The art world and the Comic-Con world collided Friday night at a party for the New York City installment of the My Little Pony Project, a traveling charity exhibition featuring My Little Pony ponies as envisioned and executed by artists. Self-proclaimed bronies wandered around the Hester at the Eventi Hotel, Harajuku models Maro and Kuma posed for pictures, and some guests got colorful extensions affixed in their hair while others sipped from champagne flutes. The 24 artists' ponies on display ranged from Jillian Kate's fur-covered, zebra-striped pony wearing platform heels covered in googly eyes to Perez Hilton's (yes, that Perez Hilton's) hot-pink pony, painted messily, splattered with glitter and decorated with rhinestones. We talked to some of the artists that attended about their concept for their ponies, their take on the brand, and how they feel about bronies.
On his pony: "It was basically inspired by things like Lost and Planet of the Apes and Prometheus. The idea I was going for was the notion of the ancient ruin. This classical pony design is left to ruin in this exotic, extraterrestrial world and it’s being discovered by these sort of spacefaring bronies. These figures are the newer ponies, and I’m sort of suggesting the idea that these modern futuristic ponies are discovering the planet of their origins and the ruins that are left of it. The piece is called 'Star Bronies.' I guess I was riffing on the brony phenomenon."
On My Little Pony: "I wasn’t particularly a fan. I recognize that it was one of the legendary '80s toy brands. They were always a little girly for me, but definitely I like pink and I like glitter. I love the concept of bronies."
On bronies: "I think it’s a little strange, but it's sort of I think a result of this post-ironic world. From what I understand—I don’t know any bronies personally—apparently they are very sold on the whole concept of friendship. It’s weird that something like that—these very simplistic, naïve notions, which are still always true about friendship and doing good things and being happy—appeal to a younger generation of people that have grown up on irony. I guess it’s cool. I’m not knocking at it. If you are going to believe in something, friendship is I guess a good thing. But I'm going to make some evil ones too."
On his pony: "In the beginning I wanted to use American wickering techniques. It actually didn’t work out because the construction was really hard to do. So it sort of transitioned and became a step by step process of using the cord as lace and cutting the leather into wings and weaving it through. It was sort of not planned out. In my line of work I do a lot of masks and do a lot of clothing, and a lot of my accessories are very bondage, S&M like. I love that aesthetic because I like how people like pain as pleasure. Physically and emotionally I think that’s something beautiful and that’s something that I love to show."
On My Little Pony: "As a child I always thought it was a very interesting cartoon. I wasn’t into it. I’m not very girly. I was more of a Lego, Hot Wheel person and I think a lot of guys were. There’s something interesting about My Little Pony and how it’s come back in this new way culturally."
On bronies: "It’s really cool that heterosexual men have found something to relate to and blog about. I think maybe it’s a sexual thing or something about it they like. I’m not sure why. I would love to meet a brony and talk to him more about it."
Who he is: Rob Reger created Emily the Strange, a "counterculture icon" who has T-shirts, comic books, and novels in her name and image.
On his pony: "The title of the piece is “Ghost Stories.” The idea was it’s Emily kicking it by the fire telling ghost stories and the other side of the piece with all the detailed art work is all the ghost stories she’s talking about."
On My Little Pony: "I used to burn my sister’s My Little Ponies when I was in high school. I don’t know if I should say that. I tortured all toys. I was a torturer of all toys. Now My Little Pony has made a nice comeback. The TV show is good. It's really good for kids. It’s up there with Powerpuff Girls and all that stuff."
On bronies: "I think it’s cool that the dudes have found something cute to latch on to. I’m all for it. I’m proud to be a brony too."
Who he is: One half of the pair behind Hanazuki, described on its Facebook as "A world of dreams & treasures... a story never before told of a little dreamer who never stops dreaming and a rare & wonderful moonflower, where in the random world of dreams, treasures always abound..."
On his pony: "If you see the eyes, he’s a bit tough. There are a lot of sweet ponies we wanted to go with a tougher expression. We didn’t want to paint so we used fabric. We made a little dress for the pony. Those are two of the characters that we always make."
On My Little Pony: "My sister was playing with them. I never had such good relations with them. But now I grew up and if you do things like this it’s very good. It’s like a canvas when you do things like this and they you can dress it up. And for me it’s cool to see this I never been inside a My Little Pony world."
On bronies: [Stumpo had never heard of them.] "Maybe I’m a future brony."
Though we weren't able to nab them at the event, we got to hear what two other artists had to say about their ponies via email. Onch Movement's pony was displayed off site at Toys 'R' Us in Times Square.
Who he is: Chueh's work commonly pairs otherwise cute animal figures with nightmarish situations.
On his pony: "I started by considering horses and their relationship to humans. For a while, horses were branded (like cattle) to mark ownership. Considering the culture behind branding I thought an S&M thing was a logical progression."
On My Little Pony: "My sister played with MLP when she was young so I was conscious of the brand. Working on the custom reminded me of my childhood."
On bronies: "I think they are hilarious. The name "bro-nies" is absolutely ridiculous."
On his pony: "My concept for the pony was to create something that has magical powers , a piece that is unique and will stand out in the crowd of ponies, Double Twist was the name because it is half blue and half pink with a double twist pretzel as a cutie mark."
On My Little Pony: "I have been a lifetime fan of My Little Pony. Born in Asia, My Little Pony did not air in my home country. To get my pony fix, I would beg my relatives in the United States to send over VHS tapes of early episodes."
On bronies: "So in love with this bronie phenomenon! It really is amazing and quite inspiring! I wish they had bronies back when I was a kid! I would be sooooo obsessed! (Even more then I am.)"