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  Steve Wang is one of those people that transcends his profession.  People outside of the FX World have heard of his name, heck, your mother may know who he is.  He also happens to be very down to earth and just a darn nice guy.  You won't find him bragging or touting his talent because he doesn't need to.  His portfolio can do that well on its own, but that's not Steve's style.  He just wants to create and is very dedicated to doing the best job he possibly can.  Ask any FX pro who influenced them and Steve will be on just about every list.  We caught up with Steve, sat him down and questioned him until he passed out from exhaustion, then we questioned him some more.  The following is the transcript.

Don't forget to leave Steve a little feedback at the end of the interview after all those fabulous pictures

 

LMC: Letís talk a little history.  Youíve been at this for 20+ years.  How did you become interested in sculpting, creature design?  Did you always know you would be doing this type of work?

SW:  Since the age of 4 I was drawing cartoon characters and monsters. I moved to California from Taiwan back in 1975. I was 10. It was around Halloween time and I saw my first latex mask. I flipped, It was soooo cool! I started saving money from doing odd jobs and chores and started collecting masks. By age 14, I had about 30 masks in my collection. At that point, I wanted to know how they were made. I bought some theatrical makeup books and famous monsters and tried to get whatever info I could. Information was really hard to come by back in those days, anyway, 2 issues of Cinemagic changed my life forever. It was the Kirk Bradyís how to make a full head latex mask and Craig Reardonís article on how to make a latex appliance. It was all trial and error from there.

LMC: Did you get any formal education or primarily self taught?

SW:  I am self-taught. But then again, most makeup effects artists of my generation and before are self-taught. Like I said, information was virtually non-existent back then. Makeup effects was just starting to gain popularity.

LMC: Do you attribute your great talent to a lot of hard work, or did a lot of it come naturally to you?

SW: It was both. As a kid, I thought if anyone worked hard they can become a good artist. Well, as I grew up, I realized that just wasnít entirely true. You have to be lucky enough to be born with the talent first,  and there are varying degrees of talent too. Then, if you work hard, maybe you will be good at it.  I had a friend back in 7th grade who I totally idolized. This kid could draw with an ink pen and never erase! And his drawings were always in 3D views. But then in High school, he decided drawing was for kids and he ended up playing a guitar. Donít think he got famous, Ďcause I never heard from him again. I was sad that he wasted such a gift! I worked so hard and still, I would have killed to be as good as him!  Anyway, I decided then that I would never take my gift for grantedÖEver.

 

LMC: Do you feel pressure today to go above and beyond the call of duty because of what you have attained?  Do you think people come to expect something from Steve Wang will be the best of the best?

SW: LOL, yes! I absolutely DO feel the pressure. I have always gone above and beyond the call of duty in my work. Itís one of the keys to becoming and staying successful. When I was younger,  I  pissed off a lot of people in different shops because I worked too fast, they accuse me of rocking the boat. I didnít care. I can only work one pace, and thatís the pace that I am comfortable with. Sometimes itís not fast at all. It depends on my understanding of the subject matter and sometimes my mood. One of my biggest fears about working in this or any profession is getting BORED! Itís torture to have to work when you are bored of what you are doing. As for peopleís expectation about my work, Hey, nobodyís perfect. I donít always get to design what I do. Most of the times I am only a hired gun and I have to do someone elseís design whether I like it or not. I just try to do the best job I can, given the circumstances. Besides, I have done some pretty crappy designs in the past too! LOL

LMC: How did you catch your big break in the business?                         

SW: It was back in 1986, I had been in the business for only a year and I had made my rounds at Rick Bakerís, Stan Winstonís and Boss Films. I got a job with Stan again on Monster Squad, but this time, I was put in charge of the Gillman suit with my partner and good friend, Matt Rose. We were just 20 years old and very ambitious. Stan loved the Gillman and gave me the Predator to do designs and supervise the build. We had very little time and it was hell! But we got it done and the rest as they say is history. After that, I seem to have secured a seat in the makeup arena. Work has been pretty steady since.

LMC: At that time, did you think you were going to rise to the top?  Did you have a lot of self confidence?

SW: HmmmÖI never really think about that sort of stuff. I canít honestly say Iíve risen to the top. Granted, I do get a lot of job offers and I always seem to be working, but the ďrising to the topĒ part somehow paints a picture of me wearing a tiara and waving to all my fans! LOLÖ Itís just not like that at all. I think to some degree I am respected as an artist and Iím okay with that. As for self-confidence, I get my share of insecurities. Every job I do, especially the oneís Iím in charge of,  there are always unknowns and that can make anyone nervous. The trick is to be creative, open minded and always do your best.

 

LMC: When youíre star really started to shine in the FX world, how did you handle the response? 


SW: Just canít think about it. I have heard from my friends in the past that people I donít even know were talking bad about me and making up all sorts of nasty stories about how I am an asshole to deal with and my ego is through the roof. These are people I have never met. My only recourse is to be the opposite. I try my best to be courteous, respectful and if at all possible, helpful to others. It has been a really long time since I heard anything about my ďBADĒ behavior! LOLÖ

LMC: Youíve worked with the biggest names in special effects: Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Dick SmithÖ a whole host of others.  Care to share any personal experiences?  

SW:  I have learned very valuable lessons in life and in work from all of them. When I was in Mexico on Predator, Stan paid me a compliment for the ďoutstanding ď job I did on the Predator suit. As I recalled, I wouldnít accept it. I started complaining about how I didnít do as good a job as I should have and that I really have to get better. Stan stopped me in my tracks and said I was being overly critical and that I should just accept the compliment graciously. He said it was okay to be proud of your own work and if you donít  get any gratification doing what you do, then whatís it all for? It really sunk in for me and now, I am not afraid to tell myself I did a good job if I really feel that I did.

LMC: Who has driven you beyond what even you thought you could do?

SW: I think every job has its challenges. I wouldnít say ďsomeoneĒ in particular has driven me to the next level more so than the job itself, a lot of the times, there  has been some elements weíve never done before, so itís my job to figure it out and make it work. For instance, on a recent Job I did for Patrick Tatopoulos (Godzilla, Independence Day) he had designed a creature that could raise itís head a full 230 degrees. We only had 3-1/2 weeks to build this full size animatronics creature, so we had to use foam latex. Well, foam latex cannot stretch anywhere near that far without ripping, so I had to devise a spring-enforced understructure that not only could allow the foam to stretch that far, but also keep all the wrinkling looking very natural.

 

LMC: Whatís your favorite part of the FX business?

SW: The part where I get paid! Just Kidding! My favorite part is working with other talented artists and crew. There is nothing more thrilling than when you are doing good work as a team and everything is jiving!

 

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Let Steve know what you thought of his interview.  At the end you can leave him some comments or click the doggie to go leave your mark now.