Inside the Mind of High-End Toy and Collectibles Creator Blake Jones

hobbyDB sits down with its rad new friend Blake Jones, a sales manager at Premium Collectibles Studio, who takes us through his remarkable career in creating, marketing and lots more when it comes to toy and high-end collectibles.

How did you get started in a career in the toy and high-end collectibles industry?

It started with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Photography, a love of Printmaking, and a job at Kinko’s. The skills I learned in project management, large-scale print production, and large-format printing landed me a job at ACME Archives as their fine art gicleé production printer.

Who ain’t afraid of no ghosts? Young Blake, that’s who.

Then shortly after that a role as Creative Director guiding Illustrators and fine artists to publish amazing licensed pieces of Pop Culture Fine Art.

What drew you to Pop Culture?

I’ve always been a fan of movies, animation, comic books, and punk rock. As a kid of the 80’s I grew up obsessed with Ninja Turtles, Looney Toons, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, He-Man and so much in those veins. The Toys we had were so good, and this obsession and knowledge of insanely specific moments really helped push my career in pop culture-based items.

What were among your first design campaigns in the industry?

Some of the first pieces were directing pieces with artists like Dan Mumford or Mark Englert to name a few. We came up with some truly brilliant and fun Star Wars, Simpsons, and Predator prints as some of my very first projects.

The success of those pieces really lit a fire under me to continue, and then I moved over to Toys when I came on board at QMx, another massive achievement unlocked for me.

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on throughout your career?

One of my favorites was the ‘Fall of Jabba’ art print by Dan Mumford. The way he illustrates is just so beautiful and really shines in pieces like this. It’s insanely detailed and the way he illustrates flames is just mesmerizing. It portrays the moment when Jabba’s Sail Barge is going down in flames into the desert sands.

The glitter ink at the top creates a shimmering effect, resembling the setting twin suns when viewed from different angles. The color scheme is just particularly striking. That print and Mark Englert’s “I’m Here to Rescue You” were some of my firsts and man, they were pretty. Also if you can’t tell, I love Orange and Yellows.

Tell us about some of your experience in set dressing, property management and prop design?

I was fortunate enough to come on to the production Big Ass Spider not long after moving to LA. A friend of mine asked me to come be background on it and “get eaten by a giant spider.”

This was the best thing anyone had ever asked me at the time, and during the day I was on set, I managed to work my way into the art department by asking “how do you do what you do?” They told me to talk to the guy with all the tattoos, so I walked right over, repeated myself and he said “you showed me balls and initiative, do you want to be my intern tomorrow?”

I then showed up, did my work, and by day three I was paid with Title. They kept asking me back. With a degree in fine art, a background in sculpture and the want to give it my all, it really helped me. So we made props, sets, and so on for that feature, and I continue to dabble a bit here and there for indie stuff and when someone I know needs help.

Were you a collector growing up? Do you collect now?

I still have almost all of the comics I had when I was a kid. A fair amount of my toys were sold by my Dad in garage sales when I was younger, so I don’t have many of those anymore (sadly), especially as some were quite rare. I’m definitely a collector now, albeit very specific now – as my wife and I have limited space.

I have a fair amount of art prints, comics, and toys, but I’m trying my best to not be a hoarder or be too precious about some of my items. Most of my collection is rooted in the categories I mentioned above, but now I’ve pushed into a fair amount of horror, and a few other categories.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into toy design?

My advice for someone looking to get into toys is to stay current, stay true to yourself and your aesthetic, and not be too precious about your designs. I received this advice early on, and it remains relevant today. Projects can be dropped, killed, or suspended for myriad reasons like budget, licensing, and likeness.

Your work might not always turn out exactly as planned, but as long as it’s the closest thing to your vision, you’re on the right track. Plan and design for the quality to be at 110% so that when something is amiss, it’s still at 100%. Designing toys requires significant effort and time, but when you see your creations hit shelves and people keep them in their collection years later, it’s incredibly rewarding.

That feeling of ‘I made that’ when you see something you manufactured in the collection of someone you just met, or admire, is truly indescribable.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My motto for a long time was “I want to do dumb stuff with my friends” and it had been somewhat of a compass for me. While some of that motto has changed, I believe that as long as you stick to your guns, work with good people, and stay passionate about the output, you’ll do great things.

Always be creating, be persistent but not annoying, and pay attention to the good stuff and not let the bad get you down. As such my ethos has changed slightly to “Make cool stuff with rad people.”

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x