Exclusive insight into 78jo’s thoughts and process
We recently had the incredible opportunity to speak with 78jo — the amazing artist behind the Fuji Ballballbird — about their vision and creative process. This interview has been condensed for clarity.
Q: First, tell us about yourself. Who is 78jo?
There are two of us behind 78jo: Sunny Tam, the designer, and Rosie Chan, the big boss!
Q: What does 78jo actually mean?
78jo is actually a translation of the Cantonese “亂七八糟,” which means “something really messy.”
Q: What inspired you to start making toys?
I’ve been in the art industry for years (working in galleries, painting, and other jobs) and I found it hard for audiences to collect contemporary artwork, regardless of price or format or size. There’s a disconnect between artists and collectors — artists make their work too deep for audiences to connect, and audiences don’t spend the time to understand the works.
But people love collecting art in every period of human history, so when my friends introduced me to the designer toy/sofubi industry, I thought it may be a way to connect to the collectors. I could keep making art by swapping my canvas for a sofubi and maybe earn a living too.
Q: How do you decide what to make?
I love animals, and I take inspiration from what’s around me. We got a baby monk parakeet this year, so I wanted to make a bird toy. (The informal answer is my boss/gf asked me to make a bird, and after a few days it popped out on the table!)
Q: What’s your process like? Do you always sketch before sculpting?
I do many, many, many research sketches before sculpting. Imagine there’s an empty drawer or bag, I’ll fill it with research material and sketches before I start making it. But I still don’t have a fixed idea of what will come out in the end; it always keeps changing as I sculpt.
Q: What’s the hardest part of your work?
Communication with the factories. Working with a good factory is like having an art jam, but a bad factory will kill your work.
Q: And what’s your favorite part?
The day I finish an artwork, and when my fans give me feedback — whether it’s good or bad!
Q: Last question, do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the toy-making world?
If you haven’t started yet, it’s important to give yourself some room for trial and error. If you have started, I always have time for crossovers! Welcome to the party!!
That’s all for our interview with the illustrious 78jo! Keep your eyes peeled, as we’re certain to connect with them again.