Seth Relentless is an American artist and the man behind the ‘Relentless Assault’ brand. Which he uses to release his many varied creations. Such as designer toys, apparel, zines, and stickers.
With all of Seth’s art and design being influenced by his love for punk rock, DIY culture, skateboarding, pop culture and the joyous time he had growing up in the 1980s.
With Seth elaborating:
“Being a kid at the beginning of the 80’s really put me in a position to be exposed to the best of everything.
From toys and comics to video games and music I took advantage of all of it. I had He-Man, Star Wars, Transformers, TMNT. I remember getting a Nintendo for Christmas and that was life changing…
I watched MTV, HBO and Nickelodeon. I can still remember seeing the Beastie Boys “Fight for Your Right to Party” video for the first time.
We had cartoons in the morning and after school, and Saturday morning cartoons.
It was a great time to be a young kid.“
When it comes to art Seth thanks both his mother and his anxiety for pushing his creative drive from a young age,
“My mother was a big influence on me and always supported my art.
I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting or making something.
I do it because I love it and I get very anxious if I sit idle for too long. When I am not working on art I am thinking about working on art.“
With Seth consistently releasing some of the best toys and apparel in the game right now, we decided to ask him some questions about toys, art, his hillbilly life, and a whole lot more!
Read it all in the interview below:
Name + D.O.B?
May 3, 1979.
City, State and Country you currently call home?
I’m currently in Stamford, Connecticut, USA but I am moving back to Austin, Texas USA.
City, State and Country you’re from?
Mountain View Arkansas, USA (yes i’m a hillbilly).
Please describe some memories from key stages of your life: concerts, art, toys, romance, hunting, school, politics, crime, religion… ANYTHING really!
* Age 5 – beginnings:
I was born in a very small town in The Ozarks.
The only chain stores we had were a Pizza Hut and a Walmart. But at that time Walmart was all you needed. And being a kid at the beginning of the 80’s really put me in a position to be exposed to the best of everything. From toys and comics to video games and music I took advantage of all of it.
I had He-Man, Star Wars, Transformers, TMNT. I remember getting a Nintendo for Christmas and that was life changing.
When I was 7, we moved to Memphis and that was the first time we had cable TV. I was hooked. I watched MTV, HBO and Nickelodeon. I can still remember seeing the Beastie Boys “Fight for Your Right to Party” video for the first time. We had cartoons in the morning and after school, and Saturday morning cartoons.
It was a great time to be a young kid.
* Age 10 – continuations:
My mom and dad were really into music. I grew up listening to rock influenced from my mom and old blues from my dad.
I was around 10 years old that I got my first guitar. I was super into Heavy Metal and Arena Rock like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Guns & Roses. Then I heard Nirvana. That changed everything.
I can remember being in the car with my dad and sister on the way to the mall and Smells like Teen Spirit came on the radio. I never heard anything like it.
When I was 13, I moved to Missouri. In Junior High I started getting into Gangsta rap like NWA, Geto Boys, Snoop Dog and Cypress Hill. I never left rock n’ roll behind but it was cool to expand my influences.
I have an older sister who let me hang out with her, so I always had older friends with cars that would take me to parties and concerts. My First concert was Pink Floyd when I was 14. My first punk concert was The Offspring with The Vandals and the Lunachicks which at the time I didn’t really realize it was a “punk” show. I just thought it was cool fast alternative music. That was the early nineties and The Punk Rock revival was just starting.
* Age 15 – getting serious:
When I was 16, I moved to Salem, Oregon where fate dropped me into a group of friends that would be a huge influence on me and my entire life. I met my friend Jere in guitar class and he introduced me to new punk bands like NOFX, Propagandi, Operation Ivy and Pennywise.
We went to punk shows almost every weekend. I saw a lot of really amazing bands that had a huge impact on my life.
Eventually along with friends, I started my own punk band called “Doomsday”. This was the first time I realized I didn’t need anyone else’s permission to make art. We wrote songs. We made stickers and flyers and we did it all on our own. We made stuff we liked and just put it out into the world and other people liked it too.
I attended a highschool with a good art program. I took as many art classes as I could and those were really the only classes I cared about. After highschool I took a year off and installed garage doors with my dad. It was a lot of hard work and I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life so I applied to college. I did make some money that year most of which I spent on collecting toys, records and horror movies.
At age 19, I went to college at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania for Media Arts and Animation. I spent a lot of time drawing, painting and making animation. I had some great teachers that took us on trips to NYC to museums. I made a lot of good friends that are still my friends.
College was a great time.
* Age 20 – young adult:
After college I moved to Pittsburgh and work as an illustrator for a screenprinting company. I didn’t make much money but I got to draw every day, which was fun.
I got involved in the punk scene in Pittsburgh. Rode in a vintage scooter club. I wasn’t really taking life too serious, I partied a lot but I had a ton of fun. I was still drawing and painting and working as a designer.
* Age 25 – adult mode:
Moved to Austin when I was 28 because I wanted to get away from cold weather. I worked at a few different design jobs that paid the bills, although they were not the most fulfilling. But I loved living in Austin.
I’ve lived a lot of places and it is by far the best. It is a really inspiring place. Awesome people, great food, endless potential and no winter, it really has it all.
* Age 30 – fully formed:
My early 30’s were fun but I was kind of just moving forward without a real directions. I was just letting things happen to me instead of taking control of what I wanted.
