Artist Interview with Adam (AKA Body_Hammer)

What’s better than a plain artist interview? Two neurodivergent friends doing an interview together!

This was goofy, insightful, and a whole ride of an interview. We chatted about crabs, brain worms, and more. I learned that Tpain did a cover of “Warpigs” (yes I still have it on repeat, Adam).

Overall a blast! Adam is one of the nicest folks you could ever hope to interact with.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: Where are you from and how does that affect your work?

A: I am from mid-Michigan. A city called Bay city and it’s not too far from Flint. It’s not too far from Saginaw and midland. The Tricity area where I’m from is a big influence. Two things about it impact my work.

The first thing is a big port town. Historically it’s a big port town in Michigan that has a lot of cultural significance for the lumber yards and like when Chicago was a big booming metropolis major city in the midwest before the fire. It was a big booming city in that way because of that there’s a lot of Maritime history down there. I liked to go to the maritime museums when I was younger and see the tall ships. I had this kind of love for the scale, right?

I didn’t care about boats, planes, cars, or anything specific but being able to see weathering was relevant. It was an aesthetic I clung to.

Another relevant thing is that it’s a huge automotive area. The automotive industry came and left. It left a huge amount of misfortune. My home town is not doing too well. It’s not the best place to be right now. There’s a lot of progress which is cool. People are investing. There are a lot of automotive scars there. Huge highway systems or urban areas. The gunk and grime of being in Detroit. The effect of the automotive industry is based out of that area. It’s very visible because of that I think I always gravitate to a real setting. It doesn’t have to be grungy. It doesn’t have to be post-apocalyptic. It has to look lived in because of that, I am fanatical about making sure I get my reference.

I did my cerulean project this year. I did a diner diorama in Chicago like a hot dog restaurant. It’s a real place. I tagged them and they were like “what?”.

Shout out to Gene and Jude’s. Double dog, pickles, peppers, and fries. That’s my order.

I went out there and shot photos of the air conditioner so it looked real when I built it. It didn’t matter to anyone but me because I didn’t even take photos of that. It was relevant to me

I would say being from that area affects my work. Whether it’s tonally or geographically. A diorama I did for pride a couple of months ago. It’s a pickup truck with two guys in a garage with a dog. It’s called “It’s not much but it’s ours”. It’s a couple. There’s a Detroit tiger poster, like the stadium blueprints. What do the homes look like in that area and the suburbs? I care about that stuff.

I want to make sure I don’t leave that out of my work ever. Even if it’s mecha stuff. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: Tell me about your favorite medium. 

A: I usually wear an extra large. Bro, I would look like a sausage casing if I had on a medium right now.

My favorite medium right now is probably miniatures. I enjoy painting miniatures right now. The scale challenge has been really fun. My buddy, Corey, refers to it as a pain scale. D&d and Warhammer as a pain scale. I agreed with that for a very long time because I came into the hobby through 1/144 kits so I was kind of used to that. I came into airbrushing early. I didn’t spend a lot of time rattle canning stuff because I didn’t like the finish. Because of that, I spent a lot of time doing model kits. I was intimidated by brush painting. I had no fine arts background. 

I went to an art college but it was a for-profit loan farm. I don’t have any fine arts background so learning how to paint things by hand was challenging for me. It was intimidating to share work in progress and that’s why I got so active in the cutting mat podcast discord. It helped me to up my miniature painting game. Logan was super instrumental in my getting into miniatures because he is so fearless. He just sent me shoe boxes of failed prints just for me to practice painting on.

I like that medium right now. I like the detail that you can pack into it. I’m really into the GW look right now. The general Age of Sigmar looks badass. I enjoy consuming a lot of that content. 

I’ve been painting, more than anything, Sofubi is my favorite medium. I’m surrounded by Sofubi. I love the medium because it’s very expressive and free. Joel helped me understand that the medium of Sofubi doesn’t play by the rules of other mediums. That’s when I kind of realized it’s not different from painting kid robots or blank art toys. 

