Monday, September 1, 2014

Mr. Tiny's Wacky Tacky: Mid Century Modern, Costumes, Kitsch, Dinosaurs and More

A dinosaur logo, kitschy paintings on velvet, neon glowing against the night sky, California mid century modern lovingly documented, a gorgeous muse in 100% custom made retro ensembles; this is the world shared by Mr. Tiny on his blog Wacky Tacky. With a rabid love for glittering gaudy goodness and everything Wacky-Tacky I had to learn more about this multi-talented writer. Here's the scoop:

1) May I ask what you and Mary do for a living? You're so talented and I don't believe I saw it anywhere on the blog explicitly:

My kid sister, Mary, is excited to be receiving her wings as a real-life flight attendant; I think she is operating under the assumption that her life will be exactly like Pan-Am circa 1962.  I, Mr. Tiny, am a plus-size model, yacht designer, hat maker, and "Nose" for boutique parfumeries.

2) How about a list of all your plentiful hobbies?

Fortunately, it seems like our hobbies occupy the majority of our time.  I can't imagine life without dancing, singing, cooking, drawing, thrifting, decorating, performing, crafting, writing, adventuring, party-planning, and sewing.

3) You are an amazing illustrator and sewer, how did you learn?

Thank you!  It is so much easier for me to respond to compliments with all of the reasons why the compliments couldn't possibly be true, but I do appreciate it.  Fortunately, both avocations allow for progress and evolution and while practice hasn't quite yet made perfect, I am always striving to improve.

Mr. Tiny designs and sews costumes for his sister, Mary. Photo of Mary above and below by  Alexander Thompson for Ponyboy Magazine

I learned to sew at the feet of my mother and grandmothers.  My mom owned a successful accessory business in the '80s (we were always conscripted into service) and both of my grandmothers were hardcore home seamstresses.  I may not look like the stereotypical homemaker but I love the traditional domestic arts, particularly sewing.

I learned to draw by watching my dad; he was a professional landscape architect and part-time illustrator/painter.  The scope of my skill is very limited, whereas he could draw anything: technical drawings, elevations, cartoons, portraits, animals, landscapes, etc.  Expressing creativity is definitely in the genes.

4) Any favorite resources for what you do to share? 

I use plenty of apps and online resources but the very best resource is the act of exploring.  My favorite activity is just getting in the car (or a boat or plane when time and finances allow) and going on an adventure.  Exploring new cities and looking for their unique charm makes me feel like a treasure hunter - with old movie theaters, historically-significant architecture, and kooky diners being the real gems.  I am certainly not too proud to ask for help and appreciate the the incredibly dynamic folks with whom I am acquainted; they are an endless resource of ideas and inspiration.  Southern California does not have the market cornered on creativity but thankfully, it has always been a hotbed of wacky tacky expression!

5) When did the kitsch and vintage obsession begin?

It has been a lifelong journey.  My paternal grandmother was girl singer in the 1940s so music of that era has always been a huge part of my life.  My paternal grandfather was a major movie nut; consequently, I am a fiend for films from Hollywood's golden age.  Like many of my vintage-loving friends, I must give "I Love Lucy" the lion's share of credit for informing my mid-century sensibilities.  I watched "I Love Lucy" from a very early age, trying to incorporate as much of the aesthetic, the style of dress, and the style of comedy into my life as possible.  An abiding love for classic music, movies, and television combined with an unnatural affinity for "Pee-Wee's Playhouse," resulted in an inevitable obsession with kitsch and vintage.

6) What do you love the most about the atomic/MCM era?

I think there are things to love about every era in history.  I am a sucker for costume dramas.  I love music of all styles and eras.  I am always up for an historical adventure.  I do particularly respond to the mid-20th Century, albeit mostly on a superficial level, but also because it feels like it was the last time in history that there was the excitement and promise of something truly new.  Technology evolves at an astounding rate but at this point it seems much more about refinement than invention.  

