Now that we all know that New York Comic Con is one of the biggest and greatest Con in the U.S. Otakus and Geeks did all it can to cover and explore this event and because of this we found a lot of great products and made a lot of new friends. One of the many great products we found are from Beefy and Co which is owned by Menh Voong (a.k.a BeeFy). We love his product so much that we wanted to find out and share with you guys how this company started. The best way to do that is to interview the owner himself, BeeFy. I hope you guys enjoy this interview and support BeeFy and Co. Below you will find the interview and some image of BeeFy and Co. art and products.
Let’s start from the beginning how long have you been an artist?
Wow, as early as I can remember. It really started in grade school when I was about 6 years old. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the Pokémon of our generation. We drew Ninja Turtles almost every day in school and showed them off to one another. I would also would win many drawing contests in school. So, I guess I kind of knew how to draw at a young age, and have been drawing ever since. I can’t recall any of my school notes that didn’t have any sketches, doodlings or artwork on them. Professionally, I would say over 10 years. I did a lot of graphic design work during college and still freelance occasionally.
Do you remember the moment you wanted to do this for a living?
Yes! I’ve always had a huge passion for cartoons, animation, anime and toys! At one point during college I wanted to transfer to FIT in New York to pursue a Toy Design Degree, but didn’t have the credits or finances to transfer, so the dream of being a toy designer quickly died.
You started a company called BeeFy & Co. Can you tell us how did you start BeeFy & Co and talk a little bit about the company?
The dream of starting my own company and being an Illustrator and toy designer reemerged when I discovered KIDROBOT and the urban vinyl toy scene, becoming a huge fan and collector. At that time the only toy industry I knew was the mass market production toys, and felt there would be no chance for someone like me to produce my own figures unless I worked for Mattel or Hasbro. When the Urban Vinyl figures came into the industry and it was finally financially possible for one to produce their own figures, I realized I might have a chance to make one of my dreams come true and pursue my passion in toy design to produce my very own figures! After doing some research and being introduced to Kusovinyl from a friend in 2011, I did some number-crunching. Then with a head full of enthusiasm, I pitched my business idea to all my close friends, asking them to invest and become partners. That was one of the toughest parts in the beginning, because none of my friends had any clue about the toy/designer toy industry. After numerous failed meeting attempts and pitches, I finally got a group of friends that was nice enough to support me and give it a shot. From there, the rest was history.
BeeFy & Co.’s foundation is what I like to call, “Creating happiness through art and toys.” We are a designer toy, apparel and art company. The nuts and bolts that keep the foundation together are all the characters I create. I love to create as many different characters as possible, making sure that each and every character has his/her unique personality and backstory. The short backstory allows you to get to know and fall in love with the characters even more! So with each character I create, I try to bring them to life either through vinyl figure, plush, animation or apparel! I guarantee you that you will find onecharacter that you will be attached to or can relate to. If not, I’ll definitely be creating one for you in the near future.
As an artist there will always be tons of creative thoughts on designs and what to put on paper. How do you decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t?
That is true. I draw and create so many characters throughout the year and I LOVE them all! My creations are like my kids so it’s definitely tough to choose who gets brought to life, however there are always a few that I really get attached to more than others, so I pick those out of the bunch. Then I take into consideration what has been released in the market in the past, what other artists are currently releasing, and what the fans and followers like and want.
Is there any artist or any forms of medium such as entertainment, books etc. that you draw inspiration from for your work?
Oh, of course! There is such a wide ranges of artists, mediums and cultures that inspire me that I don’t even know where to begin! To narrow down what has influenced my current work, I have to say cartoons, animation and anime like Family Guy, American Dad, Naruto, One Piece and all the animated movies from Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks. Companies like Tokidoki and Sanrio are also inspirational,and they are the pioneers for those of us who follow in their footsteps. Another medium that I believe really inspired me and has stuck with me to this day, are the Sunday comic strips I used to read every weekend while I was a paperboy for three years in middle school. Garfield and Foxtrot, in particular,were the ones that really resonated most with me. The majority of my characters are humorous and cute in one way or another, similar to Garfield and all the Pixar characters. Designing characters that makepeople laugh and smile is my main goal, and I consider it a great success when I am able to. After being in the industry for two years, I realized, CUTE SELLS! Anything you design that is cute, will sell! So the market does play a part also in my creative direction.
As a person who runs their own site, also an artist and wears many hats what would say is the most challenging aspect of BeeFY & Co?
Yes, unfortunately BeeFy & Co. is now a one-man show with occasional assistance from awesome friends, but there are many perks to working alone. For instance, no one can tell you what to do and you don’t ever have to explain anything to anyone or come up with an excuse why you are late to open the booth at a convention, haha. The most challenging aspect of BeeFy & Co., I would say is marketing, promoting, and getting exposure and traffic for the company. You can’t sell anything if no one knows your company exists! There are many ways to do so, such as blogs, word of mouth, street fairs, and conventions, etc. I find the most successful way to build a following is to get yourself seen and noticed. Exhibit at as many different shows and conventions as possible. Finding the time and capitol to exhibit all these shows are another challenge of itself.
You were recently at New York Comic Con 2014 can you tell us your experience at the convention?
NYCC was AWESOME!!! Seeing all the great cosplays as they came around the aisle was like nerdgasmsthe entire week! The cosplayers and all the attendees were great and super nice. My booth was located at The Block area, where all the designer exhibitors were grouped together, so I got glimpses of some of the other awesome booths during my bathroom dashes. I have to admit, since I’m pretty much the only person working at my booth, I don’t really get leisure time to enjoy and experience the entire con or any con that I exhibit., so it’s all the interactions with the attendees and fans that stop by my booth that make or break my experience for a con. The East Coast folks are as nice as the West Coast ones so I get a lot of love at NYCC and am always surprised with the amount of support I get out there. Being from San Francisco, I exhibit in pretty much all the California conventions and I have some wonderful and passionate followers in the West Coast that make every effort to come see me first before any other booths, which is why I love them so much! I do get quite a few return customers from previous years and it felt good to see folks who came back to my booth this year after seeing me last year. It means that my work, product, company or myself have made an impression on them for them to remember BeeFy & Co. and return to visit. The networking is always amazing at NYCC, as I get to meet so many great people and make new friends every time. The cherry on top of the whole NYCC experience is always being able to see all my other artist friends! Even though we don’t get to spend much time catching up during the con because we all have to work our own booths, I am always appreciative of those who take time to make rounds to visit and say hi. I have to apologize to all my friends at NYCC because my hello’s are like one second long while running back to my booth. NYCC is a must-attend event for me, it’s just full of AWESOMENESS!!