Sofubi is a lot of fun and it’s my favorite but lately, I prefer to do hand-painted stuff.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: What tools are crucial to you?

A:  (See the video at 30:00 for Adam showing the tools. It’s a better experience to view the tools than me describing them here)

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: Usually in the piece. I was just talking to someone about the fact that I’m not a big anime dude. I’m not familiar with the subject matter. I’m not a fanatic. When I go to the store to find a kit or to find Sofubi I generally have a pretty strong idea of what I’m going to do with it before I leave or even make it to the counter. I don’t know if that’s how it is for a lot of people but if I look at a piece I can see what colors I want to paint it. I can imagine it in the context of a story. I make a narrative for it because, for a long time, I had a policy that I only did narrative pieces. I only did things that had stories attached to them. I think that might still be true until the Yenshin toy stuff.

Sofub is a lot harder to give personality to. Some of these characters don’t have a background. It’s hard for me to give sofubi a narrative. That’s why I did the hot dog diorama for the cerulean project, where the monsters were fighting in a parking lot.

I like looking at the form and saying “Yeah, I can do something with that”. I almost never do straight repaint work. I seldom just paint something. 

Q: When is your favorite time of day to create?

A: I like working in the morning and early in the afternoon which is a little tricky with work and stuff like that. I’m not the kind of dude to fuck around at work but I do need my Pomodoro break. It’s like you work for a specific amount of time and then take a specific amount of time break.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: How do you think art is important to society?

A: Because art always reflects what’s happening at any point in civilization. It will always tell the story of society at a current point. Whether it’s a renaissance, modern art, or graffiti art during certain eras, whether it’s apartheid South African graffiti. It’s always going to tell the story of where it’s taking place and the people witnessing whatever. It’s why it’s important to society. You have to give people a voice. It’s people’s only way to express how they think and feel. We know how dangerous it is when people think or feel but can’t express it. The importance is pretty straightforward.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: What motivates you to create? What burns you out?

A: Having recently gotten remotivated and feeling more myself again, I feel that I’m burned out when there’s no counterpoint to me being creative. Being unemployed it was a really hard time for me to be creative. I didn’t want to let myself be recreational like that. I almost used it as an excuse not to do it.

I was pretty depressed for a while there and I took it very hard. When I got laid off I was really hard on myself. I was very unkind to myself. I didn’t give myself the luxury of a creative space like that and ultimately I think that’s because I’m motivated by things in my life being where they need to be. Being in place. I don’t mean gainfully employed because there are people who are where they need to be and aren’t gainfully employed. I need my surroundings to be regular and comfortable for me. For there not to be a lot of change happening. 

That’s usually when I feel motivated to create I guess. I think what burns me out from being creative also is as soon as there’s any kind of hustle attached to it. It ruins it immediately for me. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

It was hard for me to agree to do Yenshin toys with Joel because monitoring this hobby and doing commissions was always something I said I was never going to do. I think it’s a little different because it’s a hobby to start this business with Joel. It’s a hobby to be on the frontier of something cool and interesting with a friend. So I’m allowing myself that. It lets me see it a little differently. It lets me feel a little more confident about the stuff I made. 

I remember when I was building a gunpla and turning out a bunch of pieces. I would say that the quality of my work was improving because I was surrounded by really good peers and folks who wanted to teach me a lot. I was open to feedback because when I’m motivated is when everything in my life is where it’s supposed to be and a routine is in place. I don’t like a lot of changes in my personal life and when I have a lot of regularity I have opportunities to do some partnerships. People wanted to talk to me and do shop builds. I withdrew from that. 

This has been such a refuge from my day-to-day life that I didn’t want that. It’s a way to be creative and completely unhinged.  No railings. No wall. Do whatever I want to do with it. Take it where I want it to go. I always want to do something outside of the box and do something different. I am less motivated to be creative when it’s not for the right reasons. When it’s not just being creative for the sake of being creative. When it’s not a critical thinking exercise of “what can I do”. 

That’s why I don’t like a straight build. There’s no challenge in that for me. It’s legos. 

