Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?
Although I've only officially been an employee for 2 1/2 years, I have a very long and interesting history with Funko. Years ago, I worked at a t-shirt company designing Looney Tunes shirts with Sean Wilkinson and Rob Schwartz. Mike Becker was our boss. That company was going out of business and everyone was looking for new work. This was when Mike, Sean, and Rob started working on the Big Boy Wobbler and launched Funko. After the t-shirt company closed down, I did freelance work for Funko for about 2 years; not a lot, mostly packaging design. I did design one Wacky Wobbler, Dick Tracy.
Forward many years, I stayed close friends with Sean and Rob and watched Funko grow. Many of my other artist friends went to work there as well. My job at the time was a good one but I had been there many years and wanted to move on. I emailed Sean, who is now the art director, and told him I wanted to come work for Funko. The next day I got a phone call from Damon Johnson (another great friend) who does most of Funko's packaging design, who asked me if I'd be interested in doing the Batmobile illustration for the new Pop! Ride. I jumped at the opportunity and completed it over the weekend. Sean contacted me that following week asking when I could start. Incidentally, Funko didn't contact me because of my email. They already knew they wanted me to do the illustration (it pays to know people). Easiest job transition I ever had and BEST career choice I ever made.
What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?
I have to say, the people I work with blow me away every day. I can't say enough about the 3D sculptors we have here. They make us concept artists look great. What an amazing group we have here in the Funko Art Department.
I love OLD retro art. Mostly comic artists. I think they have set the standard for graphic design over the last 70 years without people even knowing it. Jack Kirby is the King. Other greats are Mac Raboy, Alex Ramond, Mike Ditko, Dick Sprang, Mark Schultz, Dave Stevens, Jim Lee, Mark Silvestry, and Todd McFarlane, and many others.
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?
When I started, I was jealous that Star Wars had already been done. I approached Sean about Battlestar Galactica Pop!s. When we got the license, he gave it to me. The classic Cylon Pop! is one of my favorites. I also did my favorite version of Batman (the 50's retro Dick Sprang Pop!), Voltron Pop! and Hikari, the Conan Pop!s, Avengers Age of Ultron- especially the Hulkbuster (that was a HUGE challenge), Captain America Civil War Pop!s, Mystery Minis and Dorbz, the Ecto 1 Pop! Ride, and pretty much all of the Pop! Rides.
What programs and/or tools do you use most often?
Illustrator, Photoshop, and a #2 pencil (with a good eraser).
What is your dream project?
That is a really tough one. I'm living the dream every day at Funko. So many have already run by my desk or have already been done. I'd love to see a non-licensed Funko line so that we as an art department could create our own designs. We've toyed with the idea. Maybe someday it will happen.
What do you collect?
Batmobiles and die-cast model cars. I LOVE Batmobile toys. I even create my own custom Batmobiles from diecast models.
What is your favorite medium?
I really enjoy the challenge making impossible things out of everyday existing things. I made a rocketeer rocketpack out of foam crab buoys, plastic garage sale signs, toilet plungers, and whatever else I could find. It took me months but it turned out awesome. I also make poster board sci-fi helmets from pepakura files that you can find online. I made an entire Classic Cylon costume that way. Most of my Illustrations are done using Illustrator and Photoshop.
Any advice for aspiring toy designers?
I would say take a good look at your favorite toys. See how they are put together. You have to be able to visualize and draw front, back and both sides to design a toy. Practice that. Always draw and practice. And remember, failures are always learning experiences. They will make you a better artist.