An interview with collector Gino Joukar

Gino Joukar in front of a wall of #1 editon limited prints at his office

An interview with collector Gino Joukar

1. How long have you had an interest in art?
I’ve always loved and appreciated art ever since I was a little kid, since my dad would buy these original knock-offs of Italian classics and hang them around the house, but I really fell in love with it when I took a course in art history in College. So I’ve had an interest in art all my life but I’ve only gotten serious about collecting it when I found out about the pop surrealism genre and all its star artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Ron English, and all the other great ones.

Beautiful piece from Ron English hanging in Gino's office at his business

2. Does anyone else in your family collect or create art?
No not as of yet but my five year old son, Jadon, is surrounded by it and has taken a real liking to drawing and painting; so he’ll hopefully grow up to become the first artist in our family or become a serious collector like his dad.

Gino's beautiful collection of Italian motorcycles

3. Besides art, is there anything else that the collector bug in you searches out regularly?
Oh sure, Italian Super Bikes are another bug of mine, since the great ones are like a piece of art, but just with a lot of horse power to satisfy my speed demons. And I also have a large collection of numismatic coins and precious metals, as a well space coins and a few other memorabilia that I collect on a regular basis.

View of Gino's collection on view at his Toy Art Gallery in Hollywood

4. I know that you first got into art through limited edition vinyl art toys & rare Japanese kaiju figures. Your office is filled to the ceiling with untouched, rare figures. What’s your favorite figure to date?
Oh gosh, there are so many great pieces that I love but some of the top ones would have to be “War” by Bob Conge, “Boy Karma” by Mark Nagata, “Squire” by Jermaine Rogers, “Mushroom Carousel” by Carlos Enriquez Gonzalez, “Possessed” by Luke Chueh, “Billy Bronze” by Sam Flores, and “Koibito” by Yoskay Yamamato. Favorite artist/designer? Wow that’s a hard one, since I’ve got so many, but some of the top ones have to be Carlos Enriquez Gonzalez, Cris Rose, Doktor A, Drilone, Huck Gee, MAD, Meredith Dittmar, Phu!, KAWS, Ron English, and Tan-Ki.

One of Gino's many #1 editions from Mark Ryden

5. You are also very well known for having one of the largest collections, if not the largest, of #1 edition prints. At last count, how many #1 prints are in your collection?
223 pieces so far (editor’s note: it’s grown much since this interview was conducted) and that will hopefully grow to over 1k pcs one day, but the number is sort of irrelevant, more importantly it’s the artists and pieces you’ve got the #1 editions on. I can find #1 edition prints all day long, but what’s important is having the #1 editions on some of the top artists and pieces coming out of this genre.

View from Gino's office at his business

6. With artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey and The Clayton Brothers all having major retrospective museum shows in the past year or two, the future is definitely wide open for this lil’ bubble of the art world. Where do you see this genre of art (new contemporary, urban contemporary, pop surrealism, outsider, lowbrow, etc) going over the next 5-10 years?
I think it’ll be huge as it’s already spreading to the mainstream audience and they’re taking a real liking to its flavor. I am certain in the next 5-10 years the movement will be larger and serving a lot bigger audience, this genre is only in it’s infancy and it’ll just progress and get better; as it has been for all these years.

View from Gino's home with Yoskay and Craola works

7. With this genre of art gaining in popularity, price points and awareness, there’s a fear amongst some collectors that what we have held dear and close for so long, may well soon be torn wide open and new collectors and gallery players will start hunting about for ‘the next big thing’. Any feedback to that notion?
Well, the genre dates back at least 20 – 30 years and has had it’s share of superstars so I don’t really see that changing. Artists are always showing up with great new work and there will always be a place for ordinary people to afford the art. You see galleries like Michael Kohn showing someone like Ryden, but not really being the backbone of the scene. There’s always going to be galleries that see big money in a particular artist, but it takes a real commitment to the genre to continually show new artists who may not be big money makers. The scene is strong in that respect with galleries like Copro and Thinkspace, etc.

View from Gino's home featuring works from Laurie Lipton and Lola

8. First piece purchased and when/why?
I started back in 2007 with Lola’s “Where Owl Perched Pockets Hold All The Souvenirs” original painting, after I had met her at the first Baby Tattooville, realizing how long it took her to complete the piece after I saw her meticulous work; so at $8k I found it to be a real bargain and I can never turn down a great deal.

