Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?
Similarly to the other two sculptresses, I went to college to study 3D art and animation. By the end of my fourth year I knew that I wanted to create characters for a living. Unfortunately for all aspiring character artists in the game industry, the opportunity is rare.
Luckily by knowing Nnenna I saw that she had started working at Funko some months after graduating. I’ve never considered that this could be a viable career opportunity – a job making toys. It just sounded too good to be true. Fast forward two months, and through Nnenna I find that Funko is hiring a sculptor again. Two weeks later I’m hired and working a dream job!
What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?
The past decade of my life I’ve fairly strongly gravitated towards Art Nouveau, an art movement in the early 19th century. Gustav Klimt might be my favorite painter; I love his mix of realistic figures, abstract shapes and fantastic color and how it all clashes together in a single painting. Otherwise I get inspired from just about anything, especially anything to do with fantasy.What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?
Favorites always change, but some projects that I’ve really enjoyed working on have been the Universal Monsters Pop!s, Game of Thrones Mystery Minis Series 2, Napoleon Dynamite Pop!s, Vinyl Vixens (which I had the privilege of bringing to life from Sean Wilkinson’s sketches), Fifth Element ReAction and most recently the newest Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean Pop!s. I could go on.What programs and/or tools do you use most often?
99% of my time is spent in Zbrush, a 3D sculpting program.
What is your dream project?
Xena Warrior Princess - the reason being fairly nostalgic. I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in Russia. Back then we only had nine channels of television available, and the selection was not very kid friendly. I remember watching shows together with my Mom that probably a five/six year old shouldn’t have watched, one of them being Xena. I do remember becoming very fond of the show. It taught me that women can kick butt as much as any male hero, a very good influence on a little girl in my opinion.What do you collect?
I don’t think I’m much of collector, but I’ve inadvertently have become a collector of Funko things haha. I guess I can never say no to a good art book. One of my favorite things to do at Conventions is to check out the artists alleys and look through sketchbooks that these artists release every year. Also I love to collect random collectibles and plush toys that satisfy my favorite fandoms.
What is your favorite medium?
I’m glad I’m a 3D sculptor because Zbrush has been my favorite medium for the past four or so years. I love the freedom that Zbrush gives of being able to realize anything you can imagine and in the meantime you don't have to worry about making mistakes. The program was created by artists for artists, so even a traditional sculptor with enough patience can learn to use the program without any knowledge of 3D modeling.
Any advice for aspiring toy designers?
There will always be exceptions, but to be a designer or sculptor in the toy industry you have to be a good artist with solid fundamental art skills. You need to understand color, balance, shapes, volumes, basic anatomical knowledge, and so on. You need to know what makes something appealing and intriguing to the eyes whether it’s terrifying monster, or a pretty girl. The better you understand your artistic fundamentals, the better your designs will be and the more successful a finished project.