Q+A WITH REGGIEKNOW OF FASHIONFIGURE INC.
RE: “PUBLIC FIGURE” ART INSTALLATION IN COLLABORATION WITH VAL OF FRUITION
DIANE ABAPO: Good evening, Reggieknow. First off, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for SUSPEND Magazine. I came across your “PUBLIC FIGURE” art installation at Space 15Twenty in collaboration with Valerie Julian of Fruition ahead of a movie screening at the ArcLight Theater across the street. I had my camera with me and had only seen a few photos that were posted online of your 12” figures and knew I had to see the one-of-a-kind pieces myself. I have to ask: How did you get started with FASHION FIGURE INC?
REGGIEKNOW: Thanks Diane and a good evening to you madam, I also thank your attendance to “PUBLIC FIGURE” and your words.Ha, ok I would love to say I USED to be a collecting junkie, but I just may be in denial. I CAN safely say I use to collect comic books, sneakers, 90’s Polo by Ralph Lauren, etc. and during that time I collected 12” action figures, which I still do. Interesting though, the action figures did not satisfy me fashion-wise. They were part of my decor wherever I worked, so I saw them everyday. Their fashion being subpar it started with me changing their footwear, hats, accessories, etc. but that still wasn’t enough. When I found myself going to jewelry stores for them is when I knew it was time to do something serious. That birthed FASHION FIGURE INC., and that wasn’t the only outlet for expression it gave me. Because the internet killed all fashion interests I had, the FFINC action figures provided a way for me to still be into fashion without me having to wear the clothes.
DIANE: Can you take us into what the process is like when you create a new figure to add to the series? Are these characters based on individuals you have encountered in real life or are some of them a culmination of people you’ve met?
REGGIEKNOW: The process of creating a figure always starts with what story do I want to tell. These stories range from the character whom the figure is based, could be a movie or a message that takes a stand. Another important part is the scale of the story? The scale determines who I’m going to need to pull it off. Years ago it was just myself doing everything, but I’ve grown some and now I have a small team consisting of sculptors, painters, designers, tailors and social media. We discuss the idea and then execute. It’s a big plus for me that I handle the photography as well.What I love about the characters is that they present episodes you may have seen or heard before but here they are in action figure form. What makes some of these stories untold is they’re coming from people who should have one… the Dead Presidents armored truck robbers, Billy Ray Valentine from Trading Places, DJ David Mancuso from The Loft. I also have killers that I know personally like Disk Darian of Chicago’s Dem Dare and Las Vegas’s Val (uable) of Fruition on the run.
DIANE: I know that you unveiled Valerie’s own figure at the PUBLIC FIGURE installation and it looks stunning! How long did it take to create her vinyl figure? Do you make frequent revisions or decide a figure’s look isn’t completed yet? Are you continuously adding new accessories to any existing figures?
REGGIEKNOW: Indeed the Val (uable) came out pretty fresh, BUT I have to say Val flips the script a lot so to be honest the figure mirrors a culture clash Val from a few years back, ha, lately she’s been a female Zorro x Darth Vader, see the “PUBLIC FIGURE” ads we did and you’ll see what I mean. The figure was a congrats from FFINC to celebrate Fruition having a second home in Los Angeles and Val holding it down. The figure did take some time because the approach I take when it comes to fashion, it’s about the right combination. Sometimes I illustrate it first to not forget things.The sketch may change but once that’s final it’s a go. There have been times where I’ve changed things up after seeing the outfit on the figure. If I come across a better version of something I would make a swap.
DIANE: Obvious question – How are you producing these tiny miniature jackets, boots, and SNOW BEACH jackets?! Haha. I think this is probably the first thing that people in our generation connect with when they see your figures, after they realize these outfits replicating highly sought after fashion pieces are exceptionally small. Do you have a mini sewing machine somewhere??
REGGIEKNOW: When it comes to creative vision, ideas, story and photography I have it sewn up. But needle, thread and sewing machine is where my tailor puts her hand in, she’s a secret weapon. Perfect example of what you’re saying with people noting the details of the clothing is where we created a Gucci shearling coat in the fashion that Dapper Dan did. But the monogram was from the real Gucci material. The woman in that same editorial also wore a Fendi hat made from the real zucca print. Both are in the ‘DOWN WITH THE KING” editorial.
DIANE: The video FFINC editorials that you’ve directed and created are just as important as the figures themselves. Your video for GET THE PICTURE has the track “Supa Star” by Group Home and the lyrics “Born in the ghetto it's hard to survive / Some have achieved and many brothers tried / But I realized which life to choose I want to make money so I gotta pay dues” and it’s left to the viewer to put the pieces together for the figure, who has a prominent telephoto lens that one can assume is a paparazzi photographer of some sort. And the same intricate song selection can be said for every one of your figures. What’s the overall message that you want a viewer to have when he or she sees each video editorial that illustrates the story of each figure you’ve created? Watching the video editorials for I GOT TO HAVE IT and DOWN WITH THE KING, the storyline for each figure becomes more involved and interconnected with the other figure’s storyline as well. Was this done intentionally or do you create each figure independent of the others?
REGGIEKNOW: Wow, great observation and you’re calling it out. I want each editorial to be a little fashion movie. 90’s Hip-Hop just has a gritty hardcore feeling that you can actually feel in your chest, or is it just me? I just want people to feel that as the figure walks them through a clip from their world. I love how the figures act out things we may go through. Yes, the woman from the “GET THE PICTURE” editorial is a paparazzi photographer. She hates it but has bills to pay. Ha, yep the photographer from “I GOT TO HAVE IT” has a few lawsuits from models because he can’t look without touching, too bad. But then he shows up later in the editorial “DOWN WITH THE KING” with a job as a club photographer, I think it’s his night gig. Can’t be mad at him though, drug lords pay in cash. I do try to keep things open for them to make cameos in each other’s editorials if it makes sense. And yes, there is usually a story to that too, nothing is just because.
DIANE: Your video editorials read like short films with stop motion-type photography. What part of the whole process is your favorite when you create a new addition to the FFINC 12” figure family? I can see certain underlying themes in a few of the collage videos that you’ve done for FFINC PUBLIC FIGURE. In an ideal situation, where do you envision the next step will take FFINC?
REGGIEKNOW: Ha, you really have us “figured” out, that is the vision and also it’s the perfect way to see the details of what they’re wearing. I think my favorite part of the creative process is when I’ve done the research and I’m able to pull in all the materials needed to execute. Coming up with the idea is one thing, but once you can actually pull it off it’s a whole other level because it then has a life.Something else to point out is that many of the figures already existed from different artists I like (from anime and movies) but I strip them down and gave them complete FFINC fashion makeovers. I don’t mind because it symbolizes how we started; it’s the same art of a Hip-Hop producer chopping up a record. That’s the perfect segue into what’s next for FFINC. We just entered the game of having figures created from scratch for "This Day" anime and the “IT’S A SMALL WORLD” Carhartt W.I.P fashion editorial featuring our “247365” collaboration. (From scratch meaning my illustrations becoming sculpted and clothed). We’re working our way towards a limited mass production run as well. When that’s closer in production we’ll put that out to the world to see. We’re also working on a huge collaboration with a big name, but when that’s official I’ll say it then. It is something that can put FASHION FIGURE INC. on an international zone coaster like L.O.N.S.
– PHOTOGRAPHY AND INTERVIEW © DIANE ABAPO FOR SUSPENDMAG.COM