A Life of BoxCats & Cosplay with Rato Kim
What started out as a year-end Q&A turned a interview proper with South Korean art toy artist Rato Kim, in which I delve into her connection with "cosplay", and the genesis of her BOXCAT resin collectible! As well featured are a few sneaks and peeks at what’s coming down the line, which you can view & read in full by scrolling thru!
Meanwhile, stay connected via her social medias on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Etsy online shop, and of course TAGGED #onTOYSREVIL!
TOYSREVIL: How was 2016 for you? Share with us your most triumphant moment in 2016. Any disappointments you’d like to share with us?
TOYSREVIL: Good for you, Rato! What is your most favorite toy, or piece of art you've seen in 2016?
RATO KIM: Last year was amazing. Because my ‘Breadcat’ and ‘Boxcat’ was known in the world. But I’m still trying. I started to make ‘ART TOY’ since 2012, so I do not have any “achievements” before (then). At that time, I ran (an) online dress shop for ‘costume play’. I did not concentrate on making ‘ART TOY’. I have to try more and more.
RATO KIM: I like every toy in the world, But, I have to pick best of best, “BAKE-KUJIRA” by Candie Bolton. I’m big fan of BAKE-KUJIRA and I love all BAKE-KUJIRA toys.
SAKURA CAT collaboration with playtoysforever!
Limited to only 5pcs, each priced at US$80.
RATO KIM: At first I had easy access. I had a technical class, where I (had) learnt skills at the academy (I had learnt a lot from my friends too). Then, I needed to create a design as a subject for my technical class, so I remembered my favorite cat. I like cats very much (but I cannot own one now), so I thought of having my very “own cat”.
The cats we know like “boxes”, right? So I molded the box, while the cat was expressed in clay. The cat inside the box was expressed as if it were trapped in a box. That was the beginning of BOXCAT.
RATO KIM: Because BOXCAT was my first “ART TOY”, it was hard to start the creation. It started very, very simply. The completion of the form was pleasant, but the difficulty of painting was great and I wandered again. Wandering about a year. I was tired of the long wandering but did not give up. And because I did not give up, I was then able to make BREADCAT. It expressed a language mischief about cats and it has since received a good response.
So I decided to put my favorite words on BOXCAT - For example, watermelons, melons, trees, everything around!
I will not make ONLY BOXCAT. I am making more design toys. I have a human style, KAIJU style, interesting design. Time makes many changes for me.
TOYSREVIL: NICE! Looking forward to seeing MORE designs from you, Rato! What folks recognise by now, and I am sure your toy-fans already know of, is your love for “Cosplay”! So my question is: Which came first? Cosplay or Toy Design? Why are you passionate about both?
RATO KIM: I cosplayed before I became a “toy artist”. It was a hobby for me and as well a means of livelihood. I had been cosplaying since middle school in my childhood. I started in my first school festival.
I was very passionate about cosplay. “Cosplaying” gave me a feeling of departure from the frustrating daily life~! Any student would want to get out of a boring routine. It really helped me focused on what I had wanted to do. But for a while I was wandering about, and since I only knew cosplay, I needed a new conversion, a change…
(Past Cosplay / Pics via facebook.com/rato.kim.3)
RATO KIM: And I made a Boxcat in the winter of 2014, and debuted it in the Art Toy Culture / ATC in Korea, in 2015.
Now I focus on making toys, so I do not have much (time for) cosplay, which I now enjoy as a hobby. Now creative work activities have a greater significance to me. I love my job!
TOYSREVIL: And we are grateful for your depth of experience, which I feel provides layer of “story” to your finished art toys, not just a “pretty piece” of toy, IMHO! What are you most looking forward to in 2017? Any plans for your work, for the new year you can share with us? Or not share with us, but can tease us with?
RATO KIM: I will introduce new art toy in this year. It is kind of Sofvi, But I can not say exactly what it is. It’s TOP secret for now. Coming summer, It will be ready to (be) introduced (to the world)!
TOYSREVIL: Thank you for sharing with us, and I really appreciate your effort as “English” is not a main language for you … In closing, please share with us, WHO you are and what you do?
DETAILS OF ACTIVITIES IN 2016
RATO KIM: As you know I’m South Korean and living in Seoul. My first art toy work was ‘BOX CAT’, second is ‘BREAD CAT’. And have others more to come! But for now, I’m focusing on the cat in quadrangle. Just like ‘BOX CAT’ AND ‘BREAD CAT’, I want to show my identity from cat in edges (quadrangle).
Before being artist in toy field, I was graphic designer in toy company for 4 years. I was interested in art toy from work, like taking pictures, or using graphic tool like ILLUSTRATOR, or make dresses for toys in the company.
After I quit the company, I then started to draw web-toons, then made and sold ‘costume play’ dress. And now, I make “art toys” and is known as a art toy designer.
I’m very “greedy” in what I want to do. If I want to do something, I must do it and be what that makes me. I will enjoy my work and what I want to do in art toy field. Please have attention on my work.
May, 2016 : ART TOY CULTURE 2016 in Seoul
June, 2016 : launching ‘Bread Cat’, ’Box cat’ in South Korea
July, 2016 : Uglycon 2016 in USA
October, 2016 : TTF 2016 in Taiwan
October, 2016 : NYCC 2016 in USA
November, 2016 : CHUBZTHECAT Custom Show Online
Rato Kim’s first ever group customs show based on her BOXCAT figure - the BOXCAT CUSTOM EXHIBITION - was held in South Korea, circa January 2017!
P/S: A "Thank you" to Rato's friend for helping with the translation!
*The above interview has been edited for grammar and usage.