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Old March 21st, 2009, 02:29:32 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Default New Randy Interview from

This Interview Originally Appeared at our French Friends' Site...

Please visit their site!

Interview with Randy Bowen

-Lip': Can you give us an insight about yourself for those who don't know your work?
-R.B: I am a sculptor who is primarily known for my work in sculpting collectible statues of characters from comics movies and TV shows. Many of the sculpture produced by Bowen Designs are considered very collectible.

-Lip': Where does come from your style and from what do you draw your inspiration?
-R.B: Most of the comics artists that have influenced me have been from my childhood. That sounds strange for a sculptor to say, but look at the business that I am in. I'm not trying to emulate any of them directly, but these are people that influenced me when I was young and trying to learn to draw. Additionally I get inspiration for some of the bases from Demetre Chiparus.

-Lip': Did you get a training or specific education in order to reach your current artistic level?
-R.B: I attended the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland California, where I studied painting and design, but most of the skill I have learned through practice, talking to other professionals, and discovery on my own.

-Lip': Can you give a piece of advice to someone who'd like to do sculptures without doing an Art School?
-R.B: Sure. Art School is not necessary, especially if you were born with talent and a sharp eye. It helps if you read many books on art history, and attempt to copy the art of others, at least when you are learning. It is also necessary to study anatomy and books on technique for the desired material.

-Lip': It seems that a few years ago, before you created your own brand, you worked with Carl Surges on many projects for the Twentieth Century Fox (Simpsons). Do you have some good memories from this period?
-R.B: Yes. Carl is an amazing sculptor, and made everything look very easy. Watching Carl sculpt was like watching a sculpting machine. He made me realize that it's not only possible to sculpt, but also to sculpt quickly. I learned a lot from my short time working with him.

-Lip': It seems smooth for you to do a sketch, so did you consider to be a cartoonist penciler, before doing sculptures?
-R.B: Thank you, but no. I had the desire to be an artist as a child, then I wanted to do comic book art, and then I was interested in special effects for film. Just when I think I'm good at sketching, I take a look at people who really know what they are doing. I use the drawing simply as a tool for the sculpting. I still do like to sketch a lot while I'm waiting for my food at restaurants.

-Lip': At some point you chose to start your own company, so how did you achieve this idea?
-R.B: 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. It was here that I discovered new types of resin that were being manufactured, that could easily be used by hobbyists for making small detailed sculptures..
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 super-hero, then molding it, taking it to conventions, and selling it. That was back in the 1980's. I didn't even 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.
Part of my job was to find manufacturers to produce these items.
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. 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!

-Lip': It should have been hard enough to make it happen, so what it was like at the beginning?
-R.B: In the beginning (this sounds like something from the Bible!) there was no statue market. There was only people creating garage kits. I used to literally make these by hand in my garage, and ship them out as well. I worked alone until I convinced my wife to quite her job working for city government. She thought I was crazy.

-Lip': Did you work with other sculptors under your licence or were you alone?
-R.B: I worked alone in the beginning. Later, after getting an official license from Marvel, I realized that I was limiting the business potential for my company. That's when I began hiring and crediting other sculptors that I worked with.

-Lip': How did you obtain the Marvel's licence the first time? Did you get some connections in this area?
-R.B: I was hired as a freelance sculptor by Marvel before obtaining the license to produce that statues myself. Even before I was hired by Marvel, I had brought the idea of producing statues to them, but they were not interested. Once the statues had proven themselves to be successful, I was able to make an offer to obtain the license myself.

-Lip': In 1998, when you started to work on Marvel's characters, the busts and statues were numerous, with a bigger run than today, it even reached a number between 5000 and 10000 from 2000 to 2002!
In regards to these numbers, how do you explain a lower run currently, it ranges from 1000 to 1500?

-R.B: When I first began doing the sculptures, there was no one else doing it. Since then the level of quality in even the toys has become very detailed. The economy was also much better then. Now there are several companies producing statues for Marvel as well. The market has now become saturated by so many companies doing similar items. There are also many competitors for the discretionary spending money from collectors. Video games are much more popular for example. There are more things to spend money on in general.

-Lip': The biggest names of sculptors worked for you, some of them weren't renowned at the time. How did you find them and pick them up?
-R.B: I met some of them at conventions. Some have sent me photographs in the mail, or had been recommended by their friends etc. I made it a point to put the artists name on the packaging and advertising. My hope is that this has helped them to become renowned.

-Lip': Did you look at the kit's sculptors?
-R.B: Of course. I will look at anyone who shows me their work. I look even longer when it is someone who is really good!

-Lip': Are you still in touch with them, in good terms?
-R.B: I think I am still on good terms with most of them. I am bad about keeping in touch with old friends, as I am so busy with my family, sculpting, and running my business.

