We recently interviewed Steven Saunders of Weta Workshop who as you know has been responsible for several of the awesome collectibles that Weta Workshop has been turning out. Today, we bring you an interview with another very talented artist who makes her living by helping bring Middle-earth to life. Lindsey Crummett is new to creating collectibles for Weta Workshop but if what we’ve gotten already or saw at Comic-Con is any clue of what’s to come we’re in for a real treat. Some of the pieces Lindsey has sculpted are the Balin Statue, Kili Statue, Bofur Statue, and the statue that stole the show at the Weta booth during Comic-Con Azog the Defiler on Warg.
1. What sparked your interest in art?
I’ve loved drawing since I could hold a pencil. There are some talented artists in my family, so when I saw pictures being drawn in front of me, I became determined to create art as well. I continued to draw from the time I was little, throughout high school, and eventually on into University where I majored in Fine Arts. In University I branched out and began sculpting as well as drawing and painting. I have always been fascinated about becoming better at bringing what’s in my head out into the real world.
2. What medium do you like to work in best (paint, pencil, sculpting, electronic, etc.)?
That is a very difficult question! I have a real soft spot for where I began; simply pencil and paper. As I learned more about sculpting prosthetics I also began to really love learning techniques for creating skin textures through layer upon layer. I came into digital sculpting and painting very late in my art career, but it gives me amazing freedom to be bold like never before in other mediums. So I have favourite aspects to all mediums, but at the moment I am really loving the endless possibilities of digital programs like Z-brush and Photoshop.
3. Can you pinpoint for us any of your work we may have seen in past films or those coming up? Any character or creature design or landscape we might recognize?
Some of my design work can be seen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in characters like Bofur, Kili, Fili, and Oin. Many characters and creatures have several talented individuals that contribute to the final look of a character. For these dwarves I was involved in the design of their Hair, beards, and prosthetics. I was also involved in prosthetic sculpting for scale doubles, prosthetic hands for the dwarves, Orc Prosthetics, and maquettes for early designs of the dwarven collumns in Erebor to name a few things.
I also had the pleasure to work on District 9. I sculpted on prosthetics for Wikus’s transformation and model made, moulded, and cast the Gas Projector gun. I also helped with model making, moulding and casting of guns in Avatar.
4. What project (book, film, poem, song, etc.) would you most want to help bring to life with your art?
My all time favourite novels are Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. The film Interview With the Vampire did an absolutely amazing job and captured my imagination when I was little it still remains in my top 3 favourite films. In the series, I’ve always wanted to see the second book, The Vampire Lestat turned into a film. It is incredibly epic and spans over centuries- I would LOVE to help bring that to the screen.
5. What tends to be your favorite subject to draw? In other words, if you were offered a million dollars to create a piece of artwork on whatever *you* wanted it to be, what would you create?
I adore any subject matter where you can see the character or creature’s history in its eyes. Anything with depth. Particularly I love predators… tigers, wolves, dinosaurs, these all make me so inspired. I think my favourite subject would have to be dragons, since in my eyes; they are just the summation of all the cool predators that actually exist.
6. You work in a very competitive industry. What’s one tip you have for those aspiring to be in similar positions as yourselves one day?
Persistence and perseverance, both in your artwork and in your career.
7. Do Weta’s artists get to keep a version of everything they sculpt? Say no.1 of every statue? Or would it feel weird to own and display your own work?
I’d love a copy of the piece’s I’ve sculpted! These statues take a lot of hours and time and money, I don’t think it’d be viable to give a free one away to the sculptors. Then you’d have to give one away to the painters and mould makers for their contribution and the company might go broke! 😉
9. If you could choose only one, who would you say is your favorite middle-earth character? And why is this particular character your favorite.
In all of Middle Earth? Oh man, tough questions! …Smaug! (See above dragon comment)
10. You’ve now done several pieces involving The Hobbit Trilogy. What would you say has been your favorite piece to work on or have we not seen it yet?
So far I really particularly enjoyed sculpting on Azog on the Warg. There was a lot of freedom to find a really unusual pose that would be really captivating for collectors. It was the first piece I’d done with that much movement being conveyed, and I really enjoyed that!
I would be really happy with any of the subject matter that will be done from this next film, seeing as there isn’t really any piece I’ve worked on that I haven’t enjoyed sculpting.
12. Could you tell us how you got your start with Weta and what is been like working there?
I started work at Weta in May 2007 as a huge Rings nerd bearing an elvish tattoo on my arm. I was at University when the Rings trilogy came out, and while I was studying to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts in California in 2003, I took a summer vacation in New Zealand where I got a job as an extra being an Orc on set of pick ups for Return of the King. That solidified my determination to one day finish University, move to New Zealand and get a job at Weta Workshop by the time they began working on the Hobbit (which hadn’t even been confirmed yet). Low and behold here I am! I have learned so much from the multitude of talented individuals that work at Weta, and continue learning from them every day.
13. Can you point to any one particular artist who has most influenced you, or the direction your career has taken? And which of your contemporaries would you list amongst your personal favorites?
I’d say Alan Lee, John Howe, and Wayne Barlowe are all artists that inspired my imagination and career choice. I poured over all of their books from a very young age and can definitely attribute my love of fantasy and Sci-fi art to them. I have the privilige of actually being able to say I’ve met all of them as well, and they’re inspiring people as well as inspiring artists.
14. The Lord of the Rings has been around for over 50 years and The Hobbit has been around for over 75 years. These two stories have become huge in many fans lives. When did you first become familiar with Middle-Earth and what have you taken away from reading or watching the happenings in that world?
I’m the youngest of five siblings, and my parents and older siblings all had a love for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy long before the films came out. I’d seen the cartoons and known the story just from hearing my family talk about it when the films came out. After seeing The Fellowship of the Ring, my imagination spun out of control! I don’t know how many times I watched that dvd at home. I loved it so much that it actually motivated me to pursue a career path in art and film. My sister who also lives in New Zealand was on set as an Orc too and met her husband while he covered her costume in mud and fake blood! I met my partner who’s a fellow designer at Weta, whilst working on The Hobbit together. These stories have technically completely changed the course of my life, so they hold a pretty special place in my heart.
15. What is the hardest part for you as a sculptor in order to bring these characters to life? Do you do anything to help make it easier? Say, watch some of the movies to
get things down.
I’d say the hardest thing is capturing the feeling of a character in a pose. If you get the pose wrong, suddenly it doesn’t feel like that character. Yes, absolutely watching the films would help, but at the time of sculpting most of these collectibles, the first film hadn’t come out yet! So I had to go from descriptions of the character and on set photos as they trickled through, taking care not to reference old versions of costume that were outdated. Tricky stuff! In some instances it was very helpful when the actor playing a character would come in to talk about their character and comment on pose ideas.
16. Finally, If you could be any character from within Middle-Earth whom would you choose to be? Following that up why would you choose to be this character?
Well there aren’t a whole lot of female characters to choose from, but I think I’d have to go with Eowyn as I love horses and love that she was a warrior. If I weren’t being gender biased I’d say Aragorn, as being a Ranger he seems to be able to enjoy being apart of several cultures. And he’s just a badass!