A word from the creator of The Bad Taste Bears, one Mr Pete Underhill...
I've found that some of my most promising ideas arrive as a direct reaction to my circumstances. The Bad Taste Bears are a typical example. In 1994, whilst working on a series of rough sketches for use on young children's pyjamas, I had been scribbling away for the entire weekend. The work was easy, but there was a lot of it. Cute animals, trains, trucks, tractors, clowns etc., to be printed in delicate pastel inks on delicate pastel fabrics. It was getting late and the deadline was looming. I snapped. I'd been drawing cute for days. I was possessed by the urge to be naughty. So, alongside the fluffy kittens and cuddly puppies, I drew a small sketch of an angry teddy bear waving a bloodied chainsaw and it felt good.
Inspiration took a hold. I drew a bear with a shotgun in his mouth, then another, sat in a pool of urine. I don't know if this happens with any other creative person, but a shiver went up and down my spine - I get it when a particularly fine idea occurs to me. The following day, I presented my sketches to the client, not telling her that my naughty sketches were lying in wait within the drawings. The reaction was perfect. My emotional ambush worked - she thought my naughty teddies were horrible. I had no intention of proposing them as designs, but I needed that reaction to fuel my enthusiasm. I can't recall which bear I drew after that initial trio because I began compiling a list - bad things that bears could do. The scrap of paper overflowed. I taped another sheet to it to continue. I still have that list, and those three little sketches.
My initial thought was that these bears would be ideal for greetings cards. I found myself an agent who put me in touch with a guy who saw potential in developing them as collectable figurines. Over twenty years later, the Bad Taste Bears have peppered the globe with their irreverence. A community of collectors blossomed taking me into realms I've never experienced and, what I thought was a neat idea that would be good for two or three years continues to trundle along with this mad world of ours continuing to provide inspiration.
The early licensee that took the figurine world by storm with over 400 individual designs is no longer around and a giant of the gift market, Nemesis Now, has picked up the torch and I'm working with their team to explore exciting new areas.
We're breaking the Bad Taste Bears out of the display cabinet and weaving them into people's lives in new, functional ways. It's an amazing journey that is far from complete. After the release of a mix of remastered classic figurines and exciting new designs, we're currently working on the continuing development of the product range. I hope you enjoy them as much as it's been a thrill for us to create them.