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The Method Makers interview with Paul Escolar

Artwork by Paul Escolar that says "Method Makers" and has a drawing of a broken beer bottle laying in front of the text.

The following is an interview that Paul Escolar for The Method Makers in 2018. The interview was online for a few years, but disappeared after a big update to their site in 2021. Sadly, Paul passed away a few months later. I recently reached out to The Method Makers to see if we could try to get this interview back online, and a TMM contributor was able to find the original emails. Below is the unedited interview with Paul Escolar.

-Name, where ur from, how you know Tsyonsyn

Name is Paul Escolar, from Alameda. I know Chons from the old party days in the 2000’s when he was doing “The Fcks” DJ Gigs in San Hoe w/ Cellus. They all thought they were going to be the next Trap Daft Punk, and I believed it too – Still do. Good times, good times…

-I googled you and you are really fucking good at yo-yoing – do you still do that? How’d you get into that and where can I see that live?

I am currently “retired” from that scene, but I was sponsored and worked for Duncan Toys for over 15 years, now I just do occasional contracted design work for them. I’m also known for creating most of the standard and fundamental modern yo-yo tricks kids do today. I also demonstrated, and judged contests all over and ran one of the most prestigious events in the country for the last few years out at Golden Gate park. Believe it or not the Pre/Post Parties I through for that community were lit af.  I got into yo-yos since I was a kid – been throwing for 20 years. I don’t film or play yo-yo in public these days, but if you want a private lesson, come holla at me, haha. Also dead serious about all of this and I can go on and on about yo-yo’s, but its lightweight square shit, even to me, so lets just talk about art!

-Were really impressed with your illustration work. How long have you been drawing, and how did you develop the style of work that you create?

I appreciate the compliment and It’s/I’M totally still a work in progress, still learning and experimenting a bit every day. I’ve been drawing since I was a Kid, I went to the Academy of Art for Art Direction in Advertising but at the end of all that I just ended up wanting to illustrate, do graphics, and work on personal art. Still not sure where I’m going with it but stoked to see where it takes me. So far the waves have been amazing.

-Do you do any work in the street (Tag, Throws, scribe etc)

Unfortunately, I have never done any work in the street. It seemed intimidating to me back then, but I always paid attention and have mad respect for anyone who gets up everywhere. I slap stickers around sometimes, but I’ve always been low key discouraged since there’s such talented community of Artists that already exist in that world. I just enjoy being a spectator and fan, but I’m open to mural work at this point in my life. Holla for any plug on commissions and ill throw in a yo-yo lesson, lol.  Also, side note – I’m too lazy to be carrying around markers, and cans and shit.

-How would you describe your style of work?

Hmmm, Alot of the shit I share is very personal and emotional… at least conceptually. But from an aesthetic stand point maybe its considered “Low Brow Graphic Illustrations”?, I’m not sure about labels. Under the visual surface of it all; it is very social, emotional and self narrative. I try to tell what’s going on in my mind or what I’m going through in my life with one image that hopefully tells the whole story.

-Are there any major influences in the artwork that you create?

I find inspiration and influence in everything; Music, movies, fashion, etc. As Far as art, there are way too many to name. My favorite modern artist of all time is Matisse, but I’ve taken alot of my inspiration and influence from Barry Mcgee, R.Crumb, ESPO, Mike Giant, The Hernandez Brothers, Geoff Mcfetridge, and Others…. maybe it’s visible in my aesthetic?

-Where do you create most of your work? (In your Studio, Coffee shop, etc.) Can you share photos of where you create if possible, and describe what we’re looking at in these photos?

I work from home, in private, in solitude… I zone out and zen the fuck out. Most of my illustrations are part of a very meditative and cathartic process, I keep those sessions pretty low-key but sometimes I have my sketchbooks and computer when i’m at a coffee shop or chill bar, and I’ll just get it out. The times I’m out of my batcave, wandering or partying, I’m just keeping tabs, taking mental notes of things I see, taking actual notes for ideas, and staying inspired by everything and anything. The end result is some* of the work I share on Instagram, but most of the time I just be hoarding alot of it to myself.

-What inspired that piece you drew of Tsyonsyn – shits fucking hilarious!

It was his birthday, I missed the party and I wanted to let him know that i’m not an asshole, so I drew him into the most offensive caricature ever, oopsies! Accurate tho, no? hahaha.

-Tell us a joke.

