Who am I?
It seems strange when I think that I've been a working artist for half my life. Born in 1961, I can't really remember a time when I wasn't creating... drawing, designing, painting, building, or sculpting, and I've been making a living with it since the mid-80s.
For the past 20-odd years, I've been a full-time commercial sculptor - a hired gun sculpting prototypes for various manufacturers, primarily the toy industry during the last decade. I've also worked extensively in the giftware, display, and architectural ornamentation industries. My job has always been to bring ideas into the realm of the living, whether those ideas were mine or those of someone who hired me to develop their ideas. In my professional opinion, the best piece of artillery in an artist's arsenal is the ability to look. Looking is where it all begins. Out of necessity, I also learned to "listen" in order to meet the goals as efficiently and effectively as possible. They say time is money. I think of it more in terms of time for more projects.
Another valuable tool I acquired was the ability to realize that criticism wasn't about me personally or my creative skills, which I'll develop for the rest of my life. Professional criticisms or "notes" are simply about meeting the requirements of the project and the expectations of the director or client, whose task is to focus the talent. After all, when working on a project that's part of a larger vision, there are a number of other artists and creative types working in their own areas to bring the total vision to life and make it happen. If one of the talent goes rogue and decides he or she will not compromise his or her own "art" to meet the demands of the project, well... hasta la vista. Go be true to your art on your own dime. Imagine if one of the violin chairs suddenly decided to improv during a symphony performance.
After decades of working as the hands and eyes of prototype development, I realized that I'd developed a lot of very popular and successful pieces... none of which I owned any creative rights to, whatsoever, regardless of the amount of concept or design input I'd provided. Let me say right here that as a professional, I have no problem with that nor do I have any hard feelings toward any of the companies who are still marketing the work I've done for them. My job is to develop a successful design that benefits the commercial client and license holder. That's the whole point. But after years of 60-80 hour work weeks helping other companies make millions, I realized that I hadn't taken the time to develop something for myself.
I'd been building guitars of my own design for several years between sculpting gigs or "after hours" - whenever that is - and began to develop my own brand. As the toy industry began to allow for less and less creativity on the part of the hired talent, my creative monsters had to be fed, so I was drawing, designing, and building guitars in my spare time. At some point, I just began to spend more time building instruments than sculpting prototypes and financially speaking, the guitars began to take over as the primary provider of income, in addition to the focus of my creative passion. I can't recall the day when I suddenly quit one type of job and went to a different kind of job the following week. It just fuzzily evolved that way.
Now, I "listen" to myself tell me what I expect out of a particular project, as well as give the go ahead when the idea wants to take a bit of a detour. So many guitars develop on the fly. Others are fully developed on paper first and rigidly adhered to as the instrument is produced. While I'm building that one, however, I'm designing the next variant in my head. Another studio method of mine is to have several projects going at once. If I cut out one neck, I might as well cut out 3 or 4, then I work those additional projects out as variations of the first or completely different tangents of their own. It's a great process. I'm all about the process and always will be.
You've seen some of my guitars, which only scratch the surface of what I have going on in the studio and in my head. For every finished guitar, I've got a handful of other variations developing in the shop. This is what I've always done my whole life, even since I was a child, filling my Big Chief tablets with hundreds of designs of cars, airplanes, helicopters, houses... you name it. It amazes even me that as a 7-year old, I was methodically doing exactly as I do now. Except... now, I get to work with pointy stuff.
As a reference, I'm including a small selection of my sculpting portfolio below. Some of you may be familiar with my action figure work for McFarlane Toys and NECA. For some years, I worked as an in-house sculptor for Todd McFarlane's toy company. My toy/figure client list has included McFarlane (www.spawn.com), NECA (www.necaonline), The Four Horsemen, Master Replicas (www.masterreplicas.com), and Jean St. Jean Studios to name a few. Here's a handful of my favorite projects. These are painted resin casts of my actual sculpts:
(The above links will take you to other websites, so you may want
to right click and open them in a new window.)
I've sculpted toy prototypes for quite a number of films, comics, and video
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Matrix Trilogy
the Child's Play/Chucky movies
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Pirates of the Caribbean
Chronicles of Narnia
The Devil's Rejects
Other action figure properties in my portfolio include:
Clive Barker's Tortured Souls
McFarlane's Twisted Land of Oz
and a whole bunch more I can't even remember. None of those are in any particular
order, by the way.
Update: For those interested in a further glimpse of my sculpting history, I've pulled out some photos from 1999 of a very, very large Santa Claus statue I sculpted in Germany for a retail store there. Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a page with larger views and some explanation.
With notebooks full of guitar drawings, plans, tooling concepts, and a good number of nice guitars behind me, I will continue to evolve as a sculptural guitar artisan, adhering to the same rigorous standards of quality and design I set for myself as a figure sculptor.
I currently sculpt out of my beautiful home studio in the Ozark hills of
Missouri and build out of my wood shop nearby.
Thank you for visiting this page about my work. Drop by my guitar page often or email me by clicking on the email link below.
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to return to the index page and more guitars.