Vin Teng AKA Sculpster, has been working in the toy and collectibles industry since 2002 and as a sculpting instructor at CSU Fullerton since 2005. Over the years, Vin has worked directly or indirectly on properties such as Star Wars, Terminator, Harry Potter, WWE, Marvel comics, DC comics, World of Warcraft, Aliens, Disney Heroes, The Incredibles, etc and for clients as diverse as Gentle Giant, Disney, Pixar, Blizzard, Upper Deck, Hasbro, Mattel, Mindstyle, Ka-Ching, Frank Cho, Ron English and the US Army. We had this rare opportunity to not only feature our first sculpter in the Creative Spotlight, but also talk with one of the best in the industry. Read below for the full interview…
Do you have any experience creating light sculptures as opposed to temporal form or mass?
Vin: No. I have dabbled in some zbrush which technically speaking is sculpting with light but I’m sure that’s not what you meant [laughs].
Since you have years of teaching under your belt, do you make it a point to connect artistic activities in the art room into lessons taught in life?
Vin: Well the one thing I like to say to my students is that learning how to sculpt is like going on a journey. It’s going to take some time and it’s never a straight road. You will make some wrong turns along the way but don’t be afraid to explore and get dirty and you will find your way.
How can you make the most of a small budget for art supplies?
Vin: That’s a tough one. It’s really hard to reach your full potential without the proper tools. I guess you have to figure out what the bare essentials are and at least acquire those. For sculpting, a lot of dental tools are used so you could ask your dentist if he or she has any old tools that they can donate. One of my all time favorite tools came from my dentist.
You’ve worked for some pretty big heavyweights such as Pixar, World of Warcraft, and Marvel. Have any memorable stories or tales you could share with us?
Vin: Well it is always fun to work on big properties. Since we need reference in order to sculpt, we get to see a lot of the character designs as they are coming off the designers table so to speak so that can be very exciting.
When working on a franchise such as Star Wars, Alien or Harry Potter, do you ever feel nervous since you know your work will be seen under the microscope of such a colossal fan following?
Vin: Only if the deadline is ridiculous [laughs]. I’m a big fan of these franchises so it’s exciting to be playing in these universes.
It’s been reported that dylexia is considered more of an asset than a handicap when it comes to sculpting and other people that work in 3-dimensions or abstract concepts. If this is true, do you have any quirks about you that you deem a benefit pertaining to your work?
Vin: I’m not sure you can call it a quirk but I’m sort of a perfectionist when it comes to most things that I do. Even more so when it comes to my art so I think that ”quirk” has really helped elevate my skill level over the years.
For most of the styles of work that you like to create, what is your favorite medium and why?
Vin: There isn’t a straight answer to this question. I usually chose the medium that fits the project cause each medium has it’s strengths and drawbacks. Clay is great for roughing out a sculpt but wax is a much better finishing medium. I’m still searching for that perfect medium.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime? Are there any characters from any of those films that you have wanted to sculpt?
What advice do you have for sculpters out there trying to find new venues for exhibiting?
Vin: It really depends on the subject matter. Try to go to venues that attract the type of crowd your work is geared towards. Facebook and the internet are obvious venues.
How have you been so successful with marketing and selling your art?
Vin: I always put out my best effort. Be professional in every way you can. At the end of the day, the work has to do the talking.
Lastly, what can we expect from you throughout 2012?
Vin: I always put out my best effort. Be professional in every way you can. At the end of the day, the work has to do the talking. For 2012, I’m taking a little hiatus to work on some personal pieces but it’s still early so who’s knows what the second half will have in store.
Want to keep tabs on Vin’s work? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: