Happy holidays to you all! Thank you for your kindness and support:)
When I was in 3rd grade I had a fascination with vampires. Something about their alluring personality and gothic fashion sense hit a nerve with my active imagination.
So it was no surprise that my brother took me to see the movie Interview with the Vampire.
I absolutely loved that movie. I fell in love with New Orleans, the fashion, the mannerisms and the seductiveness of the vampire world. It captured my little but growing mind to a romantic and deadly world of vampires.
A couple of weeks later I found out that the movie was also a book. My brother knowing my fascination with vampires got me the whole series of the vampire chronicles for Christmas. I remember that I didn’t open any other gifts after that. Those books were the only thing that existed.
I did not know that there was an order to which book needed to be read first. The only thing that made me want to read Interview with the Vampire was the cover. Something about the gold color jacket and the bold gothic writing was very alluring and I felt like I was reading something luxurious.
I had no idea that I was reading adult books at the time. I just wanted to read and be drenched in the world of Lestat. I absorb the words and fell in love with Anne Rice’s words, her vision and the way she shaped these characters.
After I read all of the books that my brother got me (five in total) within two weeks. I felt weird… like drained but I needed more. So I got a journal and a pen and started writing my own world. At that time I thought that writing was only for school. That it had to be something that was reviewed and graded. But I found out in my own way that wasn’t the case. Writing can be fun. Writing can make a small child’s active imagination into words and actions. So without that push from Anne Rice I would never have the courage or self realization that writing is more than what I thought it was.
So from my inner 3rd grade self. Thank you Anne Rice for writing your words. Creating your worlds and sharing them them to the world.
Hello everyone !
How is everyone’s holiday season going so far? Mine is going pretty quickly and it is almost like I don’t really feel like it’s the holiday season? The only reminder that it is the holidays is the constant 24/7 holiday music that has been playing everywhere.
Some of my staple Christmas tunes are:
Billy Squier- Christmas is the Time to Say I love You
Wham!- Last Christmas:
Wizzard- I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday:
Sparks: Thank God It’s Not Christmas:
And finally. Dolly Parton- Hard Candy Christmas:
I hope everyone is enjoy my interview portion of my blog. I am so happy when I am able to highlight an amazing people and their work. I will come back to regular posting in January but I just wanted to touch base with everyone.
Some things I have been watching lately and listening to:
Pen15 ( it is truly like reliving my awkward and funny pre-teen years):
One of my favorite directors Lina Wertmuller has passed away today so I’ll be re watching a lot of her amazing films. One of my many many favorites of hers is a movie called Ciao, Professore!
Not Another True Crime Podcast:
This is your latest go to update on true crime but without the seriousness to it. I found about about this podcast last summer and have been listening every week ever since.
Link is here for more info: https://betches.com/podcast-channel/not-another-true-crime/
I recently did a secret santa wish list exchange (thank you Corey!) and asked for this puzzle from Piecework puzzles. They are my favorite puzzle line because they have such unique and challenging puzzles that will probably give your mind a good workout.
I want to get back into the habit of reading actually books closer to the holiday season. I have been immersed in the land of the audio books. So it will be nice to actually cozy up to a good hardback or paperback book to read around my Christmas tree. So any new book recommends on history or true crime please share!
Overall please keep in mind that this season is stressful for everyone. So take the time to be kind to yourself and to others. Even a phone call or a text to friends near or far (or both) can be the greatest gift of all.
Until next time!!
- Tell me about yourself:
“I was born in El Salvador to immigrant parents but grew up in San Francisco. I didn’t really become interested in art until I was 14 or so, but then I never really took it seriously. Eventually when I turned 17 I moved to LA and lived there for about 5 years or so. I did some odd jobs, acting gigs, and eventually when I turned 21, perhaps out of boredom or desperation, I decided I would really learn to draw better and get better at my artwork in general. I was only doing it as a hobby at the time, but now I am glad I did so. Drawing and creative work is what i have done for so long, so I guess it was time to stop ignoring my hunches and just go all in.”
