Henrik Van Ryzin | Episode 315
Henrik Van Ryzin & Denise Van Ryzin make a variety of faux artifacts inspired by Polynesian Pop, adventure, exploration, and South Seas Mystery. Former Hollywood Artists (Henrik worked in Makeup FX, Denise in editing), they founded VanTiki Studio in 2001.
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You are using slip casting quite a bit, how do you stay creative when your pieces are the same?
Super good question. When I started hand building mugs I would actually hand build additions. So I would sit down and hand build fifteen or twenty of a certain design that I liked and that was wearing me down really quickly. That is why slip casting appealed to me. But I also see the danger of slip casting , so we try to do a mug a month. We try to come up with a unique design and we do it in a limited edition and at the end of that it is done and we destroy all the molds. It usually works out perfectly to the point where it is the exact moment where I can’t stand that mold anymore is the moment I get to break it up and throw it in the trash can.
Wh0 inspires you?
Hawaii inspires me. Growing up in Hawaii. Hawaii is a unique place. Growing up there, it was almost that there was two Hawaiis. There is the real Hawaii and then there is the “plastic” Hawaii, if you will. The packaged toy, the magical tourist Hawaii. Both of those worlds really appealed to me growing up there. So both of those worlds still inspire me today.
How do you market such a niche product?
I harness the magic of internet. I say that jokingly but I say this to other artists and friends. I think that we as artists and creators have chosen a perfect time to exist. Because we now have a tool that lets us make something incredibly stylized and a total niche thing. Only a handful of people that are into this but the internet let’s us find those people. So I am very grateful for that. If I was trying to sell in galleries I don’t think I would be as happy as I am now.
How important is community when you are in a niche market?
It is so important. This will go back to when I first moved to L.A.. I grew up as a child loving to draw monsters and robots and that’s all I wanted to do. I thought I was weird for that but then I got to L.A. and worked in a special effects shop and I was surrounded by artists that felt the exact same way I did. It felt great and it felt so validating. It happened again when we were in Hawaii and I was making Tiki mugs and I was selling them online but I felt so weird because nobody in Hawaii knows what this is. It’s not a thing in Hawaii, which I know it sounds odd but it’s not. So when we went to our first convention on the mainland it was like coming home. It was like hey, I’m not the only one! There is a lot of people that love these themes. So that community is important to me and it keeps me wanting to create.
None of us are getting younger which means that those dreams of doing things become more and more imperative.So tell me what is your top bucket list item?
Well my wife and I love to travel, and I would love to do a big adventure with her. Something like ride our bikes across America or do Ride the Divide. Something like that. A big long trip with her that involves adventure and exploration.