The first time I saw a figure of the Scarygirl series I totally fell in love with it. It was not only about the astonishing artwork, the use of color or the amazing finishing details. It was an enthusiasm of getting in touch with a secret, mysterious world. A world conceived by Nathan Jurevicius and having as a protagonist the heartfelt stories of an abandoned, slightly odd but cute little girl on a quest to find her origins. Her adventure is full of amazing encounters and fantastic creatures, amongst others Bunniguru, a humorous bunny offering confusing advice on everything, Blister, a last of his species giant octopusis, and Dr. Maybe, a strange man conducting secret experiments deep in the ocean!
Natahan Jurevicius is one of the most famous creators inside the designer toys scene, a mania of limited-edition toys for adults that is on a constant expansion. With his psychedelic, dream-like creations has managed to conquer a huge amount of art and pop culture fans that are waiting with eager for his new creations. Currently living in Canada, this artist, illustrator, toy designer and storyteller answered to all of our questions in the following interview, exclusive for Yatzer!
How did everything start?
I graduated from the University of South Australia in 1994, majoring in illustration/design and immediately went freelance. For a number of years I mainly focused on editorial and publishing work doing covers and spot illustrations for a number of magazines in Australia, the US and Asia. During 1999 - 2001 began experimenting with the computer and interactive projects and output a bunch of work on the internet. It was around this time that I developed the Scarygirl character specifically for an online game. This was put on hold but at almost the same moment a design firm in Hong Kong (Flying Cat) called me in the middle of the night asking to create toys from my illustrations. A collaboration formed and for the next 3 years worked on a numerous limited edition vinyl toys based on my Scarygirl and Minitree house characters. In 2003/04 I was approached by Passion Pictures to further develop the Scarygirl concept into a film (this partnership has also been involved in the development of a soon to be released online game, graphic novel and limited edition products.)
In your web you describe yourself as an Australian artist living inCanada. At what point you moved there and why? In which way your environment affects your work?
I moved there with my family in 2004, the same year my youngest daughter was born. A lot of stuff was happening in our lives during that time and we felt a change was needed. My kids and ex-wife are Canadian citizens so it was also a logical and easy choice to move there. The environment (particularly the winters) has an effect on how you visualize the world. Before coming to Canada I 'd only seen snow a couple of times in my life so to be surrounded by white 3 months ofthe year was very different to me. Canada's easy access to the US and Europe make it also beneficial to my work.
mini treehouse series
I love the stories behind your figures. Which are the things that inspire you? Is the creation of parallel worlds an answer to a hard reality?
Traveling to many countries, interacting with diverse cultures, religion and my children all play a big part in what inspires me. I don't see the worlds I create as necessarily different on a moral or social level - only visually. The same types of people exist in my made-up world, possibly enhanced or simplified. Often i create a common theme about not judging something by how it appears. Beautiful things can often be dangerous. What seems scary can just be apreconceived idea of something fearful - in reality it may be the kindest, least harmful creature.
What's your opinion about the art toys scene? Did you imagine when you first started creating vinyl figures the mania that would be generated around it? Do you have any favorite artists?
When I first started there were only a handful of us in the art toys scene. It was a tight community and I think the objects we created were often valued/esteemed higher than they are now. Fast forward a few years and we see a huge amount of people creating toys and companies like Kidrobot expanding from a small retailer/producer into a large corporation all on the back of vinyl figure scene. Personally I see that it all helps keep the market thriving - what you lose in its indy roots you gain in exposure and a wider audience understanding what we are all about. That being said there's a couple of companies that are investing in some of us to bring back to the scene toys that are more like the art objects (without the concern for target demographic or expense).I like a lot of artists - especially those making stuff that's in corporating toy-like objects and functional items (e.g - MarcelDzama, Beci Orpin, Boss, Yoshimoto Nara).
Is there any connection between the quest of your main character, scarygirl, to find its origins and the quest of art toys' fans to return to alost childhood?
Not really. Scarygirl's quest is about finding out what she doesn't know and beginning again. Scarygirl is still essentially a child and is trying to formulate a reason for her existence. Toy fan's generally are about nostalgia and reviving what they already know (or think they knew).
When are you going to launch the online game you are planning? Can you give us some details about it? What did you learn from the animating process?
The game will be launching in March 09. It's in the beta testing stage. We've created an opening trailer plus 16 levels of game play that take Scarygirl from her treehouse on a relatively abandoned peninsula through to the underwater lab-mansion that supposedly holds the keys to her past and future.There's been an enormous amount of work considering it's a flash based game. I was mainly involved in the conceptual design, story and characters and we (Sophie Byrne of Passion Pictures) hired an animator and 2 programmers to do the tech stuff. We were helped with funding from Film Victoria in Australia.
Are there any plans for forthcoming exhibitions of your work?
This year I'm mainly focusing on launching my graphic novel, game and various new toy projects (2 mini series plus a super large mystery toy). That being said there's a small solo exhibition planned for the end of the year with the Outre gallery in Australia.