Mark Nagata talks about his passion for classic Japanese character toys. Mark discusses the process of bringing an original Kaiju creation to life, the tension between being both a toymaker and an artist, and his 2019 exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum. (Intro: Can’t Stop Smiling)
Growing up in California, Mark Nagata was a fan of Disneyland, comic books and classic Japanese television shows, movies and toys. These influences inspired his creativity and spurred his initial interest in drawing and art. Fast-forward to today and not much has changed for this toy designer, painter, illustrator and collector. Mark trained at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in the 1980s and went on to a successful career in commercial illustration. He completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilm, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces numerous cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – “Give Yourself Goosebumps”. But Mark’s heart has always been in the creative process, so in 2005, after co-founding and publishing a toy magazine, he started Max Toy Company, named for his son. Now celebrating its 14th year, Max Toys has stayed true to its founding mission – to specialize in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys are hand painted by Mark, a tradition and process that goes back to the Japanese toymakers of the past.