Rocco Tartamella is a freelance artist specializing in custom creations and sculpting full production series projects. And there’s a very good chance that you’ve seen his amazing commercial sculptures and portraits, statues and busts.
For more than 20 years, Rocco The Sculptor has worked with the likes of toy companies, such as Hasbro and Jakks Pacific, as well as movie production houses such as Star Wars, Marvel and lots, lots more!
But we’ll let Rocco explain more. Over to you, Rocco!
How’d you get started in sculpting?
Well, I guess my love of sculpting started at a pretty young age but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I was able to really explore that creative side of myself. I started out trying different mediums to sculpt with and ended up using Castilene, a type of wax-like clay, as my preferred medium.
I sculpted everything I could and soon built up quite a portfolio. With that I was able to start showing my work to prospective clients and I’ve been a professional sculptor ever since.
Are you a collector? If so, what do you collect and what got you hooked?
I used to collect more when I was starting out and learning how to sculpt. I collected mostly McFarlane Toys, Toy Biz Marvel Action Figures, and some Kaiyodo Toys if I was lucky enough to find an imported figure at the comic shop.
I used to study the way the figures were sculpted, the articulation, and enjoyed seeing how they worked. A lot like when I was a kid! Since getting busy professionally I haven’t picked up much in the way of collecting so much as for the business aspect of it. Now, if I’m picking up a statue, bust, action figure, etc. I use it for sizing or style reference for clients to keep things in scale. That said, I’m still a Batman fan so if I see something I like I’ll pick it up.
Where have we seen your work?
Well, I’ve worked with so many companies over the years, ArtAsylum, McFarlane Toys, Neca, Mezco, Hasbro, Diamond Select, Randy Bowen Designs, Funko, Ashton Drake, Hamilton Collection, Bradford Group, Hollywood Collectibles, Upper Deck Company (vinyl toon sports figures), Bobble head companies, Garage kit companies, private commissioned projects.
My work has been seen on TV shows, movies, magazines, books, commercials, sets of podcasts and news channels. I’ve worked on all sorts of great properties: Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Disney, etc. I’ve worked on characters like Indiana Jones, John Wick, POTC, LOTR. I’ve even done work for Chick-fil-A, Discovery Channel, Bobble Heads, Presidential Busts, and Life Size Busts for museums. My work has been featured in the New Breaking Bad Art book by Vince Gil, super nice guy, and probably some other things that escape me right now.
Most of my current work is with Diamond Select Toys/Gentle Giant ltd, on Legends in 3D busts, Marvel and DC PVC Gallery, mini busts, Dformz, and Statues. A friend once told me that I should be in the Guinness Book for most sculptures. I don’t know about that but I have done quite a lot.
Who or what are some of your inspirations when it comes to sculpting?
Honestly, I really love studying from life. Over the years I’ve enjoyed sitting at coffee shops and drawing unsuspecting people walking around and chatting. As quick as the sketches might be, It’s great for capturing gestures and the way fabrics flow and move. I also enjoy studying classical sculptures, all of the great artists of the past. Sometimes, I really just enjoy sculpting actors’ portraits. There are so many great, interesting faces. I love it.
How would you describe your style?
You know, I feel like I’m still honing in my style in some ways. Up to this point it’s been a lot of commercial sculpting and there’s always that giving your clients what they see as the vision and direction of a project. I respect that.
As an artist and a professional, it’s not always easy to figure out what your personal style is. Throughout my career, I’ve sculpted just about every style from realism to anime and all the subtle play of proportions in between, but I think I end up gravitating more towards a realistic style.
What kind of mediums do you work in?
The majority of what I currently work with is polygons. All my commercial work is Digital sculpting these days. However, I have 20 years of clay and wax sculpting under my belt, and I’m so thankful to have started that way.
How long does a typical sculpt take you to create?
Depending on what my project is, when I’m making a portrait for a private commission 1/6th figure, usually 2 to 3 days. Busts about 5 days, and full statues about a week. Really heavily detailed figures with bases and weapons 2 to 4 weeks.
Do you have a favorite one that you’ve done? What was your first?
There are so many I love, Its hard to say, but I really like the portrait of Sean Connery. He even got to see it before he passed, his official instagram page correspondent let me know how much he liked it. That was really nice to hear. Let’s see. My first sculptural figure was probably a cartoon bust from Space Ghost. The first company project I worked on that was released was a Ring Wraith hood on a Toy Biz figure, but my first ever action figure released was the Viking Age Spawn figure. That was fun!
What do you love about sculpting?
Everything… LOL. I really do love roughing out a form, gesturing, the way portraits start coming to life with every added piece of clay, anatomy sculpting, clothing, getting hands sculpted correctly, details of outfits and accessories, the whole gambit. Even though the digital world doesn’t have that tactile quality like clay sculpting, all the same process holds true. A lot of people don’t realize that I start a sculpt the same way in physical clay as I do digitally.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start sculpting?
I would say draw and sculpt everyday, really hone in your skills. Learning anatomy is the key to realism in a figure, next clothing and drapes, if something isn’t right, it will stick out like a sore thumb and people will focus on that rather than the sculpture as a whole. Rely on your skill sets, don’t take shortcuts.
Really enjoy what you are doing, because when you work with companies, there are people in the approval processes that will have their own visions and want you to convey those, so the stronger you are in your skills, the quicker and easier it will be to work with the team and get those projects greenlit.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or is there anything we’re forgetting to ask?
I don’t know. I think you asked some great questions and I hope I answered them well. If I was going to add anything I guess I’d like to remind people to focus on their dreams. Really enjoy who you are and don’t let anyone get you down. Keep making what you love, be kind to others, but don’t let anyone walk over you either, have respect for yourself, and that makes all the difference.
Thank you again for this opportunity to let me blather about myself and share with all of you beautiful people some of what I do.
See his work and lots more at RoccoTheSculptor.com!
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