Some people would call it a collection, others would call it clutter, but Miranda O’Brien could be considered the Queen of Clutter. Started in 2004, Clutter is a designer toy magazine which then expanded to the gallery space it is today in Beacon, NY. Not only does Clutter aim to highlight and showcase some of the leading artists and creators in the toy & art world, but has also brought recognition to an ever growing industry by creating and hosting The Designer Toy Awards for the third time this year.
We had the chance to have a nerdy chat and geek over toys with O’Brien at their booth at this year’s New York Comic Con.
So how did Clutter come about?
I collected toys for as long as I could remember. I collected Qee by Toy2R…and it just progressed. I used to collect a magazine from Hong Kong and I couldn’t read it, but it gave me some information. I got a degree in graphic design and once I finished [I thought] ‘Well there’s no English language magazine dedicated to this industry so let’s do one,’ and me and my best friend Nick at the time, we both studied together, so we decided to just jump in and do it. And 10 years later here we are.
How does the industry compare from when you first started to what it is now?
Well the industry shifts, I would say, every 2 years…Right now we’re really high on resin, handmade product figures…where as when we started it was all…vinyl, sofubi [japanese for ‘soft vinyl’] is also very big right now so it shifts and changes, and the customizing scene is huge. It’s always a good thing to get new artists involved. We’re just trying to increase the market and get new collectors.
How do you feel about the ratio of male artists in comparison female artists?
Definitely more male artists than there are female artists. But the women represent too! [With collectors] It’s more male but there’s definitely a strong female collector core so I’m not sure why that is. There’s definitely more male customizers/resin pourers and there’s a handful of woman. Maybe they’re just not recognized as much, I’m not sure, its really hard to say why that is. But we try to encourage women to get involved…
I know that Clutter also has a gallery space. How do you decide who/what goes into a show?
It’s a process. We have a team of people and we kind of sit down and discuss the trends of that year, who we want to invite, who is up and coming, who we want to encourage that year. So we like to do group shows to get as many people as we can involved, that does really great for us. We pick artists from all over the world. We usually pick a theme and then pick artists who fit into that theme. We also do solo shows so it’s a real mixed bag.
What do you think has been more popular this year?
Resin, hand cast, hand poured, homemade resin is definitely the trend right now.
And what do you think will be the material/toy trends next year?
I think next year we’ll see more of the same, more resin, more sofubi, more custom pieces.
You guys have been at NYCC for the past few years, can you tell us about your experience here and how The Block has expanded?
Toy Fair was a big thing for us back in 2004, 2005. Toy Fair is the equivalent to what The Block is now. It was all indie. There was a part of it that was indie artists and manufacturers, and that went away. And I think people are just now starting to bring that back now with The Block . Everyone’s always at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) but New York is definitely starting to hold its own.
How do you balance the aspects of Clutter (publishing, the gallery, creating exclusives with artists) your personal life, and well, everything?
It’s real tricky. It’s hard work. It’s a labor of love. This is a small industry so reaching outside of the industry is real difficult…to grow something bigger is tough. It’s a labor of love, we all put our hearts into it and that’s why we keep doing it. We love what we do, we love the community, we love the artists and we just want to promote them and that’s why we stick around.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in getting into designer toys or maybe even the publishing realm?
I think they should just do what they love and stick with it. Don’t be beaten down by what people say. Just do what you think it awesome and put it out there and people will recognize that you know what you’re doing and love that for that. Just stick with it and hopefully they’ll love it too.
Images by Kim Bui.
We love speaking to talented ladies. Check out our interview with Wendy Bryan of I Heart Guts here!
Kim Bui is a freelance artist & designer from Norfolk, Va. She is a recent graduate of Pace University trying her hand at a little bit of everything; illustration, art direction & nail art. She has a passion for print design and finding the perfect pen. @Sincerelykimbui