If you enjoy bold, smooth lines with your favorite childhood cartoon characters, you’ll probably like Grafflex.
You won’t need to understand Korean to appreciate this modern artist’s toys and spray paintings.
His commercial success while remaining true to his personal genre has us impressed. We want to know more.
Let’s jump in!
The Story of Grafflex
“Annyeonghaseyo,” or hello from South Korea. We’re introducing Grafflex, a contemporary forty-year-old Korean artist. He doesn’t hide behind his tag like some artists do, but we can’t find much information about his personal life.
As an art professional, Grafflex describes himself as a graphic artist and painter whose work includes space art and art toys. He’s at ease with his concepts and is comfortable working in various fields. The different reimagined figures represent the intersection between pop culture, hip-hop, and street culture.
Grafflex has a unique way of color blocking that produces an immediate visual impact. It works with both the streetwear scene and the luxury subculture. You can find his quirky art on the streets, as well as on clothes, toys, cars, perfume bottles, and skateboards.
In areas of both art and commerce, Grafflex created Amoebahood, Dunkeys, and other characters in collaboration with brands such as Nike, Jordan, NEWERA, Converse, and Dunkin’ Donuts.
What Inspires Grafflex’s Art?
Like many artists born in the 80s, Grafflex developed a style reminiscent of images from his childhood and the mass media of the modern world. Additionally, other influences come from American and Japanese comics, games, and designs.
Grafflex finds inspiration from cartoons, hip hop, and street culture. Combining these prompts, he reinterprets and reconstructs famous images and objects.
His bold, clean lines in popular culture are familiar to the public. It transitions well to collaboration projects with high-end brands and worldwide companies.
What is the Grafflex Bearbrick?
Bearbricks are collectible toys produced by the Japanese company MediCom Toy Incorporated. The foundational collectible is an anthropomorphized bear in the company’s blocky Kubrick design. A blank figure, or canvas, so to speak, articulates at critical joints around the body.
Grafflex collaborated with MediCom to place his own style on the blank figure. A limited stock of Bearbricks displays Grafflex’s cartoon shapes on a light blue background. His most recent figure is a black Bearbrick with his take on Pac-Man, Game Over.
How Did Grafflex Collaborate with Dunkin Donuts?
Indeed he did! Grafflex joined Dunkin’ Donuts for a new kind of “DD” in Seoul, South Korea. The location started a new concept selling beer and finger foods in a trial run.
For the next “DD,” they brought Grafflex onboard to give the store a fresh, stylish interior that would appeal to beer enthusiasts. The modern franchise has recognizable, bold Grafflex colors and lines. Additionally, Grafflex produced artwork distinctive for Dunkin’ Donuts.
What Are Some of Grafflex’s Art Pieces?
Grafflex’s art spans paintings, toys, shoes, and other commercial items. His paintings feel like the foundation of all his artful inspirations.
Mizard is a hot play on the original Mickey Mouse and the 1940 Mickey as a sorcerer’s apprentice. Grafflex re-envisions wizard Mickey, throwing his arms out to cast a spell. Clean black lines surround offset eyes, a disjointed glove, and progressive shades of blue and red.
A crisp cartoon, Grafflex gives Mizard fluid, forward movement.
Grafflex recently completed A Man. With a Rubik’s cube appearance, it’s hard to believe this is spray painted on a 130cm x 130cm canvas. The geometric shapes surprisingly pop with color.
The fascination in this image comes from the disconnected parts of the man. It’s all black except for the white-gloved comic hands appearing to reach out to squares like a keyboard. The neck rises into a row of cylinders while the head is in another frame and looks in the other direction.
Grafflex describes this in part as a thick brain. We think we can see what he’s thinking with all the moving parts.
Pac-Man is a forever-loved retro arcade game that still captures online downtime for gamers around the world. Released in the 1980s, the round yellow pizza face with a slice removed roves around a maze gobbling up power pellets.
Grafflex revives Pac-Man in his own style. The animated character gets a red mouth with a smile while eating the pellets. Bold strikes dash across the background with yellow, green, and blue. The image appears charged with action.
Where Can I See Grafflex’s Art?
A number of the usual art websites have Grafflex’s paintings and toys. You’ll also find his works with his collaborators like Nike or Dunkin’ Donuts.
Grafflex is constantly on the move, holding solo and invited exhibitions worldwide. Held primarily in Asia, he also exhibits in Europe and the United States. Despite this, we didn’t find any permanent displays.
In the meantime, we’ll keep up with Grafflex through his websites. We signed up for his email and hope it isn’t written in Korean. Grafflex posts a lot on his Instagram account. While the postings are in Korean, there’s a nifty way to translate comments into English.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore more folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!
An Artist With Bold Designs
Grafflex is a savvy artist that takes what he loves to do and makes it appeal to street culture and luxury clients. We reminisce a bit with the playful characters he boldly redesigns.
We’ll hopefully make it to South Korea one day and stop in for a beer at Dunkin’ Donuts. In the meantime, we’ll follow Grafflex’s Instagram page to see what he‘s up to next.
What’s your favorite art from Grafflex? Tell us in the comments below.