2. What was the first pop culture character that left a lasting impression on you?
“Maybe the characters from Toy Story. Buzz lightyear and Potato Head. I was kind of the right age for that. Eventually when I was maybe 7 or so my mom took me to the library and I discovered Garfield. I read every single book they had. I loved those books and that dumb cat. I remember liking the pages because the backgrounds were always so colorful. So maybe that’s a better answer. To this day that cat has a grip on my life and imagination.”
3. Did you ever have a birthday party at McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese?
“I have never. I remember vividly the commercials Chuck E cheese would show and wanting to go so bad, but the nearest one was too far away. I remember the time I actually DID get near one, I was in middle school. I tried going into the place with friends and the lady who greeted us said we needed a parent or to be 18 to get in. So we left. To this day that place is just shrouded in myth and obscurity because I never really got to experience it.”
4. What is the most requested pop culture character when doing commissions? Why do you think that character is frequently asked for?
“Probably Garfield. He is just so malleable and stone cold that if you put him in any situation it becomes humorous. I don’t blame them. He really is perfect. 2nd would probably be Bart Simpson, another classic character who already has a great reputation of being bootlegged and ripped off. I especially like the way he looks when he is made into 3 dimensions. He always looks so kooky.”
5. What two pop culture figures describe your personality best?
“Maybe Gromit from Wallace and Gromit. Because he is a mute character yet does all of these crazy things. I can be quiet sometimes, but I feel I am able to do things that people wouldn’t expect. And then maybe even Pingu from the British claymation series. Whenever I see clips of that show I see myself in that wacky penguin. I guess it’s just the extreme emotions that pingu has while also remaining deadpan in other moments. One moment he is stiff as a rock and the other he is literally bouncing off the walls. Something about him is oddly relatable.”
6. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
“I have just started painting again. Eventually I will put my paintings up for sale on my website, and maybe some will go to galleries. I also plan on doing another run of prints in the future as well. I will post on my instagram with any news!”
If you like to learn more about Mutter Milk. His instagram info is below:
@rjcity is a multifaceted person who always has a bunch of evolving projects. So I decided to do a second interview with him!
- What made you want to start this podcast?
“I actually didn’t want to start one. Somebody from a big podcast network contacted me saying they wanted to do a show with me. Neurotically, I figured I better get my shit together, so I started doing these short-form episodes as tests and keeping them semi-secret for the first 10 weeks – only my YouTube members knew about it. Needless to say, nothing went anywhere with that podcast network and I went “Well, I guess I have my own podcast now.” So blame that guy.”
2. What has been your favorite you have done so far and why?
” Every 5th episode is a Top 3 of something, so I love opening people up to appreciating new/different stuff, like when I did Top 3 Muppets and praised the singing duo of Wayne & Wanda. But my absolute favorite is the episode called “The Man Who Was For Not”. It was a children’s story I wrote years ago, stumbled on and realized it needed to be told. It’s really only appropriate if you’re a child going through an existential crisis (which, to me, is the definition of an adult). I loved being able to share something like that, that people did not expect from me, and then have it affect them in a “don’t forget about your own mortality” kind of way.”
3. If you could pick three guest stars (alive or dead) to have on your podcast. Who would you pick and why?
No one. I don’t want to have guests, because I don’t want to bother people to ask them to be on my podcast. This is a characteristic more people should share. However, let’s say the podcast gets very popular, I can’t handle all the acclaim and I flee to the Falkland Islands for 3 weeks, my guest hosts would be:1. Mario Cantone (who would be tasked with explaining all of my obscure references to get everyone on the same page)2. Brother Theodore (he did not get the love he deserves for pioneering entertaining content around existential dread)3. Sharon Gless (I will not explain).”
Listen to More Content with RJ City wherever you normally listen to podcasts:
“New episodes drop Wednesday nights, and they’re short, so I’m doing you a favor here.”
Thank you so much for the interview!!!
