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Old 01-21-2007, 03:59 PM   #1
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lost interview with Randy Bowen

this interivew was originally in two parts, it will now be in one section for ease of recreation.

Statueforum interview with Randy Bowen of Bowen Designs:

Well folks here it is the December shopping interview and it is with none other than Randy Bowen.

As many folks here at statueforums know Randy is considered one of the reasons that there is a market for pre-paint statues for comic books characters. His phase 1 of the Marvel mini bust line also made them realize that people would buy partial figures of the characters they grew to love while reading comics. As well full figure pieces.

SF: When did you officially go professional?
Randy: Professional at sculpting was about 1987.

SF: What were some of your early gigs?
Randy: I used to work for a company that designed and built gigantic, over-scale Christmas displays for shopping malls. I used to do things like sculpt giant seashells, life-sized elf houses, carousel animals, and things like that.

SF: What was your first professional sculpture?
Randy: It was proably the Morlock, from the George Pal film: The Time Machine for Lunar Models.

Before I started sculpting professionally/freelance, I was sculpting/creating things in my own garage. I was one of the first guys to do something called “garage kits,” which was basically a guy (like me) sitting at home, making his favorite monster or superhero, then molding it, taking it to conventions, and selling it. That was back in the Eighties. I didn't evn know what licensing was at the time.

It was back then that Mike Richardson from Dark Horse Comics (President) saw some of my stuff at a comic book convention and tracked me down, and I started working for Dark Horse in ’91.

I worked with Dark Horse for two years, and then I started my own company. Simultaneously, I was also working for DC and launched their statue line, and was lobbying hard for Marvel to do the same thing. None of the groups realized that I was "working" all of them at the same time. The mini-bust thing came about from my garage kit days. I was looking for a product that was a lower price point and took up less space. I started sculpting them at shows, just to give demonstrations. People responded positively, and there you have it. The creation of the mini-bust!

SF : Ok Randy some bio information about any schooling would be cool, classes, and really neat teacher you still remember.  Give me some good stuff or I may have to call Rocky and get some dirt… hehe

Born: December 2nd, 1961
Graduated High School: 1980 Lewiston Idaho
Attended University of Idaho, and the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland,California.

SF; Did you study art in school?

Randy: Yes. Pretty much. My grandma used to entertain us kids by letting us play with plasticene (oil based clay) all day. I seemed to have a knack for it.

My dad was a shoe repair/saddle maker. He taught me how to build saddles, tool leather, repair shoes, etc. I never really planned on becoming a sculptor. I just knew that I loved to sketch, and work with my hands. I still draw quite a bit, and it was drawing before it was sculpting. So it was a natural progression.

I was always doing art in one form or another my entire life. In high school I was lucky enough to attend a class in bronze sculpting and casting. My first cast pieces were done in this bronze class in Lewiston Idaho. My mom still has one of my first pieces in her house. It's Roman Gladiator with a very sharp lance. She occasionally has guests at her house who've been sqewered by the spear that the figure carries!

After that; I attended art school at the College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, but it wasn’t to learn how to sculpt Marvel statues per se'. It was mainly to get a general background in art. Then I just started "doing it". I didn’t graduate – I only went for two years, then I started working. Mike Mignola attended the same school, but one year ahead of me.

Randy does not only sculpt Marvel comic pieces, he is the Sculptor of the famous Seinfeld Superman that was always on Jerry’s shelf in the apartment. As well as sculpting jewelry pieces for friends and family. Also you can find the rare painting done by Randy.

He not only has sculpted for the big companies he also has sculpted for smaller companies and artists. The Goon, Madman and the original Hellboy pieces he did years before the movie ever came out. Randy teamed up with the artist for each one of these and made sure that the vision of the artist was in the final product.

There is also the R. Crumb work and the golden age of comics heroes he has done.

Having met Randy in person more than a few times I’ve always found him to be personable and polite to even the most pushy fans at the conventions. I’ve seen him take time out to make sure he got pieces signed for folks before going to eat lunch. He was signing for hours until we finally had to have him eat.

I find his input on the forums to be refreshing and rare from a large producer. Even with all of the hype and issues that come up Randy still pops in and lets us know that opinions do count to him and the final product put out for the collectors..

Well enough of the “fluff stuff let get to the Q&A!”

SF: Randy I want to say thanks for doing this interview. I know you are pretty busy right now trying to ensure everything is done on phase 2 and out for the masses. I hope you have not been drinking to much Coffee.

Randy: Just green tea today Charles!

SF: hmmmm there is a lot of questions that folks have asked me to ask you. I’m not sure where to begin. So here goes.

This phase of work you are using more “new” sculptors than last phase. What do you think of this “new crop” of sculptors? The Gabe Perna’s and Mark Van Tine to name a couple.

