Unfolding a Dream: The Toygami Story
It was all a dream, that one rainy Saturday morning. My then 4 year old daughter and I just finished our ritual of watching cartoons while eating big bowls of cereal. After all the cartoons and educational programs on PBS finished; the rain seemed to intensify. Meaning, this was going to be a day of playing inside--for the both of us. With nothing more to watch on television, my daughter suggested that we craft something today.
Before she could walk or even talk this little artist could hold a pencil, a crayon, or a pen and could draw amazingly well. I was grooming her to be artist to follow in her grandmothers (a fine artist) and my (a street artist) footsteps. Crafting was a way that her and I spent our father-daughter time together, so these types of requests always kept me on my toes as a graphic and visual artist. Today's craft project came from an old HIGHLIGHT magazine and had a die-cut paper doll for us to punch out. It took us only a few minutes to remove the paper doll and her 3 outfits from the printed page. No sooner than we had folded over all the clothing tabs and dressed the paper doll in a variety of clothing combinations, she looked up at me and said, "Dad this was boring. We should make our own paper dolls, and we should make them look like the characters in your graffiti-art books."
It was like watching an animated episode of Pinky and the Brain. I could see the bright lightbulb shining above her head. Her enthusiasm was contagious. "Well, boys don't play with dolls", I said--trying to make her think outside the box. "Boys make paper airplanes and they play with those. So, we should call them paper toys," she began suggesting "they should have paper clothes that look like real clothes and shoes you can lace and tie”.
This artistic exchange of ideas had me taking notes as if I was the student and this 4 year old little girl was my teacher. In all my years of college; I could have never come up with such an amazing concept I thought to myself. Thank goodness, a degree in visual art and graphic design gave me the proper foundation to turn her ideas into a tangible good.
This was my moment of truth.
That night while she slept I worked late into the evening designing and sketching from the laundry list of notes I had taken. Nothing was more important than showing a child that if you can imagine something and work hard at it; everything is possible. I had become consumed by the imagination of a child thus making me conjure up all my emotions I had as a young boy growing up in streets of Compton wanting to make Muppets for Jim Henson or draw cartoons for Warner Brothers. At that moment; I was living my dream. A college education had given me the proper tools to succeed, but my daughter gave me the child-like imagination to dream the impossible and make it possible.
A child's imagination is one of the most important untapped natural resources and I was lucky enough to tap into it, unearth my inner child and the inner child that lay dormit within us all. Toygami is our gift to you. Thank you for all your support in keeping our dreams alive and "May the folds be with you."
J. "Toygami" Edwards
J. "Small Fry" Pearl
2010 Best New Artist Inland Empire Weekly
2010 L.A County Fair  2nd place ribbon for paper crafts
2011 Front page of the Daily Bulletin Newspaper
2011 L.A County Fair  1st place ribbons for paper art
2012 Del Mar County Fair  2nd place
ribbon for paper crafts
2012 Cover of San Diego City Beat Magazine
2012 L.A County Fair  3rd place ribbons for paper toys