Until next time!
This week I interviewed a great small business: @vedatoys !
- Tell me a little about yourself.
” My name is Tim Sepulveda, I’m a designer / toy sculptor / 3d artist / other things from Chicago, I’ve lived in the city and burbs for almost my whole life, minus 2 where I was in NYC. I grew up an only child, so toys and tv shows were kinda like my best friends growing up. My grandparents took care of me growing up for a long time, as both my parents worked crazy hours and such, so they, to me, were like my parents for the first chunk of my life. I still remember how excited I was to go over to their place everyday, because my mom would drive me there, and before we’d get there we went to the same McDonald’s and I always brought my Pound Puppy with me, EVERY DAY. I’d even make it (the puppy) order food for me. Then we’d drive to her parents house, where I’d get jacked up on coffee (grandpa’s idea) and McD’s, then watch CABLE TV….. they had cable!!!!!! It was amazing, early days of Nickelodeon and stuff, just hitting my eyeballs and sparking crazy ideas. It wasn’t until I was a little older, maybe 6-7 yo, my best buddy at the time, Herschel, was going to a summer art camp, and my mom was like maybe you should try this too. I just was happy to go cause he was going. I recall the instructor’s name but I won’t attempt to butcher that, but she was the nicest older woman ever, and she gave us homework…. yes, summer art homework. I remember one time she gave me an old Disney magazine and said choose an image from it and redraw that, so I did the sorcerer Mickey, from Fantasia or something (not a giant Disney fan), and I recall her being amazed that I could see it and just replicate it, but with my own style, so she kept letting me choose things to draw and I’d just bash these things out, that kinda was the beginning of my love for art. Highschool came and a lot of us from my grade school went separate ways and I ended up in a really good highschool with probably the most influential person in my life as far as art, Mr. Gary Davis, my highschool art teacher. He saw I could draw decently, I was far from great, lots of things made me stop drawing, but he pushed me to keep going. One day he got a computer for the class for those interested, literally myself and one other student were into it. He got a copy of Corel Painter and Ray Dream Studio. He had no clue how to use it, so the other student and I just went at it. I created a ton of art digitally, it just clicked, like there was no real learning curve for my brain other than button commands and names of tools. I had him for 98% of my highschool art classes minus 1 semester or quarter, I can’t recall what we did, but that 1 chunk of time I failed art, lol. I had a teacher that didn’t believe in digital, she only considered art to be art if it was hand painted or made. We argued…. a lot… lol. After graduating I had no clue what to do, so I did automotive school, and I hated that for lots of reasons, and one day I drove past an art school out here, pulled in and said, fuck it, I want to do art again, I can’t toss it away. So I applied and actually started that evening, it was kinda crazy, but fun. I graduated in 2005 and haven’t looked back, it was a combo of the best and worst schooling of my life. But soon after I got hired doing vfx in tv commercials and just kept going. In 2014 I suffered a major case of burnout from my old job. I was sick to my stomach from stress and people pulling me in different directions mentally, I felt like a kid in a divorce again, and it was NOT healthy. So I walked away from it and went back freelance.”
2. How did you come up with your business and what is the story behind your business name?
“Bridging off the first answer, VedaToys actually started off as VedaFx, I still wanted to keep the technology part of visual effects involved in what I do but in the end going with “toys” just made sense, and easier to grasp for others. Veda, is obviously the easy chunk of my last name, Sepulveda. Normally people from California know the name asap, so shortening to Veda just made it easier and more of an entity rather than a person. Working in advertising for over 16 years I’ve learned what it takes to make a successful pitch for a client to win trust and business, and I really wanted to integrate that into who I am as a, I guess, toy designer / sculptor. So branding and recognizability is always top of my list, not just for myself but clients whose work I do. I always say, “do it right, or don’t bother” and I still stick to that. If I can’t get it right, it doesn’t ship. “