I was just actually about to google “What’s a funny joke?”, haha. fuck it.

-Ask us 1 question.

If Method Makers was a a 4th Gen iPod (The one with just the scroll wheel) what would be the 5 top played songs in the iTunes playlist? Also, “What’s your poison?”

-Would you be open to do collaborative projects with us? Art shows, Prints, apparel production, air guitar band?

ALWAYS! I fuck with everybody making whatever, whenevers. As long as I keep moving, and making shit, I’m happy. Prints, Shirts, Shows – sure. Air Guitar Band? – Fuck it, …I’ll play bass. let’s sesh!

Right on for reaching out to me Neal and The Method Makers, really excited on joining the band. I really appreciate it everything!


Images above were drawn by Paul Escolar. The original interview, “Family Ties With Paul Escolar”, was first published on Thanks to The Method Makers for finding the original email and allowing me to publish it here.

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PopCast Yo-Yo Vlog: The Matrix

This episode of the PopCast yo-yo vlog teaches how to do the Matrix with style and flow. This trick is a little over 20 years old, and it’s one of my more popular tricks. I feel like most yo-yoers know how to do the Matrix, but they might not know how to put it together in a way that flows.

So I talk about how to link “alpha” style moves together smoothly, and I also tell the crazy story of a yo-yo that “melts too easily”. I hope you enjoy this episode!

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The Worlds Smallest Unresponsive Yo-Yo

Worlds Smallest Yo-Yo

The Mini-Panzer is the smallest unresponsive yo-yo in history. It’s machined in brass, but available with gold or silver plating. It is .7″ tall, weighs 21.5 grams, and has the smallest bearing you’ve ever seen.

This video isn’t sponsored content, I just thought it was a cool yo-yo. I bought mine from YoYoExpert, but I think Yo-Yo Store Rewind has some too. Available on some sites here:

It’s worth noting that B!ST made an EVEN SMALLER yo-yo back in 2012, but his appears to be responsive. I don’t think it ever made it to the market either, but it looks amazing.

Parts of the audio in this video came from a Hainbach soundpack.

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Yo-Yo Illustrations by Titifreak

I recently found some rad yo-yo-themed illustrations by Titifreak from the early 2000s. These feature Black, Glasseye, Steve Brown, and myself.

Titifreak is an amazing artist and a fantastic yo-yoer. He’s been a big inspiration to me in many ways.

I remember being excited about the 2004 World Yo-Yo Contest because Titi and his brother, Whip, would be there. When I walked through the doors of the WYYC, I spotted Titi’s table and I ran over. He had this amazing shirt design of a yo-yo with flying wings on it. I said “this would make an amazing yo-yo”.

Someone behind me replied “I have a tattoo gun in my hotel room” and ten minutes later I was getting my first tattoo.

You can see more of that tattoo footage on this “Worlds Documentary” video I just shared:

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Midwest Invasion and other classic clip videos

World Yo-Yo Contest logo by Whip

Last week I went digging through some old CDs and trying to rip any old videos/albums I might not have seen in a while. I came across a bunch of videos from Daniel R. which I couldn’t find online anywhere else. With Dan’s permission, I’ve uploaded them to youtube.

Worlds” is a clip video documenting the 2004 World Yo-Yo Contest in Orlando, Florida. It also documents my first tattoo experience!

Midwest Invasion” is a monster of a clip video featuring several of my favorite players from back in the day. Seth Peterson, Dave Poyzer, Abe “The Gravedigga”, John Russeth, Paul Yath, Schalicto, Alex Berengeul, and many more. This was probably shot around 2004 in Minneapolis.

I don’t know much about “Yo-Yo Clips 2″, but Schalicto says it was shot on real film. Neat! It features several Minneapolis players including Schalicto, Alex Ulrich, and Matt Schmidt.

Juggs” is a parody of Cops. It imagines oppressive jugglers outlawing anything non-juggling related, including yo-yos. It’s a bit weird, so I’m sharing it here, but it’s not listed publicly on my youtube.

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Save Deth Volume 2: Doctor Popular segment

The Save Deth videos, by Dave Poyzer and Seth Peterson, are fantastic time-capsules of yo-yo culture. Inspired by skate videos, Save Deth wanted to make high quality videos that captured the style of each yo-yo player. I really was excited about recording my segment for Save Deth Volume 2, but when the day came to record the segment in SF, everything was running later than expected and I had a hard stop that I had to get to. So I think my clip looks a little more rushed and sloppy than many of the other pros…. but I guess that I’m also known as being a little more sloppy in style too, so maybe this captures the day just right?

Here it is:

If you view the on Youtube, you can see a timeline showing what trick is playing for each part of the video. A few highlights for me are the “Gerbil Wheel” at :23 in, which might be the first time that counterweight move was documented. You can also see a bunch of my favorite moves documented here, like the Overhand 1.5 Whip, The Sabering Dismount, the Bicycle Kick Rejection, and some Astro-Style counterweight tricks.

At 1:03 I grab a coffee and start doing some one-handed tricks. This may seem kind of random, but I’ve been wanting to do a one-handed Artistic Performance routine in the World Yo-Yo Contest for many years. The idea would be I’d bring a cup of coffee on stage with me and do tricks with the non-coffee hand. I never fleshed it out much further than what you see though.

Artist: So Many Wizards
Song: "My Friends Are Nice"
Notes: The concept of this video was to show what goes into making a Save Deth video. Behind the scenes shots, bloopers and really good yo-yoing. Yo-yos used are the Yes, Absolutely The End and YoYo Jam + Doc Pop Bolt. Shot in San Francisco California, May 2009.

If you want to see the rest of the videos from Save Deth Volume II, you can go to

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Who invented the yo-yo bind?

In this episode, I’m joined by Josh Yee and Connor Scholten to discuss the history of yo-yo binds. Our goal is to reveal the first time a yo-yo bind was documented, who was the first player to use one in a contest, and what was the first “bind return only” yo-yo.

This episode was a ton of fun to research, and I learned a lot. If you enjoyed it, be sure to watch our other video; The History of Slack Tricks.Links mentioned in this episode:

Music at the end of this video performed by Emily Hopkins

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Why does Midjourney create beautiful art when I use the yo-yo emoji?

Y’all know me, right? So you know, when I got access to generative art tools like Dalle 2 and Midjourney, the first thing I tried using as a prompt was the word “yo-yo”. That’s a no-brainer, and you may have already seen my video about it.

Using AI to reimagine yo-yo tricks

While making that video, I had a strange realization that anytime I used the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji), I’d get a beautiful fantasy landscape that was filled with gorgeous pink and blue colors. Like this:

Midjourney prompt: “🪀 –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “🪀 –aspect 16:9” (one yo-yo emoji)

You see what I mean, right? Every time I use the prompt “🪀” (yo-yo emoji), I get images that feel like these beautiful science fiction landscapes. I wanted to test this out a little more, so here’s what happens when you try adding an extra 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) to the prompt:

Midjourney prompt: “🪀🪀 –aspect 16:9” (two yo-yo emojis)

Can you see it this time? Very distinct colors, outdoors, clouds… To me, it has the vibes of dawn in an N.K. Jemisin novel. Did you notice that several of these images have a figure facing away from the viewer, wearing a robe and a red hat? There’s one like that in the first batch of photos too. Hmmm…

Alright, let’s try three yo-yos:

Midjourney prompt: “🪀🪀🪀 –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “🪀🪀🪀 –aspect 16:9” (three yo-yo emojis)

I should mention that the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) is one of the few emojis that has landed on a single default color yet. Depending on what browser you are using, you may see green, purple, red, or many other colors. I talk about that in this video:

Let’s add one more 🪀 (yo-yo emoji):

Let’s go crazy:

Midjourney prompt: “🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀 –aspect 16:9” (12 yo-yo emojis)
Midjourney prompt: “🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀🪀 –aspect 16:9” (12 yo-yo emojis)

Still seeing towers and clouds, though it looks like the colors get slightly oranger when I add more yo-yos. Let’s try something completely different:

Midjourney prompt: “🤓 –aspect 16:9”

Okay, this is useful. I tried using 🤓 (nerd face emoji) as a prompt, and I felt like what I got was similar to the yo-yo emoji generated. What happens when we try the 🤷 (shrug emoji) emoji?

That’s interesting. Maybe this style of art is what happens anytime you input a single emoji as a prompt on Midjourney? Let’s try a different emoji to be sure:

Okay, that’s REALLY interesting! When I use the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) or 🤓 (nerd glasses emoji), I don’t see anything in the AI generated images that looks like it understands the emojis, but when I use a 🥨 (pretzel emoji) I see a lot of pastries. There are still clouds and pastel colors, but there are also cookies, scones, danishes, eggs, whipped cream, and other delights. This is the first emoji that the AI seems to “understand”. Huge air-quotes on the word “understand”.

