You might not know him by name, but we’re sure you’ve seen his tokidoki creations around. We spoke to Simone Legno about his works, his fave Singaporean food and the inspiration behind the STGCC x tokidoki Unicorno.
#1 Tokidoki seems heavily influenced by the Japanese culture. What’s the reason behind it?
I think it is hard to explain my love for this wonderful country and it is something called “Japanisme” (a term coined to describe the craze for things Japanese). It’s something I feel on the inside and I am totally astonished for everything that comes from Japan; from the beauty of their tradition to the super pop flashy aspects of the modern cities. I love the kindness, politeness, seriousness of the Japanese people. Even so, they can be quite funny, playful and extremely creative.
I think what awoke this feeling in me was probably due to the invasion of Japanese animation and shows into the Italian TV during the ’80s. As a little boy, I was amazed with the characters and stories of the animation. Through this, I could experience the normal lifestyle of the Japanese people – what they ate, their houses, the neighbourhoods, trains, cherry blossoms, student uniforms, rice balls, the beautiful writings, etc. As a little kid, I was hooked and developed a huge curiosity, genuine love and admiration for this amazingly different world.
Tokidoki is the diary of my life, an artistic style that has been influenced by all of my trips and experiences I’ve had during my life. The influence came from the street art of Los Angeles where I’ve lived for about 12 years. In addition, the strong punk rock iconography that came a decade ago when I was in a punk rock band as a teenager is also noticeable in my art.
#2 What can we expect from tokidoki in the new future?
There are many things in my industry that I cannot announce before we have an official marketing strategy. However, there are a few things I can share and they are the releases of new sneakers with Onitsuka Tiger, more Art toys with Karl Lagerfeld, caps with New Era, Snoopy and the Peanuts and cool projects like slot machines that will be in the best casinos in the world, including Marina Bay Sands. Other than collaborations, we are also focusing on a new set of characters for the tokidoki brand and looking to expand the brand internationally, mainly in Asia. We’re planning to start opening our first Asian flagship stores in China and Korea in 2016.
#3 What would be a dream project for you to work on?
I would love to work with an airline and decorate an airplane. [Editor: Hey Singapore Airlines, are you reading this?]
#4 Which tokidoki character is your favorite to design and why?
Out of the hundreds that I’ve designed, it is very hard to choose because many of them are really special and unique for what they represent. If I must choose, I would say SANDy the Cactus Girl. The world can be cold and scary and so she zips herself in a cactus suit to protect herself from the scary things of this world. I love her because she has become iconic and she reminds me my little daughter.
#5 You have been a supporter of the Singapore Toys Games and Comics Convention (STGCC) since it started. What keeps you coming back?
I think it is the warm welcome of the fans that have been growing every year and I can’t disappoint them after so many years! From a business view-point, I definitively think that Singapore is a “must go” city in the world.
#6 What have you observed about the crowd, exhibitors and artists at STGCC over the years?
I feel that the crowd is very enthusiastic and they receive people from abroad like stars. With regard to the artists, you can see an Asian influence with a lot more of cute/kawaii kind of artwork, as compared to the western shows I do (San Diego, New York). In the USA, it is more entertainment and super hero driven.
#7 What do you love most about Singapore?
It has to definitely be the globalisation and coexistence of so many different cultures in just one city, along with her modernity, functionality and safety.
#8 Tell us a little bit more about the STGCC x tokidoki Unicorno and what’s your inspiration behind it?
I wanted to create the SG50 colorful Unicorno to complement the beautiful creative mix of diverse cultures I’ve experienced in Singapore. I incorporated the Merlion and the National Flag so it could be unmistakably recognized as a Singaporean tokidoki.
#9 We heard that the STGCC x tokidoki Unicorno packaging features Unicorno slurping some wanton mee. Is that your fave local dish? (If not, what is your favourite local dish?).
In so many years, thanks to my close local friends, I’ve tried a lot of recipes including crocodile and turtle soups. I think I love the classic chicken rice!
Catch Simone Legno and purchase the limited edition STGCC x tokidoki Unicorno at STGCC next weekend (12 to 13 Sep)! We’re giving away free passes to STGCC so click here to find out how you can win them.