Say hello to Justin Alan Volpe. I am not gonna lie, when I got his application my mind was completely blown. AMAZING!!
What is your favorite part about working in this medium?
I love the Needle Felting medium for the simple fact that I can use it to create just about anything from my imagination. They way in which the wool fiber conforms to shape after repetitive stabbing, is always a source of joy for me. I've been working in this medium for a few years now, and some characters are still unbelievable to me when they take shape. For some characters I have a very detailed design that I'll translate into wool. For others, the idea is very unspecific when I start, but as I manipulate the material, the character grows organically out of the fibers.
What is your background?
I loved animation, comicbook art, and narrative story telling as a kid (in fact, I still do). In my teenage years I became obsessive about comic characters and the artist and writers who shaped these new gods. I also gobbled up as many cartoons as I could, be they popculture american mainstream or obscure foreign gems. So, naturally I went to school for Narrative Art. Mainly I studied the art of making Comicbooks and Graphic Novels, with the occasional animation class thrown in.
Throughout my whole life however, I've been a devoted toy enthusiast. Since the age of 3, I was enthralled by action figures. Both old and new, I collected them all. Eventually, my tastes would grow as I began to collect obscure dolls and one of a kind puppets.
After college, realizing Narrative Art was not my primary passion for self expression, I centered on Toy Manufacturing. There are many different levels to producing a toy. In many ways the process is similar to that of making a comic. I came to Needle Felting through my wife and fellow artist, Mariangela Tan. I still like to tell people that I went to school for comics.
Favorite crafty tool?
At the moment, my favorite crafting tool is the Sewing Machine. Not very original for this show, I'm sure, but that's my answer (which changes from month to month).
Favorite fall activity? My favorite fall activities would have to be Halloween parties and driving through New England when the leaves change colors.
Did you have any inspiration behind the toys you are submitting for Plush You!?
The undeniable inspiration for the pieces I submitted to the show, came from my love of Filmation Cartoons. Masters of the Universe continues to be a great source of inspiration, as well as Blackstar and She-Ra. The other major influence I would have to site is the work of Alex Toth. He designed many of the action adventure characters of the 60's and 70's for Hanna-Barbera. Some of his Scooby Doo villains are at the top of my list, followed by the fantastic creatures of the Space Ghost and Hurculoids cartoons.