Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm Shining!

A great article came out today in our local paper, The Lakewood Observer today about - what else? Monster By Mail. It was written by a young woman named Arlie Dorsch and I feel it's the best article written about MBM so far. Anyway, you can download the PDF version here or just read the article below:

Lakewood Artist, Len Peralta, Shines

Every young artist shares a common dream: to make their living doing what they do best. But that dream can be elusive, even for the supremely talented. Many artists give up in frustration, before they ever see a financial reward for their work.Others, like local artist, Len Peralta, are proof that hard work and perseverance often pay off when you least expect it.

If you’re a Lakewoodite, chances are you’ve seen Peralta’s drawings without realizing it. He’s a former employee of Marc’s, where he helped create their signature artwork and signage. He’s also the artist who brings us the “Deweys,” the cartoon family of the Lakewood Public Library (look for them on the cover of the fall library mailer). His most recent project, Monster by Mail, has launched him well beyond the borders of our city, however.

“I feel lucky,” Peralta says. “I’ve stumbled onto something that’s turned out to be really popular.”

Monster by Mail had its first stirrings in early spring when his wife found out she was pregnant. “This will be our sixth child,” Peralta says. “I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to pay for the baby’s health insurance.”

All that thinking led to the idea of a fundraiser, and Monster by Mail was born. Peralta set up a website explaining the concept: send $20.00 and a good monster name, and he’d send you an original four by six piece of art and a video of your monster’s creation.

Peralta sold 150 monsters the first week, and put a “sold out” sign on the site so he couldn’t sell more than he could create. When the site was back up, he changed the theme to fictional monster movie names. He sold out again. Next came cryptozoology (Bigfoot, Cyclops, etc.) followed by Summer of the Undead. Each time Peralta sold out, he came back with a new variation on the theme.

“At first I felt like the site was controlling me,” he says. “I was working from 8 am to 2 am everyday. Now I’ve gained some control, and I’m proud of what I’m doing.”

Peralta has a lot to be proud of. There’s the work itself, of course (one of his favorites is “Vincent Van Zombie,” which he liked so well he almost offered to buy it back from the customer). There are the special orders that keep coming in from all over the world—Japan, Canada, the UK. One of his monsters ended up in the collection of a Pixar artist; another is going to the Museum of Modern Art. Peralta is creating original art that’s affordable, and forging alliances with other young artists along the way. For example, he actively seeks unsigned musicians for the videos that accompany each of his monsters. But perhaps he is proudest of the positive impact his art is having on his family. “My drawing table is in the main family room,” he says. “My kids come by and watch over my shoulder. I love that. My dad was a doctor, and I never got to see what he did.”

When asked about his plans for the future—more kids? More monsters? Peralta just laughs and says, “We’ll see what happens.” If his recent success is any indication, a growing number of fans will be watching to see what happens too.