I’ve heard you like to give your masks a backstory. Talk about the
reasons for that? What are some of the more interesting ones?
If it’s an original design, for a mask or for a character in a film,
you have to give it some kind of history that will dictate its
appearance. Your design might have a mouth full of teeth, etc. but
why? If you give it a physical history…a logical reason to have a
mouth full of teeth, it will improve on your design. The Chupacabra
is an example. I took all the eye witness reports of the creature
and found some common features. Small & ape like…horns on the crest
of the head…large red eyes…sharp teeth, etc. I looked to nature to
show me why these people were seeing these attributes. I shaped the
head like an infant’s or a dwarf’s…the horns were extensions of the
skull and were of similar tissue, like finger nails and growing in
layers and based on a rhino’s…the skin around the horns was based
on an extreme
up of my cuticles…the large eyes fit in with the infant type
cranium, the ears were shaped like a bat’s since I figured it was
nocturnal, etc. Once you have these physical reasons for the
appearance, it’s easy to track down your photographic reference and
apply each attribute. You piece all the varying references together
to make a fictional creature come across more real…to “sell” it to
What do you have on the sculpting table today?
just finished a “Wacky Wobbler” sculpt for Funko. You’ve seen those
head bobbers? This one was of Bossmoss from the 70s cereal, “the
Freakies”. I also did the box art. I’ve just started gearing up for
another commission for Ron Lassonde…Medusa from “Clash of the
Titans”. It’s going top be interesting. It’s a “one off”,
unfortunately. I’ve also decided to do another mask for myself for
Halloween that I’ll be selling after Oct. I’m sure there’s a few
fans of this character.
artists that inspire you now?
Ooh…loaded question. I couldn’t say one or two, because later I’d
think of five more and wonder if I’d insulted them. There are so
many that I like for their particular style and subjects, that
mentioning a few would open a can of worms. Suffice it say, I’d like
to work with Henry Alvarez someday on a project…and maybe do
something for Madam Tussaud’s.
type of work are you doing these days to pay the bills?
I’ve done my share of advertising premiums, resin kits, prototypes,
etc. I’ve also moved into the CG world as a conceptual artist (yes,
they still need stuff done in pencil first!) on some projects. I
worked on the Jimmy Neutron feature and series as conceptual artist
and storyboards. The same production company, DNA, is now working
with Tom Hanks on another project where I’m back doing conceptual
art and as acting liaison between the art department and the CG
modeling department. I’m also doing more mask work now than I ever
had. I just finished a piece for Darkside Paul. Eventually…and I keep saying this…I’m going to
launch my own mask site.
Do you have ideas what type of lineup you
trying to gear more towards a retro type of line. Some old Don Post
retakes (like Tor) and some kooky stuff…pop monster concepts.
LMC: Any advice to give to someone wanting to
get into mask creation?
up...it’s fun!! Don’t worry about screwing up, just jump in and make
the mistakes. There’s nothing more thrilling than pulling, out of a
mold, a rubber copy of what once was just clay.
type of clay do you work in?
What do I not work in? I like wet clay and I’ve done a lot of pieces
out of Kleen Klay for masks. Roma and Chavant I reserve for
appliances, especially ones that I float off. Sculpey, of course, is
best for prototypes, but I’ve heard it used for appliances.
You got a sketch from your idea?…get reference photos of real things
to use as a guide to sculpt with. A photo, or photos, of whatever,
should be at your side like your sculpting tools. Let the clay
dictate the organic feel for a sculpt. I see people (myself
included) labor over a design trying to make it seem alive, just to
get it to look like something sculpted…not organic. The clay IS
organic and you can let it show you how the forms fall. Dick Smith
talks about this in his notes and interviews. The building up of
balls and rounded shapes of clay to rough out your forms is the best
technique. You have to think of flesh which is encased in skin.
Rounded, gaunt, or even tissue thin, flesh is an elastic material
laid over bone. Weight effects the creases, the way it hangs, the
texture. The best examples are Dick’s sculpts. The flesh has a
weight to them...like they’ve been lived in.
you take Dick Smith’s course
Best money you can spend. You know the ending to “Raiders of the
Lost Ark” where they open the Ark of the Covenant and all this
immense power comes flowing out? …the Nazi’s face melts off ‘n
stuff? Well, they were gazing upon Dick’s notes! That kind of
knowledge is too much for some people.
paint medium do you use?
been using PAX since ’86 and really like the flexibility. I can go
opaque or do wash after wash. I can put it on with a chip brush,
sponge or airbrush.
you tried other mediums like rubber cement or latex based paint?
tried the rubber cement in the early days, but didn’t like the toxic
level. It did have a good bite, though.
Any tips on how to create that perfect
of the key things about paint, is layers. If you want the skin to
look real, you look to nature and see that almost all skin is in
layers. On 99% of the creatures you will make, they will be based on
things we recognize from this planet…even if they are supposed to be
aliens or demons. Whatever. We all have layers of derma and that
gives us that look or depth. Our teeth, hair, eyes, etc. all have
layers. To get that look on something solid, like latex, you have to
build up in translucent layers. Depending on the subject, I start
out with a base coat brushed on, (sometimes I have used the latex
color as a starting point) then break it up with texture to hide
the brush strokes. I then add a wash of it’s darker shade for the
details in the creases and folds. If the shade color is too
contrasting, I come back over that with a wash of the base coat to
tone it down. If it’s human flesh, I add washes of brick red in the
extremities and then light washes of a grey brown in the areas where
shadows would fall. If the reds are too hot or bright, I go over
them with a wash of ochre/flesh or sometimes a grey/green. The
grey/green has to be a watercolor thin wash and it balances out the
reds. All these layers will give your piece a fleshier look.
Monsters can be done the same way…in layers of wash. For teeth, bone
or horns, I leave the naked latex exposed and make sure to gloss it.
Sometimes I do a brown wash at the base of the tooth or horn.
had 5 million dollars, what would you spend your days doing?
the same thing I’m doing now. My ’63 Mercury Monterey would have
it’s exhaust manifold gasket fixed and be running, but other than
that...pretty much the same thing I’m doing now…working with the
people I like.
suffice to say you might be willing to give me that 5 million since
you don’t really need it
Well, minus the cost to fix your car of course.
I’d know where to go to borrow some money, no questions asked.
should’ve stolen the grey ball of clay instead of the red. Red is
hard on the eyes to work with.
have trouble sleeping at night with that theft weighing so heavily
on your mind?
makes you happy
my 6 year old playing with monster toys. Working. Spending time
with my best friend and the love of my life, Penny.
having enough time to do all the projects that I want to work on.
Too many ideas…not enough time.