For seven years he's been under exclusive contract with DC DIRECT bringing into life some of the company's most recognizable characters, and giving 3-dimensional form to the vision of such artists like Alex Ross or Brian Bolland. Recognized and admired by comic fans, he's TIM BRUCKNER, responsible for giving life to the first homage statue of LYNDA CARTER as WONDER WOMAN. Here exclusively for WONDERLAND, T shares the genesis of the whole process including some exclusive images! Enjoy it.
What’s the earliest memory you have of you as an artist? That little something within you that let you know there was a particular interest in any form of art…
Good Question. I think I've always been aware of seeing the world differently from the way my parents or friends saw it. And, as soon as I could hold a pencil, I think I tried to express that difference visually. The clearer my artistic vision became the more compelled I was to try and reproduce it with some accuracy. And then, of course, you spend your life trying in vain to get your hands to reproduce the images in your head and illicit the same emotional content that accompanies them to others.
Were you a comicbook fan as a child? Any favorite?
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash were all favorites of mine. But I was a huge monster movie fan as well. Around that time, my parents got me a set of books where you had to
glue in these large 2" x2" stamps accompanying text about the painting or sculptures they represented. Miniature prints of the work of Michelangelo, Rubens, Bosch, Bernini fired my imagination in a way comic books and monster movies didn't. Images of great power and suffering, compassion and victory. I think I must have been eight or nine, and one of the things that impressed me, awed me, was how they all could do such amazing work so small. It didn't occur to me until years later that they were reproductions and the that the Sistine Chapel was actually much larger then a match book cover. It may be that early experience that could explain my fondness for working in a small scale on occasion.
You’ve done a lot, and you have worked for many companies, but I guess you’re deal with DC Direct must have been particularly special, right?
I was with DCD for five years, four under exclusive contract. It was a very special relationship. I had the opportunity to work with some extraordinarily talented people and was given an amazing amount of freedom to help shape and explore various kinds of product. What many people don't realize if just how unique DCD is as a company. Its not just a toy company, or a statue company, a prop company or collectibles company. Its all of those and more. And the talented staff or Art Directors and Product Managers is relatively small compared to the amount of product they produce so there's a real hands on feel to virtually everything you do. Some of the best work of my thirty plus year career I produced in collaboration with DCD. Work of which I'll always be proud and grateful for the opportunity to have been able to accomplish it.
Bringing to life such iconic characters of pop culture must be specially appealing, and being a fan-favorite an special reward…
No matter how many versions there are of the great iconic characters of pop culture, I'm talking about comics in particular now, there's a deep emotional connection fans make with that character that takes recreating them in sculpture well past the point of translating 2D to 3D. You have to find a way to evidence that emotional link in a small assemblage of plastic parts or piece of cast resin. If you're lucky enough to combine the two, then that's the reward.
Which kind of material do you feel more comfortable to work with?
I work in wax and have all my life as a sculptor. I do a fair amount of clay prep work but all the finish work is done in wax.
You’re versatile and you’ve done action figures, statues, mini-busts, etc. What do you prefer the best?
The truth is, even though it may sound a bit disingenuous, is that they each present they own unique set of problems. And a good deal of what a sculptor does is problem solve on lots of levels. As long as I can find a challenge in the piece, then whether its an action figure or a full statue is irrelevant.
Do you have any particular piece of you art that is your favorite? Why? It would be easier for me to tell you the pieces that have disappointed or have not worked out as well as I'd hope. But I won't. Every piece gives you something to use on the next one. I think there's a few pieces of personal work that still hold up for me and a hand full or two or hands-for-hire stuff I still like. Seriously, I have a tendency to like almost anyone else's work more than my own.
You’ve done before other fine Wonder Woman pieces, what was different this time? (Having in mind it’s based on a live action series)
Its hugely different. Its Wonder Woman incarnate! I've done the character of Wonder Woman at least a dozen times. But do to the character of Wonder Woman as portrayed by Lynda Carter, the quintessential embodiment of Wonder Woman ... well, first you try not to think about it. You try not to think about how much it will mean to so many people and then you really try to not screw it up. A lot of the motivation is, trying not to screw it up. Fear can be a great motivator.
What was you relationship with the Wonder Woman character prior to your deal with DCD? And what about Lynda Carter and her iconic portrayal of TV’s Wonder Woman? Did you used to watch the series?
I read Wonder Woman comics now and then. If she happened to be in a story with Superman, that was fine. Then the series came on the air. What can I say ... she was gorgeous, sexy and powerful and I was a teenage boy. Lets just say I watched and enjoyed the series.
How did it all begun? What was the genesis of the whole process? And what were your feelings toward the project?
There was talk of doing a Lynda Carter/Wonder Woman statue almost from the beginning of my time with DCD. But it was always discussed in the same way one might discuss alchemy or having super powers, it'd be nice but not likely to happen. Then last year, the talk became less "wouldn't it be cool", to "this may actually happen." I was guardedly optimistic and consistency hopeful it would happen and that I'd have the opportunity to do it.
Is it more difficult to develop a piece based on a real person? Specially considering it’s based on a past image of someone like Lynda.
In doing a piece like this, you need to get out of your own way. You need to put aside your own perceptions and your emotional ties and work on getting a clear and unobstructed view of the character not colored by your own personal biases. I looked at as much photo reference as I could find both Lynda as Wonder Woman and her in other roles and print ads. Watched the DVD of the second season and produced forty some screen captures. And then put all that reference on the board and looked at it while I was working on another job. And bit by bit, she came through and I felt ready to start.
Tell us how is the whole creating process. How do you start, what’s the first thing you do? How’s the development of the process.
After I collect as much reference as I can and spend enough time with it to get to know it. I start thinking about what I need to put into the sculpture and what I need to leave out. What will work and what won't. Both Georg Brewer (VP DC Direct) and I discussed, early on, the need to create an iconic image that wasn't reliant on any one picture in particular. By sculpting her in any of the dozen or so famous publicity images we would have captured a moment of her as this character in photo studio environment but not necessarily capture her as the character she played in the series. And there's a difference, in that in the series she exhibited a strength, purpose and morally, and yes a sexiness and confidence that a single publicity image wasn't able to capture. So, we constructed a pose that tried to reveal as much of who she was in the series as a wholly developed character as opposed to a single frame. If that makes any sense.
You based your job on photos and watching the series? Is it any easier if you’d have a model in person?
The short answer is, it depends. It depends on who it is, who they're supposed to be and how much access you have to them in what kind of environment. Usually, its just easier on everyone to work from photo reference.
When it comes to feelings, degrees of involvement, motivation, can you depict the different stages of the process?
I'm not sure how to answer this question. I'm also not sure anyone other than me would find it of any interest. Maybe my mom, but that's about it. An artist's relationship to the work at hand is very complicated and shifts, depending on at which stage you're involved. I can tell you that there isn't an artist I know or admire, who doesn't form some kind of relationship with either the subject of the work or the work itself. Sculpture is not a construction of happy accidents. Its a long, slow and labor intensive process and few of us would be willing to go through it for the money alone. You invest yourself in the work because that's how good work is done. Not a whole lot of choice.
The material, in this case, cold-porcelain, was it you decision? No. Cold cast is the material of choice generally speaking. Are you satisfied with the piece? And Lynda’s approval and satisfaction meant anything in particular for you?
For the most part, I'm happy with the work. There are things I would have liked to change, but I'm not going to tell you what they are. That's between me and the statue, and she's not talking. Honestly, Lynda's approval means everything with this piece. Without her approval there would literally be no statue. But for her to approve and like the piece as a representation of a character she brought to life for millions of people of so many years means very much indeed.
DC Comics characters are well-known all around the globe, but working on a piece based on Lynda Carter which has been a huge success and a household name all over the world, was particularly appealing? How do you see the piece in the future? Do you think it would be a milestone for Lynda’s fandom as a homage?
Lynda's legacy won't be affected one way or the other by anything I've done. She was a world wide star before I sculpted her statue and she'll continue to be one after its release. I look at it as another way to give her fans something more. I think it would be interesting to explore her likeness in various sculptural formats and explore her character in various interesting and creative ways. I hope the piece does well, of course. Mostly, I hope her fans embrace it as physical extension of the love they have for her.
Do you have any phrase or life motto? Something that describes your spirit?
Yes. I been asked for advice from sculptors just starting out and I've said, consistently, "Steal from really good dead guys." There's not a sculptural problem you'll encounter that hasn't be solved by somebody infinitely better than you'll ever hope to be and much more dead than you are now. It, by coincidence, gives your work greater depth and makes you look more accomplished. As far as my spirit goes, we're still working that one out. Karma has along memory.
In a hundred years from now, how would you like to be remembered?
I'll be lucky to be remembered next year. I don't worry about it. I don't think about it. Anyone who does is a fool for missing now for later. I'd like to be remember as a good father, a loving husband and a good friend. The rest will take care of itself.
Any final message to Lynda’s fandom?
Please buy at least two or three statues each. I have kids in college! Seriously, I hope I've done right by you and Lynda and the spirit of both.
Sawnie Burgos O'Brien
www.timbruckner.com Check out Tim's site THE ART FARM.
Interview © 2006 by WONDERLAND • The Ultimate Wonder Woman Site. All rights reserved.
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