Putting a hand on pop culture: An interview with Daryl Muncaster of Creature Creation

You know what’s cool? Things. Physical things. You can touch them, activating a sense that’s really crucial to the human experience.

I think this why people like to sculpt things, or why we as a human species invented sculpting. The sensation of running your hand over material, carving it – that’s something special. And that’s what artist Daryl Muncaster does for a living.

I found Muncaster on Facebook and then Instagram (he goes by creature.creation), where he displays the sculptures he makes of pop culture icons like The Joker, Groot, Batman, and Hellboy.

Photo courtesy Daryl Muncaster

Needless to say as a pop culture weirdness junkie, I was immediately fascinated. Muncaster was nice enough to share some of his experiences as a working artist and the inspiration behind his unique pieces.

How did you get into sculpture? Where did you learn?

As I kid I always played around with bluetack, making little sculptures of creatures and animals. I later had a play around with more traditional pottery in my college years. It wasn’t until university, studying Fine Art, when I really decided to move away from my painting and focus on sculpture. I pretty much sculpted day and night until I’d taught myself the basics, and continue to teach myself with each new sculpture now!

When people think of sculpture, they usually think of Venus or other Ancient Greek museum-based work. What inspired you to do

Photo courtesy Daryl Muncaster

pop culture icons?

Strangely enough, my favorite sculptors are Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They are mostly known for the wrapping of famous landmarks and buildings, transforming them into some amazing visual art. The sculptures they create have nothing technically to do with my own, but I’ve always admired their ability to take something already existing and change the way we view it.

How do you approach a work? Walk us through your process.

My own creature designs started from a project I set myself in University. I researched folklore and mythical creatures from cultures all over the world and collected text from each of them. I’d read the descriptions of alleged sightings and stories, then sculpt what I envisioned from them. This is a process I still use when coming up with a creature.

You make accessories too, how do you get all that detail on something so small?

Most of what I do is learning by doing. Whether it’s a commission I’m taking, or a project I’ve started myself. Each project has it’s own challenges that are part of the fun to figure out and overcome!

What’s your favorite piece you’ve worked on so far?

I really enjoyed working on my mythical creatures and folklore sculpts. I set them all up as a sort of museum for a show, some in glass cages, some wall mounted. I also made masks so that the viewers became part of the exhibition, it was a lot of fun!

What are you working on now? Any cool projects you can tell us about?

Well, I’ve really been wanting to take some of my sculptures to a convention for the first time. I’ve been working on lots of fan art style works based on characters I love. I suppose this is all one big project for me, with the end goal being a convention stand.

What’s your advice to those looking to pursue this kind of art professionally?

I’m very new to selling my sculptures but I can say that the best thing I did was start a social media page. In my case Instagram seems to be working for me. I started it almost a year ago now, and it’s allowed me to keep an online portfolio as well as attract people that want to buy my work. This pushed me to start my little Etsy shop. In short, make something and post it somewhere! The chances are, if you like it, others will too. It might take some time for them to find you but it needs to be there for them to find.

Link Bank January 2017: Pop culture gives politics a kiss on the cheek and a knee to the groin

Well, this month really decided to go out with a bang, huh?

In his first few days as president, Trump has done his best to make good on the worst “promises” of his campaign, with truly terrible results. I won’t go into too much detail here, mostly because I imagine you don’t need the reminder.

What I do want to say, though, is that it’s easy at times like this to resent the intrusion of politics into our entertainment. Even the most active of us need a break, and it’s natural to look to our Tumblr feeds or our favorite blogs (*winks*) for  that much-needed breath of fresh fair. So when we’re bombarded with politics even in these spaces, it’s natural to feel frustrated, even angry.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “getting away from politics.” Everything is politics. The fight for diversity and female representation in media is politics. #OwnVoices is politics. #OscarsSoWhite is politics. And from where I’m standing, that’s always been the case – John F. Kennedy’s closest friends were Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Ronald Reagan was an actor before becoming governor and then president; same with Arnold Schwarzenegger (although with any luck we’ll avoid a repeat of that last part).

So here’s to pop culture and politics, a marriage best described as “inevitable.” After all, when you’ve been together this long, there’s not much point breaking up.

When Nerds Protest Our Signs are the Best – Black Nerd Problems

“There’s been plenty of think pieces about how superheroes are the mythology of this generation. Judging from the signs, costumes, and catch-phrases coming out of these marches, it isn’t just superheroes — science fiction and fantasy characters have their places in the new pantheon as well.”

How Princess Leia Became an Unofficial Symbol for the Women’s March – Washington Post

“Fisher’s own off-screen story of struggle and empowerment helped bolster her feminist credentials for many fans. She had openly shared her personal history with bipolar disorder and substance abuse, and assailed stigmas associated with mental illness. She championed feminist causes — and she lobbed plenty of criticisms at Donald Trump, before and after he won the presidency.”

American Idols and Idiots: Pop and the Coming Trump Culture Wars – The Ringer

“Maybe art doesn’t get genuinely political until it’s willing to forfeit the comforts of art altogether. In the near future, maybe albums will just serve as promos for sneak-attack PR campaigns.”

How Pop Culture Co-Opted Politics – The Week

“Increasingly, it’s pop stars or celebrities or pro athletes who strike us as having a voice and agency, and the resources to withstand the felt risks of exercising that voice and agency, that we obscure peons lack, even in large numbers.”

Pop Culture Captures Campaign Politics – Huffington Post

“Once upon a time, popular culture provided sustenance to the masses. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, popular culture served as a lifebelt, to lighten spirits, assuage suffering, even inspire…And now? Pop culture is a crude joke, a poke in the eye, not very entertaining or inspiring.”