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  Dave Britton grew up loving the world of fantasy, and what fantasy world doesn't have strange monsters in it?  Dave took his talents and set out to not only sculpt these amazing creatures, but to invent a new lifeform.  He started out in latex and expanded his horizons to resin.  Dave has created a unique lineup of trophy heads with some of the most outlandish creatures that are rooted in reality.  So much so, that Dave incorporates real elements into alot of his work such as bones.  Read how Dave grew up and how he molded his hobby into alot more.  After the interview, check out Dave's studio: www.headhuntersstudio.com

 

LMC: Did you grow up as a monster fan?

DB:  Oh yeah, ever since I can remember I have always had a fascination with monsters and aliens.  I had all the Star Wars cards and figures.  I would just look at the pictures of the aliens over and over.  The realism of that movie toward a young kid’s mind was incredible.  The way everything was worn out and used.   I had no idea how monsters were made but the subject fascinated me.   I wasn't really into the horror movie monsters all that much growing up.  I liked sci-fi more and was more interested in possible real monsters.   I read everything I could about, Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, UFO's and so on.  I have always had an extreme curiosity about the mysteries within our real world.   Even when I was young, I knew movie monsters were not real.  But Bigfoot and Aliens could be real, that possibility has always intrigued me even to this day. 

LMC: Do you think aliens are out there?

DB:  This may not be the popular view, but I personally do not think there are real aliens out there.  The Earth is so perfectly set in distance and relation to the sun and moon and other planets rotation that I do not think it could have happened by mistake.  I think the Earth is uniquely created and that we are the only aliens in the universe, although I would love to be proved wrong!  I guess that is what makes it so intriguing is that no one really knows.

LMC: Were you an artist when you were young or did you develop your talent later in life?  Any formal training? 

DB: I have always been artistic and into drawing and building things.  When I was young, the first thing I would do when I got a toy was to take it apart to see how it worked.   I loved going to the movies, and writing stories, and magic, and practical jokes.  I was also a big daydreamer and probably would have been diagnosed with A.D.D. if it were today.

I didn’t start sculpting until I was 15 in a pottery class, instead of a clay pot, I made a werewolf head,  I still have it!  It was the first thing I ever sculpted.   I am pretty much self taught, straight out of high school I moved to LA and took a six month course on makeup at a school that I won't even name.  It was kind of a joke, I learned a lot of out dated techniques from the 70's.  

I hit up some studios and showed my portfolio of personal projects and eventually got my foot in the door.  I worked with John Beuchler at Magical Media Industries, and David Miller studios, and a few other projects,  nothing huge.  It was a good experience working, but I had 2 cars stolen and my apartment broken into within a year and a half.  I said see ya to LA and moved to Portland Oregon from there for a more laid back lifestyle.

 

LMC: What did you do at those LA studios? 

DB: Well, my first job was at M.M.I. working on “The Lawnmower man.”   I worked behind the scenes as a lab technician, and later on set to help with the scenes we had prepared for.  I then worked on “Demonic Toys” at M.M. I.  I did some of the sculpting and all of the teeth work for the puppets.   We also did a few test makeups to try and get new film projects.   I later went to work at David Miller Studios,  and worked on “The Addams Family” and “Livewire” I worked as a lab technician mostly doing moldwork and a little sculpting.   A lot of floor sweeping and cleaning up as well.   I am not the type of guy to step on people’s toes so I just worked as a peon most of the time.  I was actually a better sculptor than a lot of people I worked with but they had been there longer, and so I just did my job.

LMC: Did you plan a career in the arts?                         

DB: Yes,  I knew I wanted to work with my hands making things and working in a creative atmosphere.   My career is still ever changing.  I don't think I will ever be content,  I am always wanting to try new things.

LMC: Do you have another day job outside of the art world?

