LIVEVIL Interview

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What got you into customizing to begin with?

I started customizing in 1995. At the time, I was no longer collecting and playing with joes but I still loved them. That same year, I first got Internet access and was searching the web and came across The Bivouac and it was there that I saw people who loved GI Joe toys and customized them. Seeing customs of characters that were never produced by Hasbro and original characters made from the imaginations of their creators was so inspiring. I was always an artist and at the time I was doing 1/35 and 1/72 scale modeling and although that was fun too, I was really excited to try this "new" venture. My love for the GI Joe toys that I grew up with compelled me to customize and I've been doing it ever since...

What custom work are you most proud of and why?

The work I am most proud of up to this moment has to be the customs from my Original 13 Joes Project. This was a very personal project for me because these were to be the figures I always wanted and it took the longest to complete. The original 13 joes are my most favorite joes of all. The amount of planning and work to get these guys to look they way I wanted took a lot of patience and although there were times I was frustrated and wanted to scrap the entire project, I'm glad I was able to persevere and finish what I started.

Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

Where don't I find it? My sources for inspiration come from so many places. Television, movies, comic books, novels and other customizers' work, just to name a few. One thing I can say that hasn't happened since I started customizing is I never stopped or stalled from lack of ideas. I'm sitting on a mountain of ideas for customs and new ideas are constantly coming up. I'll never run out of ideas for projects to work on.

What do you find to be the most difficult part of customizing?

I guess the most difficult part of customizing would be coming up with the formulas to make the customs themselves. After I decide on an idea, I usually have a general idea of what parts I wish to use but sometimes those parts don't work out and I've got to come up with other alternatives. That sometimes takes days, even weeks.

About how much of the original production figure parts are left after you finish using them for a custom?

It depends on the project. Over the years as my skills have evolved, taking something like say, a production head with brown hair and just painting it black or blond and calling it a new character is no longer done. I now do things like trimming and shaping noses, chins and cheekbones, making new hairlines and hairstyles, etc., etc., and although they sometimes still retain traces of their original design, it is now a completely different piece.

We know you're a big fan of Martial Arts movies, what are some of your favorites?

Anything from the greats like Bruce Lee or Sonny Chiba I love but I especially love the martial arts films made by Shaw Brothers Studios. Some of my favorite martial arts films are Five Shaolin Masters, Chinese Super Ninjas, Executioners Of Shaolin, and Five Deadly Venoms.

Are there any customizers' work that you really enjoy seeing and maybe even feed off of with your own customs?

I enjoy the work from customizers like chad_ghost and Matthew, sgartz, Teknokyo, Wowboy, Hawkeye, and KrmsynGard666

If time, money, and/or space weren't an issue, what would be the dream project you'd love to tackle?

I guess that would probably be customs of the crew from the original Star Trek TV series.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to a customizer who is just starting out?

Pace yourself. Customizing is not race that's won for how many customs you can turn out in a week or so. Take time and care with each project. Rushed work never looks good. Do what you can when you can and just like with any hobby, have fun doing it.

If there was a fire and you knew everyone was safe, what one figure and one vehicle would you try to rescue and why?

I'm not sure what one figure I'd rescue but the one vehicle I'd definitely try to save would be my Dragonfly XH-1 chopper. It was my favorite vehicle growing up and I still have the original one my father bought for me in Christmas 1983. It was the first GI Joe vehicle I ever owned and is still my favorite.

Let's pretend someone is writing a book about the GI Joe customizing community, is there anything you would want included in your chapter?

Just that I hope to continue to create original custom work for all to enjoy and to always inspire new customizers...

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