The daring designs of Dairy Deputy
Dairy Deputy’s designer toys are looking for playmates for the holidays. You can find them at the “Island of Misfit Toys: Designer Toy Show” going on through Jan. 1, 2020, at Dye Pretty Salon and Art Gallery in Winston-Salem. All designer toys at the show will be available for purchase throughout the holiday season. (There will also be a second meet-and-greet with the artists on Dec. 1.)
Dairy Deputy, aka Brandon Owen (who prefers to go by “Dairy”), said he had been focused on the career potential behind his art through stickers, sticker-dispensing vending machines and comics for six years, although he has drawn all of his life. Dairy also sculpts handmade resin designer toys and makes the packaging. He said he loves creating his own world with characters that have satirical commentary of reality. His designer toys range from $5 to $45, and each one is numbered on the back with a limited print run. “Goomsaga” is one of his best-selling toys in a limited edition of 225 units that costs $45 each. He has made close to 80 Goomsagas, of which 50-60 have sold. In total, Dairy said he has sold between 200 to 300 toys. He said people are shocked to learn that his toys are made by hand when they look like they were manufactured. This is a comment he considers both an insult and a compliment.
“Designer toys are a contemporary art form, but they are still kind of a misnomer to the general public,” he explained. “It’s a sculpture produced like you would design a toy for a kid, but if a famous artist produces 1,000 toys, then more people can have the design. Art is meant for everyone!”
Born in the states and being Korean, he said he took a “very Japanese thing,” kaiju (monster movies), and riffed on it to make toys like Goomsaga. Another one of his best-selling designer toys is “Greenbird,” which is a tentacle. He said Greenbird’s package is a “very cool looking phony meat tray with a paper towel covered in green liquid wrapped in package-grade plastic wrap so it looks like something you would buy from a meat counter.” The package clearly states, “Squid for Sale,” along with the caught date and a QR code. (The buyer can scan the code on their phone, which will take them to a “secret document” that explains what Greenbird actually is: a squid that was shot out of an alien spaceship by the government. The document goes on to explain how the government is trying to cover up Greenbird’s story.)
Dairy designs and draws all of his stickers himself and likes to keep it simple by charging $1 per sticker. He said Sticker App now produces his weatherproof vinyl stickers (for cars), but he still makes some by hand that are great on phones and stuff for his teenager and older clientele.
The first sticker vending machine, “The Sticker Machine,” wasn’t his original idea. He said it was given to Jeff Beck, artist and owner of the former Urban Grinders (now Café at Revolution) in Greensboro, who then gave it to him. Dairy and Beck filled it with their stickers. Dairy said he then began buying old ‘90s vending machines with busted gears and springs. He would fix it up, paint it and stock it with his original art stickers plus a few stickers by other artists Jane McCormick and Patricia Lauren. He now owns five vending machines and is looking for more machines and more places to put them.
Dairy’s day job is as an artist and graphic designer, as well as a social media manager and event coordination at COHAB Space in High Point. He said he is looking forward to artists living in residence at COHAB because that is his goal one day, along with opening a restaurant per his High Point University Bachelor’s degree in business administration and entrepreneurship.
What more may come from this 23-year-old’s mind? Dairy is working on a comic book that is 100% written and illustrated by him. He plans to do four new toy releases a year plus custom painted skateboard decks. He also will continue co-designing a new role-playing game with Dan St. Germain. He has started a Kickstarter campaign for a 2020 beta book launch (minus the artwork). He said it will hopefully bring in the proceeds to complete the book being drawn by other artists that began while he was still in school.
“I really just love creating anything, and I always have from a very young age,” Dairy said. “I have drawn my own characters, and it’s wild to grow up and learn you actually have an audience for your art. I have a lot of passion. When I’m driving down the road, and I see one of my stickers on the back of a car, it’s empowering.”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer/editorial/content/copy, creative consultant/branding strategist, communications outreach messenger, poet, and emerging singer/songwriter.
Now until Jan. 1, 2020, “Island of Misfit Toys Designer Toy Show.” On Dec. 1, meet the artists at Dye Pretty Salon and Art Gallery, 621 N. Trade St. in Winston-Salem. His work is also at Major Tomms, 608 N. Trade St. in Winston-Salem. Find Dairy every Wednesday, 6-9 p.m. Drink & Draw at COHAB Space, 1547 W. English Rd. in High Point, Every Sat. and Sun. through Dec., 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Cohab Space Holiday Market will carry his toys. Almost daily posts: www.instagram.com/dairy_deputy/