Rivet-like texturing emerging forth from the form, some of its humanoid attributes created through roughly excised areas that have been encrusted with rust, standout features in a whole otherwise enveloped in a coating of distressed and weathered coloration. Purportedly inspired by the appearance of abandoned amusement parks, insane asylums, and military bunkers, this is the signature style of DrilOne. And while the transplanted New Yorker living in San Francisco experimented with various aesthetics early in his designer toy career, the seeds of this “decommissioned” direction manifested almost immediately.

A Brief History of DrilOne’s Designer Toy Art

The son of a painter, DrilOne was emersed in a creative environment from a young age, not only encouraged to draw himself but also being surrounded by the inspirational works of others, including the street art adorning New York City’s walls. Introduced to designer toys in late 2005, the formally trained artist immediately became enamored with the potential these forms presented and began shifting his focus from painting stretched canvases to decorating and manipulating these sculptural shapes. Handcrafting works that mimicked the factory-produced Dunny designs he’d seen, his early experimentations ranged from pieces influenced by his previous graffiti aesthetic to “cute” character creations. But he also was developing his own aesthetic which became critically acclaimed with the release of his extremely limited R.I.P. Dunny series in 2006, each of the thirty pieces surgically altered by hand before being encased in a veneer of charred looking paint. As the artist continued to evolve and refine his style over the course of several years, his various concepts congealed into an iconic whole, as seen on works like his hand-painted Military Dunny series from 2009. And DrilOne’s uniquely creative voice and dedication to his craft were on the cusp of receiving the wider attention he rightly deserved.

In July of 2010, DrilOne’s debut factory-produced vinyl design was issued as part of the 2.5″ Qee Designer Collection, Series 6 assortment from Toy2R, the distressed demeanor of his Toyer Scout concept exposing a host of new collectors to his aesthetic. But two months before this accomplishment, the artist had already received notice when Kidrobot awarded him as the first King of the Boards titleholder, a recognition that denoted DrilOne’s ability to stand out amidst the plethora of artists then-active on the brand’s forum. And amid this attention he issued an edition of thirty specially crafted Gas Mask Special-Op Dunny pieces, their protective face wear aspect quickly becoming part of DrilOne’s signature aesthetic, even though the artist had sporadically employed gas mask elements on his handmade pieces since 2008. And the momentum that was skyrocketing DrilOne’s art career was only beginning.
As the first teasers of Kidrobot’s Dunny Series 2011 emerged in March of that year, collectors became abuzz with news of which veteran artists would have designs alongside worthy newcomers, including an unmistakable contribution to the collection by DrilOne. With his first factory-produced Dunny design slated to be issued at the end of June, the artist smartly exploited the added publicity of the preceding thirty days to issue two handmade series through longtime friends and retailer Dragatomi. On June 1st, his DrilOne Custom Android series was issued, the collection comprised of sixteen hand-painted and modified pieces, all of which eager connoisseurs claimed in a matter of mere moments. This was followed on Wednesday, June 15th with his Box of Rust series, which in retrospect represents a pivotal moment in DrilOne’s oeuvre.

DrilOne’s Box of Rust Series

Not only was the Box of Rust series twice the edition size of the then-recently released DrilOne Custom Android collection, but the thirty-two pieces in this assortment were modified and hand-painted versions of twenty different designer toy forms as opposed to solely representing a singular shape. Revealing not only the diversity of the entire art movement, this showcased the artist’s ability to adapt to different contours as well as the range of signature style. Moreover, DrilOne took this opportunity to experiment thoroughly with sculpting directly onto the original vinyl works, creating intricate gas mask designs as well as introducing a bird-headed concept. And while the avian character idea didn’t survive past the year, the importance of DrilOne’s confidence in his own sculpting would continue to grow, evolving into countless pieces that he’d add elements to as well as eventually creating his own forms for casting in resin. And, in a strange way, it all started unceremoniously with the Box of Rust series.

For more information on DrilOne:
website | instagram | twitter | flickr

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