Local Artists Are Taking Their Game To The Next Level.

Last fall's first custom vinyl toy exhibition by Vinyl Thoughts took just about everyone by surprise. Soon after doors opened at The Quixotic World last September, the art show was at capacity — and not just by a little bit either. Lines of eager art fans stood in line as many as three hours to get inside the event space. Nobody, perhaps, was more stunned than Vinyl Thoughts curator Shelby Miller, who feels like he and his partner Cody Philips will be much more prepared to handle the crowds this Thursday when Vinyl Thoughts returns with its Next Level exhibition.

“The first show went really well, but we were unprepared for how crazy crowded it was, how busy it was, because we had no idea that there was a market for this kind of thing in Dallas,” Miller says. “We were completely overwhelmed with how much art we actually sold. We started selling from the moment people walked in the door. What we've got in place as far as people who are actually working the show is definitely improved. We have more bartenders this time around, which is an important thing too. Overall, we're better prepared for the crowd that we're expecting.”

The Next Level theme, Miller says, applies not just to the videogame-themed pieces that will be on display during Vinyl Thoughts' second ever art show, but also how the event's organizers and participating artists have upped their proverbial games as well.

“Taking it to the next level means us being better prepared for what happened last time and smoothing out some of the wrinkles,” Miller says. “Beyond that, it also holds true for the artwork. This time around, everybody has just upped their game tremendously. The art that everybody is going to see is just crazy better than it was the last time.”

Even though things should run a lot more smoothly for this second go-round, it still might behoove vinyl art toy enthusiasts to show up to the exhibition early.

“It's officially a cash-and-carry event,” Miller says. “You can come in when the doors open, and if you find a piece of art that you like you can actually buy it and walk out the door with it right then if you want to. You can decide to leave it so that other people can see it, but the idea is you need to get there early to see everything.”

Thanks to companies like Kidrobot, who manufacture “blanks” (blank vinyl toys that artists can customize with paints and polymer clay) like their popular Munny and Dunny lines, vinyl art toy culture as a whole has really been catching on the last few years. As more artists are becoming familiar with the medium, works are becoming more and more remarkable. And shows like the ones Vinyl Thoughts have been putting on are growing more common.

The reason for the trend, says Miller, all comes down to relatability.

“I think it's one of those things that's not stuffy,” Miller says. “If you go to a gallery and you see these huge paintings that don't necessarily look like anything and they cost $12,000, some people have a hard time really connecting with that. If you've got a quirky piece of art that nobody else in the world has, but it means something to you — because it's in an interesting shape or it's an interesting character or a creature that you grew up with — you connect with it on a personal level. I also love the fact that this isn't an incredibly well-known art form. It helps people connect with it as well because it is something very personal to them that they've kind of discovered. It's not something that's mass-marketed and mass-produced and that everybody in the world knows exactly what it is.”

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