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?
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.
Did you get any formal education or primarily self taught?
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.
attribute your great talent to a lot of hard work, or did a lot of
it come naturally to you?
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
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?
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
How did you catch your big break in the
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
time, did you think you were going to rise to the top? Did you have
a lot of self confidence?
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.
When youíre star really started to
shine in the FX world, how did you handle the response?
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!
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?
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.
Who has driven you beyond what even you thought you could do?
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.
your favorite part of the FX business?
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