Urban Vinyl Daily: Would you mind telling us a little background about yourself?
Nathan Hamill: I’m based out of Los Angeles. I had an interest in art early on and have been drawing since I can remember but I’m not quite sure when it turned into designing per se. I guess I was around nine or ten when I started creating my own characters and creatures.
I started work in comics around 2003 and as a colorist in 2005, working for Bongo Comics. You may remember my work from such titles as Bart Simpson and Treehouse of Horror.
UVD: Would you mind telling us about some of the designs that you came up with when you were first starting out and how designs have progressed over the years?
NH: I’ve always gravitated towards cartoons, which is odd for a child I know. But that’s had a lasting effect on my style and what interests and excites me.
I went from drawing and aping classic American cartoon characters to a more modern Japanese style. I’ve never really been a fan of anime in general so I’m not quite sure where I picked up the last bit as an influence. Mostly through video games I suppose. That’s around the time I started focusing on and pushing the eyes. Over time, I started making them my own little by little. Eventually, they had wood grain corneas, missing limbs (Boris originally had no mouth) or spinal cord tails.
UVD: How did you get started designing for trading cards? And do you have a favorite design that you have done over the years?
NH: I was approached by Lucasfilm a few years back to produce sketch cards for a Topps Star Wars Galaxy set and eventually had the honor of illustrating a base card. I’ve loved that series since it came out in ’92 or ’93 so I was thrilled.
My favorite design is from the last batch of sketch cards for Galaxy 6. It’s either a Probot playing ‘she loves me, she loves me not’ over a field of daisies or Darth Vader walking along with a Death Star balloon.
This last time, I was able to relax and have a little more fun with it than on my first pass.
UVD: What lead you to ‘We Come Bearing Gifts’ sketch over other scenes from the movies?
NH: R2-D2 is one of my favorite designs in the Star Wars universe so I wanted to play with it some more. That’s what I love about working with such iconic characters. They’re so ingrained in our consciousness that you can really exaggerate them without losing their essence. In my opinion, the more abstract…the better. My goal is to eventually depict R2 in the shape of a breast implant.
UVD: What are some things that influence you and your work? Is there any artist’s work that inspired you and your style early on in your career?
NH: Eyes, women, cats, cartoons. Some things are more personal, some things I’ve yet to become aware of.
As far as artists that’ve inspired me, Kozik was a huge influence in my younger years. Especially the Preston Blair and other cartoon imagery he fucked around with. One of my prized possessions is his S&M Flintstones Butthole Surfers silkscreen. I still have a thing for Betty.
UVD: How did the Boris vinyl come about?
NH:I had worked with someone at a store named Toy Planet many years ago, who went on to help start U1 Toy Arts. They came to me in 2008 with an interest in producing a vinyl figure as one of their first projects.
Boris was a character I’d been sketching for a few years at that point and was the first thing that came to mind when they contacted me. I revised him slightly (added a mouth) and we went from there.
UVD: Recently you did a piece for “Gag Me With a Toon III” where did you get your inspiration? And what was it like working on this piece?
NH: Carl Barks‘ work and then eventually the show, Ducktales was the inspiration. I loved that Barks was able to create his own world within Walt Disney’s. His ducks were the best.I enjoyed working on that piece a lot. It was right up my alley and turned out to be a fantastic show.