Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Graff Toyz: Bring Graffiti Home With You
The following is from: www.antisteez.com written by Caro
How many times have you said to yourself “I had that idea years ago!” or “Why didn’t I invent that?” I mean, really with the success of the pet rocks, sea monkey aquariums, shake weights and pajama jeans plenty of us should be retired, sipping on drinks in the Caribbean with little umbrellas in them. Jay Bellichi had plenty of ideas, he grew up in Boston scheming and dreaming of art and how he could make it his livelihood. Jay was known in the graffiti circuit as “Remote” and hoped to keep his passion for graff alive. But hoping and dreaming just aren’t enough.
That’s where friend and Maine native Josh Hughes comes in, the man with the plan. Jay and Josh met at the Art Institute in South Florida. The greatest asset your education can give you is the contacts you’ll make with the kids sitting right next to you. Josh supported Jay in his dream and helped him make it a reality, mostly reeling in the dreamer from Cloud 9. Every great innovator has someone with a ruler in hand ready to regulate should they get off course. Mark Hughes, Josh’s dad, also pushed the pair to pursue their plan and promised to ultimately invest; so in 2000 Graff Toyz began its journey.
With Jay at the helm of creativity, the CEO, and Josh shining the light of organization, the COO, the pair began building prototypes of the many ideas swirling about Jay’s head. With the rising popularity of art toys and limited edition products the industry was aching for more competition. With the birth of Jay’s first son the fire was ignited to produce toys he could passionately share with his son. By 2004 their first prototypes were ready to be shopped around to investors. Mark put the guys under his wing and coached them through the business aspect of their endeavors. While at a gallery showing in CocoWalk where Jay had his art on display under his fine art name, 5IFTYTHR3, the money man stayed true to his word. The line officially launched in February 2010 and began selling in shops like 004Connec (Miami), Undergroundhiphop.com (Boston) , Adjust Gallery (Wynwood), HazyDayz (Ft. Lauderdale) and Neon Forest (Orlando).
Graff Toyz made a splash during Art Basel when they were asked to be a part of the Graffiti Gone Global merchandise store at the GGG exhibit. Their foot in the door came from Books Bischof, who came to be instrumental in their success being that he has a design house in South Florida where many Graff Toyz products were produced. Book is a founding member of Primary Flight, a group responsible for some of Miami’s most famous street art and murals.
As the innovators, originators and supporters of hip-hop culture continue to grow and evolve into adulthood they’ll inevitably be passing down their knowledge and love for the culture onto their children. Where our parents may think of our music as noise and our art as scribbles we see it for it is- amazing. Therein lies the beauty of what Graff Toyz is doing. They’re bringing together the elements we love and appreciate of graffiti to something tangible we can bring into our homes.
During Art Basel, you may have noticed the “Graff Erase Board” for sale. A plexi-board with a chalk marker to write on in various styles (fun side note: the chalk marker will only erase with water, take that dry-erase!)
Keep an eye on these guys, they have plenty more ideas to share. With all the baby bumps going around (there must be something in the water) Graff Toyz will fall into good hands around the 305.
Jeof Christnagel, a tradesman from Detroit, recently joined the Graff Toyz team and is finalizing molds for their next line of toys to be released soon. Be on the lookout for “graff” typeface magnets, puzzles and kids safe/approved items. Support local art, support local business… These guys make everything locally and often times in limited edition (i.e. YNOT puzzle) so get your hands on some Graff Toyz ASAP. To thank you all for being loyal readers we’re raffling one “Graff Erase Board” to a lucky Steezer.
written by: Caro at www.antisteez.com
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