Interview with vintage Transformers box artwork artist Mark Watts
Friday, March 27th, 2015 7:56am CDTCategories: Toy News, People News, Interviews, Book News
Posted by: Va'al Views: 73,791
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
All 29 prints [featuring Costructicons, Stunticons and Menasor, Jetfire, and much more - V] can be found on the Store section of my Web Site.
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!
This article was last modified on Friday, March 27th, 2015 3:57pm CDT
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Excellent job Va'al.
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I love his art and all but take a look at this Diaclone cement mixer package.
The image of what will be Mixmaster is colored orange without the Decepticon logo.