The popular and often subversive Kidrobot is one of the leading purveyors of the vinyl doll craze. Its line features both do-it-yourself figures and exclusive characters from a global array of lowbrow and street-influenced artists.
Although a small selection of its merchandise can be found in local venues such as Paul Frank, Zia Records and Comic Oasis, there has never been a dedicated store in Las Vegas—until now. This summer, Kidrobot is taking over P3 Studio on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan, bringing not only its twisted toys, apparel and books to a pop-up store in the space, but also a gaggle of artists to work in the studio on brand-new art pieces.
Until now, the Cosmopolitan’s artist-in-residence program has focused on a single artist working for several weeks at a time. But the collaboration with Kidrobot is bringing in nearly a dozen of the toy maker’s stalwarts, each of whom will be in studio one weekend during the summer.
“One of the interesting things that Kidrobot brings to the table is they bridge art and commerce in a way that allows a guest to take part of the experience home with them,” says Chris Burns, director of content and entertainment curation for the Cosmopolitan. “There are certainly synergies between the brand perspectives that Kidrobot and the Cosmopolitan have around art.”
One artist who’s not only well aware of those synergies but actively encourages such art-commerce mash-ups is Frank Kozik, who took residence in P3 Studio June 10-12, customizing one of his signature Smorkin’ Labbit stools with faux-aging and rusting techniques. Kozik made his name illustrating posters for rock concerts, and his Kidrobot creations—which include the cigar-chomping Labbit, the law-breaking Chumps and the bad-habit-forming Mongers—are among the brand’s most popular offerings.
During his studio residency, people took photos of Kozik at work, and bought his items just to have him sign them. For Kozik, being in the fishbowl of the studio and meeting fans goes with the territory.
“I worked in nightclubs for years, had a record label—I’ve spent the last 25 years in crowds being stared at,” Kozik says. “Part of my job is to be nice to these customers. Without them, what would I do?”
Visitors can become a part of the experience by drawing on the “Chalk It Up” Dunny, a blackboard-treated, 4-foot-tall version of Kidrobot’s bulbous bunny figure. Photos of each day’s creations are posted on the Cosmopolitan’s Facebook page, where participants are encouraged to tag themselves. Sure, it’s shameless promotion, but it’s also fun.
“The response has been terrific,” Burns says. “Guests love the weekend residencies, and the interactivity with the Dunny has been great.”
In addition, fans can get their hands on limited-edition Dunnys that will only be available during the official Dunny Series 2011 Trading Party, held 6-8 p.m. June 23 at the pop-up store. The event celebrates the release of the new Dunny simultaneously with nearly every Kidrobot retailer across the globe.
If the Kidrobot collaboration is successful, Burns says there may be other residencies featuring multiple artists centered on a single idea. And if artists enjoy the experience the way Kozik has, it’s likely this isn’t the last you’ll see of Kidrobot at the Cosmopolitan.