This was the Creative Journey of the Winner of the first 'Create to Inflate' Contest

This was the Creative Journey of the Winner of the first 'Create to Inflate' Contest

A few months ago we came up with a new concept at SHOSU Amsterdam. A contest where SHOSU fans can show their creative side by designing an inflatable that has never been made before! The community will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite and we will have the winning product made in a limited number. And best of all: the very first product will be send as a gift to the winner!

The first Create to Inflate was a great success. No fewer than 169 ideas were submitted, all of which we assessed for feasibility, uniqueness and whether they fit the SHOSU Amsterdam brand. The top 10 has been voted on 1649 times by you, unbelievable! With 395 votes, the Inflatable Teddy Bear, designed by Matheus MTMA.ART, became the winner. We asked Matheus how he experienced this creative journey.

In June you took part in the very first Create To Inflate contest. For this contest you designed a Teddy Bear with SPH. Can you tell us something about your idea? 

When I saw the announcement for the contest, I was immediatelly interested in participating. I've been sketching and coming up with ideas for inflatables for years, but never imagined I'd have he opportunity to make them a reality. I've always loved stuffed animals and plushies, especially teddies, and it was a perfect fit for the round and soft SHOSU aesthetic. Overall it was a balancing act between making something that would be a cool inflatable to have, but also something that was practical to produce. It would be very easy to go crazy on it and make something extremely complex and detailed, but that in the end would simply not be feasible in real life. 
And you won the contest! Your Inflatable Teddy Bear idea received by far the most votes. What went through your mind when you saw that hundreds of people from the inflatable community had voted for your idea?

When the contest was announced, I was actually in the middle of working on a very complex art comission, so I couldn't spare as much time as I wanted to work on the concept art. I had participated in some creative contests in the past, so my first thought was 'Let's try this one for fun.' There were many great submissions in the finalists, so I was absolutely blown away when I received the e-mail telling me I had won. As an artist, I'm always very self-critical, so having this recognition from so many people was realy gratifying for me. 
You worked closely with SHOSU Amsterdam on the production of the Teddy Bear. How did that collaboration work and what was it like to have such an active role in the design process?

The communication with the product development team was very smooth. The replies came in fast and I was pulled into all parts of the design process. It really made me feel as if I was part of that product's development, instead of just providing some concept art and leaving it at that. Everything from proportions to materials, colors to decals, every step of the process was sent to me with pictures and explanations and asking for my feedback. Overall the experience was very satisfying and fulfilling, and I felt that in the end my ideas and suggestions were not only considered, but also applied to the final product itself. 
The 'SPH' version of your Inflatable Teddy Bear sold out within hours. Did you expect it to be such a huge success?
Well, after the voting had finished with such a good result, I imagined there would be quite a few people interested in the final product. I didn't expect, however, it would sell out so quickly. 
You were the first person to receive the Inflatable Teddy Bear. Did the end result match what you had in mind?
When I first sketched out the Teddy, the proportions and shapes I used were much less 'elegant' than the final version, specially because I was aiming at something 'simple'. One point that can be observed is the arms in the first sketch, they are basically small Ride Rolls. When I received the first renders and saw how that original idea was translated into something so nice looking, with a nice flow to it I was awe-struck. As the process photos were being sent to me, it was such an amazing thing to see it taking shape, but nothing could prepare me to how great it looks in person. 
What would you like to say to all the people who voted for your design and bought the product that was created thanks to your creativity?

Most of all, Thank You! When I began sketching so many years ago before I became a professional illustrator, it was mainly for passion and wanting to bring out my ideas into a visible, physical form. Nowadays, even working with comissioned drawings, I still do a lot of art for fun, but this recognition and appreciation is incredible. Noawadys it's becoming harder and harder for artists and creators to find a place for themselves, so having something I helped create become such a success, and become a reality is really something I'm proud of. Once again I'd like to thank everyone that made this possible, as well as the wonderful people at SHOSU for not only providing so many incredible products, but also the chance for their community to be a part of it! 

A few more inflatable Teddy Bears are still available in our webshop. In our recent survey, many of you said that you would like to see the concept come back. So that's what we're going to do! We will carefully review all the tips that have been received and will soon start the second edition of Create to Inflate.

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