Q: How do you define success as an artist?

A: If you’re having fun then it’s a success. If you’re having fun and it’s completed work then it’s a success.

As an artist, not as a piece, I would say if you’re having fun with what you’re doing then it’s a success because you can’t measure it any other way.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: Does art help you in other areas of your life?

A: It’s massive for my mental health for sure. I knew when I started this new job that I had also started to establish a hobby streak. Do you know how sometimes with ADHD we do task stacking?

(Yes, yes I do!)

I’m gonna do this, this, and this. All these related things, knock all these dominos down at once, and get those major dopamine releases. It kind of feels like that. I think that establishing a routine is hard for me. It’s challenging, it takes me a full month. I’m very routine-oriented. I’m very depressed when I don’t have routines in my life. Up until recently, the only routine I had in my life was going to the gym every morning. It was incredibly important that I maintain that.

Starting my new job I wanted to keep my gym routine because that would be something to anchor in. So I have to get up pretty early to do that and that’s okay. To me, I’m doing myself a favor by having one established routine in place while trying to build more. That gives me confidence. I can do this. So I’m trying to build a routine of getting good with this job, being timely, clocking in clock out because it’s hourly. It’s something different for me. I have to make sure I stay on top of that stuff. As someone with ADHD, it can be hard for me to be timely. 

As a result of that, I knew that if I built the hobby streak it would be easier to do both of those things at once. I feel more motivated to do brainy stuff if I had time to do art stuff. Also, I feel more creative if I can step away from a nice rigorous routine and enjoy a little bit of hobby time to do some mental floss. It helps with that. It helps with mental health for sure.

When I was depressed I didn’t want to let myself be creative or have fun. I was avoidant of it. Ultimately I’d look at a toy and go “I’m not going to prime this”. I’d start something and then abandon it. I abandoned more projects in that period than I know what to do with. 

It impacts my ability to be a functioning human in more ways than I realized. I didn’t have a creative outlet for a very long time.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: How do you develop your art skills?

A: Practice. That just paying attention to what folks are doing, asking questions, and being curious. 

If I want to work on a new tool, technique, or style then I do my homework. I mentioned that Joel said sofubi is free. Sofubi is freedom with an airbrush. When I asked Joel about who knows a thing or two about a thing or two he gave me the same answer as other people did. There’s no specific way to approach that hobby. If you’re trying to wonder how to go about this aesthetic, what’s the nature or style of this medium, you’re coming at it from the wrong angle. Your pants are too tight. 

The idea is that this is outsider stuff, have fun with it in the first place. This is where the goofy kids hang out. Learning how to be free with it and watching people be free with it is how I developed my art skills. 

Q: How has your style changed over time?

A: I was heavy-handed early on. I think I learned finesse from dudes like Salty Robot. I learned how to have restraint and how to show a little grace. I was a very disrespectful weatherer early on in my painting career. 

The first thing I will do is divert the scale I am working on. I like to do mixed scales. I see it as another toy to play with and it’s one of my favorite things. The way that my style has changed the most is the restraint I have with my weathering and the zaniness that I try to add to it because I went from “what can I do with this” to “what have I never seen people in the hobby do with this?”. That’s what I tell people to do all the time.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: Is there a specific environment or material that’s crucial to your work?

A: I like this one. I think that yes, there is an environment to my work. I like everything I do to be lived in, even with kaiju. This isn’t just a painted toy from a thing, there’s context. There’s worldbuilding you know.  I think that’s the environmental tone that always exists in my work. I want to make it look like there’s a context for the thing.

In terms of material that’s consistent in my work and crucial, I don’t think I’ve ever made anything that wasn’t some kind of plastic. I’ve done crafty stuff. I think plastic is very important to my work. I’m not comfortable with paper and pencil. I’m not comfortable with paint and watercolor pas. I’m not comfortable with an easel. I do think that this is the material I’m comfortable with, whether it’s soft vinyl or sofubi. 

Q: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

A: See 1:31:30 because Adam talks about this in a way that written words cannot express. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: How did you get into Sofubi? What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about it?

