“Art has no boundaries. The boundary of art is the boundary of ideas, and ideas have no limits. If you can think it, you can make it happen with lots of hard work. You can create whatever you imagine,” said Chris Riggs, creator of the art toy Dunny, in an email interview.
“I plan to use more gold, silver and Barbie dolls in my new paintings and sculptures and I am currently using a Chanel bag with gold and silver bars coming out of it as an installation.”
Riggs creates art with a single theme ― love and peace.
Dunny is a black doll with a round head, arms, legs and torso with the word “love” all over his body in pink, orange and yellow.
Art toys are toys covered with the work of designers or artists like Riggs.
Chris Riggs is giving a lecture on art toys at the Herald Design Forum 2014 which opens on Nov. 26 at Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
“We are all kids at heart and have played with toys during our childhood. When we were kids, we didn’t have money, but when we grow up and start working we can buy the toys we want. Remembering those warm moments playing with toys as a kid evokes positive emotions,” he said.
“My art toys are unique; they are not mass-produced. People like them because they are interesting to collect, fun to play with and a pleasure to look at.”
Born and raised in New York, Riggs cherishes his childhood memories of spending the day in his father’s toy store.
“That is where my enthusiasm for toys began. Toy art is fun to create; it makes me feel like a kid again,” he said.
Riggs’ work is not just limited to art toys.
He paints the word “love” and abstract patterns on canvases, jeans, helmets, spray cans, heart sculptures and crosses.
“Love and peace is the only way we can resolve our differences. My goal is to have everyone experience peace and love within themselves,” he said.
“Peace will provide opportunities to explore the universe and improve rather than wasting resources, losing lives and destroying our planet fighting endless wars.”
Riggs who studied political science in college became an artist because “it just felt natural.”
“Everyone is born an artist. I just continued to be an artist and then made art my life’s work,” he said.
“Art is about new ideas and free thinking beyond the boundaries set by society.”
Mentioning how a lot of art students stop creating artwork after they graduate and look to make money, Riggs advises aspiring artists to never give up.
Before he started making a good living as an artist, he lived in a small apartment in New York City with no room for a TV, couch or bed.
“I slept on the floor and filled up the apartment with art supplies. This enabled me to work on many large paintings and sculptures,” he said.
“If you want to make it as an artist, you have to be willing to go all the way. You have to push yourself every day. I didn’t do it for money or fame, I did it because I enjoy making things for people.”
On Facebook, Riggs has “Chris Riggs for Mayor” instead of his name.
New York City’s cutting of funding for the summer school lunch program was the trigger.
“In 2004, I met a grandmother who was crying with five children in tow. I asked her what was wrong and she said the mayor just cut the summer school lunch program and closed down their local park,” he said.
“This injustice made me want to do something, and I did. I called the mayor’s office so many times and didn’t stop calling until the lunch program was reinstated. This evolved into the ‘Chris Riggs for Mayor’ street art poster campaign. I thought to myself how come politicians can hang up their political signs all over the city, but artists can’t hang up their art? So as a street art joke, I posted ‘Chris Riggs for Mayor’ posters all over NYC and Miami.”
He put up so many posters in Manhattan that the police sent him to court earlier this year. The court case was dropped by New York City.
“If you want to make a change then you have to push yourself to the limit. Street art is hard work and so are political campaigns. My only message is, ‘Peace and love,’” he said.
By Shin Soo-jung and Kim So-hyun