3. What was the first toy you made for your line and what made you want to create that toy first?
“The first real piece I made was actually for Pallbearer Press. Craig I believe had the license for this incredibly bad / good horror movie called Rocktober Blood that I love the soundtrack to. I was at FlashBack Chicago, a horror festival out here, years back, and he saw some 3d prints I did of the Halloween 3 masks, the pumpkin, skull, and witch. I painted them and asked my partner at the time if I could throw these on the table and see if anyone wants them. He literally came by and snagged them up, all 3. Then asked me if I would be down for helping create this toy as a collectible. I said sure, scared out of my brain but I had to know that I could do this and do it well. I made, I think, 20 and things just kinda kept going from there. “
4. Can you talk a little about your process about making your toys?
” The process for what I do is a bit complex but I’ll do my best lol. So being that I work in vfx, I have used all types of 3d software for years, so that background of software knowledge didn’t just happen overnight like some think, it’s taken YEARS. Working in high-end commercials you have to make things look legit, and I mean LEGIT, animals have to look real, products real, cars real. So all that knowledge I took and moved that over to toy sculpting / design. I have several Google Docs just loaded with info about sculpts I wanna do, movies I think need toys, even 80’s toys that need to be redone in some form, so there is a never ending stream of ideas coming from me. So I use a piece of software called ZBrush, it’s basically digital clay. I start with a sphere and just start carving, pushing / pulling, like someone with a ball of clay would. Normally sculpts can take a day, or up to a week or longer depending on detail, scale, use, all of that. Once I finish the first pass, I normally have a client review and show them progress, tweak if need be then I have to prep the files to be 3d printed from resin, which I do myself. That isn’t the worst, but it is super time consuming, if I do something wrong, then most likely the print will fail, and then I have to clean up and start over kinda lol, not fun. Once I get the print made, 4-5 Hours, maybe longer depending how crazy large I go, I have to clean it properly, then cure it with uv light. From there, depending on the final use of the piece, sometimes it is a 1 off item, sometimes it’s multiple, in which case I would make a silicone mold and then cast those pieces in resin, because printing that many is kinda goofy. Once the piece is ready for paint, I then spray prime everything in grey usually, it’s not too dark, not too light. Once that dries I move onto hand painting each piece. This is the hardest part for me, I’m very meticulous with how things look going out, my standard is prob my biggest flaw. I’ve had people tell me that if I just let the quality slip I can make more items, honestly though, that would not make me happy. I don’t like my pieces to look like paint is slopped onto something, especially for the price I charge for commissions and pieces that wouldn’t be fair. I almost forgot that I do my own packaging too, all the art is done by myself too, printed and mounted in my small studio also. I like not just taking images from a movie and copy pasting them onto a background with words. I like to redraw and reimagine things be it hand drawn or in an oil painted style, why just give someone something basic? Toys in total take 3-4 weeks, then longer sometimes, I am almost at a year on 1 piece now due to shortages in supplies and paint, the pandemic really threw a fast curveball at a lot of artists that rely on certain paints or colors / materials. Just finding the 1 primer that I normally use has resulted in driving to multiple states searching every hobby store I can find. Even then if I do find something, I’ve been finding bottles that are over 2 plus years old, and just trash, so it has been tough in some aspects. “
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
“The hobby is growing, my client list is growing, and most importantly people are excited to see what I can come up with, and I think that means a lot. I have a great friend / customer that told me something once when I was super down, they said, “Your work is something special man. You honestly have an incredible vision for items that people have only dreamed of. Figures and toys that we wish we had growing up. You remind us what it was like to be a child.” That last line is what got to me, in a good way. That is why I do this honestly. To get excited about something, being an adult blows hard a lot of the time, we cry, are stressed, and a whole bunch of garbage hits us, especially now. I like people remembering their childhoods, and not just as a way for me to make a buck, but for them to say, omfg that is so rad, then they run and watch that movie again, or for the first time ever. Sculpting goofy toys is the one thing I do really well and I definitely want to keep that going for as long as I can.”
If you would like more information. The following contact info is below: