Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?
I've always been heavily involved in creating characters and stories through traditional and digital art as well as theatre production. If I went back in time and told tiny me that I'd eventually be doing what I do now I would probably explode from either the sheer joy and disbelief or the universe trying to correct the anomaly in the time stream.
I graduated from DigiPen with a degree in Digital Arts and Animation with the intent of going into film or games. I'd been made aware of Funko while at school and had previously applied (the idea of working on toys – not to mention properties I was so passionate about – was unbelievable!). But, the timing wasn't right. For about a year after I graduated I was stuck in the job hunt. I decided to apply again to a new position at Funko that had popped up. Fast-forward to me simultaneously scooping poop at my job at a Pet Hotel and having an out-of-body experience after receiving an email to set up a phone interview with Funko. The rest is history!
What do you do for Funko?
When I applied, I had no idea I would be the very first Rendering Designer on the Funko Art Team! Since Funko's always growing I'm now joined by other two fabulous digital wizards on the render front, and with the photo production artists we take the form of an elite team at Funko known as the “Glam Squad.”
As soon as a figure is digitally sculpted I can go to work! I am primarily in charge of coloring up sculpts to match their real-life counterparts and digitally rendering them to create images for packaging and marketing. A really cool part of my job is being able to work at any part of the toy making pipeline – I will also color up sculpts to help determine the paints and printed designs that are used in production. If needed I also help prep sculpts for digital printing as well. So there's photo production, editing and compositing, lots of 3D finagling, a healthy splash of design work and tons of puzzle solving!
What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?
As a fledgling video game nerd growing up in the N64 era I'm in love with accessible whimsy. I've always been inspired by the vibrant worlds of point and click and story-based games and as a hardcore Nintendo and Blizzard fangirl must confess that fantasy settings like in the Legend of Zelda series, Warcraft and Pokémon shaped my love of art and monsters.
I'm also hugely inspired by incredible cartoons -- especially those that have cropped up recently such as Steven Universe, Gravity Falls and Over the Garden Wall.
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?
I'm kind of blown away by how many things I've worked on that I'm so passionate about. When I was new I was handed the Steven Universe Mystery Minis and the Star Wars: Rogue One Pop!s and just about passed out. It's an opportunity in some way to contribute to those universes, and that's so cool.
I also loved working on the Preacher Pop!s! Since I had loose concepts at the time I got the chance to dig into the reference and help establish the colors and patterns of the figures, my favorite being Cassidy's blood soak pattern!
What programs and/or tools do you use most often?
My tools of the trade are ZBrush, Keyshot, Photoshop, and Illustrator primarily, with the help of a pile of Pantone swatch books, notepads filled with chicken scratch and my Overwatch Winston Pop! (for moral support).
What is your dream project?
SO MANY!! My biggest video game desire is for Pop!s of The Most Excellent Game Psychonauts! It's been a HUGE influence on me since it came out and the characters and their shape language would suit the line perfectly. Valve games, Okami and Undertale figures would also be incredible! And since I'm a big Nintendo fan I would basically keel over if we were able to get the licenses for my favorites.
Another non-video game #1 has got to be Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is one of my favorite animated series of all time! There are so many incredible iconic characters – it would be incredible to work on. Other various dream projects would be Madoka Magica, Princess Jellyfish, One Punch Man, Gravity Falls, Over the Garden Wall, more LAIKA, Miyazaki films, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Studio Killers, Homestuck, old Humongous Entertainment kids' games… And on and on and on.
I've already gotten to work on a few dream projects, which is truly surreal. Being a major fan of Overwatch I'm overwhelmed at the idea of working closely with these characters, and I'm hungry for more!!
What do you collect?
Since starting at Funko I've amassed a healthy amount of toys!
What is your favorite medium?
It's hard to choose! My weapon of choice is usually Photoshop or any mixture of traditional/digital media!
Any advice for aspiring toy designers?
“Every problem is a puzzle to be solved!” That's some Mom advice that I've kept with me and it's helped me in every facet of the wild and wooly world experience. Sometimes life is a crapshoot – even if you have gobs of passion and put in that hard work, things may not work out like you expect. Get yourself out there, go with the flow and keep on pushing!