This week I interviewed a great small business: @vedatoys !
- Tell me a little about yourself.
” My name is Tim Sepulveda, I’m a designer / toy sculptor / 3d artist / other things from Chicago, I’ve lived in the city and burbs for almost my whole life, minus 2 where I was in NYC. I grew up an only child, so toys and tv shows were kinda like my best friends growing up. My grandparents took care of me growing up for a long time, as both my parents worked crazy hours and such, so they, to me, were like my parents for the first chunk of my life. I still remember how excited I was to go over to their place everyday, because my mom would drive me there, and before we’d get there we went to the same McDonald’s and I always brought my Pound Puppy with me, EVERY DAY. I’d even make it (the puppy) order food for me. Then we’d drive to her parents house, where I’d get jacked up on coffee (grandpa’s idea) and McD’s, then watch CABLE TV….. they had cable!!!!!! It was amazing, early days of Nickelodeon and stuff, just hitting my eyeballs and sparking crazy ideas. It wasn’t until I was a little older, maybe 6-7 yo, my best buddy at the time, Herschel, was going to a summer art camp, and my mom was like maybe you should try this too. I just was happy to go cause he was going. I recall the instructor’s name but I won’t attempt to butcher that, but she was the nicest older woman ever, and she gave us homework…. yes, summer art homework. I remember one time she gave me an old Disney magazine and said choose an image from it and redraw that, so I did the sorcerer Mickey, from Fantasia or something (not a giant Disney fan), and I recall her being amazed that I could see it and just replicate it, but with my own style, so she kept letting me choose things to draw and I’d just bash these things out, that kinda was the beginning of my love for art. Highschool came and a lot of us from my grade school went separate ways and I ended up in a really good highschool with probably the most influential person in my life as far as art, Mr. Gary Davis, my highschool art teacher. He saw I could draw decently, I was far from great, lots of things made me stop drawing, but he pushed me to keep going. One day he got a computer for the class for those interested, literally myself and one other student were into it. He got a copy of Corel Painter and Ray Dream Studio. He had no clue how to use it, so the other student and I just went at it. I created a ton of art digitally, it just clicked, like there was no real learning curve for my brain other than button commands and names of tools. I had him for 98% of my highschool art classes minus 1 semester or quarter, I can’t recall what we did, but that 1 chunk of time I failed art, lol. I had a teacher that didn’t believe in digital, she only considered art to be art if it was hand painted or made. We argued…. a lot… lol. After graduating I had no clue what to do, so I did automotive school, and I hated that for lots of reasons, and one day I drove past an art school out here, pulled in and said, fuck it, I want to do art again, I can’t toss it away. So I applied and actually started that evening, it was kinda crazy, but fun. I graduated in 2005 and haven’t looked back, it was a combo of the best and worst schooling of my life. But soon after I got hired doing vfx in tv commercials and just kept going. In 2014 I suffered a major case of burnout from my old job. I was sick to my stomach from stress and people pulling me in different directions mentally, I felt like a kid in a divorce again, and it was NOT healthy. So I walked away from it and went back freelance.”
2. How did you come up with your business and what is the story behind your business name?
“Bridging off the first answer, VedaToys actually started off as VedaFx, I still wanted to keep the technology part of visual effects involved in what I do but in the end going with “toys” just made sense, and easier to grasp for others. Veda, is obviously the easy chunk of my last name, Sepulveda. Normally people from California know the name asap, so shortening to Veda just made it easier and more of an entity rather than a person. Working in advertising for over 16 years I’ve learned what it takes to make a successful pitch for a client to win trust and business, and I really wanted to integrate that into who I am as a, I guess, toy designer / sculptor. So branding and recognizability is always top of my list, not just for myself but clients whose work I do. I always say, “do it right, or don’t bother” and I still stick to that. If I can’t get it right, it doesn’t ship. “
