Artist Distortedd Shakes Up the Magic 8 Ball for Mattel’s 75th Anniversary

Barry Samaha
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel
Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel

From Harper's BAZAAR

For Mattel, producing toys is not child’s play. The multinational manufacturer of Barbie, Fisher-Price, and more understands that it takes a great deal of thought, collaboration, and trial and error to design a product that will appeal for generations. In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the company is launching Mattel Creations, a platform that gives a behind-the-scenes look at its most iconic offerings, and also enlists emerging artists to add their own spins.

This week, Mattel revealed its inaugural round of talents: Cristina Martinez for Barbie, Travis Ragsdale for Hot Wheels, Gianni Lee for Masters of the Universe, and Distortedd for the Magic 8 Ball. The latter artist—née Anhia Santana—is no stranger to reimagining classic products: She partnered with Reebok to cover an InstaPump Fury sneaker in her signature tentacles, eyeballs, and pastel colors earlier this year. Many of these tropes are also present in her Magic 8 Ball poster.

Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel
Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel

Born in Philadelphia to Dominican parents, Distortedd grew up immersed in anime, graffiti art, Missy Elliott, and ’90s Saturday-morning cartoons. She took all these influences and put them on canvases, creating pieces that are whimsical and vibrant, but also imbued with a tough, take-no-prisoners attitude. Think qualities present in works by Takashi Murakami, James Jean, Kenny Scharf, and CES. The overall mind-trip vibe, however, is completely Distortedd’s own.

Ahead, Distortedd chats with BAZAAR.com about her creative process.

How would you describe your work?

My aesthetic is pretty much free-spirited. Distortedd is basically a representation of how I view the world. My personality is displayed a lot in my art. Naturally, I’m kind of all over the place; trippy, but it has some sense of order to it. It’s kind of like a beautifully twisted disorder.

You’ve designed for fashion labels in the past. How did you approach these collabs design-wise?

My approach depends on the canvas. For example, when I designed my first sneaker, I worked with the different layers and parts of a sneaker. I wanted the sneaker to look like it was alive and the sneaker was throwing up. That sounds trippy when I sit and think about it.

Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel
Photo credit: Distortedd/Mattel

Of all the Mattel products, why did the 8 Ball pique your interest? Do you have a history with the product?

Growing up, I definitely owned a Magic 8 Ball. I believe it’s, like, a childhood staple for many of us. The Magic 8 Ball gave me creative freedom. The history and the basis of the toy is playful—and I felt that I could dive deeper into that from a Distortedd perspective.

How did you go about redesigning the Magic 8 Ball?

The regular model of a Magic 8 Ball is usually black, and you can’t really see what’s going on in there unless you shake it and look into the window. I wanted to explore deeper into that idea. In my mind, I thought, What if the 8 Ball was always transparent, what would it look like? I want the viewer to see what it would be like inside, being that the toy model is already magical and mysterious. So I stuffed it with random things that are in my mind. I used a lot of characters and objects shown in most of my artworks to create the Distortedd 8 Ball.

What were you trying to convey with the end result?

I was attempting to convey another view of the Magic 8 Ball, through the eyes and mind of someone else. I wanted it to be fun, colorful, and creative. I feel as though art should always be innovative and, most importantly, inspirational.

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