At first glance, James Marshall appears to be an average 38-year-old man with children, a wife and a mortgage, but deep inside Marshall rests a creative giant that brings mediums to life. Marshall uses the moniker Dalek, a moniker that he once used as a graffiti writer. Presently, Marshall paints canvases and, most recently, his design is featured on a Gosho doll.
In collaboration with Super Rad Toys and Toy Tokyo, Marshall creates his signature Gosho doll. Although Marshallâ€™s Gosho doll looks tough and eager to lace its rope around a neck, his Gosho doll, like traditional Gosho dolls, is meant to bring good luck and fortune.
In late May, Marshall is releasing his animated series, A Purge of Dissidents.
“I always sort of had that sort edge and had a fascination with the idea of robots built by a human to wipe out the human race.”
Format: Youâ€™re releasing a Gosho doll with Super Rad Toys and Toy Tokyo, please explain how this opportunity materialized.
Dalek: They pretty much contacted me, we have some mutual friends and they shot me an e-mail and asked me if I would be interested in doing one. I simply wrote them back, because it sounded like fun and we went from there.
Format: What is your attraction to a project like this?
Dalek: It looked like something that was good fun and being done by good people. I like that they have a philosophy behind what theyâ€™re doing and they seem like good folks. My friend vouched for them, so it was fun. I like the figure, who they are and what theyâ€™re trying to do. That made it easy.
Format: Your Gosho doll has a tattoo, Band-Aids, a rope and face on the back of its head, please explain your creation.
Dalek: Not really. Itâ€™s all sort of subconscious. Usually, when I sit down and design any toy or painting itâ€™s in the moment. Whatever state of mind I was in that day is how I arrived at that design. And leaving things purposely ambiguous is part of what I do, simply to let the viewers bring into what they want. Bandages, tattoos or any of that stuff can represent a million different things to different people. Itâ€™s a little more engaging if there is a grey area.
Format: Please explain the production of your Gosho doll.
Dalek: They sent me a two dimensional Illustrator template, front, back, side, top and bottom views. So I went in and built the design for it in Illustrator and sent that to them and then they sent it to a factory and did a production run.
Format: There are 200 limited edition Dalek Gosho dolls, what is the difference between those and your regular Gosho dolls?
Dalek: Itâ€™s just a color variation of the main one. The main one is a greenish yellow and the traditional one is more grey, a little more monochromatic, but thatâ€™s basically it. A color change, thereâ€™s no additional master chart. This was a way of them doing something different without getting into a bunch of additional costs that would be prohibitive, because if you did a different mold youâ€™re killing your chance of breaking even. Itâ€™s also become very much the way of the collector toy world where you have various paint jobs and colorways.
Format: Are you a collector?
Dalek: I collect about everything under the sun. I collect toys, I collect books, skateboard decks, T-shirts, records, paint cans, art work and any number of things.
Format: By tradition, Gosho dolls are meant to bring good luck and fortune, what will your Gosho doll bring?
Dalek: Hopefully the same. In a more black and white than grey, they represent vulnerability more than anything else; itâ€™s not meant to be evil or bad, from my personal view point. The tradition of those dolls is being good luck charms. I think in Hawaiian culture the way people decorate them is fairly open. From my understanding, there is a cultured tradition of decorating Goshos in a different way.
Format: Please explain your first steps as an artist.
Dalek: Itâ€™s all been pretty random. I went to school in `88 for sociology and anthropology and then in `92 I landed up going to art school in Chicago for photography. And that led me into photographing graffiti, which led me into graffiti and thatâ€™s how I learned how to paint, essentially, how to use colors and shade. From there I was learning more about art history and got into painting canvases. Itâ€™s all been pretty organic, as far as being self-taught, over the years and learning things when I need to, building on a foundation.
Format: Daleks are characters from the television show Doctor Who. When you thought of what your moniker would be, why did you choose Dalek?
Dalek: When I got into graffiti, graffiti writers need graffiti names and at that point of my life I was a bit of â€“ you know I always sort of had that sort edge and had a fascination with the idea of robots built by a human to wipe out the human race. It was sort of natural and I was really into watching Dr. Who at the time, so it was a real easy transition into that name. Plus the letters were good. D-A-L-E-K, they work alright together, from a graffiti standpoint.
Format: In a past interview, you mention that it was during 1993, in Chicago, that you painted your first walls as DALEK, do you continue to write?
Dalek: No, not really. There just isnâ€™t time. I do enjoy going out and painting with friends in a legal get together, paint a wall sort of thing. When I got married and had kids, I really didnâ€™t have time or the desire to be running around the street at 2 a.m. and getting myself into potential trouble. Plus I started late when I was 25. I was never really into that aspect of it as much as other people. I just enjoyed painting with people that I knew and I enjoyed the act of people. It was not about getting up or legalities.
Format: What skills from writing did you transfer into your art?
Dalek: Definitely, almost perfectly, using flat black colors and very graphic styles comes from graffiti. The process of how I paint, you know, drawing on the panel, filling in, outlining and coming back to clean up is exactly the same process as how I paint walls. The process is pretty identical for me and without graffiti training I wouldnâ€™t have got to this point.
Format: Youâ€™re releasing a series of animated shorts called A Purge of Dissidents, please explain the process.
Dalek: Theyâ€™re done; weâ€™re just waiting for the production to be done. Weâ€™re hoping for the end of May. There are no real, true storylines; there is a lot of implied narrative. The idea was to create something around an idea of, if one particular painting came to life and how it would play out. The animation started off with a single Illustrator file and then building a storyboard off of that into a sequence. The project came about with a friend of mine that wanted to get back into music and he was creating all the soundtrack stuff and then approached me about doing the animation. We sat down and I mapped out storyboards and then we contacted a third friend of mine that did some animation for my website and got him to put together something in Flash. We didnâ€™t have a budget for this so it was really something between friends, which is why itâ€™s taking so long, it took us almost two years to put together. It was a three man process.
More Info: http://www.dalekart.com