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Old 05-08-2011, 04:56 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Melbourne, Aust
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The 2011 Walter O'Neal Interview!

Bullseye has delivered again guys, with SF's own, "Professor Oreo", Walter O'Neal!!!

Shameless Plug?

1. First name?

Walter. Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s an old man’s name. Hopefully I’ll live long enough to look like my name should be Walter.

2. Location?

Vancouver, WA. My wife and I moved here in 2006, although I was born and raised in California. *Fun fact: I live about 20 minutes from Randy Bowen. * Fun fact 2: His house is way nicer than mine.

3. Age

I just turned 36 last month.

4. Martial\Family status?

I’m married to the coolest chick ever. No kids and no plans for any.

5. Pets?
2 cats. One is really sweet, the other is a total dick.

6. Nickname?

Strangely enough, my online handle has become what people actually call me when they meet me in person. So I hear “Oreo” or “Professor” a lot when I’m at conventions. It’s kinda surreal but I totally dig it. It makes me smile.

7. Could you give a brief outline of how you got to where you are in your career?
I quit my job as a production accountant in 2005 to follow my art dreams. I worked on a new 2D painting portfolio, shopped it around and got nowhere. In the process I met some really cool professional sculptorsonline and caught the sculpting bug. I slowly built a sculpting portfolio and Randy Bowen took a chance on me. That lead to some concept art work from DC Direct, which then lead to sculpting work from DC Direct. That eventually lead to sculpting and concept work from Sideshow. So basically 5 years of failing upwards by means of cleverly hiding my incompetence.

8. Primary field?
At my core I’m a 2D guy. I actually enjoy sculpting more than painting, but overall I think I’m a better painter than I am a sculptor. Though I think I’ve found a good spot for myself being a concept artist working in the collectible industry. I get to use all of the info I’ve learned from sculpting to help design pieces that will hopefully work well in 3 dimensions without too many production hassles.

9. Who have you done work for in the industry?

Wizards of the Coast, Bowen Designs, DC Direct, DC Licensing, Sideshow Collectibles. I think that’s everyone…

10. Favorite property?

Comics by far. I like Marvel’s heroes better than DC’s, but I like DC’s villains better than Marvel’s. I was a die-hard X-Men addict as a teenager, but as I got older I started to branch out and fell in love with several DC characters. I adore anything that Bruce Timm has touched in animated form.

11. Do you read comics?

Not as much as I’d like to. I’m generally a trade-waiter so I’m usually several months behind on all fronts. I visit a few comic forums daily though so I keep up with the general action as it happens then pick up the specifics when the trades hit Amazon.

12. Favorite comic?
My own – if I ever finish it…

13. Character?

I don’t really have a single character that I key into as I tend to spread that affection across configurations of teams. My favorites for the longest time were the late 80’s X-men (Wolverine, Collossus, Cyclops,Nightcrawler, Storm etc.). I also loved Alpha Flight and the New Mutants.

14. Favorite comic related movie?
Blade. It shows that any character can be insanely cool if handled properly. Spider-man 2 is great as well.

15. Favorite sculptor who isn't you?

I’m not sure I can pick just one. There are quite a few sculptors I look up to that I mentally keep over my shoulder while working in the hopes that the end result of whatever it is I’m making will impress them on some level. So bouncing around in my head in no particular order I ‘ve got: The Shiflett Bros, Randy Bowen, Mark Newman, Ray Villafane, Andy Bergholtz, Trevor Grove, Tony Cipriano, Martin Canale, Erick Sosa, Keith Kopinski, Troy McDevitt, Rick Force, Paul Komoda, Tim Miller, Simon Lee, Thiago Provin, JimShoop, Jean St. Jean, John Matthews, Jack Matthews, Mat Aylward, and a few others that I’m too tipsy to remember at the moment.

16. What got you into sculpting?
My ineptitude at getting work as a painter. I really enjoy it though because it’s further along the path to bringing a concept to life. It’s just so much more satisfying to see your ideas in 3 dimensions than it is in 2.

17. What was your big break?
Befriending the Shiflett Bros. If I had not met Brandon and Jarrod online and been so inspired and encouraged by them to enter this field I’m not sure where I’d be right now. I owe any and every bit of success that I’ve had to them.

18. Favorite sculpt of your own?

Sadly my favorite pieces of my own are ones that the general public hasn’t seen and some that won’t ever been seen. I’m really proud of a couple of 1:6 scale heads for DC Direct’s Collector Action Figure line that were never released. I’m also still quite happy with a certain series of busts I designed for a pitch to a company that won’t ever be produced either. It’s just part of the business – not everything you make gets released. Though I’m also pretty happy with a recent statue I sculpted for Sideshow (my first full statue as a professional in the industry) which hopefully will be shown pretty soon.