Randy: To paraphrase a famous advertising tiger: I think they're grrrreeeat! .Most sculptors have their own personal strengths and weaknesses. I try to give the sculptor pieces that will compliment that sculptors strengths.

SF: Now in talking with a lot of the sculptors you have worked with, almost all of them have told me your eye for the human figure and comic character anatomy is one of the best in the industry. What do you feel about a compliment like this?

Randy: I'm flattered. It's always easier to spot flaws in other people's work than your own. That's why I like to show "sneak peaks" on the forum. Sometimes the collectors will spot something that I miss.
It used to be very difficult for me to give criticism to sculptors. I sued to be afraid of offending the sculptor. The way I look at it now is different. I'm just trying to make the line as cohesive as I can.

SF: OK Randy this one is a materials question. With all the different types of materials that are available to sculpt in what is your favorite and why?

Randy: It' no secret that I like Super Sculpey the best. It's just a personal choice thing. A lot of guys like the wax. I've never put the time in to figure out the best ways to use it. Good ol' Super Sculpey works best for me. In fact, I had lobbied Polyform Products (the makers of Sculpey) to produce their clay in gray. Not only have they finally done so; but they’ve also created a firmer version of it. This makes it easier to sculpt faces and areas of fine detail. The gar pigment makes a big difference because it helps to hide the fingerprints and smudges that regular Sculpey was notorious for.

Also when a person is working for you do you ask them to work in a certain material? If so is this so that you can do tweeks if needed to the final piece?

Randy: I tell them that I would prefer they work in Super Sculpey. In my experience, it just ships better, and it makes it easier for me to affect repairs if it's damaged in shipping. Many times we've received wax pieces that are warped or damaged en route. I've had to learn to work with wax somewhat by default; just so I can repair these pieces when they come in.

SF: What are your favorite sculpting tools? Can we see some pictures of the tools?

Randy: Sure; I mostly make my own tools. Thyere are not a lot of good ones on the market. If I ever get time, I want to create a line of sculpting tools and market them with a sculpting DVD.

SF: Ok Randy now let's go back in time say 12+ years or so to the early days. How did you transition from the garage kits that you started doing to the work for Dark horse comics, then to DC and then Marvel work? Was there one piece that just really got more attention than something else? If so what was that break through piece?

Randy: I had been trying to pitch statue production to all three companies simultaneously. I had been doing a lot of horror/comics shows with much success. At the time I was still molding and casting all my own pieces in my garage. Conversely, I hd also been doing freelance sculpture work for some companies in China (Dragon Ball Z figures). This is where I got my initial contacts for overseas production.

Everything sort of came together all at once. It was a difficult juggling act, because I was employed full-time with Dark Horse, as head of the Product development Dept, working free lance for DC, and lobbying hard for statues and busts at Marvel. None of these companies wanted me to be working for the others, yet at the time, none of them were paying me to be "exclusive". This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

SF: what is the one piece that you wished did not get produced? And why?

Randy: Sheesh, quite a few of them actually. The pieces that I was doing for DC, (and in particular Superman and Batman) were pretty dissapointing.

The Batman that I wanted to do would have been more of a "classic" version. The one that ended up being produced was based on the Kelly Jones - "Red Rain" series from DC. Nothing wrong with the source material, but I wanted to do something that was more iconic. The sculpture was also changed without consulting me (they elongated the neck on the painted statue). I went back and "corrected it" for the bronze version.

The one that I usually mention as regrettable is the Superman sculpture. Number one, I was moving from California to Oregon at the time I was doing the piece.. Number 2, It was a design by committee type of project. There were probably six different people who were having input on how the final thing looked. The whole thing was very disappointing in the end. The ironic thing is that it was used on the Seinfeld show for almost the entire run of the show, and was the entre' for my wife and I to make an appearance on the program as extras. It has since become one of my most recognized pieces because of this.

SF: To date what is your Favorite sculpt you have done. The one you think you really nailed the art perfectly?

Randy: I don't think any of my pieces have really "nailed" anything perfectly. There are pieces that I'm less embarrassed by than others. But in the long run, I see my body of work as one long learning process. The piece that I'm most often told are the best are (in no particular order): The Death Dealer, Doctor Doom, Silver Surfer, and a few others.

The Death Dealer is probably the one I'm happiest with. Not so much for my contribution, but mostly because I was collaborating with one of the greatest artists of the past 100 years: Frank Frazetta. During that time he gave me a lot of wisdom; verbally and simply by osmossis.

SF: Now that you have been doing this for a while what is the coolest thing that has happened to you because of sculpting?