A: I got into it because I’m kind of just a Godzilla fanatic so it was only natural. I had a bunch of sofubi toys without realizing that there was a world where people customized them. Ultimately what had happened was that I’d look on Instagram for those characters and see their customs of them. There’s not a ton of visibility to sofubi customs right now. It’s not a huge medium. There’s not a ton to it. I learned about it from the Sofubi show. There’s a youtube channel that’s very elementary named. Very early on I’d watch it and there are two-hour-long conversations just like this with people in the community. They would talk to people who paint things. 

Joel was into sofubi. It was an easy Instagram follow that fed it to me in my feed. I’d see people like him show up in my feed. What kicked it off and started putting artists in front of me was when I started following dudes like Ragnarsquad, who is a toy maker and painter.  They make the Ragnar toys. Meeting Chris from Beyond Effects one year at Magfest one year. He’s like an independent toy designer who’s new and fresh to the industry. Following people like Candie Bolton was my entry into people customizing toys in a real way. Kaiju Sommelier was the one I gravitated to the most and who I learned the most through just by looking at his content online. 

My favorite thing about sofubi is that it’s wild. It feels like if you don’t like it then it’s so lame to you. There’s no in-between. 

My least favorite thing about it is how inherently expensive of a hobby it is. Soft vinyl toys are hard to produce in the US because they’re very toxic. I don’t like how expensive it is and how hard it is to get the stuff. It’s also very snobby due to how expensive it is. Also, the material is expensive which means commissions are really expensive. Some of the production runs are so limited. You end up entering a lottery for a chance to buy something for 250 bucks that you have to paint after spending 250 bucks. That’s one thing that’s very prohibited about sofubi if you’re not selling customs or commissions regularly. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: Any tips for people who want to get into Sofubi?

A: Start with what’s available to you. Every Target in America sells playmates Godzilla figures. Sofubi just means soft vinyl toys so the way that I see any soft vinyl toy, monster-related stuff, I still consider it sofubi. 

What I mean when I say work with what’s available to you is that it’s very easy to look for a Godzilla toy and just prime it before you paint it. Just paint it and have fun with it.

The next tip is because you don’t sand sofubi, you wash it and prime it. I like to use nature references to get a good idea of how to work with scale for it. (He holds a sofubi toy 1:52:36). Use a lot of heavy contrast colors with these sorts of things because when you’re working with a lot of smooth edges. Be fearless. No sacred cows. If you bought it to paint it, fuck it up. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: What do you do outside of your hobby?

A: I hang out with my dog, my wife, and my brother-in-law. I like to play music. I like to read books. I like to carry heavy things at the gym, not to be confused with lifting heavy things. I don’t know. A lot of people think I’m a big gamer. I’m gamer-adjacent. I spend a lot of time playing guitars. 

Q: So you play in the band Knight of the Round, do you feel like that impacts other art that you make?

A: You know, I do, but indirectly. Knight of the Round is my primary band. It’s my friends out here and we play songs from Final Fantasy games but metal versions. I play in a couple of different bands that do video game music now. It makes for a ton of opportunities to spend time with my buddies.

Most of the events that I perform at are not rock clubs or metal concerts. It’s like anime cons or gaming conventions. The reason that it impacts my work a lot is that obviously if you’re at a gaming convention you’re surrounded by that kind of aesthetic like the music, the visuals, the marketing materials, or whatever. At the anime conventions, you get to see the old Macross stuff on the floor they’re selling. You get to see the artist’s alley. You get to see the most amazing fan art. You’re just constantly immersed in this anime art world or gaming art world. 

Even though I’m not someone who plays a lot of games anymore. I love consuming the culture around it because it’s kind of where I came from. I struggle to focus on playing long-form video games now. I wish I had a better excuse like I don’t have the time for it. That’s not true. It’s hard for me to enjoy something deeper than Hades right now. I don’t know if I have the attention span for Final Fantasy Sixteen. 

