Hello, Brute is the creative work of Jon Knox, a designer/illustrator/artist based in Portland. He was born and raised in North Carolina, and lived in Perth (Australia) for the better part of 2006. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in graphic design from the College of Design at NC State, but spent his free time screenprinting, drawing, and painting. He lived and developed his work in San Francisco in 2008, then moved to Portland where his studio is currently located. His current work focuses on an all-boy crew who are often stuck somewhere between the best and worst moments of their lives. Jon's work has been exhibited around the globe, including solo exhibitions in Chicago and Seattle. One of his latest projects is a series of hand cast resin toys produced in limited editions.
How did you start working dimensionally?
I was in college in 2005 when a professor of mine introduced me to artist toys. I had played around with the idea of branding my portfolio and trying to find an artistic direction, much to the chagrin of most of my teachers. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I felt a huge sense of freedom working without someone breathing down my neck for process sketches and type studies. I really hated staring at a computer screen all day while my brain and butt went numb.
Aside from screen printing and illustration, I spent a lot of time painting on factory-made vinyl toys, but in the end wanted to work on a more detailed surface. A friend of mine coaxed me into learning how to make molds from my own sculptures, so I spent about a year learning and experimenting with sculpting and casting. Once I finished my first toy, I sold the first edition online. The toys have been pretty popular, so due to the amount of interest in them, I began working on them more and more. Now I find myself working on toy projects a majority of the time.
What or who has influenced the way you work?
It changes all the time. I'm sort of a fashion junkie and find inspiration in the clothes people wear, whether they're in vogue or not. I find beauty in people's quirks and insecurities. So when I'm designing the characters, their clothes, color schemes, and imperfections are the quintessence of who they are. As far as the way I work, I went to school for graphic design and it would be tough to say I didn't pick up a lot of habits from working in shared workspaces for 4 years. I am really messy and my studio is a wreck 99% of the time. I am one of those crazy people that feels comforted by clutter and I think my work is a reflection of my mess of ideas.
Please describe your working process.
I try and keep my process loose. Particularly when working in 3D, I don't like sketching and measuring. I like when the proportions are a little off and the sculpture is smattered with fingerprints. I hand make all of my toys and I think leaving the mistakes in them leaves more of my personality in there. I think people relate to it. I start with a wire armature and sculpt onto it with polymer clay. Once my clay figure is sculpted and cured, I make a silicone mold from it. From that mold I cast multiples using polyurethane resin. Those duplicates are then sanded, primed, painted, and varnished – all by hand in my studio.
What do you enjoy the most / least about working dimensionally?
Most: I have complete control from start to finish and there's a lot more room for experimentation.
Least: It's really messy and I think the chemicals are corroding my lungs.
images and content © Jon Knox / Hello, Brute™