Randy: Good question. I guess the coolest thing is that I'm able to make a living doing this. I'd probably be working in graphic design or something if I wasn't doing this. Other than that- It's afforded me the ability to meet a lot of folks that I wouldn't have normally been exposed to. Meeting famous artists,actors, directors, writers and creative people I've admired is the icing on the cake.

One of the best things is when I go to shows, a lot of sculptors mention that I had sparked their interest in working with clay, and frequently reference an interview and 'how-to' sections that I done for various books and magazines.

SF: Ok Randy this is the last question of the interview. What in Phase 3 has you the most excited so far about producing it?

Randy: Hooboy…um let's see.(pause) There's a lot of cool pieces. Nothing in particular but I am looking forward to working with Mark Newman again (the Scorpion, Black Bolt), as well as The huge Sentinal sculpture from Carl Surges. I'm also enjoying working again with the Shifflett Bros, the Kucharek Brothers, Ryan Trificana (who's sculpted an awesome Venom piece),the ever reliable Jim Maddox, Ray Villafane, Tony Ciprinao, John Cleary, Barsom, Sam Greenwell, Gabe Perna, Erick Sosa, BrunoBolteau, and Mike Petryszak.

SF: Well folks once again I would like to thank Randy for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with me for Statueforum.

Now we will ask him if there is a sneak preview he can only give us for this article??????

Randy: I've got a few things I could show, but I'm pretty sure the collectors would like me to hold something back?

Randy Bowen interview part 2

This is part 2 of the Randy Bowen interview this month at Statueforum.

SF: Well Randy you may have thought we where done with you, but no not yet. Some of the members somehow found out you where my interview this month and had some questions they wanted answered. I hope you do not mind.

Randy: No problemo mi amigo!

SF: alright Randy here goes. When you started sculpting and then Bowen Designs did you ever expect to be the company that many hold other firms to in quality and appearance?

Randy: I never really thought about it that way. In the back of my mind, I just want the sculptures (in general) to look like my favorite version of the character from when I was a kid. As evidenced by some releases, I can be swayed by opinions expressed on the forum. Brian Bendis recently paid me a compliment when he referred to Bowen Designs as “the gold standard” for comics statues.

SF: Ok then since you are typically busy doing the sculpting or reviewing others works. What do you do during the day to break up the routine?

Randy: You mean besides lurk on the forum and eat pie? (laughs) A lot of stuff actually. I usually stop working as soon as my daughter comes home from school. I’m officially on “Dad time” after that.

SF: Well it is common knowledge to folks that have read your posting over time that you enjoy riding motorcycles. What else do you like to do to relax, with family or the rare times you can get away by yourself?

I work out of my home studio to reduce distraction at the office, but usually , about 3-4 times a week, I head down to the office on one of my motorcycles to sign statues, check paint jobs, etc.

For fun, I try to schedule poker games with my pals, cross country motorcycle runs, scuba diving, abstract painting, target shooting etc. I rarely sculpt anything just for ‘fun’. My job is fun- enough!

Oh, in answer to your question on “alone time”: Next week I’m going scuba diving by myself for 4 days

If you would perhaps lets us post a picture of one of your bikes?

Randy: Sure- here’s a shots of my 99 Indian Chief (used to model the Ghost Rider statue)

SF: is there anything you would like to share perhaps that was not asked?

Randy: Here’s a couple of tidbits:

1) One of my motorcycles will be included in an upcoming Daredevil story illustrated by Bendis collaborator Alex Maleev. It’s depicted in a scenne with Bullseye whippin-ass on Daredevil and Elektra. Alex lives in Portland and asked if he could use one of the bikes as inspiration.

2) The sculpted heads from my Daredevil statue was used on DD’s billy club in the Daredevil movie. If you freeze frame it you can see them. Heres some shots:

Thanks very much for all of your time Randy.

RB: Thanks for asking Charles!
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Old 01-22-2007, 06:30 AM   #2
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Cool, but I don't see any pics.
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Old 01-24-2007, 06:23 PM   #3
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very cool, i havent been on the boards too long, this makes me feel like i know randy a little better hahaha!

btw i cant see pics either, um yea.
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Old 01-24-2007, 06:41 PM   #4
Yeah, I spend WAY too much time here!
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Thanks for posting the article CK.
Now I know a little more about the sculptor that I buy from
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Old 01-24-2007, 07:13 PM   #5
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Cool. Where are the pics Randy's referring to?
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:22 PM   #6
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guys i am still looking for the pics. these are a repost of interviews that where lost due to some issues. i hope to find the pictures soon.
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Old 02-13-2007, 05:59 AM   #7
Yeah, I spend WAY too much time here!
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That was a good read..............

but you guys didnt mention LOST once....Does Randy not watch it???
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