Resin Wiki: Thanks for giving us the time, Randy.
Randy Bowen: No problemo, amigo.
RW: First of all, what does an average workday in your shoes look like? How much time is divided between day-to-day business and actual sculpting?
RB: I get up around 5 am. Exercise for an hour, then have breakfast. At around 9 AM, I'm ready to start sculpting. Every day is different. It all depends on what's come in from the factory, or a sculptor sends in his piece etc. Sometimes I work out of the studio in my home, and other times I work out of my other office/studio at our headquarters. I'm lucky if I'm able to sculpt for a solid three hours a day. The rest of the time is administrative stuff I need to deal with.
RW: You've spoken of sculpting speed being important to someone trying to work with Bowen Designs. About how long does it take you to bang out the average Mini Bust?
RB: Well...that's the thing. There is almost no such thing as an average mini-bust. For example: recently I had been itching to sculpt a character called Red Wolf. He was started at around 7 PM, and was completed by around 7 AM the next day. Organic (non-machine) characters are much faster for me to sculpt. On the other hand, A female, or mechanical character takes a lot longer. Around a week if we're lucky (and have nothing else that we're working on.)
RW: Was that one of the fastest busts you've sculpted?
RB: It's hard to say- I mean, I've probably sculpted hundreds of these things. I remember once I sculpted a Hellboy bust during an episode of Star Trek: TNG. I'm not trying to be impressive when I talk about sculpting speed. People like Mark Newman and Kent Melton are probably much faster sculptors than I am. I think it's important information for aspiring sculptors, that completing sculptures need not take weeks to complete. Time really is money in the sculpting game.
RW: Do you have a process to sculpting? Do you like to try to finish a piece at a time, or are there tons of sculpts in various stages of completion?
RB: Well...sure. Of course there's a process to sculpting, a slow and mostly tedious process I might add! Typically I work on a half dozen projects at the same time. That keeps my eyes fresh on a given piece. If you stare at something long enough; a funny thing happens. Your brain begins to correct the mistakes, and doesn't allow you to see flaws in the symmetry and overall form. That's why it's always easier for the mistakes to be spotted by person(s) other than the one doing the sculpting.
RW: What kinds of things you have the hardest time sculpting?
RB: Well, that differs from sculptor to sculptor. For me personally female characters are more demanding. It's easy to make something ugly, like a monster. But it's easy for anyone to spot an ugly, or "just not right" female from a long ways away. Like anything though, I suppose that if I practiced more at sculpting females it would get easier.
RW: Do you have a favorite artist who's influenced you?
RB: Well- Like any artist, I have dozens of influences: (In no particular order) Frazetta, John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Art Adams, Neal Adams, Kevin Nowlan, Mitch Byrd, Jack Kirby, WIlliam Stout, John Romita, John Byrne, Stephan Hickman, Chiparus, and on and on, and on...
RW: In an imaginary world where contracts are easy as...pie...what one pop culture license would you love to sculpt for?
RB: (mmm...pie...(laughs) I'd love to answer that question, but I plead the fifth. I'd rather not share that information. As soon as I say I'm interested in it, someone will beat me to the punch. Thanks for asking though.
RW: We've seen your style evolve over the years, and you've released several pieces that are direct representations of one artist's style. The Jack Kirby-style Devil Dinosaur comes to mind, among several others. Can we expect more of these type of artist-inspired sculpts?
RB: Those type of pieces are the exceptions rather than the rule. I'd rather interpret a mix of styles to come up with something that touches on a lot of different design cues.
RW: Your Hulk sculpts come to mind.
RB: Exactly! When the original comics artists were drawing these characters, they were not designing them with sculpture in mind. That's why someone like Jack Kirby (for example) is hard to translate. A lot of Kirby's stuff looks good from one angle, but in reality you come to realize that he "cheated" the perspective to make it work in the 2-D format.
RW: How goes plans with the Mythos line? You've stated that Disney has approved the Gargoyle statue, and both Odin and Death have been merged into the Marvel line. What else is possibly coming down the pipe for the Mythos pieces
RB: The Mythos line was planned as something to work on between Marvel license phases. Disney has been terrific to work with, and incredibly helpful and professional. I'd actually like to do some more Gargoyle sculpts. This time they would be closer to what the fans are familiar with. I've wanted to do a line of warriors from different time periods. I may mix them with mythological characters. This time I won't make the mistake of designing anything that's even remotely close to something that's a copyright or trademarked character.
RW: Mythology is ripe with public domain characters. It would be a nice bonus from time to time to see a Mythos sculpture pop up out of nowhere. That might make it even more fun, the lack of sneak peeks involving them.
RB: I have a lot of stuff on my shelf gathering dust. It's a lot of half completed heads and torso's, etc. If there's ever a break in my Marvel schedule, there will be plenty of projects to jump start the line. Once it's launched my goal is to release the Mythos line in very limited numbers. Since there's no royalty to pay, we would try to price these things at an attractive price in order to solidify these as a viable collectible.
RW: Is that Frankenstein's Monster bust you've shown for your own personal enjoyment, or might we see it released?
RB: It was sculpted originally simply as a study piece; for fun. It will be altered though to make it look more like the Marvel version of Frankenstein.