I thought this might be because the AI has seen more examples of the 🥨 (pretzel emoji) in its training, so it has a better time pulling up relevant results. Considering the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) isn’t extremely widely used, that could explain why I’m not seeing images with yo-yos in them, but looking at the statistics on emoji usage I see that the 🤓 (nerd glasses emoji) is used far more frequently than the 🥨 (pretzel emoji), but I’m not seeing images of people wearing glasses when I use that one… so why is 🥨 (pretzel emoji) the only emoji so far that’s giving me results similar to the emoji?

What happens when we use ☕️ (coffee cup emoji)?

Okay, those both give me coffee vibes. It is worth pointing out that ☕️ (coffee cup emoji) and 🥨 (pretzel emoji) are used far less frequently than 🤓 (nerd glasses emoji), but they might get used in ways that are more consistent for the AI to generate images from. Let’s change things up. Let’s try using letters:

Midjourney prompt: “M –aspect 16:9”
Midjourney prompt: “C –aspect 16:9”

Oh wow, those “C” images look great! Did you notice the hooded figure again? They appear in the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) prompts and in letters. A figure facing away from the viewer, wearing a long robe in a fantasy landscape setting. It’s almost like a ghost in the algorithm. I’m going to name them Aileen.

And what happens when we double the letters?

So what have we learned? Not much.

  • When we use a 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) as the singular prompt in Midjourney, we get a beautiful pink and blue image with clouds and spires that have nothing to do with the prompt.
  • Using other emojis like 🤓 (nerd glasses emoji) or 🤷 (shrug emoji) yields similar results.
  • Some emoji, like ☕️ (coffee cup emoji) or 🥨 (pretzel emoji) yield images that seem inspired by the emoji.
  • When we increase the number of emoji in the prompt, we tend to get fewer pink and blue colors. To me, the colors seem to have more orange. Adding multiple emoji seems to increase the number of humanoid characters in the AI generated image.
  • A common figure that appears in these images in a person in a robe facing away from the camera. This almost seems like a default character stuck in the AI. I call them Aileen.
  • When we use letters instead of numbers, we tend to see warmer images. There seems to be a fifty chance we’ll see that letter in the final image too. So if we type “Z”, we are likely to see a “Z” appear in the final image about half the time.

Here’s my best guess, Midjourney’s AI was trained on a lot of art that looks the same. When you give the bot very little info to work with, it’s going to default to something that looks a lot like a fantasy landscape image. If you give the bot more to work with (ie add more emojis or use words that it has more data on), then it will give you a more diverse set of results with different color palettes, objects, and landscapes.

In other words, the 🪀 (yo-yo emoji) emoji is the least relevant thing to feed to Midjourney, so it resorts to a default set of images that are already gorgeous to look at. That’s my guess.

To test that theory, let’s try one more experiment. What happens if we insert a blank prompt. Will we get a pastel scene with a robbed figure in the foreground and lots of clouds? Since Midjourney doesn’t allow you to have a blank prompt, the closest thing I can try is an “_” (an underscore). Let’s try it out, shall we?

Midjourney prompt: “_ –aspect 16:9”

Well, that certainly looks familiar to several of the earlier results, though less fantasy/sci-fi feeling. Maybe this is the closest thing MidJourney has to a default image if you don’t give it a prompt it can work with.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the “🪀” and the “_” prompts yield the same results? Is this what MidJourney cranks out when it doesn’t have enough info to work with? Let me know your theories below.

Midjourney prompt: “Come on Aileen –aspect 16:9”

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Using Artificial Intelligence to reimagine classic yo-yo tricks

This episode of PopCast was so fun to make! I’ve been experimenting with generative art tools, like Dalle-2 and Midjourney, and loving the results. I had the idea to make a video about using classic trick names as text prompts for Midjourney, and then I spent the whole weekend creating prompts, shooting footage, and editing it. The idea of this episode I used the names of classic yo-yo tricks as prompts for Midjourney, then I wanted to see the results.

I love how this video turned out. It’s got some cool art and some footage from our yo-yo meetup in San Francisco. As an extra bonus, I’ve included all of my favorite images below, including several that didn’t make it into the video. Which one is your favorite?

Images generated from yo-yo trick names: