Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?
After I graduated from high school in Seattle where I was born and grew up, I decided to join the Navy for a few years and use my GI bill to go to art school. After my time in the Navy I went to The Burnley School of Professional Art which later became the Art Institute of Seattle. After graduating in 1981 I landed my first art job at a small screenprint company in Tukwila, WA and then went on to spend the next 30 plus years and several different jobs at various screenprint companies doing graphics for screenprinted apparel. My years at Burnley and my first couple of jobs were back in the days before computers and graphic software so I learned my trade drawing everything by hand, inking and using stat camera's and doing all the color separations by hand, cutting rubylith with x-acto knives etc. Everything I did in those early days were done using rapidograph pens, and t-squares and circle templates. So needless to say when computers came along I was thrilled and adapted very quickly to the new technology and never once looked back and never once missed ruining my clothes with stat camera chemicals either.
I first met Sean Wilkinson about 20 years ago while we both worked for one of those screenprint companies and I also worked with Rob Schwartz and Mike Martin and Damon Johnson at various places and at different times over the years. What led me to my job at Funko was actually my friend Damon who told me that Funko might be hiring and that Sean was the creative director and of course I remembered Sean from our working together years before. So I went to Funko for kind of an informational interview even though they weren't hiring right then. I talked to Sean and Brian and a few months later Sean called me to do some freelance for them and I did. But it wasn't until about a year later that I finally got hired full time by Funko. I've been at Funko going on three years now (in April) and It's a really great place to work, the work is interesting and challenging and the amount of talent of the people I work with really amazes me.
What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?
I think my first influences were the great old animated features by Walt Disney. I loved Looney Tunes too. I also admired the art of the old Tales From Crypt comic books, I think the artist's name was Al Feldstein. The art of Mad Magazine of course. And Big Daddy Roth, Peter Maxx, Frank Frazetta, R. Crumb, Bernie Wrightson, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, and many others...
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?
Swamp Thing Pop! comes to mind. I really enjoyed working on the WWE Mystery Minis, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Strain, doing the concepts for Lion King and Zootopia. There have been a lot of things I've really enjoyed working on.
What programs and/or tools do you use most often?
Adobe Illustrator is my go to program. Adobe Photoshop also but not as much.
What is your dream project?
Well, being a kid during the 60's I grew up watching those goofy old sitcoms like Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, so I think it would be cool to do Pop!s of old shows like that, but I'm probably the only one - maybe a few other of the older guys at Funko - who would appreciate them.
What do you collect?
Until I started working at Funko I didn't really collect anything, at least not toys. I collect art books, does that count?
What is your favorite medium?
Other than the graphic software that I use for my job at Funko, I do a lot of fine art. I've shown my work quite a bit and have had a couple of things published. I paint a lot of landscapes, the kinds of things people hopefully want to buy to hang up in their homes or offices. I paint mainly in watercolor and acrylics. I also like to work in scratchboard, charcoal and colored pencil.
Any advice for aspiring toy designers?
It's never too late. I didn't start to design toys until I was well over 50. So it's never too late to do what you have a passion for.