For the artist who has always aspired to paint on trains, but who has never made it to the train-yard, we present All City Trains. Perhaps itâ€™s those menacing steel monsters; perhaps itâ€™s the barbed wire fence, or the threat of the police; perhaps youâ€™re a toy. Whatever your fear, Klim Kozinevich, and business partner Scott Wetterschneider, of Bigshot Toyworks, have the solution. The perfect canvas for the graffiti writer, or wannabe graffiti writer, theyâ€™ve been worked on by artists worldwide, and as a result, shown in galleries from New York to New Zealand.
Format: None of the toys on the Bigshot Toyworks site really have an urban vibe to them. What inspired you to create the All City Trains?
Klim: Well, we are a full time Toy Design and development studio, so while part of us has been won over by the more urban and designer toys, we’ve also collected a huge portfolio of commercial projects, mostly working with mainstream toy companies that have their own ideas on how the toys should look. So because a lot of our stuff is designed for kids and not collectors, aesthetically it looks more traditional and doesn’t fall into the urban category. Then of course there are the toys we produce independently that are more reflective of our sensibilities.
Ideas just happen. I came to the USA from Kiev with my family in 1979 and we moved into a small apartment in the Bronx. Every time I rode the trains I was amazed by the mystery and beauty of their painted surfaces, fascinated by the trains and the artists that transformed them.
Later, I attended the high school of art and design where I had a chance to meet some of the writers. A lot of my friends who at the time were piecing and working in their black books, had insane pictures of the trains they bombed. It was totally inspiring to me. That’s when the idea was etched into my skull, â€œwhat if there was a model train that artists can paint and display?â€ The idea really stuck with me and so over the years I have developed and refined the idea into what you see now.
Format: Explain Tag the System.
Klim: Tag the system was the name for the first show in NY that was produced by Lev and Toy Tokyo to launch the Showroom NYC gallery.
The idea was always to have a show but I could not even in my wildest dreams have imagined what was actually at the event. Lev has an amazing amount of passion for what he does and in turn artists, illustrators and designers all over the world have tremendous love and respect for him. I have to say that yes weâ€™re proud of the canvas, and the artwork we’ve seen applied to the trains is amazing, but we also have to give props to all the people that actually created the shows and managed the artists: Lev, Michael at Artoyz, Dan Willet and Aiden at playlounge, Mark at China heights and many others. The train is a canvas that celebrates the art and culture that has influenced creative people from all over the world.
Format: Whatâ€™s the process like in developing a show?
Klim: So far there have been shows in NY, San Francisco, London, Paris, Germany, Mexico, Moscow, Australia and New Zealand. There are more in the works.
Usually a gallery or individual contacts us, then we talk and we discuss possibilities. We provide the galley with a quantity of trains and then they start making calls to names on their list of artists. We try to help as much as we can by providing info on suggested artists, helping arrange sponsors and just generally giving support. Since the pieces exhibited are created specifically for that show, each show has something new and original.
Also, we like to bring in new goodies. At Double Punch we made 50 laser etched skate decksâ€”along with one of the sponsorsâ€”that were used as a platform. We now have a both digital 3D and paper train models available free.
Format: Who are some of the artists you’ve been most honored to feature and why?
Klim: It is an honor to have some of the old time greats, and the originators of the styles and the movement getting involved, especially guys whose work on the trains inspired the concept to begin with. Sort of a full circle. You know, honestly I am just floored by the work produced. Yes, I have favorites and pieces that have personal meaning to me, but I have to give props to every single artist that painted, melted, sewed, crushed and exploded these things. I honestly love every single piece I see. To know that someone spent time and energy into putting their mark on one of my pieces is truly flattering and inspiring to me.
Format: You also offer free models on your site. How did that develop?
Klim: The free models are meant as a platform to encourage creativity. Not everything has to cost money. Also it reflects a little of the DIY and street art ethic of not putting prices on all artwork.
My friend SEANSKI in Hawaii is starting to use the free downloads to host writer battles for young aspiring writers and open up their eyes to the world beyond just getting up. To a kid, free stuff is always good. As long as I am inspiring people and making friends around the world it is worth it to me to give away a few things.
Format: Was showing in galleries something you had planned before you even produced the trains, or did it naturally evolve into that?
Klim: It was planned but I never imagined it being like this.