What is your name (and usernames)?
My name is Peter Harris, and I’m known as ponyrehab
Where are you from?
Originally from Essex, UK, but I’ve lived all over the world (with my work) I currently live just outside Birmingham UK.
How long have you been in the art industry?
I’ve always been arty I guess, I’ve done everything from pencils to CGI (badly) but the good old hands on covered in gloop is my favourite! I’m never happier than when I’m surrounded by projects all in different stages of completion, up to my arms in paint and glue! My media work is less hands on now (I guess that’s the same with advancement through any industry) but I get involved where I can, but long gone are the days when I’d be casting alien heads or designing how to make explode a model of something or other. Moviemaking is 5% magic and 95% paperwork even as an Art Director.
What got you started?
I moved to writing, and had a project put back around four months, I was glad of the time off naturally, but I was looking for a passion project to fill the time. My Girlfriend is a new-ish collector of G1’s, and some of the lots she bought would have the odd ‘un-savable’ as I call them, dog chewed, kids with scissors etc I just noticed one day how the one with the split head looked like the T-1000 bad guy from Terminator 2! the rest is history! After that all the un-savables became cool characters! We had one that was so shredded that only the head was usable, so he became the ‘Sonny’ from ‘iRobot’ character with lights and everything! We noticed the UK Ponycon coming in three months totally by accident, and with no table, no brand, no stock and no idea what I was doing I booked the very last stallholder’s ticket. Quite quite mad really.
What types of customs/art do you do?
I customise the Hasbro My Little Pony range, any of the generations but G1’s mostly up to now, though the workshop is full of half done G4’s….
What sort of mediums do you use?
Whatever the character requires really, some heat activated clays, resins, casting foam, silicone rubbers, all types of paints, fabrics etc (the workshop’s a structured mess…)
Are there any products you just can’t live without?
‘Super Sculpey’ is amazing, a true ‘where have you been all my life’ product, if they went out of business I’d probably have a nervous breakdown.
I really like everything about the ‘Mars Attacks’ Ambassador, the red carpet, the expression, the colours, I even made a little gold lined cloak.
Weirdly it’s Pinocchio, generally he doesn’t get well received, no idea why, I mean it’s PINOCCHIO! He just doesn’t do anything for people.
What is the worst injury you’ve had from working on customs?
This will get a giggle, (note: around set I was known as ‘Mr Bump’ seriously.) one day in my workshop I was using my favourite tool my hot-glue gun, I put it down on my desk so I could hold the two parts of the Alien custom together to bond, but the gun fell onto my leg and stuck to my jeans and started to burn my skin! I jumped up and sent my chair flying, knocked the thinners pot over my computer keyboard, overturned a pot of red enamel onto my new desk and fell back onto my bottom with it dripping onto my trainers. But as the dust settled I realised through all the carnage I’d held onto the custom I was gluing, I was all proud and truly the consummate professional until I also realised the hot glue gun was still burning my leg.
What is the funniest mistake you’ve made while working on your art?
Other than the usual paint brush in the coffee, crazy-gluing your fingers to things, I once tested a new spray paint can and didn’t realise the nozzle was pointing at my face. Luckily I had my glasses on (well not lucky for the glasses), That took some explaining to the girlfriend I can tell you.
Who/What inspires you?
My Girlfriend definitely, my being in media is hard enough on her (even with my move into just writing), not knowing what part of the house will be turned upside down next and all that, but she’s super supportive, and doesn’t complain when she comes home and the I’ve spray painted my face, or burned my leg. And my Father, when he was alive every word was of encouragement, nothing you ever did was stupid, nothing was a waste of time, or effort, I wish he’d have seen some of these works though, his bizarre sense of humour would have loved them.
What projects are you currently working on?
The new G4 range is almost done, the ‘Nigel Thornberry’ is up already, with Pikachu from Pokemon next. The newer range is geared less to the icons of the G1 selection, to more Anime characters, more…I guess obscure is the word, characters from the ‘Adventure Land’ cartoons and other cult classics. We are open to suggestions and love to hear from people so anyone out there who has a question or a suggestion can get in touch through the website. Right now though I’m working on the Dr Hooves (Dr Who type) character, he’s going to have his little sonic screwdriver and have a Tardis. Also a light up and talking 12″ figure of the ‘Nightmare Moon’ character both from the ‘Friendship is magic’ show. The guys in the Pony community even helped me choose what phrases the ‘Nightmare Moon’ will have in her circuitry. Look at me I’m rambling, I could talk about this stuff all day…
Do you have any odd habits while working on customs/art?
