A talk with David Horvath and Sun Min Kim and a look at their Ugly Dog
David Horvath and Sun Min Kim have touched the lives of many people all over the world and they've done it by doing what they love. They are the minds behind the Ugly Dolls and their story will warm your heart. I caught up with these warm, lovely people and was lucky to have a brief chat with them.
When asked how the whole Ugly Doll world came about, David smiles and tells me how it just sort of happened. "Originally, they started as sketches on letters I'd write to Sun Min," Horvath explains. David had drawn a "self-portrait" on the bottom of a letter. A little while later, Sun Min sent him a hand-made doll of the orange guy. This eventually became Wage. "I took the doll to my friend who runs Giant Robot. Just to show him this cool thing Sun Min had sent me. He thought I was pitching it and said, 'This is awesome. I'll take 20.' I said, sure." With this, David ran home and wrote his thank-you note to his lady and in that letter asked for twenty more. "Yeah, I hadn't even thanked her yet when I asked her to make some more." The rest, as they say, is history. It's refreshing to find that something as simple as an act of love could turn into a designer toy movement. Ugly Dolls are quickly becoming the most recognizable franchise in the medium. Maybe this honest showing of affection and sincerity in their plush is what draws people to them.
It's true that this originally started for kids, but the love of Ugly Dolls knows no age. David says that most of the time he finds that adults are buying them for loved ones and sometimes their children. "I love to hear stories of people giving them to children, or seeing kids carrying them around is really great." One of the best stories comes from a public school in NYC, PS3. "There's a learning disabled student who has an Ox doll. He teaches the doll his lessons. This reinforces what he's learned and the doll has become a friend for the child. Things like that really make it all worth while." When I told David how I gave a friend of mine's daughter an Ugly Doll and she just loves it, he smiled and humbly said, "Thatís great. That makes us feel great."
But Ugly Dolls aren't all that the couple has cooking. There are numerous gallery shows in the works, Sun Min creates children's books, they are showing in the Louvre in 2006, and David created and works on the #3 children's show in Japan: Lil' Bony. "I write and flesh out the key scenes in Flash. It's quite a job since there are 5 shows a week, all new." So to say that they are busy would be an understatement. But like I said, it's a labor of love for these two and they seem to really appreciate the response they get and love doing what they are doing.
The newest plush from the Ugly Doll family is the Ugly Dog. Made in the same simple, yet inviting style (available in orange or pink colorways) the dog looks a bit worried. Is it because he doesn't have a collar? Maybe. Maybe it's because his sharp teeth protruding from his upper lip give him the appearance he's meanwhich couldn't be further from the truth. I think he's just worried like most dogs that you'll forget about him and not give him enough love. But we wouldn't do that to him, would we?! He has one eye and it's held on with stitching that is very visible. The teeth are the same. This reinforces the feeling that this is a hand made plush. Very nice. The way that the legs are all next to each other really makes a nice transfer from the two-dimensional drawing, to the three-dimensional plush. He's made in the flat style that all the Ugly Dolls sport. Not only does this give the plush a distinct look, it makes it especially nice for when you're sleeping with the fella and you roll over on him. You don't wake up with a sore back like you do with your typical fat teddy bear... I mean, this is what I'm told...I don't sleep with plush animals!...anymore. [Ed note:yeah right]
I love this plush dog. He's become a quick favorite in our collection and I'm especially attached to him knowing the love and enjoyment the creative couple had in making him.
Check out David Horvath's site for news, projects, and shows he and Sun Min Kim are involved in. www.uglydolls.com.
Wootini carries the Ugly Dog as well as other great Ugly Doll products. They also have tons of designer toys that aren't plush.
Take a look at our Designer Toy coverage in this handy page: MPb Designer Toy Coverage
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