Jason Freeny creates intricate and witty sculptures and illustrations showing the imaginary internal workings of such well-loved characters as Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty, and Gummi Bears. It can take him up to a month to finish a piece of work, but he still found time to answer our questions!
How did you first get the idea for your anatomical sculptures?
I’ve had a fascination with anatomy for quite some time, creating my first fictitious anatomical schematic around 1999 with a technical drawing of the inner workings of an incubus. Sculpture has always been my preferred medium but for years I stayed away from it because the final cost of a piece meant that it was out of a lot of peoples’ price range. I stuck to 2D illustration because I could offer prints at a reasonable price. I moved to sculpture after being laid off from my job as a mobile UI designer a couple years ago, taking a leap of faith and rationalizing that anything I could get for them was better than nothing - I had bills to pay! So I guess it boiled down to survival, and it’s a choice that I have never regretted.
There’s so much attention to detail in all your work; how long does it normally take you to complete a sculpture/a digital print?
Surprisingly it takes me much longer to create a digital print image than it does to sculpt a detailed anatomy or any other sculpture. I create my digital images using Maya, Photoshop and Illustrator and they can take anything from several weeks to a month complete. Sculpting on the other hand takes me an average of 3 days to a week or two depending on the complexity, size and the material I’m working with.
The juxtaposition of cartoon characters and visceral detail in your ‘dissections’ is disconcerting but also darkly funny. What sort of effect were you aiming for?
My thought process and design process is simply me wanting to see what something would look like outside my head. There is no real deep message behind it, at least not on purpose or at the start of a project although I sometimes take a narrative direction as the piece progresses. It all really started with the idea of "What would a Balloon Animal anatomy look like?"
Your work spans a variety of media – what would you say is your favourite medium to work in?
Sculpture, hands down. It comes to me very naturally, it just happens without much thought. 2D work is exactly that, work, but that said I still really do enjoy it.
Having previously worked as a set designer for MTV, do you think that this has had an effect on your attitude to pop-culture?
Actually it was my fascination with POP Art that probably landed me the MTV gig, not the other way around.
You’ve shown us the insides of so many famous characters; do you have a particular favourite?
Probably Super Mario, Hello Kitty and My Little Pony.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
I always have projects and ideas brewing in my head. Right now I’m moving away from the licensed character anatomy and concentrating more on my own creations. I have a few toys in production that will be released early this year and I’m very excited about that. I’m also about to move up in scale on my sculptures and create some pieces two feet and four feet tall...
Watch this space, I guess! To see more of Jason’s work and to buy pieces visit his website.