Today I close the doors to my studio and begin the process of shuttering Huck Gee Inc. Today I begin packing up the last 15 years of my life as a creative. Today marks a turning point in my career as an artist and designer. Today I begin looking for a new path.
I’m sure I’ll still be creating. I just couldn’t make Designer Toys work as a full time career any more. I’ve spent the better half of the last 5 years dumping all of my money into this business. I’ve ran out of money too many times to count. I sold my car to pay bills. Wiped out my savings. Took too many loans. I even lived out of my workshop for half a year, propping it up with my rent money instead of a home. Every month became another month of 50-60 hour work weeks, scrambling to stay afloat. And the worst part is, these days, less than 10% of my time is actually devoted to being a creative. The rest of my time has been spent paying bills, laying out spreadsheets, worrying about my social media presence, managing projects, replying to emails, packing orders and ordering studio supplies. This is dumb. I pivoted, restructured, tried something new too many times to count. I took on one too many projects based on emotional decisions, instead of financial. Too many projects I just had to produce that ran over budget or production time…
Today marks the end of that madness.
I began creating toys, to tell my own stories. I fell in love with the vinyl toys coming out of Hong Kong in the late 90’s, then met Paul and realized I had the opportunity to make my own. That I could tell my own stories through toys and design. So I did, and coincidentally, the scene exploded. I spent years riding one wave of success after another. I travelled the world, met amazing people, and made great work (mostly). And then the economy tanked and the what was then called Vinyl Toy scene crumbled.
It still took awhile for me to realize what was happening.
The Art or Designer Toy movement, as it’s now referred, never recovered to where it was when it was at it’s peak (when I could sell out 100k units of a Dunny series in an hour). Not that I expected it to get back to that hype over-inflated peak but the growth needed for me to survive on this path, let alone prosper, just never re-materialized. It took a recent conversation to make me realize that it doesn't matter how good of a team or how good of a product I make, it’s useless if the market isn't there to support it.
Now don’t get me wrong, my releases still did fairly well. The Blank was well received. People love it. Both Blank shows were incredibly successful. My custom sets of 10 sold out consistently. And I still see good things for the Designer Toy movement. I still see amazing work and amazing artists. I see devout fan followings and great conventions. There’s still a market for this, there’s still growth, but it isn't strong enough for me to prosper. All it would take was one bad release, one underperforming sale, to wipe out whatever finances I had left. If I was in my 20’s, single, paying reasonable rent with no real responsibilities, I‘d keep dumping all my time & money into this. But I’m now 44 and I have 2 beautiful children that mean the world to me. And some day I’d like to take them on a real vacation. And maybe have an actual savings account again. I need to pivot before it’s too late. And besides, I don't have a choice, I don't have any money left to throw at this.
The Blank will continue. I’m in talks with my good friends at Clutter for them to take over the design, production and distribution of The Blank for the foreseeable future. They’re going to do great things with it. I’m thankful they made this opportunity available. The Blank deserves to prosper.
Gold Life will still be continuing under Mighty Jaxx but with more spread out, focused, limited releases. Wolf Rider is happening.
I also have a very special project currently being produced with my good friends at BAIT. They knew I held a special place in my soul for the Robotech universe. And when the license became available recently, they snapped it up to work with me on it. And I have to admit, I created some really outstanding designs with them. I might have even broke some Robotech canon (I like breaking things). I can’t wait to see these in person. I think you’ll like them too.
I started The Collection podcast with Mark Brickey 2 years ago as a means to highlight and raise up the Art and Designer Toy community. To increase the exposure of our industry and to have a discussion with folks in the industry about what had happened to our movement and where it was going. Mark and I did great work together. He’s a serious bad ass, natural talent behind the mic. I’m going to miss our conversations. We had a great run but today also marks the end of The Collection.
Any and all currently open orders will be fulfilled. The last batch of 7” Cheeky Monkeys are complete and will ship out on Monday. The Arthur set of figures are more than 50% complete and will be finished by myself over the coming weeks, working from home.
I have made a special limited run of “Thank You” GID Blank customs that are now up in store at www.HuckGee.com. These are complete and ready to ship now. These 10 custom figures are a bit of a throwback. They’re signed, numbered, and end an era for me. In addition, my storefront will remain open through the weekend. There are still some Blanks, prints, pins and t-shirts available for sale. Any and all sales at this point will help me keep a roof over my head for the next month while I figure out what’s next. Thank you in advance for any orders that come through.
Oh, and I also have a giant fiberglass Skullhead primed in flat black sitting on a pallet if anyone wants it.
Thank you everyone that has been a fan, collector or supporter over that last 20 years. I never would have developed these skills and experienced the success I did without your support. You made me the creative entity I am today. Thank you.
Thank you Paul Budnitz for launching me on this insane career path.
Thank you Jazmin. For helping me create some of my most iconic designs over the years, for running the shop when I didn't show up, for being my never ending support and holding my hand through the worst of it.
Thank you Nichole for always inspiring me and always being there for me.
Thank you Mom for propping me up more times than I can thank you for.
Thank you to my current crew: Antonia and August. These two are some of the most talented, hardest working assistants I’ve ever had. We made some dope shit together. I’m incredibly saddened to see you go.
And thank you to the long list of artists and friends that I have met, worked with and/or supported me over the years. I’d write out all of your names but I know I’d miss someone important and that list is really, really long.
If you know anyone looking for a world famous, museum allocated, award winning creative, that ran a design house and production team for 15+ years against all odds, please pass me along. I don’t know what’s next yet but I’d like to have as many options as possible before me.
This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. This isn't the last of me but this was a great run while it lasted.
Thank you, thank you everyone, thank you for everything,