Get to Know the Artist Behind These Gorgeous Custom Amiibo
If you're a Nintendo fanatic, you're probably super familiar with Amiibo figurines, which unlock special content in games on top of being super cute and collectible.
Krystyne Escalambre, better known by the nickname GandaKris, makes Amiibo her business. She takes the already sweet figures and transforms them into custom masterpieces, garnering the attention of fans worldwide, as well as Nintendo themselves.
We chatted with Krystyne about how her custom Amiibo came to be, how she makes them and what makes her community so special. Keep reading and you'll be totally inspired to get crafting, too.
Sweety High: How did your custom Amiibo come to be?
Krystyne Escalambre: It all started in high school around sophomore year. I never took art seriously—I debated whether I should even take art and ceramic classes—but I needed the electives. I was super shy back then and making friends was hard. I was bullied throughout my school career and being judged was my biggest fear. I wanted friends but I didn't know how to make any. I was the acne-faced quiet girl with a rolling backpack that was the perfect target for kicking in the hallway.
It all changed when my sisters dragged me to the video game club at school. Before attending, I played Super Smash Bros. Melee thinking I was the best in the neighborhood. However, once I stepped foot into the pro league, that all changed. This was before I learned any advanced techniques, but I actually won my first match. It was super close but I managed to pull a win and immediately afterward I wanted to bail in fright. The hype of the match attracted a crowd around us and I disliked the attention.
However, my opponent wanted a rematch. I left that day with a smile because everyone in the club was so nice and accepting. For the first time, I could be myself and not let the fear of being judged hang over me.
The timing was perfect because my ceramics class allowed me to combine two things I loved—art and video games. Instead of finishing class assignments, I was constructing my next Nintendo character out of clay. I made my first Amiibo before Amiibo were an actual thing, and I've been making figurines out of clay ever since.
SH: What was your first custom Amiibo?
KE: I made a Kirby on a Brawl stand back in high school. It's the unofficial first Amiibo. But my first official custom was a Pikachu-Flash crossover. The Pikachu was sent to me by one of my closest friends and it wasn't my best work, but from there I started customizing them all.
SH: Did you ever think you would create custom Amiibo on the scale you are now?
KE: Absolutely not, but the most exciting part is getting the chance to communicate with, and—if I'm lucky enough—meet all the amazing individuals who have influenced me throughout my lifetime. The amount of support is something special, so I read all the comments my Amiibo family posts and I cherish them giving me their time. Time is the most precious commodity, so if they watch my custom Amiibo tutorials and nerdy DIY videos on YouTube, I try to make it worthwhile.
SH: How have you improved from your first custom Amiibo to today?
KE: Practice makes perfect! Amazingly, artistic skills aren't the most important ones that I've gained. The ability to adapt and grow stronger has been the most powerful skill in my arsenal to date. To change and know when and where to take the next steps has been challenging yet rewarding. In regards to growing stronger, all artists expose themselves when presenting their creations to the world. You must develop a tough skin and remember that the people you love matter more than anything else.
SH: What's been your most ambitious Amiibo customization? Which one are you proudest of?
KE: My most ambitious customization to date has to be armored Mewtwo. To be honest, it's not a hard build, but it's something from my childhood that I wanted to make sure brought everyone back to a time when the first Pokémon movie came out. I wanted them to instantly fall in love with Pokémon, from collecting to trading to capturing them all, all over again. It was important to me to add details that only true Pokémon fans will notice!
The Iwata tribute custom Mii has to be my fondest work. I'm proud I was raised with a sense of duty and determining right from wrong. It's hard for me to be proud of myself with the bar so high, but having the ability to create and make a positive difference in this world is my main goal. I knew it would be wrong of me to sell such a figure, so auctioning it off to raise funds for St. Jude has been the biggest step toward my dream thus far. If ever I pass, it would be an honor to have touched as many lives as he did. I'll continue to make more, for many charities, in the near future. Its all about the legacy you leave in this world, and I hope mine will be a good one.
SH: What accessories and tools are required to create custom Amiibo?
KE: Other than clay, you'll need paint, paintbrushes, carving tools and imagination, but the biggest factor in making any custom Amiibo is having the passion for it. I can't stress enough that grit is so important, not just in making art, but life in general. Don't give up when the custom doesn't look the way you've planned or be scared of starting over. Always be proud of small victories and know that you've created something one-of-a-kind!
I'm fairly certain I got this far because of the love from family and friends, but most importantly my Amiibros and Amiigals. I'm so thankful for the life I get to live and the recognition from the Nintendo community. A lot of responsibility comes with having a voice in this world, and I promise to those who support my work that I'll never forget them and give back more than I get.
If you're all about Nintendo and their class games, click HERE to see our ranking of all 21 games on the SNES Classic.