When I was a kid, the only thing I wanted for my birthday were action figures. Girls brushed their Barbie’s hair while I had Lord of the Rings and Star Wars epic battles with all the characters that mom could get her hands on (She spent crazy amounts of money on those and I’ll never be thankful enough). However, I eventually grew older got hooked on video games and my action figures landed in a closet.
There’s a story my step father hates to be reminded of, mom will probably bring it up till the end of time. One day they set up a garage sale, she prepared everything she wanted out of the basement and left to go shopping. Thirty minutes later, a curious customer comes by, he was looking for toys, action figures precisely. My step father went back to the basement to pull out a box FILLED with Star Wars figurines and sold it for 20 bucks. I’m pretty sure the guy race walked back to his car with a big fucking smile having done the deal of a lifetime. I’m not mad at all at my stepfather. Having had my spoiled childhood, he couldn’t have known the sentimental value It had for me.
As for my Lord of the Ring figurines they were lost in a tough breakup between my father and my step mother. Not easy being in a blended family… It won’t be the least bit surprising to you now, if I say that Toy Story was one of my favourite movies and that my life would have made a pretty good sequel.
Somewhat later on, I discovered in my art class that I loved sculpture. We were using chicken fencing a balloon and newspaper. I sculpted (of course) a big Gollum head with cute wobbly eyes. There was something about bringing characters from other universes to life that just relaxed me so much, it was like losing all sense of time. I then realised I had to do this for a living. So, I found myself some years later at the National Animation and Design (NAD) school of Montreal, as one of the first students to try out the new bachelor degree. With this I would be able to work on movies which was a dream come true. I completed my studies on May 16th 2013. One day after my birthday. On May 17th I started a new job in one of the biggest movie studios in the world.
You could say that things were going pretty well but the job I was doing there had nothing to fill my creative needs. I was tracking dots on green screens to replace the backgrounds, vehicles or suits by computer graphic elements. Being of the nomadic nature that I am, I didn’t plan on doing this for long. I found a job as an environment artist on the animated movie The Little Prince which just felt great, but the cinema industry being what it is, as soon as we finished the movie, our contract ended.
I realized that I had worked 2 years, without making a single character apart from a butterfly. Before I could even think or stress about finding a new job, the opportunity of a lifetime came down from the sky surrounded by holy lights and trumpets sounds. You could say I kind of believe in fate ever since that day.
My best friend from school, a guy I had studied with for 5 years, told me he was not able to find a job. Due to this he was considering moving to China to work for his cousin. He had told me stories about his cousin before. The fact that he was a collector, someone who had two greenhouses filled with statues, that he founded a successful business by sculpting game characters from his Shanghai apartment. All of this while working at Ubisoft as an art director and about how his company, Pure Arts, was now making almost all of the Assassin’s Creed collectibles and many other game franchises’ I loved, made me incredibly envious.
So I told my friend he should go and that if I had the chance, I would like to go with him without hesitation, because this guy was my hero and I wanted to work for him.
This is how I found my mentor and one of, if not the best artist I know, a successful entrepreneur and someone that-thanks to my divine luck-now makes me feel like I’m part of the family. He tested us at first, told us we were going to help him market the products by taking pictures, maybe help with some office paperwork… But after a year we started working on action figures. He gave us room to improve, he trusted us tremendously by placing us at the starting point of huge productions. Then finally, last year in 2016, I got paid to sculpt a Star Wars AND a Lord of the Rings action figure.