When did you get started?
in Ď96 on the internet. Hell, I was selling stuff out of my yard
before that. I couldnít find anyone to make a website. Finally a
buddy of mine from work made me this site and at the time it was a
great site, but shitty to todayís standards. Jim
Harvell was my first customer. He
bought my Dark Shape mask Eric Austin was my 2nd
customer and he also bought a Dark Shape and a Freddy mask.
What sold big and really got you into mask making?
biggest seller at the start were my Shatner Ď99ís. I got a box from
Morris, before they really caught on. I got a boxful and started
converting them. This was my biggest jump. I didnít know what the
Hell I was doing. Just learning as I go. I remember painting one
with latex paint on top of rubber cement, which is a big no-no. The
paint was just pulling off the damn thing. Then I tried rubber
cement and almost blew up the house, breathing fumes and walking
around the house laughing my ass off. Eventually, I scraped off the
rubber cement and used fabric paint. This was really an eye
opener. I had half the box sold (30 or 40) and I was just starting
to convert them. They were discontinued and people really wanted
them. I was getting in all this money for people to lock in their
mask. I wasnít spending the money, but I was so far behind on these
damn things. Finally, I said ďOh Shit, I gotta catch up!Ē, the
orders were coming in, but I couldnít keep up. Finally, I just
buckled down and spent so much time getting them finished. I made
a ton of money off these and this really opened my eyes. I mean,
itís intoxicating when the money rolls in, but you have to really
work your ass off. Itís Hell, I wonít lie, itís absolute Hell over
here in October, but Christmas is taken care of.
money is good around Halloween?
I remember this one lady showed up at 3:00pm on Halloween and wanted
a mask that night. Hands me 80 bucks, so shit not gonna turn that
down, but after Halloween, you really want to just get the masks out
of there. So sick of looking at them, so Iíll do a sale and move
So what did you think coming into this
business what you would make
Oh Shit, you know. You dream of
making millions. I mean, I thought I could take a rake out in the
yard and just rake it in. But thatís not the reality. I mean, itís
a dream and at Halloween you just get sooo
swamped you never leave the house. When I started, I was a little
bummed, I didnít have many sales. I went out to Jeffís studio and
saw all this stuff he had and I was like man, you have a lot. He
said, oh this is all soldÖ Iíve got new stuff in the other room. I
was so bummed that I didnít have sales even close to this. I drove
home all discouraged, but it made me realize that you just canít
start this overnight. You have to pay your dues, build up. I mean
once you really start working at it. I
have advertising; I was just getting most of my sales from Jeffís
overflow and word of mouth. I did some
local advertising, but nothing national and the internet started
taking off and I pretty much went this way. It really just came down
from building the company. I had just a few pieces and went from
there. Then I met Pete Infelise. I
bought a few of his work and started carrying his pieces. Peteís a
great guy. Heís doing some HellRaiser
pieces that are outstanding. Pete called me up because he didnít
have the facility to work, so he was going to drive down here, pick
up the blanks and take them to someplace near his house to paint. I
was like, Pete, come here, take all the time you need and paint
them. Use my studio, itís no problem, you can stay as long as you
need, come any time. So Iím going to do castings and he will come
over and paint them. I want to push Pete to get back into it. Heís
been out of it for a while and heís a phenomenal artist.
much you think you are pulling in?
pull in a good amount of cash on
masks :-), but you really have to work your ass off. I mean, if I
didnít have an assistant, Iíd be screwed.
So you work a regular job, have kids and do
masks too, how do you do all this?
and lots of drugs. Just kidding, I drink a lot of caffeine and
really just sleep when I drop during the busy season. I just kind
of collapse and then wake up and go at it again. Itís crazy. Every
day I say Iím going to quit my other job, but it pays the bills and
helps out in the off season and of course the insurance, so Iím kind
of stuck. You know, itís guaranteed money.
LMC: How does Jeff do it?
volume is about 60% on top of mine, so he gets a good amount. I do
runs of probably 5 or 6 masks at a time whereas Jeff will do 15 or
so at a time, so I try and get a good inventory built up. Heís got
April and some others helping out. He works like a madman too.
did you meet Jeff Death?
