The first thing everyone noticed about Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo cover was of course its miniaturized Travi$ Scott figurine. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to him, it piqued the interest of fans everywhere — who made it? Will it be available to buy? The craftsman behind the Travi$ Scott action figure is actually Dan Chung, a Harvard economics graduate who switched paths to film making after a stint working with Spike Lee on CLOCKERS. A specialized toy maker, Chung and Travi$’s team saw eye to eye right from the beginning. A wide release of the figurines are still in the books, so stayed tuned for more. Read the entire interview over at COMPLEX.
What was the process in creating it? Were they providing direction or did they let you work your magic?
Process-wise, I’m old school. No software, no scanning, no 3D printing. I study the reference photos and hand-sculpt the head out of wax, using needles, picks and a magnifying glass. From there, I make a silicone mold, cast in resin, and paint it up. This was a bit trickier than usual because of his braids (which are real on the figure, btw.) The body was heavily modified to reflect Travi$’ slim build, and the clothing was a custom look I created from various pieces that were re-tailored for a precise fit. For the shoes, I was going to sculpt a pair of Yeezys, but in the end decided to go with the Old Skool Vans to match a photoshoot he’d just done.
Since I’m also a filmmaker/photographer, and especially as miniatures photography is a craft unto itself, I did three days of shoots on the figure when it was done. As a sixth-scale enthusiast, I try to make my photos of the figures deliver this moment of incomprehension—is that real? or is that a figure?—and see how long I can make that magical confusion last. That’s the goal, but there’s this fine line because if it’s too obviously a doll, people may only think “oh cool, a doll”, but if it’s too realistic, people will just decide it’s real and move on. So you try to give clues that it’s not real (like posing it with full-size props), while it’s so real-looking people aren’t sure and do a double-take. I keep these considerations in mind while sculpting and photographing. In the end, though, Travi$ was after a different response—less-refined, rougher, maybe more outlandish — and had a photographer friend in NY he wanted to shoot the figure; he’s loyal like that.
What was the interaction like with Travi$? Did he talk about his love for gaming or action figures in general?
In discussing the project with Travi$, it became immediately apparent that he was deeply passionate about bringing this figure to life. He was a runaway train of grandiose superlatives when we spoke, I’ll tell you that. He wanted this to happen and would not be denied. So for that, I’m nothing but grateful. It truly was his vision that put Anita on her quest that ultimately gave me the opportunity to do my art.
Have you been approached by any other rappers since the word spread about your work? Is there a rapper you would ideally like to work with in the near future?
Funny you ask, I was just at the first annual Epic Fest here in Los Angeles yesterday with L.A. Reid introducing the acts, Travi$ was in the line-up, and I saw Future and DJ Esco perform too. I caught up with DJ Esco after their set and chatted. He said he was just talking to someone about Travi$’s figure, and we were both in agreement, there really ought to be a two-figure box set of Future and DJ Esco in 1:6 scale form out there. I told him to tell our friends at Epic to make it happen, so we’ll see. Ozzy Osbourne, who was the headliner, would also make a killer figure. Heck, most musicians would. Can’t really think of another class of people who have better wardrobes, styles and bling, really.
The best part of this project, as it was unprecedented for both me and for Epic Records/Sony Music, is we realized—especially in light of how some of my photos were deemed “too realistic”—that for people who have celebrity, musician, or athlete clients whose lifestyles or schedules make them difficult to schedule reliably onto a calendar for a shoot, there’s now this alternative (which may be way cooler and avant garde) of hiring me to craft a hyper-realistic, fully-articulated action figure and deliver polished photos for a fraction of the cost of real-world shoots and travel expenses! So yeah, hit me up.