Fashion is ever-cyclical but these days it is just a reinterpretation of previous movements.  Bored when it seems like there is nothing new under the sun, I hearken back to a time when everything was new.  Galvanized by the resolution of a world war, the mid-20th Century saw an unprecedented explosion of products, population, and optimism.  The innovative use of new materials was evident in all aspects of life.  The creation of popular culture was disseminated by a burgeoning teenage population.  

Tiki houses in Cali captured by Wacky Tacky. My dream homes, I want a 50s to 70s era home.

The opportunity of achieving the "American Dream" through accessible education, homes, and modern conveniences was becoming a reality.  It was a time when we were collectively reaching (both literally and figuratively) for the stars.  That's exciting!  Oh, and I like the clothes too...

7) Your top 3 muses?

Muses/icons/heroes:  Pee-Wee Herman, My sister Mary, My Grandpa Bob

8) When and why did you start Wacky Tacky?

Wacky Tacky started three-and-a-half years ago because my brother felt I needed a creative outlet that explored all of my interests; without his inspiration and his technical help (I'm worthless when it comes to technology, rarely touching a computer before I started blogging), I don't think I would have ever considered taking to the internet or meeting any of the fantastic people I have through blogging.  The original aim was to focus on architecture and interior design but it quickly became a full lifestyle blog dedicated to design (fashion, architecture, interior), art, music, family, crafts, food, films, icons, performing, collections, restaurant reviews, travel, and vintage adventures.  

9) Have you encountered any challenges with Wacky Tacky?

I figured writing a blog would be a piece of cake; I obviously underestimated the agony and ecstasy every blogger experiences when trying to share his/her passions in an interesting way - all the while hoping to find a receptive audience and anxiously awaiting comments.  I've been told that I'm too wordy and my posts skew lengthy but I write my blog for myself too, and I love to write.  I try my best not to get overly personal on wacky tacky but an unexpected result of creating content for a blog is a fair bit of self-reflection and diary-esque over-sharing.  I tend to be very forgetful, so I am glad to have a record of the fun experiences I've had, fun being the operative word.

10) What's your main ambition for Wacky Tacky?

Basically, our sole motivation at wacky tacky is fun!  Everyday life can be so dreary, mundane, and downright depressing that we seek out every opportunity to focus on the fun that is waiting around every corner. I've never been to a single town that didn't have something quirky, amazing, or inspirational.  I've never visited a vintage/historic home and left without finding a moment of beauty or a vignette reminiscent of my dear grandparents.  I've never met a Jell-O I didn't like.   I've never left a thrift store empty-handed.  I've never met a person who wasn't, even in a small way, nostalgic for an earlier time.  wacky tacky is a way of bringing all of those things together and celebrating the mild absurdity found in our weird, wide, wonderful world.

11) How about sharing your top favorite posts with us?

Among my favorite posts (in no particular order):

Thanks for sharing your Wacky Tacky world with us Mr. Tiny. It's so creative, colorful, and inspiring! I'll always be back to read more!

*All photos and illustrations unless credited otherwise are by Mr. Tiny
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  1. Ah! I'm so thrilled to see this! I love Mr. Tiny so much. He and Mary are truly the dynamic duo. I hope that everyone will go over and visit Wacky Tacky too. It's a lot of fun!

  2. I love wacky tacky and mr tiny! Thanks for sharing this interview!

  3. I just wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for your gracious invitation to feature wacky tacky on Thrift Core! TC is an invaluable resource for living a thoughtful life. I've told you before but it bears repeating that we so appreciate you sharing your business acumen and your insight into creating a fulfilling career and life. wacky tacky thinks Thrift Core is tops! Thanks a million!!!

    1. Aw, that means a lot coming from you :D I work hard at it and love helping people. Your colorful blog inspires, continue to share peeks into your creative world.

  4. such a great interview! and Mr. Tiny, don't shorten your posts! I love blogs where the authors personality and passion shines through, and Wacky Tacky is one of my favorites!


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