Not only is Quiccs one of the most well-known designer toy makers in the Philippines, but he’s also the first Filipino artist to have a long-term partnership with adidas.
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It’s not hard to imagine that when you ask kids what their dream jobs are, one of the answers would be a toymaker. The idea of designing and creating your own toys is an appealing and enticing idea that a lot of kids aspire to have. Who wouldn’t want to make toys for a living, right? That was true for Juanito Maiquez, or more popularly known as Quiccs. Growing up, he had an extensive collection of toys that ranged from GI Joes to Legos, Voltron, and Japanese robots, which instilled in him his love for toys and toy making.
That dream though soon became a reality since Quiccs, who started his career as a freelance artist, soon became one of, if not the most, revered local toy designers. But the buck doesn’t stop there as he’s also the first Filipino artist to partner with adidas, a brand he just so happened to wear and love growing up.
THE LOVE OF TOYS
Quiccs’ love and passion for toys and toy making started when he was young. As a kid, his dad would buy him GI Joe action figures every Sunday after they would hear mass. He would also watch Japanese and American animated shows like Voltes V and Transformers. Seeing his older brother sketch a lot inspired Quiccs to hone his artistic talents further.
By the time Quiccs was about to enter college, he was set on having a career in the visual arts and was thinking of taking Fine Arts in Ateneo. But, as he explains, his parents wanted something else for him. “My parents told me that I should take up Business Management instead. They think that art is forever there and that my talent is just there. What I need to learn is how to make a living out of it. Thus, I entered Ateneo and took up Communications Technology Management. It’s pretty much Business Management with subjects on arts, communications, and digital technology.”
But Quiccs wasn’t bitter about this change, in fact, he’s grateful he did so. “True enough, this has helped me establish my career and my business. Thank God I listened to my parents.” After graduating college, Quiccs became a freelance artist before pivoting towards making designer toys.
PREMIERE DESIGNER TOYS
When Quiccs started making designer toys, they didn’t attract that much attention locally as the designer toys market was still small in the country. But over time, as more people started gravitating towards designer toys, Quiccs started to gain attention. Today, he has made a name for himself as one of the country’s most famous and premier toy makers. And these aren’t regular commercial toys you find at the department store. The toys Quiccs makes are hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind, and collector’s pieces that people around the world pay top peso to buy. He is most known for his TEQ63 series of toys that are a must-own for any prospective toy collector. And these aren’t just collector’s pieces too, they also are an extension of who Quiccs is as a person. “TEQ63 represents who I am. TEQ63 is I.”
Quiccs, who got that nickname from his classmates in high school based on his last name “Maiquez – QUEZ – QUICCS”, cites Japanese robots, graffiti art, and hip-hop as his biggest passions and themes for his work. It’s a motif that can be seen in most of his work such as his famous TEQ63 line of toys (TEQ is short for technique while 63 is the Philippines’ country code). He also cites his family and long-time partner Mara as a source of inspiration. Hongkong artist and toy designer Michael Lau, seen as a trailblazer in the world of urban vinyl style designer toys, was also an influential figure for the graphic designer and illustrator.
When it comes to making his globally recognized toys, it’s an all-hands process that he executes from end to end. “First, I sketch. Then, I do the molding of the toy. Then, I hand-paint it. After which, I also do the graphic design for the packaging.”
PARTNERSHIP WITH ADIDAS
But Quiccs would soon get his biggest break career-wise in January 2020 when he was tapped by Adidas to be the first Filipino to sign a partnership with the brand. The partnership was initially just a proposal between him and a collector of his toys who works for adidas for a t-shirt project. But adidas HQ wanted to turn the project into a partnership.
He described feeling “ecstatic” to work with Adidas and called it a “dream come true.” Working with the iconic shoe and sportswear brand was also a no-brainer for Quiccs as he explains, “Ever since I was a teenager, I have already been wearing the adidas superstar. If you notice, my toys are wearing the adidas superstar as well. My toys represent who I am, which is why adidas offering me to collaborate and have a partnership with them is a dream come true.” His first project for adidas was a t-shirt collection called the Quiccs Manila tee pack that featured his own designs mixed with Philippine iconography.
MANILA HERITAGE SHOES
His most recent and high-profile collaboration to date though is with James Harden on the Manila Heritage shoes. He famously wore a pair during Game 3 of the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, which made local and international headlines. Released just in time for the country’s 123rd Independence Day, the shoe was a redesign of the Harden Volume 5.
“When I came onboard our partnership with adidas, one of the key categories we were going to collaborate on was Basketball. For 2021, the shoe to be showcased was the Harden Volume 5. So adidas asked me to create studies incorporating my style to the shoe with the Philippines-inspired colorway being chosen in honor of our Filipino, ‘Manila Heritage’.” When it came time to designing the shoes, Quiccs chose to use his Manila Killa colorway, the most popular colorway among his toys. “I chose this colorway to be applied on the shoe to represent the Philippines. Also, because this is the first time, a Filipino artist designed a shoe for adidas.”
The Manila Heritage shoes are filled with details that make the shoes uniquely Quiccs and pay homage to the Philippines. The sole of the left shoe has Quiccs’ TEQ toy wrapped in a jacket of Philippines colors, meanwhile the right shoe has a stylized design of Harden holding a basketball. It also has a “+63” on the sole to represent the country code and three yellow dots to represent the country’s main three islands.
While James Harden wasn’t involved in the design process of the Manila Heritage shoes, Quiccs made sure to pay tribute to the NBA star and his bond with the Philippines in the shoes. On the shoe’s collar is the number “06.26.19,” which is June 26, 2019, the last time Harden visited Manila. The shoes also fulfill Harden’s promise of designing a shoe for his fans in the Philippines. Along with the release of the shoes, adidas Philippines also released Manila Heritage tees designed by Quiccs.
MORE TO COME FROM QUICCS X ADIDAS
While Quiccs does acknowledge that he did feel pressure when designing the shoes, that didn’t change his style or how he approached making them. “Whatever design I have been doing for the toys, I apply them on the big collaborations. I stay true to my craft, nothing significant changes. I think they appreciate the designs applied to their brands. The amount of effort and creativity I give is the same.”
If you’ve been enjoying Quiccs’ work with adidas so far, especially with the shoes, then here’s some good news for you. He shared that there’s going to be another Quiccs-designed footwear release in the next few months. This time, it’s for a classic sneaker under adidas Originals.
Even with all the success and recognition that Quiccs has gained, it’s clear that he still does things his own way. “A great toy designer is someone who is representing a particular theme or a value he/she holds true. They are not just riding the hype or whatever is trendy.” This is an idea he hopes future generations of young creatives take to heart in their craft. “My advice to aspiring creatives is to stick to their style. Stick to what they believe art is. Do not conform to just what is hype or trendy. One day someone will notice your work. Just keep believing in your art.”
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