DB:  Well I have done everything from working at a yogurt shop to artificially inseminating cattle to pay the bills, (don't ask)   A little over five years ago I jumped into an opportunity to start my own cellular phone business.  I ran the store myself and did sculpting in the back.   It worked out pretty well,  I now own 3 stores that I named "Wireless FX."  I had to throw the FX in there! hehe,  I am busy with my stores, but with the help of employees, I do most of my work from home so it gives me the opportunity to be with my family and run Headhunters Studio.  

 

LMC: I can’t let that one hang in the wind, “artificially inseminating cattle to pay the bills”.  You better come clean.


DB: Dude, I said don’t ask!  I don’t like to think back to that dark place in my life.  Talk about scary.  Well to be honest,  I live in a very rural area, with dairies and feedlots and farms being many peoples income.  I grew up with cows and horses and changing  miles of sprinkler lines.  I have always been used to hard work and my dad has worked in the cattle industry for over 30 years.  I did that for a couple years to supplement my income.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta help supply all those burgers to Mcdonalds.  I worked around 4 or 5 hours a day and made good money.  Some times you have to roll up your sleeves (literally) and do what needs to be done to pay the bills. 

LMC: How did you get started making masks?  What are some masks you’ve made in the past?  

DB:  I began making masks in high school after that pottery class I was telling you about.  I loved the idea of making a monster and then being able to wear it, and sort of becoming that character.  Scaring people was also fun, making masks, and doing makeup fit my personality.    I immersed myself in every book I could get my hands on and taught myself through trial and error.  I locked myself in my room with a stack of Fangoria magazines and by the time I graduated high school I had made several masks and appliances and worked with a few haunted houses.  I knew that was what I wanted to do.   The first actual makeup I ever did was a Planet of the Apes type monkey on my friend.  The first full head mask was a Freddy Kreuger head.  I sculpted it over styrofoam wig head and it was so small that I could hardly put it on.  Most of the masks I made back then were like skin tight on my face.  I could hardly breathe.   I eventually figured it out and got a full size headform to sculpt off of.   I graduated high school in 1990 and in 1992 I started a company called Britton's Concoctions.  I had like 8 mask designs.  They were all original pieces,  I sold them through the back of Fangoria magazine and at the Saturday marketplace in Portland.   I also sold a couple designs through Death Studio's called Lunartic and Tantrum. 

LMC: How successful was your company?  Did you have a lot of orders?

DB: Not really, it was more of a weekend thing.  I sold maybe around 3 masks a week.  I was young and had no marketing skills and I had a terrible catalog that did not do my masks any justice.   I think I would have done much better if it were packaged and marketed correctly.  Selling is not my specialty.  I just like making the stuff. 

 

LMC: You’ve gotten into large scale resin pieces.  Why the move to resin?

SW: I still love the latex, but I got into making trophy heads for a few reasons.  First of all, I was a little burned out on making humanoid characters.  Every mask has to fit over a head form and so your limited to making similar sizes and shapes.  The majority of collectors requested the masks uncut and never wore them anyway.  So I figured why even call them a mask if your not going to wear it? and if your not going to wear them why stick to humanoid characters?  They were more like display heads,   I wanted to sculpt alien animal heads of different sizes and shapes, so I came up with the trophy head idea.  

I was originally going to make them in latex but decided eventually on resin.  Many of the masks I had made years ago were already rotting away and ripping.  I also wanted to keep the detail in my pieces, and I knew that mask molds lost fine detail after a few pulls.  Many of the heads I was thinking of making would not be able to hold there shape hanging off a wall and would need some sort of rigid underform as well.  I wanted to use a wider variety of paints without having to custom mix everything.  I thought if I used a rigid material, I could use different types of paints and also not have to  worry about the distortion and rotting.  After a little investigation I looked into resin kits.  When I found out I could do them hollow,  I knew this is the way I wanted to go.    I researched the resin kit industry and the materials used.   I asked a lot of questions and bugged people who knew what they were doing until I knew how. 

 

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