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  What do you do with a degree in philosophy and a job as a web master?  You make monsters of course.  Christian Hanson has been into them for many years and wants to keep at them.  Find out what he's done in the past, where he wants to take his art and  just what IS up with George W.

       LMC: How did you get into creating masks/effects?

CH:  Iíve had an on and off interest with effects in particular since high school (grad í91).. After seeing a TV special on makeup effects, sometime in my senior year, I searched all over for books on how it was done. To my amazement, it was something that could be done in a basic shop with available materials. I went on to other things for a few years, but eventually came back to it.

LMC: What was the first thing you created?

CH: I did a couple of foam rubber prosthetics in the early Ď90s; a zombie and old lady. But what restarted my interest was a goofy, wearable zombie puppet that I made in í96. Kind of a torso contraption that you can strap on, which combined your legs and arm with the fake head, and torso. Though it was not some great piece of art, itís still pretty fun to see it in action. Just something for Halloween, so it served its purpose. Iíll have to create a new version with a nice sculpted head and facial movements. Next yearís big project.

  LMC: What are you doing to make some bread in your day job?                                          

CH: Iím currently working at a video/DVD distributor here in town. Iím basically the web copy guy. So when they need new offers, or want to change the homepage, Iím the one they go to. Itís allowed me the opportunity to learn some of the basics of web design, Photoshop, etc. But it takes so much of my time away that my effects interest suffers. But youíve got to pay the rent.

LMC: Any pros you admire and why?

CH: Iím lucky enough to have gotten to know Crist Ballas and Nate Courtea, who are lesser-known pros who live in St. Paul. Theyíve taught me a lot over the last year, and helped encourage me to continue to improve my work. Otherwise, there are so many wonderful artists out there who produce breathtaking work that I wouldnít know who to start with. Jordu Schell, Miles Teves, Steve Wang create such greatly original work. I love the masks that Don Lanningís done. Such detail. Of course Baker is amazing. But I think that its placement in such dull, awful films diminishes most film work. These effects guys have so much to offer, but the movies are so lousy that itís a real waste of talent.

  LMC: Anything Nate or Crist have done that we might have heard of?

CH: Theyíve worked on some big films. For ďBatman & RobinĒ Crist did some amazing doubles make ups. Heís got pictures of the stunt double and Arnold, and thereís just no way of telling which is which. He and Nate made a wonderful silicone old lady corpse for Double Jeopardy. Itís the body that Ashley Judd finds herself sharing a coffin with. Oh, for Drop Dead Gorgeous, they made that beer can and did the melted hand makeup for Ellen Barkin. Lots of other stuff. A Simple Plan, Sugar & Spice. Nateís worked for Cristís shop Metamorphosis for a while. Iím never sure exactly who did what, but theyíre both amazing artists who should be better known than they are. Itís been a real privilege for me to get as much help and advise as I have from them.

LMC: Any amateur artists you admire?                 

CH: I think that Jon Fuller is an impressive artist. That guyís going somewhere. Whenever I write to him, I keep saying that he has to keep me in mind when heís a big shot. I just became aware of Joe Lesterís work, and itís just fabulous. Erich Lubatti is continually putting out cool stuff. Iím not sure if they should be classified as ďamateursĒ as theyíre all at a professional level.

LMC: What type of masks do you enjoy creating the most?      

CH: Iím really a beginner at mask making, so I donít have much to compare to. I got a lot of laughs out of the George W. mask that I made, and so I think that Iíll be doing more political caricatures in the future. But otherwise, I enjoy the design process that mask making allows.                                                

LMC: Do you do commissioned pieces?  

CH: No oneís approached me for one yet. I would have to be interested in the project to take it on, as my time is so limited. But I would eventually like to get to the point where people are paying me to sculpt.

  LMC: What to you would be an interesting project?                                                    

CH: WellÖ thatís hard to say. Anything with some vision, originality. The kind of thing where my work will compliment that of others, but not be the solely notable aspect.

LMC: Talk about some of the work youíve done for indie films and friends?