* Age 35 – meanderings:
At 37 I made a big change. I decided to get a studio and spend the majority of my time making art I wanted to make. That meant specifically toys.
So I basically went from a full time employee to part time and eventually quitting completely. I spent most of my time in my studio making work. I didn’t exactly have the end goal in mind but I just wanted to make the best work I could.
And to make as much of it as I could.
* Age 40 – middle age creeping:
Just turned 40 and I’m looking forward to the future but also living in the moment.
I’ve got an awesome girlfriend. We travel, go to concerts, and do art stuff. It’s a lot of fun.
“Hard work and no excuses will get you farther than anything else.“
Whilst we know you through your designer toy work – care to share with us the details of your other creative endeavors… if any?
I have always been into music and I played in a couple of bands but nothing to serious.
It was mainly for fun and free beer.
Art, Design, and Toy Questions
When and why did you first start making art of any type!?
I have been making art my whole life.
My mother was a big influence on me and always supported my art. I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting or making something. I do it because I love it and I get very anxious if I sit idle for too long.
When I am not working on art I am thinking about working on art.
… and any pivotal artistic moment(s) / influence(s)?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had some great teachers in my life. Both in high school and college. They were all big influences on me.
The best moment recently was definitely getting an actual studio to make art in. It’s really propelled me forward quit a bit. I think having a space just for making art is very important whether it is at home or you find a place to rent.
Please describe the process of producing your toys – from original idea, to preliminary design, sculpt, production, packaging and eventual release!?
Usually it starts with an idea. I have a huge list of ideas on my phone that I add to when I think of something new.
Some of them I make and others will never be made.
Then I start sketching old a bunch of thumbnail drawings. This really helps me work through any problems as well as plan my layout and ideas.
Next I start looking for reference and components. If it is a figure based on a person I find photo reference. I always use elements from vintage toys in my sculpts so if I don’t already own in I try and find it.
I start painting the card art and sculpting. I usually work on these two simultaniasly. I think the card art and the sculpt inform each other. After I sketch it out in pencil, I do most of my painting digitally in Procreate. For the figure sculpt, I use a combination of parts from other figures and sculpey, and epoxy sculpt.
Next I make models of the master and start pouring resin.
I design the card layout in Photoshop and start deciding on a color scheme.
Final steps are painting the figures and make the cards.
Last I put them up on my web store and market then on Instagram.
Worst aspect(s) of the designer toy hustle?
It is very hard to make a living exclusively from making toys.
Best aspect(s) of the designer toy hustle?
The community of awesome people. I love making friends and being a part of something that contributes positively to this crazy world.
Favorite other artist(s)?
Tom Sachs, Killerbootlegs, Barbarian Rage, Acquired Taste Industries, Trap Toys, Buzzard Guts, Vincent Van Gogh, Ashley Wood, Paul Insect & Bast, Chris Burden, Dan Zettwoch, Basil Gogos, Wally Wood, Jordi Bernet, Bruce Timm, Andrew MacLean, Alexis Ziritt, Chuck Jones, Mary Blair, Jon K., Frank Franzetta, Jack Kirby, Nina Palomba…
For me, this list is endless really.
Thoughts on the current state of the American designer toy scene?
I think it seems like there are a lot of people making designer toys and I’m sure there are. I also think that it is just a side effect of being involved and interested in it. Most “normal” people still don’t know it exists or don’t care, especially when it comes to the Bootleg toy scene.
I think it is still going strong. I am constantly blown away by new and amazing pieces being produced.
I think we all need to stick together and support each other. We need to buy stuff we like, go to events and promote ourselves and other artists.
Any projects you want to hype?
I am working on something for DCON. I can’t say what yet but I think it will be cool.
If people wanted to work with you or buy something – how should they get in touch?
Odds and Ends
What role did toys play in your childhood(s)?
They played a huge role. I was never into sports so I collected comics, toys, music and play video games. Toys were my childhood, which is why I have such an admiration for them to this day.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
I did my fair share of them in the past and I don’t regret it. But currently I just stick to coffee and booze.
However I think psychedelics are a good way to shed your ego and open up your perspective a little.
Please describe your latest dream in detail…
I never remember my dreams.
What do you think the American psyche / zeitgeist is today?
I think social media has played a big part in changing it. Both for the positive and negative but I am optimistic about the present and the future.
There has never been a better time to be alive.
Who was your 1st crush and why?
I’m not sure about my very first crush.
I did have a crush on Elvira (Editor: played by Cassandra Peterson) when I was a kid but not because of the horror thing it was definitely the cleavage.
Does sex change everything?
Yes, it is probably the number one reason most men do anything.
What are the top 3 items you own?
Well it is more of a group of items.
1. My father’s gun collection
2. My TMNT toys that I’ve had since I was 7
3. My Punk Rock Record collection
In a battle between your two creations Darth Danzigious Vs. Officer Large Burger – who would win in a fight and why?
The Dark Lord Darth Danzigious without a doubt.
Officer Large Burger preys on the weak and downtrodden.
Which cartoon character, would you most like to see in a tribute sex toy, and why?
How about Apache Chief from Super Friends.
He can grow to any size you need.
Of everything you have done what would you most like to be remembered for and why?
I actually think that I am just getting started and my best achievements are yet to come.
I guess if I died tomorrow, hopefully the people I love would remember me for all the good times, laughs and jokes we had.