September 21, 2020
- What is your name / organization / title?
- What motivated you to become a maker?
I think I've always been influenced by my family to figure out how to discover my own creativity. My grandparents and parents are all makers in their own way so the idea of making things yourself resonated with me.
- Looking back on the early stages of your journey, what advice would you give yourself now?
It's ok to make many mistakes before figuring out what techniques and materials work. Many of them were discovered through trial-and-error. I'd tell myself to look forward to those because each new discovery feels so invigorating. Like Bob Ross says, "No mistakes. Just happy accidents."
- What is your favorite thing you’ve ever made? Why?
Among the many food pieces I've made over the years I'd say my first Ramen custom is up there. My process in creating that piece made me realize that creating fake food is just like making the real thing. (1) Break down the design/dish by ingredient, (2) figure out how to make each one, and (3) piece it all together at the end. I felt like a chef plating his final dish.
- What’s the next evolution for you (or your industry) going to look like?
I like to think my style/inspiration is very much influenced by the food industry. Not only is there so much food I've never attempted to turn into a toy yet, but new food trends are constantly popping up. It's hard to run out of ideas for my next designs.
- Who would you partner with (living or dead) for your dream collaboration? And what would you work on together?
I think it would have been really cool to collaborate with Anthony Bourdain. Not only was he a great chef but he also loved to travel the world and experience the local food scenes. An idea I would have loved to pitch to him would be to create pieces inspired by his favorite dish from EVERY country he has visited. That would be one tasty collection!
- You're on death row and it's time for your final meal. What'll ya have?
First of all, I LOVE TO EAT! So if I had to choose a final meal, I know I have to go big! I would have to choose a kamayan dinner. What is that you ask? A kamayan dinner is a feast with a large amount Filipino food spread across banana leaves in a communal table. It includes seafood, grilled meats, veggies, and lots of rice. But wait, there's more. Kamayan means "by hand" in Tagalog so you are expected to eat without utensils alongside other guests. Since this is MY last meal, it'll all be for me!
- In a world where you have two hands, all of your pets and loved ones are safe, and your studio is on fire, what do you try to save?
I would want to first save my laptop and hard drive. My hard drive stores all the photos of pieces I've created since the beginning of my toy-making journey (and of course family photos). Then I’d grab my little black book that I use to list and keep track of the number of pieces I’ve made. At the time of this interview, I’ve made 2,093 custom toys so far. It’s pretty much like my history book.
- What is one piece of pop culture (movie, tv, artwork, song, etc.) that no matter how many times you return to it you still draw excitement, movement, or inspiration?
Too easy...The Office
- I love useless facts. Impress me with a seriously useless fact!
You'd think each color of Froot Loops is a different flavor? Sorry. They're all the same.
- If you could try any profession other than your own, what would you choose to do?
I've always wanted to be a pastry chef.
- What is your personal strategy/philosophy when it comes to using social media for your work?
Being able to share my work on social media allows me to build connections and relatability with others. I especially love creating very nostalgic foods that remind us of our childhood. When others are able to reminisce with me those fond memories, I appreciate that my art can also have that emotional effect on others.
- Speaking of social media, where can people find you?
@zardapuya on Instagram