Close up of Sean Christopher bronze sculpture on Gino's desk at his work

9. Do you have any sculpture in your collection?
For sure, I have bronze or fiberglass sculptures by Carlos Enriquez Gonzales, Doktor A, Gary Taxali, Glenn Barr, Joe Sorren, Sean Christopher, and too many other great ones to mention here. But I love bronze & life size figures and wish more artists would create them.

Works from Luke Chueh and Ekundayo on view at Gino's work

10. Favorite piece you currently own?
My 200hp Ducati Desmosedici RR motorcycle, the #1 edition of “Madonna & Karl” by Mark Ryden as far as prints are concerned, and the “Balloon Head” by Luke Chueh as far as an original.

Gino's impressive Amanda Visell collection

11. What was your biggest score of 2009 collecting wise?
I would say getting the #1 edition of “Tree of Mystery” by Mark Ryden, and my first original painting by Camille Rose Garcia, “Nature Can Be Unkind”.

The overflow of Gino's massive and evergrowing art toy collection

12. Best score to date?
My wife, Carol, she’s priceless; and I really couldn’t score any of my great pieces if I didn’t have her behind me.

Vyal mural in Gino's office

13. Who is at the top of your want list?
Oh gosh there are so many artists I’ve got on my radar like Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Eric White, Michael Hussar, Craola, Conor Harrington, Faile, Herakut, James Jean, Jeff Soto, Josh Keyes, Jose Parla, Herbert Baglione, Kris Kuksi, Os Gemos, Pat Rocha, and Jorge Santos just to name a few.

View of Gino's home office area

14. If you could add any piece of artwork to your collection, from any time period, which work would that be?
That’s easy, that would be a Hieronymus Boschpiece  from the Renaissance period. The godfather of modern surrealism art.

View of Gino's living room at home with one of my favorite Victor Castillo pieces on view

15. You curated your first show last year, ‘Movers & Shakers’. What did you learn from the process?
It’s definitely an undertaking. The show was a huge undertaking but it was a great success and lots of fun for me; best part being that I got to know a lot of the artists that I love and collect; so I’m striding to make it an annual event and keep it going for a long time to come. (Editor’s note: since this interview was completed – the 2nd edition of ‘Movers & Shakers’ has been created and set to open this Fri at Ronin – more info below)

View of the interior of Gino's Toy Art Gallery in Hollywood

16. I know you have plans to one day open up a museum to showcase your collection. Care to talk about that at all with our readers?
Sure, there are several plans in place to make the collection more accessible to the public. Originally I had planned on opening up the Art Toy Museum in South Park, San Francisco earlier last year, but with the economy going south I could not raise the capital required to get it launched so I decided to postpone that idea for a while. So I recently opened the Toy Art Gallery, here in Hollywood, to showcase my toy collection and focus on high end toys like life-size figures, bronze sculptures and one of a kind custom figures; helping like-minded collectors get some of the rarest toys out there for their collections (Editor’s note – 1st show at Gino’s Toy Art Gallery is next Fri, May 28th – more details below).

View of the interior of Gino's Toy Art Gallery in Hollywood

17. Please name an artist that might be off many collector’s radar, but that you enjoy and would like to offer some props to.
That would be Yosuke Ueno for me, I love his work and feel like there are still a lot of collectors that don’t know about him; same thing with Cathie Bleck. They’re both great artists, and collectors should take notice of their work.

Yosuke Ueno's piece from this weekend's 'Movers & Shakers II' show

Be sure to check out ‘Movers & Shakers II’ – the new show curated by Gino that opens up this Fri, May 21st from 7-11PM at Ronin Gallery in Silver Lake.

‘Movers & Shakers II’ features works from Angry Woebots, Germs, Yosuke Ueno, Anthony Pontius, Jeff McMillan, Mark Dean Veca, Molly Crabapple. Naoto Hattori, Jeremiah Ketner, Misery, Matt Dangler, Paul Barnes, Lyle Motley, Tim McCormick, Noferin, and others

Fri, May 21st 7-11PM @ Ronin / 4210 Santa Monica Blvd in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles

Also be on the lookout for the first show at Gino’s Toy Art Gallery next Fri, May 28th featuring works by Daniel Goffin and Marin Osuna

Full details at: www.toyartgallery.com

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