-Lip': Which creators (sculptors and cartoonists/pencilers) are your favourites?
-R.B: This is always difficult because I have so many favorites. So here's a few in no particular order.
2D: Frazetta, Buscema, Wrightson, Kaluta, Mignola, Adams (Arthur and Neil), Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, William Stout, Bruce Timm, Moebius, James Bama, Robert Crumb and many, many others.
3D: Kent Melton, Dean Mason, Takeya, Nirasawa, Rick Baker, Rodin, Chipus, Bugati, Borland and many many others. I've left out the sculptors that work for me-because they know that I think they are the greatest or I would not be hiring them!

-Lip': There's a rumor that the Kucharek Brothers do not exist... They don't have a website and no pictures are available! Do they have an existence?
-R.B: Yes- it seems that rumor is still alive. You see, even I have never seen the Kucharek Brothers. Not even a photo! They are very private, and don't want their pictures on the Internet. I am flattered that people think that I am them, and they are me. SO- if people want to think that way- it is their prerogative.

-Lip': France is the 2nd country (just after the United States) in number of Marvel statues' collectors and a journey there should be a real success. Have you thought about it?
-R.B: I have been to France many years ago when the Hellboy statue was first released. I did a signing in Paris with Alex Ross. After Paris,I attended the convention in Angouleme. I was amazed at how many people knew who I was. (I've never drawn in so many sketch- books in my life!) I would enjoy coming back to France, and stay a little longer this time. I have not been back, because of my busy schedule and raising my daughter. She's 9 years old now, and I think she and my wife would enjoy visiting France and the museums etc.

-Lip': A lot of the young french sculptors refer to your work, you collaborate with a bunch of them, but do you think to give more attention to this side of the Atlantic Ocean to target your recruitments?
-R.B: I know there are many talented artists of all kinds in France. Didn't France invent art? (I think the Germans may think they invented it, but I'm almost sure it was the French!)
There are two main factors in not working more with French sculptors #1) is the language barrier. This makes it difficult to give art direction and ask: "Why is this sculpture late?" and #2) I am concerned about breakage with shipping a sculpture for so long of a distance. It also makes it very expensive for shipping.

-Lip': We're still very pleased when we see a young french sculptor's name on a Bowen Design's box!
-R.B: Who knows what the future may hold! Perhaps an entire line of French produced Bowen Designs sculptures?!

-Lip': Some of your sculptures are numbered "AP", what's the meaning?
-R.B: AP means "Artist's Proof". I believe the term was originally coined for lithography. The extra prints were for the artists to check the work of the printer. These are the copies that were usually kept by the artist or given to friends (at least this is my understanding, and I may be wrong). The terms has now come to mean something different. I use the term to describe the extra copies from the edition, that are used to replace damaged items. They are un-numbered, unless a customer receives a damaged sculpture. If it needs to be replaced, we will give the customer the same number that is one the box. If there any left -over after replacing the damages, they will be marked AP. These are the copies that I keep after I've paid the appropriate royalty to Marvel, or whoever the license holder is.

-Lip': How many of these "AP" are produced for each sculpture?
-R.B: It depends on the size of the edition, or how many damages we are expecting from a specific manufacturer. In other words: the larger the edition the more AP's there are potentially. For an edition run of 1,000 there is usually between 20-30 pieces made.

-Lip': Can you produce as many as you want or is there a regulation?
-R.B: We only produce as many as we think we'll need for the specific sculpture to replace damages. The only regulation is that we must pay Marvel for every piece that we sell, no matter if it's an AP or a regular edition number.

-Lip': Will we receive chromed statues from Bowen Design in a near future?
-R.B: If you buy one: Yes!
Sorry- I'm trying to be funny. We had difficulty in finding a manufacturer that could produce a good quality chrome finish. We think that we've now found one, so I think there will be more chrome pieces in the near future.

-Lip': Which statue are you the proudest of and wich one doesn't satisfy you?
-R.B: I think I might be proudest of the Death Dealer statue. Not because I am particularly pleased with the sculpt, but because was able to collaborate with Frank Frazetta on it.
The one that satisfies me least? Now you are asking for a very long list. You see- I see flaws in just about every sculpture that I've done. Sometimes it takes a long time to see how bad something is. The Superman I did for DC, my first Thor statue, Iron Man etc. etc. etc. I'm not really happy with anything. I keep thinking that one day I'll wake up and be brilliant, but that day never comes. So- I need to be satisfied with where I am.

-Lip': When will we enjoy your visit in France or Europe, for a convention or another reason?
-R.B: Perhaps next year!? Maybe you can convince a convention to bring me? I think that would be the best!

-Lip': To sum it up, can you tell us a few words in french (without a traductor) for your french public?
-R.B: Vive la France'! Sorry- it's the best I could do...

Thank you very much Randy for this Interview
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