Spanky Stokes

Posted by collect3d, November 4th, 2009

SpankyStokes img 4 Spanky Stokes

The first installment of our special feature on toy bloggers picks the brains of one of the most prolific dudes in the designer toy blogosphere. If you’ve been here before you’ll know the name, and if not, well then it’s high time you got up to speed on who John ‘Spanky’ Stokes is…

Collect3d: Please introduce your site. When did you start it, and what was your biggest challenge in the initial development? How did you overcome the challenge/s?
Spanky Stokes: My site is called and it focuses on urban vinyl and designer toys as well as art culture, graffiti, urban lifestyle and basically anything that sparks the creative genius in everyone! I started this site back in July of 2008, and it was a basic personal blog, and then over time evolved from personal posts to what it is today.

You know when you talk about challenges, I had a ton of them, blogging was something completely ‘green’ to me, and so was the whole world of designer toys, so I kinda just jumped in and started with no knowledge at all. As for the technical part of the development of my site, my knowledge of HTML is slim to none, so everything that I wanted to do I had to research and through time really fine-tune the site to work.

As it stands now it is a totally custom template that I created, and honestly don’t really know how I did it, hahaha, the Internet is a wealth of knowledge and through tutorials and talking with other blog owners I was able to create the site. There were a lot of frustrating nights staring at code and not knowing what I was doing but hard work and a lot of time really helped me overcome all of the challenges I faced.

 Spanky Stokes

Collect3d: Since starting your site, what have been the most significant changes in designer toy culture, specifically as it relates to media?
Spanky Stokes: The one thing that I have noticed is the presence of social media networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. All of these are great tools that the artists are using to help promote their own work, and in turn these networks allow me to promote my site promoting the artists work. The art world is so convoluted with so many types of art it is hard for an artist to be discovered and unless you have a PR agent, as most artists do not, you really need to push your art to the masses.

A struggle for me running the site is there is so much great content out there and I cannot keep up with all of it, that is why I ask artists to send me any and all info, any time they can, and I will post it up for them. This saves me so much time trying to dig around the Internet for all the amazing work out there, and by all means I still do this because my site is new and I don’t expect people to know about it so I try and seek out stories to post that will help new and upcoming artists get their time in the spotlight.

Collect3d: With many development opportunities available on the Internet and in other media, why have you chosen to remain a blog?
Spanky Stokes: I really have not thought about going in any other direction. A blog is a great way to express yourself and for the most part it is free, the only thing that costs is the time that you put into it, and it really does consume a lot of time. With a blog you can cover all kinds of surface area, for instance I post a lot of video reviews, and on-site video coverage, as well as audio interviews, pictorial news coverage and so many others, all that being contained in one space, hopefully easy to navigate and find all the information needed to get your daily fix. I am constantly thinking of ways to improve my site though, and I am sure things will start coming to fruition in the near future.

 Spanky Stokes

Collect3d: With so much of the same content being distributed on the Internet, how does your site separate itself from its competitors?
Spanky Stokes: It is tough to separate yourself from others, straight up! Sometimes you find yourself being very repetitive, especially in the designer toy field where there are only a handful of other sites covering this art form. What I try to do is broaden the things that I cover, like the subhead on my site says, “misc etceteras, extras or sundries,” that pretty much says it all, and allows me to cover anything, and sometimes I do. And in all honesty, it all ties back into being some form of art or another so it all meshes.

I try to give my readers what I would like to see on sites such as video interviews, video reviews, and I try to give my take on almost every post. I try to keep things on a personal level, and try to build relationships with all the artists that I post about. I don’t want my site to seem like it is run by a machine that just puts up posts and does not return emails, or that does not respond to comments left in sections on my site. I try to answer all my emails, write comments back to all that leave them, and genuinely reach out to everyone who reaches out to me.

Collect3d: To what degree do you feel your site develops, and/or, influences toy culture?
Spanky Stokes: I think since my site is still very new, I don’t have the presence that other sites have – yet! Every day I get more and more viewers, and the longer my site is up and running, the more exposure I can get that art and artists that I cover. I hope that my site helps expose this toy culture to the rest of the world for what I believe it is, art!

Collect3d: To what degree is your site a reflection of your personal interests?
Spanky Stokes: I grew up hunting, fishing, playing football, snowboarding and really never thought I would be into designer toys. I guess it is just par for the course though because I went to school and received my degree as a graphic designer and that is how my site really got started. I found myself at a design conference buying a blind-boxed Dunny, and I was hooked ever since.

It really has consumed my life though, I love meeting artists and talking with them about design, and a lot of them are graphic designers as well so it seems as though the two fields work hand-in-hand with each other. I still really enjoy hunting, fishing and doing the things I grew up with, but now I have added another hobby to my already busy life – covering news about toys.

 Spanky Stokes

Collect3d: What are the biggest challenges your site is currently dealing with?
Spanky Stokes: Growing pains, and trying to stay on top of the world of art on a daily basis! I could totally handle all the post when I first started, but as my site started to get more exposure, more people started approaching me with things to post and it really gets daunting at times. I have a lot of friends that post on my site to help with the workload now and again, but I understand that they all have lives to live, and there is no way for me to pay them for helping me, not yet at least. Hopefully I can reach out to some of them in the future and hire them to help me. I post about 99% of what you see on the site so it is a very time consuming process, and working a day job on top of running the site is tiring at times, but I love doing it, and that is what keeps me going.

Collect3d: What advice can you offer to someone interested in starting a blog for commercial interests?
Spanky Stokes: My advice to anyone that plans on starting a site is to just go ahead and do it, but know that if you are looking for exposure out there you have to put a lot of time into it, and really promote yourself. Also you need to know that exposure does not happen overnight, the best you can hope for is a gradual following that continues to grow every month your site is up.

You also need to know that your site needs to have new content on it daily so your readers have a reason to come back and visit. Most of all; have fun! If you are doing this to be rich, this might not be the thing for you, blogging is a labor of love and you should enjoy what you write about, if in the future your site starts to make money, that is just icing on the cake.

SpankyStokes img 5 Spanky Stokes


Comments (7)

  1. jimbojones says:

    Spanky is the man. As I got into designer and urban vinyl was and still is a great source of info. Was great meeting him at SDCC. The man is like the Geraldo Rivera
    of vinyl info

  2. Adam says:

    Great article. I never knew about designer toys or the culture. It’s cool to see that with passion and hard work anything can be accomplished. It’s like Malcolm Gladwell said, (paraphrasing) “effort+attitude=success”. Well done John.

  3. ephraim mallari says:

    Great article and just an all around good guy.

  4. Mycle says:

    Great interview. Glad to see someone shine the light on Spanky Stokes. Good

  5. SpankyStokes says:

    Thanks everyone, this was a really cool opportunity and super rad of COLLECT3D to do this, I feel very humbled and blessed at all of the support I get from all of you, honestly words can’t describe how grateful I am, thanks again all!

  6. err0r says:

    I like that you’re not a douche with expensive glass cases for your toys :)

  7. SpankyStokes says:

    Craigslist… the only way to go, I got the display you see for only $100… and it is hand crafted wood, it was such a steal!

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