It’s cool to spend these times in these environments. Seeing all these vintage toys. It’s a treasure trove, not just for collectors, but also for eye collection. So if I’m just walking around trying to get inspiration. I might find a manga I’ve never seen before. It’s awesome because I would say we play at least quarterly. Four times a year I get MARINATED in anime and video game culture. It provides a ton of new color combinations I’ve never thought of. 

It’s really easy to get inspiration from those events. It’s really fun.

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: How can we motivate more neurodivergent creators to share their art?

A: I think that just being open with who we are. Everything exists on a spectrum whether it be people’s social skills or people’s level of comfort being in public. I wasn’t comfortable telling people I was neurodivergent until people I respected were out there doing it. Part of that is I wanted to make sure I wasnco-optinging that for them. I didn’t want to live vicariously through someone else or second-guess my neurodivergence. 

The community you need to have to comfortably share your work exists. They exist for people like you and people like me. I think there are a lot of communities out there where people want to see what you’re working on. It would motivate a lot of creators to share their work if they understood that there’s no bar. I would remind people who are like me, for instance, my biggest thing is that I trust people’s opinions more than my own. That’s the biggest effect of my neurodivergence. My reality is sometimes not clear and I don’t necessarily disrealize that. It can be hard for me to know if this is how it is for you. Am I the only person in the world who feels like this?

(Source: Body_Hammer)

I trust others’ opinions more than my own, especially about myself. For that reason, it is good to show people the work that you do because then you can contextualize the work that you work on and get better at. If the reason you’re not sharing your work is that you think it’s of a different caliber. You don’t know if people are going to be nice to you or if people are going to care about what you made. I’d remind you that people care about Kanye West. Why wouldn’t people care about your work?

I care. I want to see it. It’s one of those things. How unkind can we be to ourselves in a way that we don’t treat others?  I’d like to remind them that there are more of us than there are of them.

Just because we are tired of the systems that are created and optimized for them doesn’t mean there aren’t people like you who care about what you do. It also doesn’t mean people who aren’t like you won’t care about what you’re doing.

(This proceeds into a full conversation about content creation for neurodivergent and neurotypical folks that continues at 2:8:33)  

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Q: What’s it like being in a band and performing in front of an audience? What advice can you give young musicians and performing artists?

A: It’s cool! That was my favorite band before I joined it. A lot of people don’t know that I’m not an original member of the band. I went to see them one night when they were at a gig and their basset wasn’t that night. I was like “hey, I noticed there was a vacancy here”. Turns out the basset was leaving the band and they were anxious about it. After the show we exchanged numbers and that’s how I joined the band.

That’s all it took. I was there and there was an opportunity. I was brave enough to introduce myself to people who became my best friends. People who I stood at their weddings. People who I love. They were my favorite band but they were regional. It feels cool to be up there playing these songs, especially with the Final Fantasy stuff. These songs are so culturally relevant.  You are playing someone’s absolute favorite song. 

That feels cool. I’m up on stage performing people’s favorite songs. Doing things people have never thought about doing before. There are people blown away by the concept of it. 

At the same time, it’s a lot of pressure to be in your favorite band. Even if it’s not a big deal to anyone else it’s a big deal to me. I’m trying to execute. I want to make sure if I’m up there there’s a reason for it.

I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d give young musicians the advice not to do that because no one’s going to do that to you. You do that to yourself.

There’d be moments when I’d get so anxious on stage that my forearm muscles would tense up and I’d drop my pick. I’d not be able to play. Almost like a lockjaw because I’m so tense. That’s embarrassing, right? That silence. You’re in a live concert. It’s loud. The bass guitar goes out and you can tell. That’s all self-imposed. 

My advice is if you’re a young musician and you want to play live, do it. If you want to play, talk to your local bands. Don’t be sleazy about it. Don’t assume people don’t want you there but don’t assume you deserve to be there either. Be humble. Believe in yourself. 

As long as you did the job you’re a successful musician. 

(Source: Body_Hammer)

Find Adam at:


Yenshin Toys

What do you think? Drop a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear it.

Have a happy spring Monday, everyone!

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