3. What was the first toy you made for your line and what made you want to create that toy first?
“The first real piece I made was actually for Pallbearer Press. Craig I believe had the license for this incredibly bad / good horror movie called Rocktober Blood that I love the soundtrack to. I was at FlashBack Chicago, a horror festival out here, years back, and he saw some 3d prints I did of the Halloween 3 masks, the pumpkin, skull, and witch. I painted them and asked my partner at the time if I could throw these on the table and see if anyone wants them. He literally came by and snagged them up, all 3. Then asked me if I would be down for helping create this toy as a collectible. I said sure, scared out of my brain but I had to know that I could do this and do it well. I made, I think, 20 and things just kinda kept going from there. “
4. Can you talk a little about your process about making your toys?
” The process for what I do is a bit complex but I’ll do my best lol. So being that I work in vfx, I have used all types of 3d software for years, so that background of software knowledge didn’t just happen overnight like some think, it’s taken YEARS. Working in high-end commercials you have to make things look legit, and I mean LEGIT, animals have to look real, products real, cars real. So all that knowledge I took and moved that over to toy sculpting / design. I have several Google Docs just loaded with info about sculpts I wanna do, movies I think need toys, even 80’s toys that need to be redone in some form, so there is a never ending stream of ideas coming from me. So I use a piece of software called ZBrush, it’s basically digital clay. I start with a sphere and just start carving, pushing / pulling, like someone with a ball of clay would. Normally sculpts can take a day, or up to a week or longer depending on detail, scale, use, all of that. Once I finish the first pass, I normally have a client review and show them progress, tweak if need be then I have to prep the files to be 3d printed from resin, which I do myself. That isn’t the worst, but it is super time consuming, if I do something wrong, then most likely the print will fail, and then I have to clean up and start over kinda lol, not fun. Once I get the print made, 4-5 Hours, maybe longer depending how crazy large I go, I have to clean it properly, then cure it with uv light. From there, depending on the final use of the piece, sometimes it is a 1 off item, sometimes it’s multiple, in which case I would make a silicone mold and then cast those pieces in resin, because printing that many is kinda goofy. Once the piece is ready for paint, I then spray prime everything in grey usually, it’s not too dark, not too light. Once that dries I move onto hand painting each piece. This is the hardest part for me, I’m very meticulous with how things look going out, my standard is prob my biggest flaw. I’ve had people tell me that if I just let the quality slip I can make more items, honestly though, that would not make me happy. I don’t like my pieces to look like paint is slopped onto something, especially for the price I charge for commissions and pieces that wouldn’t be fair. I almost forgot that I do my own packaging too, all the art is done by myself too, printed and mounted in my small studio also. I like not just taking images from a movie and copy pasting them onto a background with words. I like to redraw and reimagine things be it hand drawn or in an oil painted style, why just give someone something basic? Toys in total take 3-4 weeks, then longer sometimes, I am almost at a year on 1 piece now due to shortages in supplies and paint, the pandemic really threw a fast curveball at a lot of artists that rely on certain paints or colors / materials. Just finding the 1 primer that I normally use has resulted in driving to multiple states searching every hobby store I can find. Even then if I do find something, I’ve been finding bottles that are over 2 plus years old, and just trash, so it has been tough in some aspects. “
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
“The hobby is growing, my client list is growing, and most importantly people are excited to see what I can come up with, and I think that means a lot. I have a great friend / customer that told me something once when I was super down, they said, “Your work is something special man. You honestly have an incredible vision for items that people have only dreamed of. Figures and toys that we wish we had growing up. You remind us what it was like to be a child.” That last line is what got to me, in a good way. That is why I do this honestly. To get excited about something, being an adult blows hard a lot of the time, we cry, are stressed, and a whole bunch of garbage hits us, especially now. I like people remembering their childhoods, and not just as a way for me to make a buck, but for them to say, omfg that is so rad, then they run and watch that movie again, or for the first time ever. Sculpting goofy toys is the one thing I do really well and I definitely want to keep that going for as long as I can.”
If you would like more information. The following contact info is below: