were the big favourites, though we were proud of all our monsters.

In retrospect we didn’t get much done in April, though we did buy our button maker.

The big news of the month was our opportunity to move our studio into the Toronto Business Development Centre. This led Adam to decide that it was time to join Bliss as the second full-time monster partner, so he left his job at Moriyama & Teshima Architects. He’d been with the firm off and on for the past 11 years, so this was a big change. By the end of the month the Monster Factory itself had taken an equally big step and officially moved the studio to 1071 King Street West, Suite 106.

Signing the lease was one thing, renovating the new studio was another. By mid-month we had finally wrapped up the long process of sanding, building, and painting so that our new home was ready for business.

No sooner had we settled in than Bliss was off on the Monster Factory’s first official business trip. She made a whirlwind visit to New York to attend “the Licensing Show”. If you get a chance, be sure to ask her about getting back home after her flight was cancelled.

The beginning of the month was spent scrambling to get all our new monster prototypes designed and constructed for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit. The show ran July 8th,9th, and 10th. It was our second year in the show and we had a great spot this year. There was a warm reception to many of our new monsters. From these prototypes we developed many of our new series, including the Substitutes, the Rangers, and Kevin and Dave.

July was also notable because it saw the beginning of this very blog. The first entry was posted on the 15th, documenting the TOAE.

By August we had finally got our new digs into a state worthy of an “office warming” party. On August 19th our friends and family dropped in to celebrate our new home.

The rest of the month was spent working on the new monsters and preparing illustrations for our first t-shirts.

September saw the Monster Factory officially add fifteen new monsters to our roster: the Rangers, the Substitutes, the Sugars, Kevin and Dave, and the Monsternauts all had their patterns sent off to the cutters.
Bliss got a serger for her birthday which we plan to make good use of.

We were also pleased when several monsters were featured in the covet section of Dose.

October was a busy month. We were invited to speak to the first year fashion students at Ryerson University about operating a small business. Shortly thereafter we welcomed two workstudy students from Ryerson’s Fashion program into the studio. Xandra and Najeha have been wonderful additions to the Monster Factory and we wish that they needed even more workstudy hours.

We also met another group of students from Ryerson’s Image Arts program who asked us if they could work with the Monster Factory as part of their fourth year New Media studies. Katy, Ping, and Anita are right now working on two new websites, one dedicated to the Sugars and one to house Kevin’s Sketchbook.

A real highlight of the month was an interview that we gave to Jakob Tanner from the Toronto Star’s Brand New Planet section. We all found Jakob to be quite charming and enjoyed answering his questions.

The later part of the month was focused on getting ready for our October 26th launch party. All the new monsters and our first t-shirts and buttons were revealed to the world at an event at the Gladstone Hotel. The weeks leading up to that night were nerve-wracking because we were using an unproven (to us at least) silkscreening process on all the new monsters. We were so glad to see that the printing worked out even better than we had hoped for.

The new monsters we launched were: Douglas, Kyle, Kevin, Dave, Bobby 5, Dr. Bog, Mr. Munk, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Chow, Patty, Paula, Francine, Matthew, Bengie, and Troy.

Immediately following the launch party we turned our attention to the busiest task of our year: preparing for the Christmas One of a Kind Show.

November was a very focused month. There is not too much to report other than One of a Kind madness. Two exceptions were the November 10th publication of Jakob’s article and our construction of the “Little Drips”. We made the drips for a company called Splashworks as their holiday giveaway. They saw us at the Outdoor Art Show and commissioned 175 of the little critters.

November 24th finally saw the start of the OOAK. We were not as prepared as we would have liked, but we were better off than last year. All in all we made over a thousand monsters for Christmas and we would not have been able to do so without quite a bit of help. The monster heroes of the season were:

Our workstudy students, Xandra and Najeha, who did a great job sewing monsters, both we very quick learners. They have been a great fit at the studio so far.

Bliss’ cousin Diane who transported monsters to the show everyday and did anything else that needed to be done.

Our new friend Yumiko who is the world’s greatest stitcher-upper and who gave us all great haircuts one day.

Adam’s brother Matthew who helped us numerous times making trips to the cutters and screeners.

Adam’s mom Pat who flipped and stuffed innumerable monster arms.

Bliss’ family - Mary, Joe and Adrianna – who spent quite a while cutting monster parts.

Rhya’s sister Kaurel who helped us stitch up monsters and gave a hand driving our stuff around.

We also received help from Rhya’s boyfriend Kyle (who is always looking out for the MF), and our friends Carly, Dimitris, Caley, Jen, Cindy, Lindsay and Tomislava.

Oh, and we almost forgot. Somewhere in all the madness we had time to make a series of five monsters for C1 Art Space’s show the “Shelf Project”. The “Field Life” were conceived in a mad weekend rush, though we were all quite pleased with how they turned out.

December 1st was the opening of Magic Pony’s Partridges and Pear Trees show. We made “Beatrice” the monster for the occasion and we were happy to hear that a monster fan took her home for Christmas. It was a very nice show that included work from some of our favourite artists.

The OOAK wrapped up on the 4th, giving us just enough time to catch our collective breath and prepare for the D.U.D.E. show. Taking place at the Latvian House on College, the D.U.D.E. is one of our favourite shows of the year. This year’s installment was a lot of fun and would have bee a nice way to end the Christmas season… except that one of us had the idea to hold a studio sale on the 19th & 21st.

On December 10th Lucy the monster appeared in the Globe and Mail in an article about cool toys.

And finally (thank goodness) on December 21st we wrapped up our last official day at the Monster Factory for 2006. It was a good year for the MF. We would like to thank everyone who helped us along the way and everyone who loves monsters.

Preview for next year:

Drawings, music, Sasquatches!


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