We have a Rottweiler called ‘M-Poo’ and when I finish a sculpt, or a paint, or some milestone we have to go play for 15 minutes or so, she gets a treat and then collapses. It’s like she KNOWS when it’s time, in a weird way it makes me take breaks too-I’m terrible for that. I look up sometimes and have no idea where the time went and M-Poo will be waiting patiently at the door!
What types of art do you enjoy?
My first love is Film, knowing how difficult it is to tell as story at all, let alone make it engaging never fails to impress me, with traditional art I love stuff that makes you feel something, less pretty, more connecting. I love Hopper and Vettriano, they give a real sense of small town USA with nothing more than a window or a chair, and that’s hard! I LOVE H R Giger, his works never fail to impress, like Hopper and Vettriano you cannot fail to recognise the work, he says he only paints his dreams and that is his catharsis, we all do it for different reasons. Architecture is wonderful too, Frank Lloyd Wright had the Midas touch as far as I’m concerned, again always knowing it’s a piece of his work when you see one. I love the way he was so meticulous, designing everything right down to the tiles in a bathroom or a single door hinge.
Do you take commissions?
We do, in fact we LOVE them, I love the challenge of making something that you haven’t already planned or pre-arranged, it’s terrifying though too, I mean this thing is someone elses idea, someone elses passion project. I love the pressure.
Where can people see your work and contact you? (facebook, da, website- give us them all) 🙂
Everything is for sale, and we donate works to charity and for exhibitions, we’re very friendly too and always answer messages ASAP
Do you have any favorite tips or tricks?
ooo loads! ‘Super Sculpey’ polymer clay sometimes gets a bad rep for being too soft (picking up handling marks/prints) but the knack is keep the room cool and your hands warm and you cant go wrong, I’ll say it again this stuff is a staple in my workshop and I love it.
For God’s sake test your paint! One super ‘trustable’ spray putty primer was the most expensive mistake I ever made (in every way time/money/sanity) it reacted to the top coat paints, so I had to re-primer all 50 pieces, and of course the drying time with that much primer put me at a standstill for days!
Work in stages, if you have ten pieces or actions to do, do 2, then as the first cures/bakes/dries the next ones are all ready to continue. Seems simple, but the best tips always are, downtime in the early days was such a mistake, but I learned. Now there is ALWAYS something I can be getting on with.
What advice do you have for someone just starting to get into customizing/art?
Never think start up of any project is expensive to do, I recycle old paints, fabrics, brushes etc, and you’ll be surprised what you can find just in and around the house. For our exhibitors table I built a replica of the mountain range and Canterlot castle from the ‘Friendship is magic’ show from bottles, cardboard tubes, and tape, the thing even had internal lighting that was just a battery tea-light from Christmas. It sold for £50 in the charity auction! And all it was was stuff from the garage… The buyer is now regularly using it at other events I’m told…
Also don’t worry about space, a table somewhere or a board on the floor is all it takes, a dinner tray in front of the TV even.
An old writers trick: If you cant do something-move on to something you can. Give things time if they’re stumping you, fresh eyes is sometimes all you need.
This one has saved me time and time again, I cannot emphasis more the importance of thinking to yourself ‘that will come in handy someday’, get a bag or a box and start collecting. Bottle tops, ribbons from gifts, ties from packaging, interesting bits of paper/card/fabric, tear off the board backing from used notepads and tell your family and friends to do the same. In a week you’ll have enough to start anything. A single A4 sheet of modelling construction plasticard/styrene sheet can cost up to £13! But the clear plastic cover of an A4 writing pad is the same stuff and costs you £0.99! (plus you get a book) the prices of some things makes me mad.
Catalogue your efforts too, for others not just you, it’s good to go back through photos and see how an incredible effort started humbly with glue globs and rough edges! We had people at the Con who didn’t believe all the creations were ponies!
And remember, not everyone is Michelangelo or Rembrandt, but EVERYBODY can sculpt, or paint, or glue. Whether you have to use your hands to hold the tools, your feet, or your mouth it’s more about the creat-ING than the crea-TION.
Thanks for listening.