CH: Thatís really where Iíd like to be going. I was able to do a minor effect for an indie film early Spring, and though it didnít pay, it was a great experience. Nate Courteau was generous enough to offer me the chance to sculpt the hands for a creature puppet that he is building for another indie film project. Iíd really like to do more projects like these, but have had to turn down several offers because of time constraints. As in, ďwe need an elaborate puppet built, but have no money and will start shooting in a week.Ē Iíd like to get more involved in other aspects of indie filmmaking as well. FX laden projects, of course.

LMC: Talk about that effect you did in the film?

CH: I met with the director about a week before they wanted to shoot the scene, which was very little time for my schedule. (did I mention my full-time desk job?) The scene called for a guy to have a piece of his scalp on the back of his head slide off, revealing a grievous wound. I thought, ďhow the hell am I going to do this in a week? So, I went for a simple solution. I sculpted the wound piece and cast it in latex. Then I just attached a couple of berrets to the back to hold it onto the back of the actors head. The skull and flesh chunk that fit over it was just made of Sculpey, latex, and fake hair.   Amazingly, it worked really well. I canít wait to see the final film. It was a huge charge to contribute to a project like that. I figure, even if I never become a big shot Hollywood FX artist, thereís always smaller films that I can work on. I may never make a professional career of it, but I can say that Iíve been a credited special makeup effects artist. And doing it is whatís really important, right?           

LMC: Whatís your favorite piece youíve done and why?

CH: I donít have much to choose from, but my favorite would have to be my W mask. Comic characters are something that I need to do more of. Though, itís not my best work. That would probably have to be the old age prosthetic that I sculpted a couple of years ago. Itís the best thing Iíve done, and I still havenít done a decent finished piece. Any day nowÖ

  LMC: Whatís your favorite mask done by someone else and why?                     

CH: Iím continually amazed by John Smithís ďTor JohnsonĒ mask from Death Studios. Just stunning. One of the best likeness sculptures Iíve seen. Miles Tevesís ďDemon VampireĒ mask that Death Studios made was one of my favorites for years.

LMC: Yup, the demon vampire has an interesting history portrayed on Milesí site.  I think those big old ears fell off at one point.  Wouldnít mind owning one myself.

LMC: Whatís your favorite sculpture done by someone else and why?  Doesnít have to be a mask.                                                 

CH: Too hard to single out one. I love to see lots of character, detail, and realism. Thereís so much great stuff out there, I just couldnít say.

LMC: Do you collect masks?

CH:Iím not a mask collector, but I do love seeing them in person.

LMC: Talk about the Executioner you did for Death Studios

CH: Iíve been a Death Studios fan for years, and noticed that they carried masks that were sculpted by other artists. I sent Jeff Death pictures of some of my stuff last year and asked him about doing a mask for DS. He was really receptive, so I went to work with various designs.

 I went through several before I landed on the one that ended up becoming the Executioner. I wanted to try something different than the executioners that Iíd seen. A friend of mine gave me the idea of doing a big, molded leather look, and I thought that that was different from what Iíd seen before, so I went with it. Jeff had wanted a ďmask wearing a maskĒ look, so I tried to design the outer mask so that it would shadow the characterís exposed features. This way, the leather mask expression remains dominant. But if you look more closely, thereís some cool detail in the mouth area.  

Though I spent several months occasionally working on the sculpture, I ended up with a lot less detail than I had wanted. But I think that the basic design is fairly mean looking, and worked out well. The front piece has a stamped in drawing of lady justice holding a large ax and scales with the phrase ďNone Are InnocentĒ beneath. That was the kind of decorative detail that was my attempt at emulating Don Lanningís stuff. Mostly, that I even finished the thing is enough of an accomplishment.


  LMC: Talk about the reality of selling a mask through a company like Death Studios?  Was it what you thought it would be?

CH: I suppose that it is. Itís great to have something that I made produced by the best place out there. Quite a compliment. And I love the fact that one of my pieces is going out there to the public. Financially, Iíll probably receive just enough to cover the material costs in making it. But thatís not what interested me in doing it. Theyíre not a big operation, so the numbers are much smaller. But Iíd rather have something made by a talented crew like at DS rather than some Indonesian sweatshop anyway.

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