My name is Steve Varner
I grew up in Minnesota in a small town which suited me very well, being an extremely hyperactive child. I was able walk to the end of my street to a lake and go fishing, play in the woods and build Tree houses and forts.
When I wasn’t outside playing, my parents provided me with plenty of art supplies so I spent my indoor time drawing, painting and sculpting. There wasn’t much for someone like myself to do there using my art skills once I got older, and I wasn’t interested in anything else. So when I was 21, I bought a one way plane ticket to Los Angeles.
I got a job making props for TV shows and commercials using my artistic abilities. I eventually got into the motion picture industry as a union sculptor but it wasn’t quite what I expected.
There were some aspects of it that didn’t suit me too well so I left and got a job as a sculptor at Mattel Toys where I learned the ins and outs of the Toy industry.
During the 3 years I was at Mattel, I had a lot of free time, unlike the movie industry, so on nights and weekends I sculpted a series of bronze sculptures and found an agent that helped me get my sculptures into galleries.
After I quit Mattel, I wanted to continue sculpting bronzes and selling to galleries, as well as freelance toy sculpture on the side. However, I landed a series of Star Trek sculpts for Mego right out the door. My freelance work then just escalated keeping me so busy that I didn’t have time to create more bronzes.
I then had to hire and train helpers to complete all my work. I was sculpting Action figures and dolls for all the larger and even smaller toy companies and became well known in the Toy Industry.
At the end of 1986, Playmates Toys had just gotten the license for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. They contacted me and explained that they loved the storyline but wanted me to give the 2d comic book Turtle figures a more current look in 3d form.
In the beginning, I just sculpted a static clay sketch of one of the Turtles wielding a Bo. The Ninja Turtles creators and the people at Playmates Toys loved the 3d version that I had created. We were running out of time to get prototypes to the 1987 Toy Fair, so we molded them up, painted four of them and sent them to to the show where the whole line went over big!
We’ve been sculpting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures ever since, along with many other toy lines such as Star Trek, Earthworm Jim and many of the McDonald’s toys just to mention a few.
In the meantime, I have been lucky enough to have a daughter who is an excellent Artist/Sculptor and is taking over much of my toy sculpture work leaving me more free time for my Fine Art pursuits.
I am also looking to soon enter the world of NFTs, so please follow my blog to keep up with what I am working on. Thanks to @afturner and @nuthman for the invite to Hive! Also feel free to check out my website at varnerstudios.com.