Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 3. Plastic Monsters.
Plastic Monsters are a package deal.
Alex Benson, Justin Humbert, and Scott Chaffee founded the Phoenix-based "collaborative, fluid video team." You can't have one without the others, and the trio of friends is always on the hunt for new collaborators. "Each of our projects ropes in our various other creative friends from all different fields -- design, illustration, sculpture, comedy. . ." Benson says. "So it's an ever-changing gaggle of passionate creatives making fun videos."
Plastic Monsters' main project is Peachy Keen Moon Machine -- a web series that blends the sensibilities and styles of Pee Wee's Playhouse, Tim And Eric, and The Mighty Boosh. It also happens to be the only variety show on the moon. Benson says they're working on the next episode, which "guest stars a disheartened werewolf."
The group tackles its "weird projects" during its members' free time. "Food and video games happen at some point in there, too," Benson says.
Soon, they'll bring Peachy Keen Moon Machine to the masses. A special live episode of the show is coming to The Clarendon Hotel during the fall 2014 edition of ARTELPHX on September 25, 26, and 27.
Beyond that, Benson says, "We also have music videos planned for two of our favorite local bands that we'll be making in the next month or two that we're really excited about!"
We came to Phoenix with an umbilical cord attached and gunk in our eyes. For most of us, anyway - almost the whole team was born and raised here in Phoenix. It's a weird place, which is perfect to grow up in. Then you make weird stuff.
We make art because it's fun. At this point, making things is how we hang out. We're just a big group of friends with various skill sets mushing together to make fun things. If it's not fun, it's not worth doing.
We're most productive when we're all together, which is why most of us live in the same house. We're each usually working on a different aspect of the same project at once, so we're all used to popping into each other's rooms and getting feedback on a monster costume idea, a weird edit or effect, or a goofy song for a soundtrack. It allows us to be more adventurous and divide and conquer.
We all come to the table with different inspirations. Aesthetically, we're inspired by Pee-Wee's Playhouse art direction, Wes Anderson's shot composition, kooky Japanese video games and tokusatsu shows, The Gong Show's awkward energy, and Michel Gondry's in-camera practical effect style. We also geek out about a lot of really great designers and illustrators doing bright, fun, playful work, like Kate Moross, Jon Burgerman, Oliver Hibert, Katsufumi Takihana, and loads of others.
We've learned most from doing things ourselves. We've all learned so much more from just jumping headfirst into ambitious projects than any of us ever got out of any class or schooling. A DIY budget and crew from the get-go taught us to be super resourceful about how we use our time and money. We all met by playing in bands together in the Phoenix DIY music community, so those values and perspectives are what keep us going.
Good work should always be fun for everyone involved. If we aren't having fun, we either change it drastically or scrap it. A playful perspective is super important, too. Every project should be approached with a perspective of play. It's important activate the imaginative kid-version of ourselves in each project. The moment that something is being done 'by-the-books' or 'industry-standard' is the moment the personality of the project dies. Everything can be inventive and unique in some way!
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The Phoenix creative scene could use more collaboration! It's disheartening when the pockets that pop up in arts & music communities stick to a self-serving way of working and communicating. Reach out! Get different! The designers should be hanging out with the bands, and the writers should be hanging out with the sculptors, and the painters should be hanging out with the video guys. Let's all make some really great stuff together.
See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:
100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres 22. Laura Spalding Best 21. Shawnte Orion 20. Mike Olbinski 19. Christina You-Sun Park 18. Jon Arvizu 17. Anya Melkozernova 16. J.B. Snyder 15. Damon Dering 14. Rebekah Cancino 13. Liz Warren 12. Timothy Brennan 11. Mimi Jardine 10. Rosalind Shipley 9. Nic Wiesinger 8. Kendra Sollars 7. Dan Hull 6. Elizabeth Maria Naranjo 5. Cody Nathaniel Johnson 4. Amy Radcliffe