RW: Let's get down to the Marvel license. You've stated before that you're a fan of the Silver Age of the Marvel Universe. Any personal favorite characters you haven't produced yet that you're looking forward to getting around to in the future, even if it's not this Phase?
RB: I'm a fan of all the Marvel Monster stuff. Especially the Kirby Monsters. I doubt that they would sell very well, but they sure would be fun to sculpt!
RW: You once mentioned you might make the Mistress Death into a pre-paint kit. Is that still a possibility with that piece or others?
RB: Uhm, that was before it was to be a Marvel piece. I'm not sure now if I would go that route. It would depend upon the demand I suppose.
RW: Do you think Marvel would object to you going this route with some future pieces? More and more statue fans are becoming artists themselves, and I think a limited number of pre-paint figures would definitely sell.
RB: It's tough to say. I would have to make a formal proposal to get the answer.
RW: Despite the Galactus-scale Silver Surfer, Mini-Statues are not in the current contract, right?
RB: We could do "mini-statues". As long as the height is 12 inches or taller. No plans for any mini's though.
RW: You've shown us sneaks of a Annihilation inspired Nova FS, and talked of variants of the new Hulk statue being possibly World War Hulk and/or Red Hulk. Is this a step in the more modern direction for some Bowen releases?
RB: The longer we're in business the more we come to realize that our collectors are getting older. Pretty soon, there will be a lot fewer people who have an attachment for the Silver Age stuff. We're making some more modern characters because, well... we think that there is sufficient demand for them. I personally like mostly the stuff from the 60's and 70's (and some 1940's!)
RW: You've started recently picking up more commissioned pieces for production. This has enabled certain fan-favorite sculptors like Helder and Keith Kopinski to begin working for Bowen Designs. Are you paying attention more these days to some of the forums to find talented sculptors?
RB: I pay attention as much as I can. I'm not scouring the globe looking for people. It's mostly the people who are persistent AND talented.
RW: And are you also looking to these guys to attack some of the more modern stuff you might not be interested in?
RB: I'm interested in nearly everything. However, I try to give out projects that play to a sculptors strengths. I try to reserve the characters that I'm really passionate about. It just makes it all more fun.
RW: We've seen lately sculpts getting bigger and prices getting higher thanks to our miserable economy.
RB: It's also the cost of petroleum based products. The resins we use are petroleum based. We all know what's happened to these prices. It also has to do with the cost of transporting these things from point A to point B. Everything runs on gas or diesel. Hence: Higher prices. The exchange rate of the dollar is also a factor.
RW: Granted, most FS's are hovering around the $175 range, but we've seen some surprises in price regarding Mistress Death and Simon Garth. Is your current factory starting to make things easier on you, as far as your cost is concerned?
RB: When we get a price break- we pass the savings onto the consumer. We had a lot of folks telling us that they would have gladly paid the standard prices for these two in particular. I want people to realize that we will give 'em a break when we can.
RW: I like the fact that just because a piece is lower in price, there's no cutting corners on the quality of the sculpt. Death was simple, but very effective, and Simon Garth is fantastic. Tons of little details remind me of the Man-Thing statue.
RB: Thanks. A lot of people have suggested it could go on the same shelf as Man-Thing.
RW: As far as I know, your Marvel contract is pretty specific in regards to scale.
RB: It's never been about "scale". It's always been about height. The people at Marvel don't know about scale, but they do know how to operate a ruler. That's why we're not restricted to a certain "scale".
RW: So an Ego: The Living Planet is still a possibility? :D
RB: (laughs) Yes in Phase 27. The economy will have rebounded by then!
RW: Have you ever been tempted to try to negotiate for some larger scale pieces, or are you comfortable where you are?
RB: You might be familiar with a five-foot-tall Galactus we were working on a couple of years ago. It was "in-scale". The logistics of shipping costs etc. kept us from producing it.
RW: It's a shame it wasn't cost effective to get that into the hands of the collectors. Do you remember how much you were thinking of charging for that monster? It was going to be more than the Bronze statues, wasn't it?
RB: It would have clocked in at right about the same price. Shipping prices would have been the killer for this piece though. Can you imagine paying big buck for this thing, have a small crack or paint chip; then having to re-crate or return it? It would have been astronomical.
RW: You've mentioned that you cruise the forums for info and feedback. Sometimes, we as fans can get a little rowdy when a character we care about is at stake. You've gone and changed some sculpts based on forum feedback (Firelord comes to mind). Is there anything right off the top of your head you can think of where you've had to batten down the hatches and say, "No. This is how it's going to go."
RB: Uh... sure.This type of response Usually happens with the most popular characters. Hulk is a good example. People have so many different conceptions of what is the definitive HULK.
RW: That's actually surprising. I would have thought those niche character fanatics would be more vocal. There's always some guy who thinks he's the only Rocket Raccoon fan left on Earth, and Bowen Designs better do it right, or he'll post nasty stuff online.
RB: (laughs) We get that faction as well.
RW: Any plans for any new Collector's Club swag? New T-Shirts, mugs or the like?
RB: Yes, something is just around the corner. An announcement will be made soon.
RW: Thanks for your time, Randy!
Resin Wiki would like to thank Randy for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview.
--Chromesamurai 16:24, 9 October 2008 (UTC)