Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts

Friday, March 27th, 2015 7:56am CDT

Categories: Toy News, People News, Interviews, Book News
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 72,746

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A very different take, perhaps, on the Transformers franchise, was brought to the stage and under the spotlight by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster, in the IDW Publishing Transformers: Legacy book. Showcasing the art that adorned the packaging of the toys from the early Generation 1, 2 and their Japanese counterparts and continuations, the book has been extremely well received in the Transformers fandom (and outside of it), and you can hear the Twincast Podcast talk to one of its authors here, and read an interview here.

Here at Seibertron.com, we were able to contact one of those wonderful artists involved in the creation of the original pieces, and an unsung part of the face of Transformers in toy, iconic and pop culture: freelance artist and illustrator Mark Watts!

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
The artist in the studio, with Transformers: Legacy


Va'al - Mark, thank you for the opportunity to discover more about this side of the franchise. So how did it begin, were you approached by Hasbro? Or did you pitch work to them?

Mark - Back in 1985, many, many illustrations ago, I was called into my Agents office. In New York I was shown the Transformers toys fresh from China, some being Prototypes. I was working on a lot of kid toy boxes for Mattel, Kenner, Tyco and more also working on Movie posters I did the Movie Poster for Pink Cadillac staring Clint Eastwood. Some of the Transformers shown were being sold in China and had done very well. At that point I was given a Transformers Bible, top secret, to be kept under lock & key. It contained technical drawings of each Transformer including the placement of colors, logos, ect.

Va'al - Did you choose what to work with yourself, or were you assigned characters?

Mark - Originally I was given six to start with, they were to be used on blister packs for Autobots. Of the six toys, some I believe were Prototypes. I completed the drawings with forced perspective to make the toys more exciting and menacing.

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark WattsTransformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
Early Autobots!


Va'al - And how did you go about creating them, what methods and tools do you use?

Mark - This first set of six were painted in Dr. Martian Dyes and Luma Dyes, completely done in Airbrush with cut frisket to protect the area not to be spread. Cut tracing paper was used to move around when spraying to create a softer edge in the reflections. Later paintings were done with Airbrushed Acrylic paints. I like them all I paint in mostly with Acrylics, and occasionally Oils. In the beginning of my Illustration Career I used Airbrush almost exclusivity with - Dyes, Watercolor and Gouache then I switched to Acrylic. I also like Digital now it is faster and easy to change and correct colo,r of course when I started out in the late 70s everything was done by hand, no computers. The Software I use is Photoshop, Painter, Illustrator, Lightwave, Vue. Also I use a combination of 3D rendered and wacom tablet.

My objective on these illustrations in particular was to make them as reflective as possible, like car paint--exciting with a lot of reflections.

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark WattsTransformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
Newer projects by Mark, returning to car illustration


I completed the set of six and all were very happy with the results. The rest is History, and I continued to work on Transformer art for many years.

Va'al - That sounds fantastic, you almost defined a whole style and even the franchise itself, in a way! How many pieces did you create for Hasbro?

Mark - I did the Original Artwork on about 45 Boxes and Blister Packs for the Transformers Toys when they 1st came out in America in around 1985 and on. In the New Transformers book: Legacy The Art Of Transformer Packaging - Pages that my Art is on: 7,14,15, 30, 34, 35,82, 83, -( 283 Eagle Eye ) - ( 242 Ram Jet ) - ( 264 Reflector ) 295.

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
The Big Purple himself


You never know when a toy will take off like Transformers did and become such a sensation. It was my pleasure working on all of the illustrations for the Transformers packaging, the toys were enjoyable and I am sure they were a part of many fond childhood memories. The Art itself feels like Pop Culture Art to me now. It was a real pleasure to be involved.

Va'al - I can tell! So what happened to the originals? Any plans for them, or anything based on them?

Mark - I have decided to put on sale Signed prints of my Transformer Art on www.markwattsstudios.com. I am offering them on Canvas, Aluminum and Paper, and all Prints are made direct from the the Original Art of these Great Iconic Transformer Toys from 1985, 1987 and beyond…

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts


All 29 prints [featuring Costructicons, Stunticons and Menasor, Jetfire, and much more - V] can be found on the Store section of my Web Site.

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
Blast from the Combiner past!


Va'al - That is some great stuff, and quite topical with the new IDW/Hasbro event and lines of Combiner Wars! What else do you see yourself doing now and in the future?

Mark - I am planning on mass market my Illustrations on prints and products, I have some more Ideas for products I want to Patten. I also have many more Illustration Ideas floating around in my head and on sketch pads that I will be doing right now I kind of have my Business hat on for a little while longer. As for life, I just had my 1st Grandchild, Crew Winsor Watts. I am enjoying him and my 3 Children, Justin, Britney, Amber, they are all dong great and are very artistic as well. My Wife is a Nurse, she enjoys being a Nurse and is going to start working on a Children's Book that I think she is going to let me Illustrate them.

Va'al - Well then, best of luck to all of you, and in your sales too! Thank you for the chat, Mark.

Mark - Thank you as well for the Interview, Alex.

Mark Watts can be found at his website www.markwattsstudios.com, and is available for prints, commissions and car illustration art. Head over here for more about him and his work!

Transformers News: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts


This article was last modified on Friday, March 27th, 2015 3:57pm CDT

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Got Transformers News? Let us know here!

Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1667749)
Posted by steve2275 on March 27th, 2015 @ 7:59am CDT
very very cool
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1667757)
Posted by fenrir72 on March 27th, 2015 @ 8:31am CDT
Amazing Mr.Watts! Simply amazing. But he did Ravage too? Microchange Jaguar also had the similar art in its package. I still have the box.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1667986)
Posted by welcometothedarksyde on March 27th, 2015 @ 5:08pm CDT
I love that old campy art. Not only were the pieces really well done, but they're highly toy based which was sort of unusual in G1 canon. They sort of remind me of those weird ladybird storybooks, but that art wasn't as high quality.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668029)
Posted by Alpha Dominus on March 27th, 2015 @ 6:42pm CDT
I love how the airbrushed art, chrome and vivid colors reflect that undeniable 80's look. Those early Autobot symbols also look pretty cool. And of course always interesting to hear about a fellow artists preferred media and design approach.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668155)
Posted by megatronus on March 27th, 2015 @ 11:41pm CDT
This is awesome - thanks for bringing the A-game, Va'al!!
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668502)
Posted by triKlops on March 28th, 2015 @ 7:57pm CDT
Great interview and background info.
Excellent job Va'al.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668606)
Posted by padfoo on March 29th, 2015 @ 2:32am CDT
Great piece, I appreciate this artwork now because its so different and do 80's feeling.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668626)
Posted by fenrir72 on March 29th, 2015 @ 5:45am CDT
Just to clarify something. Did Mr. Watts adopt some of the original Diaclone packaging into the ones we now know as the Constructicons?

I love his art and all but take a look at this Diaclone cement mixer package.

Image

The image of what will be Mixmaster is colored orange without the Decepticon logo.
Re: Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts (1668717)
Posted by joevill on March 29th, 2015 @ 2:59pm CDT
:BOWDOWN:

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