If you own any kind of statue from either Marvel, DC or Diamond then there’s a pretty good chance it was sculpted by Jean St. Jean. I had a chance to chat up Jean to ask him all about his creation process, his biggest challenges and the Creatureplica line he has been working on. So, sit back and enjoy as I pick at the brain of Jean St. Jean.
How did you become involved with Marvel, DC and Diamond Direct?
After I left McFarlane in 2004, Diamond and DC Direct were the first companies to call me after the word got around I was available. At the time Diamond was producing Marvel Milestones, a 1/6 scale statue line that I worked on with them. That was my first Marvel work, and later I started contributing to their Marvel Select action figure series. DC offered me my first Batman figure, a 7” scale figure of Batman from Crisis on infinite earths in the style of Jim Aparo, then a whole line of Captain Marvel figures.
Having been in the industry for several years, with your sculptors ranging from The Incredible Hulk to the Xenomorph from Alien. What character out there are you still dying to sculpt?
I’ve always wanted to work on the original Planet of the Apes! That was one of my favorite things as a kid and still is.
From start to finish what is the process for you when it comes time to sculpt a character?
At that point I start roughing out the proportions in clay and push it around until I have the pose I like. Once the client is onboard with proportions and pose I start refining it; add detail to the clothes, skin, portrait etc, and bam! Done. Then it’s submitted to the client and the licensor and I go through some changes maybe, resubmit until it’s approved all around. Then I mold and cast it and work with my painted on getting the color scheme right.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in bringing a sculptor to life?
The toughest is when the art direction or design is in opposition to where it feels it should go. My job is to make it work, even if it doesn’t. That’s the difference between being a successful commercial artist and someone that pushes clay around for fun. Mostly I work under my own art direction or with exceptional directors from various companies so it’s a rare conflict.
Many times getting things approved through licensors or actors can be a strenuous process, but that also is part of the gig. I keep working on it until all parties are satisfied. Then I get paid and move on to the next job.
It has already changed considerable. Digital technology is blending movies, media, effects and product into a landscape of interchangeable data almost universal across platforms. Eventually the same files used to create movie character animation will be directly useable to create toys and statues with very little manipulation. To a large degree it’s already there. I’m basically doing things the same way I’ve been doing them for over 20 years. I love working with various materials with my hands and tools, so I’m reticent to change. The tactile experience is something I love as much as the work itself, I’m pretty sure I would hate working on a computer all day, but never say never.
You’re part of Creatureplica, which roots its figures in cryptozoology, tell us more about it?
Sasquatch and cryptozoology is a subject I’ve always wanted to work on. A few years ago Jeff Beyers approached me with the opportunity and along the way we acquired two more partners, Nick Epley and Craig Deere, and started developing a factory contacts and a distribution pipeline.
I’ve been interested in Cryptid creatures since I was a boy and first saw pictures from the Patterson-Gimlin 1967 bigfoot films, the Yeti footprints found in the Himalayas by the Shipton expedition, and the Nessie photos in the 70’s. Despite the glaring absence of definitive scientific proof I believe at the very least in the possibility of some of the creatures. I want to represent them in a zoological manner, and I’m basing my work predominantly on witness reports and Native folklore. I take the topic very seriously.
What are you working on next?
Currently, I’m working on a lot more Marvel figures and statues, Batman ’66 products and DC comics characters. For Creatureplica, I’m in the middle of a Wendigo sculpture and some Alien Greys for series 2!
What horror sculptors do you collect? Let me know @horrorevilqueen