And finally, the last interview that I’ve send found it’s way back to me. This time I’m grilling a company that’s fairly new on our radar. Read on if you want to know more about Electric Tiki Design or, to be more precise; Tracy Mark Lee!
First of all, thank you for your time. We of DIMIC really appreciate it. Now, on to the questions:
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? We’d love to know where you live, some of your general interests, hobbies, pets, …
Well, I am a 43 year old white male, not an Asian female as my name suggests. I was born and raised in South Carolina and went to college at The Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio. I got picked for a Disney animation internship when the Disney-MGM studios in 1989 and worked at Disney (Florida, then LA in 1995) until 2001. I live in Glendale CA, no wife, kids or pets.
As far as hobbies, I obviously draw. I dabble in cooking, tiki bars, TV, toys and statues (of course).
We like quotes. What’s your favorite quote?
None that I can think of
Are you also a gamer? If so, what’s your favorite console of all time? Got any favorite game(s)? (genres are also a-ok)
The only game I’ve ever played and kept up with on a regular basis is Resident Evil. I bought the latest one for the PS3, but have only put it in once. The sophistication of the controller and game play is too sophisticated for my simpler brain.
Or do you read comics? If so, any favorites?
I look at comics but don’t read any on a regular basis. I just read The Watchmen about 6 months before the movie came out.
We are quite the collectors and if we’d own a shop or something, it only would get worse… So, do you collect yourself? Anything goes.
I don’t collect anything really. I’ve been through several stages of feverish collecting. It used to be comics, then action figures. I have/ had all of the Playmates Ninja Turtles and Trek figures. Of course all of the original Star Wars figures. I then discovered statues and traded action figures for them. The statues is what led me to create Electric Tiki Design. I just found a gap in what was out there and what I would love to collect. That of course killed my collecting of statues. The house has just become so over run with them, I now just want to simplify and get rid of everything.
I’ve read that you work(ed) at Disney. Do you still work there currently?
No , see above. I worked there steadily from 1989-2001. I’m a 2-D or traditional (hand drawn) animator. Disney kind of abandoned that for the most part, but I did return to work on Dr. Facilier in “Princess and the Frog” and most recently, Piglet, Kanga & Roo in the new “Winnie the Pooh” flick.
What’s your favorite Disney movie? Or your favorite animated movie?
The two favorite movies I’ve worked on were probably “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tarzan”. I like drawing big powerful characters and I got to draw Beast and Kerchak. They were a lot of fun.
Do you sculpt yourself? Or is it someone else who sculpt your ideas?
I’m not a sculptor. I’ve tried on several different occasions and have learned it’s a gift I just don’t have the patience to learn.
Where does the name Electric Tiki Design come from?
It’s just a ridiculous name I thought of. I just wanted a logo with a funky tiki on it. So I just went through words that would go with tiki. It confused people though, because our products aren’t electric or tiki themed, necessarily.
How big is the company now? How many employers? We don’t count freelance… or maybe we do. Your choice whether to include them or not.
I am the only employee. Everything else is freelance.
What was the really first statue ever made? And what was the first Electric Tiki statue that you ever made/designed?
The first thing I ever designed and pitched was a Thundercats line to Warner back in 2001. They just refused to license that show for years and products are just now being produced. The first actual statues produced were Tooned-Up Jeannie and the “Bewitched” Tooned-Up Samantha Stephens statue. Both sculpted by Jim McPherson.
Having a job without fun isn’t really that much fun… So, what was the most fun and/or satisfying statue that you ever made?
Well, I would love to say this job is fun 24/7, but it ain’t, lol. The “business” side isn’t much fun. Usually, the most rewarding experience is to see a project that turns out better than I had hoped or expected. A few would be the original Mighty Mouse , Underdog, Lone Ranger, both Popeyes, Mr. Magoo, Herman Munster and Doc Savage sculpted by Rubén Procopio. Richie Rich sculpted by Jim McPherson. Betty Boop sculpted by Karen Palinko, the orignal Tooned-Up Elvira sculpted by Schu and Princess Daphne and the Fred Moore girl sculpted by Kent Melton.
I really like some of your statues. What’s your favorite released statue?
That’s a tough decision. I think the Munsters came out nicely. We had moved on from simple shaped bases to create something more unique. Each character was sculpted by a different sculptor (Procopio, Schu, Sam Geenwell and William Paquet) in different states as well, so I thought the consistency was remarkable.
You’re quite busy with the Animated Ladies Line. What happened with Minnie Mouse? Any hints to future candidates? Would love to see a Jessica Rabbit!
We’ve only planned though Sally from Nightmare before Christmas right now. I could never come up with a Minnie pose that Disney and I could agree on. I wanted to push the character a bit more in terms of sex appeal. Disney understandably didn’t. They were very generous with suggestions, like, just move this arm, etc. but I kind of lost interest and moved on to other characters.
If you could pick any license in existence, what license would you choose?
Probably DC Comics to continue the Bruce Timm animated maquettes, and I’ve always wanted to make a Little Annie Fanny (Playboy) statue. We almost did a licensing deal with Playboy, but they told us they didn’t own rights to LAF so we never did. Others include Ultraman and Christina Hendricks.
Got any hints on future releases and/or licenses
As of now, EVERYTHING is up in the air. I literally have no idea what we’re gonna do next.
Thanks again for your time. And keep those statues coming!