19. Favorite sculpt by someone else?
I adore Ray Villafane’s Batman vs. Killer Croc for DC’s Classic Confrontations line. What he did with the base breaking apart with the pieces of rubble suspended in mid-air is beyond cool. It looks like it’s truly a moment frozen in time as if Batman and Croc are stuck in the Matrix. I might be a touch biased since I provided some concept art for that project but I think my contribution is irrelevant. Everything cool about that piece happened in the sculpting phase and 100% of that credit belongs to Ray.

20. Any sculpting horror stories?

Unfortunately yes. I shared a concept that I was hoping to pitch to a particular company with another, more established artist in the hopes that said artist would give me some pointers on how best to approach that company since he had worked for them quite a bit. The artist gave me some great advice then immediately turned around and pitched a very similar concept to the same company. While I took my time to finely polish my pitch materials, he essentially beat me to the punch with my own idea. His project took off and mine ultimately went nowhere. I was heartbroken, just completely devastated, and I’ve never fully recovered from it.

21. What tools did you use to make you a better sculptor? (books\tutorials\anatomy


Images of the work of much better artists followed swiftly by envy, anger, frustration, perseverance, energy drinks… oh, and a couple of body building magazines to help with anatomy.

22. Who do you most admire in the industry?

Probably the Shifletts as they have carved out a niche for themselves wherein they get to support themselves by producing their own characters. Anybody can sculpt a statue of Superman and sell it, but it takes a special kind of talent to make people excited to own a statue of your original character that doesn’t have an already established franchise behind it. They figured out that riddle and hopefully one day I can figure it out as well.

23. Is there anyone out there you wish you could sculpt like?
Well if I could trade sculpting ability with someone else it would probably be Andy Bergholtz. The dude can sculpt anything and I absolutely adore his aesthetic. Sadly though, if we actually traded skills and Andy was stuck with my sculpting ability he’d probably kill himself.

24. Do you have\had a mentor?
Randy Bowen has been been ultra helpful in giving me pointers not only about sculpting but also about the industry in general. Ray Villafane as well has been incredibly generous with sharing his time and expertise on multiple occasions and has just been a source of tons of great advice. Of course Brandon and Jarrod Shiflett have been crucial to my growth as a professional artist as well. Honestly I was really hoping that Tim Bruckner would fill that mentor role for me but that didn’t quite pan out.

25. Do you listen to music\watch TV while working?
I’ve got a Sony PSP sitting in a speaker dock that I fill with music, podcasts, movies, and stand-up comedy albums sitting on the edge of my desk. It’s great to have all of that stuff together in the same spot where I can rapidly swap through it as my mood changes. Also I work in a few different spots in my house so it’s great that it’s such a small setup that I can easily schlep around with me from room to room.

26. Whats your favorite scale to work in?
Definitely 1:6 scale. Anything larger becomes too much of a hassle for me to manipulate the materials. Anything smaller and I start to go cross-eyed.

27. Dream job?
Working on my own graphic novel and producing various collectibles inspired by its fiction. Until that happens doing what I’m doing now is pretty damn sweet.

28. Dream character to sculpt?
I’d like to take a crack at Wolverine, Nightcrawler or Colossus, but I probably won’t get around to doing any of them unless it’s an actual project from an official license holder.

29. What are you working on now?
Concept art for Sideshow spanning several different licenses.

30. Other hobbies?

Hookers and blow. Just kidding, those are rich people’s hobbies. I’m stuck with video games and booze.

31. Favorite movie?
“The Fountain”. It’s a beautiful movie that asks more questions than it answers, and ultimately leaves the final interpretation of what has transpired to the viewer. I’ve watched it dozens of times and still pick up on new subtle symbolic elements here and there. Strangely enough I really didn’t care for it the first time I saw it. I decided to give it another chance and fell in love with it. “The Prestige” is a close second on my list as well.

32. Favorite album\artist?

Ours – Distorted Lullabies. I could listen to that album on infinite loop forever.

33. Favorite book?
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” or I also have a collection of Mother Goose Rhymes that I really enjoy.

34. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully happy, healthy, and Oprah-rich. I’ll settle for happy and healthy though.

35. Have you ever traveled?
I’ve traveled around the U.S. some and I’ve been to Canada once, but that’s about it. Much to my wife’s dismay, I ‘m a homebody and don’t enjoy traveling at all. Plus I have a weak constitution and get sick at the drop of a hat. So planning a trip somewhere essentially means I’m just scheduling a specific date to catch the flu.

36. Favorite place to holiday?
My living room.

37. What country would you love to visit?
France maybe, but seeing pictures of France is probably just as good to me.

38. Any hints on what you're working on currently?

Think of what licenses Sideshow has… I’m probably working on some of that
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