Adfunture

Adfunture

Meet Eddi, the genius mind behind the adFunture workshop, one of the first names to pop up in the customizing and vinyl scene with early collaborations with Flying Fortress and the history making “Monkey Show.” He is best known for developing a solid non-corporate sell out reputation. You won’t find these figures in bed with Coca-Cola candy cross-overs. Much of his focus these days has been projected towards establishing the Guerilla Shop, UK, and working with artists on limited release projects.

“I’m not saying that we don’t love money, but one fat check won’t last forever, and the right positioning of adFunture can set up our path for long-term benefits.”

Format: What is the adFunture workshop and how did it start?
Eddi: adFunture is a label I started back in 2002. I had just come back to Hong Kong after 15 years in Toronto. I have always loved figures, so I decided to start my own brand of designer figures. It was a simple thought back then, actually, it still is quite simple; I want to do and make what I want, sell them off, and move onto the next project. I enjoy the process. It started with figures, and then we eventually got into a whole lot of other things, like clothing and accessories.

Format: How did you get involved with Flying Fortress and Teddy Troops? What were some of your earlier successes?
Eddi: Teddy Troops is the iconic character of Munich street artist Flying Fortress. I love the character so much that I asked Fortress for the rights to produce them as figures. Again, a simple decision. adFunture has always worked with street artists, and it all started with Dave Kinsey back in 2003. That was a big success for us, I’d say. It set us apart from the other labels, and the quality of that product helped us gained respect from the collectors. Apart from the products themselves, I think the way we do things has also contributed to the company’s positive growth. adFunture, without huge capital backups, started customized figure tours as early as 2003. We brought our customized figures collection “The Monkey Show” to Chicago, New York, Paris, Taipei, Belgium, London and Shanghai (before we actually moved to Shanghai). Although it was on a small scale, adFunture was the first toy label to do that. At that point, profit was not the real motive, there was no sponsorship whatsoever, it was just our way of making sure our works with friends were being seen in different countries. That caught some good attention. Colette invited us to do the exhibition in their shop back in 2004, and ultimately brought adFunture into Europe, and I must admit, we are still benefitting from such exposure. We are thankful for Sarah and Michael Dupouy’s (La MJC) support.

Adfunture

Format: Your latest project was Lefty, a collaboration with HiCalorie. What is Lefty? How did he come about?
Eddi: Alex of HiCalorie is a good friend of mine, and we always said we should produce something together. Lefty was simply what we decided to try our hands at first. We did three versions of Lefty, with one of them designed by Superdeux. Just fun things to make, you know what I mean? I can’t really explain to you what it is, because to me, that’s not important. Alex and I are already onto something else at the moment, we cook up new projects here so quickly, whatever hits the market today is actually old news to us [laughs]. Alex’s next release is a “tall” one. Consider that a hint.

Format: What was the Faile dog?
Eddi: The Faile Dog was an art project that I initiated with the Faile crew a few years ago. adFunture has taken so much from street art, I thought it would be nice to give something back to the art by producing the Faile Dogs in vinyl and let Faile post them up as their graffiti instead of wheat paste. The Dogs were never offered for sale, at least not on adFunture’s end. We did it simply for the art aspect of it. We kept a few to stick on the walls in our studio as well. With that said, I was actually surprised by the way people responded to this piece in particular.

Adfunture

Format: What is your proudest accomplishment?
Eddi: My proudest accomplishment was being able to stay true to what I wanted to do even though we were offered the opportunity to “go mass production” by certain clients. We turned it down because we knew what that would mean and what we would turn into. I’m not saying that we don’t love money, but one fat check won’t last forever, and the right positioning of adFunture can set up our path for long-term benefits. We chose to do it the hard way. It’s not easy, but I think we are working with the right artists and people to make everything work out the way we hope. We are proud of that.

Format: Tell us about you’re your new shop the Guerilla Ship UK (GSUK), and what kind of impact it will have on the design community.
Eddi: With the Guerilla Shop concept, or pop-up stores, whatever you want to call it, we want to bring our products and ourselves to the people. By that I mean while most of our products change hands online, we at times lack the face to face communication with our customers. And for the most part, while shopping online, you don’t really get to see and touch the products before you make your purchase. We don’t take out advertisements in magazines, we try to use action to promote what we are about. We believe that by offering the opportunity for people to come into a brick and mortar store and see for themselves what we have made, it will help customers understand our quality level and by talking to us in person, they can understand us better in terms of what we are trying to do. We have done this in Shanghai before, and it improved how some people saw designer figures and understood more about the designers behind the figures. With London, where adFunture is no stranger, we just wanted to revisit some friends, and perhaps meet more new friends along the way. I don’t want to believe that we will make a huge impact or anything, but at least for the week that I was in London, a lot of designers came to us and expressed their interests in working with adFunture, and I take that as a sign of us doing something right. The design community in London has always been strong. I felt that the last time I visited, which was 2 years ago. Now, it’s just even stronger. Brick Lane is a whole different beast right now. And I must admit that I’m thankful Sichi picked Brick Lane to open our Guerilla Shop. It was the energy that attracted me. But to answer your question, I think you will see the real impact later when we release those projects we are now cooking up with the UK designers.

Adfunture

Format: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Eddi: From the web, actually. Sitting in the Shanghai studio, I depend quite heavily on the internet. Seeing different things inspires me to make different products. And yes, I use the word “product” a lot, because that’s what I do. I don’t think I’m an artist, I work with the real artists to produce fun products. And apart from the net, I try to communicate with a lot of different people, in and outside of our circle. Conversations create ideas as well. No one person knows it all, I draw inspirations from all people that I come across.

Format: You’ve had the chance to collaborate with a slew of super talented designers, is there anyone out there that you still have your heart set on?
Eddi: Yeah, I must say we’re blessed with the opportunity to work with some of the top dogs out there. I thank them all for giving us their vote of confidence. Who else? That’s a tough one, I don’t want to name names. Don’t want to play favorites, you know what I mean.

Adfunture

Format: What is in the future for adFunture?
Eddi: I don’t know the future, but we plan to expand to other arenas outside of figures. We are not backed by large corporations, so we can’t do it all in one bang, so we’ll take it one step at a time. Clothing is the most logical step, sneakers will be a must. I love sneakers, but then collecting and producing them are different. I do want to open a bar or a club though, under our label. But that’s for later. For 2008, we are already working with 14 artists on individual projects, so our work schedule is pretty tight right now. We want to make more art figures, not really into making mass produced figures, because I get bored quite easily. I want to go back and work with more artists for their own art exhibition pieces. Really low runs, you know what I mean? The real vinyl art.

Format: What do you see in the future for the vinyl community?
Eddi: It is definitely growing internationally, and like it or not, it will do so until the mass gets tired of all the use of vinyl figures as corporate marketing gadgets. But for those true collectors, this art form is here to stay. Vinyl figures became a new platform for artists to express their ideas, like how they started using computers to draw instead of directly on paper by pens. In that aspect, this is not a trend that will get dropped in 18 months. It is one of many options artists will have for the long haul. As for the hyped up trendy aspect, for those who bought figures for the hype, they’ll find their “next big thing” sooner or later. That’s not something we worry about here at adFunture. We have been doing this long enough to know what we should and should not be doing or catering ourselves to. We have positive hopes for the community.

Adfunture

Jesse Ship
I'm currently Managing Editor of this little web mag here.
Jesse Ship

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