Gary Taxali
My Toy Story
There are times in one's life when something happens that seems so destined, easy, natural and joyful.  I've been designing toys (under my own company Chump Toys as well as licening designs to other companies like Kid Robot and Qeedrophonic) for 5 years now but this year, I embarked on one the funnest projects of my toy career;  I did a line of wooden toys.  My publisher, Scholastic Press, has a close relationship with Indigo Books and Music (they are Canada's largest bookstore chain) and so when they showed them my kid's book, This Is Silly!, Trevor Dayton, the VP of Kids and Entertainment at Indigo,  immediately fell in love with the idea of me doing a line of wooden toys.  It was an exciting first meeting.  I went with my wonderful sister, Vandana Taxali, who is my agent and lawyer, and we were thrilled at their invitation to create an exclusive line of Gary Taxali retro wooden toys.  This is the first time that Indigo has partnered with an artist to create such products so it is a real honour, to say the least.  I instantly had an exact idea of what my toys would look like and from there, I jumped in head first.
In the beginning, I was sent "generic" classic toys as rough templates.  These classic designs go way back and in fact, cross cultural boundaries so it's safe to say many kids from all parts of the world grew up with various incarnations of these designs for many a decade.  I had to photograph the designs, create detailed specs, redraw them and send these designs to the factory in China to confirm the feasability of the construction.  Luckily, only minor tweeks were needed but it was great to know that the factory could realize my designs.  Next came the colours.  I wanted to create a palette that would be cohesive for all 6 designs.  It was a huge undertaking for me because my idea of working with colour is to mix it first!  I had to send them Pantone colours and this was hard for me as I am not used to working this way.  I was extremely pleased with the sample prototypes and was good to go next on the box designs.  Here are photos of the final product, my finished toys called Flip Floppy, Toy Monkey Trapeze, Ladder Fun, Peck Peck, Chalk-Draw, and Whirly.  They are all made with non-toxic coatings.
"Flip Floppy"

"Toy Monkey Trapeze"

"Ladder Fun"
"Peck Peck"

"Chalk Draw"


"Whirly" close up

The boxes were a huge undertaking.  I wanted to treat them as canvases for my art yet there was a lot of text information that was to be included.  I created a brand new typeface for the project which I named "Chumply".  It was so much fun to work with and bend, twist and shape and he liked being screenprinted!  Vandana gave me the great idea to tile my existing characters and this immediately pulled the whole designs together.  Product package design?  Easy as pie!!

This Saturday, November 27th at 2 pm, will be the official launch party and signing for the toys, and I will also be signing my kid's book This Is Silly!.  The event will take place in Toronto at Indigo's Manulife Centre location.  I will also be displaying a brand new limited edition print in honour of the toys called "Flip Floppy".  It's a 5 colour silk screen print.
If you are in Toronto this weekend, please come by!  I promise, there will lots of silliness to be had.

All the above images are © 2010 Gary Taxali - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Here is an interview I did today about my toys with Steve Heller on THE DAILY HELLER.

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