Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?
Before I joined the Funko team, I worked predominantly as an artist/illustrator within the snow/skate industry. I designed board graphics for Roxy, Lib-Tech, Gnu & many others. It was a great feeling to think that my artwork was on some great adventure, riding through the spine of a mountain or rails at a skatepark. At the same time, I was also freelancing work to other companies, painting custom guitars for Fender & actively participating in the Seattle art scene. I still design graphics for snow/skateboards, recently doing a line for Omen Longboards. But these days, I concentrate mostly on my own work alongside concepting for toys.
I actually landed my job with Funko through a local artisan show, the Oddmall Emporium. Before the event, I had sent my resume to Funko, applying for a position as a concept artist. Weeks went by and I didn’t think anything of it really. I just assumed that Funko had hired someone internally or found an artist with a better portfolio. As it goes, I was at my event when Sean Wilkinson’s wife introduced herself to me and proceeded to buy some of my artwork. Since most of my pieces are collaborations of hand-drawn & digital elements, she was enthused about my process and the detail in my artwork. Then she insisted that I meet her husband. As we walked up to Sean’s booth, she told me that he was the Creative Director for a local toy company called Funko. I noticed the toys set about the booth so, figuring I had nothing to lose, I stuck my hand out to shake his hand and jokingly thanked him for passing up my resume. It was a sarcastic & humorous introduction between the two of us, but Sean must have liked my attitude because he asked me to come into the Funko office. I’ve been with the company ever since!
What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?
My biggest artistic influence has come from my dad. He was a Snohomish County Sheriff and when I was little, he would come home from his shifts and tell me to pick something out for him to draw. I would pick something and he would draw it for me. His work was always elegant and detailed, making me want to follow his lead as an artist. Pretty soon, the tables turned and he was asking me to draw things for him.
As for favorite artists, I have too many to count. I’d have to say that I am currently obsessed with James Jean. He has such a unique and organic style to his work, adding lush details and color to each piece. Additionally, his paintings are just immense. You can get lost in them, finding something new each time you look at them. I’m also a fan of Elizabeth McGrath, Lauren Marx, Skinner & Godmachine!
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?
Funko has definitely been a great experience for me in terms of projects, especially because our artist team works so cohesively with our sculptors. My favorites include the Super Deluxe Deadpool, Fallout 4 & the latest Adventure Time figures. But my all-time fave has been the Dark Crystal Pop!s. I grew up watching Jim Henson’s films so anything related to his movies has been nothing short of amazing. I’m really proud of the work I was able to put into the concepts & Nnenna Ijiomah was the perfect sculptor for the project.
What programs and/or tools do you use most often?
My “go-to” program will always be Illustrator. When I was doing board graphics full-time, I noticed that a lot of the artists in the snowboard/skate industry were either very familiar with digital programs or they weren’t at all. The most successful artists were the ones who were able to combine their traditional drawing skills with digital applications, formatting their work to meet industry standards. That said, I dove headfirst into teaching myself how to work in Illustrator and it has helped immensely with my art career.
What is your dream project?
Already happened. I was able to design a cover for Marvel so I can check that off my Bucket List… I will say, however, that I would love to see a line that showcases the Funko artists more and the creativity we all bring to the table. Creating our own designs based off of our own artwork would be such an amazing feat for all of us here!
What do you collect?
Vintage taxidermy… lots and lots of taxidermy… lol
And toys! Don’t forget toys!
What is your favorite medium?
I like to try my hand at everything, but my favorite mediums are ink and watercolor. My art tends to be pretty detailed so those work best for me, especially with fine detailing and color. I’d love to start integrating more 3-D elements into my work. The sculptors here at Funko are on another level of talent and watching them work really inspires me to push my own pieces to the next level!
Any advice for aspiring toy designers?
Never stop learning and the word “NO” means “Next Opportunity” … =)