Frank Kozik’s obsession with Hello Kitty products led the artist and designer to create his own “kitty” that departed far from the toddlerish, girlie feline of Hello—a gruff-looking, cigarette-smoking rabbit with razor stubble, a “K” on his forehead and a seemingly indifferent persona, completely charming in its own way.
When a misprint on an early batch of his rabbits turned Smorkin’ Rabbit into Smorkin’ Labbit, Kozik, who was working for Japanese toy companies, found it too good to be true, and the phenomenon was born.
Labbits landed in the Kidrobot line, becoming a signature product of varying types: metallic, pastel, patterned, blood-dripping, winged, mustached, graffiti-tagged and ball-and-chained, among them. In an homage to Kozik, the Puma Urban Art Festival in Argentina recently featured a giant inflatable Smorkin’ Labbit.
You might have seen Kozik last weekend had you been at Cosmopolitan, where he took up residence in P3 Studio, transforming a black, shiny Labbit stool into a well-worn, welded-metal-looking Labbit stool with a faux rusted veneer and rivets.
The San Francisco artist was the first of several Kidrobot artists doing weekend residencies at the studio through August. This weekend features Jesse Hernandez.
Accompanying their residency is, of course, retail: A Kidrobot store in the studio sells toys, apparel and gear, some of which can be signed by the onsite artists. It’s a nice gig. Just ask Kozik: “This is f*cking awesome. I get paid a bunch of money and get a suite at a new casino.”