I met Jeff a while before I sold
masks. I was one of his biggest customers. He used to have a
website through the Monster Makers website. He would take orders
off that site. I remember going to Monster Makers website and
seeing DeathStudio pictures. That was
the best thing in the world. Then Jeff opened his own site and it
took off from there.
How did Jeff help you get
It goes back to
Fango and me ordering masks from him. I literally had at
least one mask on order for 3 years
straight from Death Studios. Get one and order another. Jeff
knew me as a really good customer. We talked now and again about
new masks. So I talked to him about opening a studio. I showed him
some stuff I had sculpted and he said ďnice, niceĒ, but not much
more than that. Finally, after about the 3rd or 4th
sculpt he started to show some interest. I went out to his studio
for him to paint a copy of this mask I did called socket. I get out
there and as Iím in the mold room, I get a call that my son just
broke his leg while in school. I was about an hour away and had to
leave right away. He broke his femur and had to have a
cast up to his chest and down to his toes. He was 7 at the time. I
have twin boys that are a pain in the ass, but I love
em to death. Jeff realized I was
serious at that point. I would show him my paint jobs and he would
give me suggestions. Try this, try that and help guide me along.
One day he said, bring out a few pulls
and Iíll paint them. Thatís like ďThe
Nature BoyĒ Ric Flair showing you how to
wrestle. I sat there for hours and right away I knew what I was
doing wrong. I practiced for hours and hours to get it right. Then
my painting really started to pick up. Soon after that Jeff asked
if I wanted to carry some of his discontinued pieces and I was like
ďShit, yeah!Ē He didnít see it as competition; he saw it more as
helping the business in general. I mean, it helps to grow the
Whereíd the name come from?
I was coming
up with a name and I turned to my wife and said I want something
that is the darkside of me. So I
thought Darkside studio. My wife said
thatís weird I was thinking on that same level. Damn, if you are
thinking on the same level as someone as crazy as my wife. Just
kidding! Sheíll smack me for saying that. Then I realized it was
Darkside like Star Wars, so it fit
good. Harry Inman I think was a little
upset about that since he runs Dark Studios, but it was in no way
copying him. BTW, I would love to get one of his aliens. You
know, those 5 foot things. Those are
unreal. I think he casts that thing around a wooden frame. Heís
another phenomenal artist. But, no Iím not about copying someoneís
site. But I was thinking of running a site called Latex Mask
Central Park. Gotcha!
Talk about Joe Lester and his work for
Heís doing 3 new ones this year. He
can sculpt his ass off and have something that will surprise the
shit out of you in a week or less. I mean all the texture he did
was done by hand on the Jester and Smilin
Jeremy must be on the same drugs I
am. Just kidding. He can sculpt so fast, it blows me away. Iím
finally moving to WED for the speed.
and Jim Kessler
I was thinking of opening a mask site
and talking to my wife about it and I mentioned it to Jim. Next
thing I know, I see Jim and Jeff's newsletter and itís announcing my
new mask company. I was like, Whoa I was
just thinking of it. But you know, it got me some clients and
really pushed me to get moving with it so I really appreciate it.
Howíd you get started with Pete
I sent him a letter a while back
asking about masks. He then later asked
if I would like to carry some of his stuff I was like shit yeah,
then the next year he had more. Peteís the greatest. Heís nice
incarnate. He went and worked for Universal Studios, but they found
out he wasnít formally trained so they started giving him shit about
it. So he took off and started his own thing.
LMC: Any dream
artists you would like to carry sculpts?
Oh man, I tell you. I would love to get some of the Gods sculpting
for me. Henry Alvarez for one. Don Lanning is unreal. Of course
Steve Wang. I really want to carry Jeff's Wang pieces that he
discontinued. Unreal! I don't even have a copy of Wang's stuff. I
haven't approached anyone like this. I don't know if I can do them
justice. Lanning's WaveRipper.. Good Lord!