The Fremont Podcast

Episode 106: Crafting Dreams into Reality with Paul Tanompong

February 16, 2024 Ricky B Season 3 Episode 106
Episode 106: Crafting Dreams into Reality with Paul Tanompong
The Fremont Podcast
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The Fremont Podcast
Episode 106: Crafting Dreams into Reality with Paul Tanompong
Feb 16, 2024 Season 3 Episode 106
Ricky B

Embark on an artistic odyssey with Paul Tanompong, the visionary Thai-born 3D artist and co-founder of Props and Pops. Paul's narrative is a vibrant tapestry interweaving his personal evolution from an enthusiastic high school sculptor to a trailblazer in the 3D printing realm. His heartfelt stories of transforming artists' 2D dreams into tangible realities are imbued with the entrepreneurial zeal that has defined his journey. With a Bronx-style gangster shark among his eclectic creations, Paul's chronicle is a celebration of the joyous intersection of artistic expression and the power of sharing one's craft with the world.

Imagine a world where DIY electronics and garage hobbies merge seamlessly into successful business ventures—that's the world Paul's father envisioned and brought to life. Our conversation meanders through the homegrown roots of technology, from plywood computers to the meticulous crafting of toys, shedding light on how the DIY movement has reshaped the approach to creativity and entrepreneurship. As we traverse from a father's inventive past to Paul's contemporary musings on quality versus quantity in toy production, listeners garner insights into what it truly takes to breathe life into a concept, from inception to final product.

As the kaleidoscope of Paul's career continues to turn, the episode takes a deeper look into his graphic design and animation prowess, revealing an industry in flux and the ability to adapt as the key to longevity. We share a laugh over Paul's first graphic design gig at a mortuary, an unusual yet memorable foray into the field, and marvel at his dynamic switch to the video game industry. Lest we forget the pièce de résistance, we delve into the creation of Afronut Afro and the Herculean task of assembling a life-size Dunkleosteus skull—a testament to the boundless potential of imagination and hands-on creativity. Whether you're an artist, a dreamer, or an entrepreneur at heart, this episode promises a symphony of inspiration and practical wisdom.

To learn more about Props and Pop, check out their website here. 

You can follow them on

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Embark on an artistic odyssey with Paul Tanompong, the visionary Thai-born 3D artist and co-founder of Props and Pops. Paul's narrative is a vibrant tapestry interweaving his personal evolution from an enthusiastic high school sculptor to a trailblazer in the 3D printing realm. His heartfelt stories of transforming artists' 2D dreams into tangible realities are imbued with the entrepreneurial zeal that has defined his journey. With a Bronx-style gangster shark among his eclectic creations, Paul's chronicle is a celebration of the joyous intersection of artistic expression and the power of sharing one's craft with the world.

Imagine a world where DIY electronics and garage hobbies merge seamlessly into successful business ventures—that's the world Paul's father envisioned and brought to life. Our conversation meanders through the homegrown roots of technology, from plywood computers to the meticulous crafting of toys, shedding light on how the DIY movement has reshaped the approach to creativity and entrepreneurship. As we traverse from a father's inventive past to Paul's contemporary musings on quality versus quantity in toy production, listeners garner insights into what it truly takes to breathe life into a concept, from inception to final product.

As the kaleidoscope of Paul's career continues to turn, the episode takes a deeper look into his graphic design and animation prowess, revealing an industry in flux and the ability to adapt as the key to longevity. We share a laugh over Paul's first graphic design gig at a mortuary, an unusual yet memorable foray into the field, and marvel at his dynamic switch to the video game industry. Lest we forget the pièce de résistance, we delve into the creation of Afronut Afro and the Herculean task of assembling a life-size Dunkleosteus skull—a testament to the boundless potential of imagination and hands-on creativity. Whether you're an artist, a dreamer, or an entrepreneur at heart, this episode promises a symphony of inspiration and practical wisdom.

To learn more about Props and Pop, check out their website here. 

You can follow them on

Check out Own It Fitness for your professional fitness solutions. You can find their website here. 

Connect with them on Instagram here. 

If you are interested in supporting the podcast, please reach out to us at thefremontpodcast@gmail.com, or you can contact us here. 


Fremont Bank has been partnering with and supporting people and small businesses for over six decades.

Also, Petrocelli Homes has been a key sponsor for the Fremont Podcast almost from the beginning. If you are looking for help or advice about buying or selling a home, or if you are looking for a realtor, get in touch with Petrocelli Homes on Niles Blvd in Niles.

Additionally, Banter Bookshop is the best little bookshop in Fremont. They are a sponsor of that podcast. And we are excited to have them as a partner.

If you are in need of services for design or printing, check out Minutemen Press in Irvington. They have been serving the community for over 20 years, and they stand strong by their work and service.

Intro and Outro voiceovers made by Gary Williams. Check out garywilliams.org.

This episode was edited by Andrew C.

Scheduling and background was done by Sara S.

This is a Muggins Media Podcast.

Speaker 1:

We met a lot of people, a lot of artists and stuff, and then they see what we were doing, but these are 2D artists.

Speaker 2:

They just draw, oh, okay.

Speaker 1:

But they have ideas like oh you know, I want to make a toy.

Speaker 3:

Out of something that they had already created or drawn themselves, which is it's a 2D drawing but they

Speaker 1:

want to turn this into an actual physical thing and they saw what we were doing and they're like oh, can you do it for us? And then we're like hmm, I mean sure, why not?

Speaker 4:

Coming to you straight from Fremont, california. This is the Fremont Podcast, dedicated to telling the stories of the past and present of the people and places of the city of Fremont, conversation at a time.

Speaker 5:

I'm on Osgood Road at the City of Fremont Corporation Yard. I am here at the City of Fremont Sandbag Station where people can fill up a maximum of 10 bags per household. Once you're in the parking lot, look for a bright blue City of Fremont dumpster, a bunch of very dark gray sand in it. There's a gardening spade stuck in the sand and a very helpful makeshift station where three traffic cones have been turned upside down, turned into funnels. Put your bag underneath the funnel, get your sand from the bin, pour it into the funnel and there you go. You are listening to episode 106 of the Fremont Podcast.

Speaker 4:

Now here's your host, Ricky B.

Speaker 3:

All right, well, let's get started.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome.

Speaker 3:

So I'm with Paul, and Paul, you're going to say your last name for me again Tanampong. Okay, and you said that was Thai.

Speaker 2:

Yes, okay.

Speaker 3:

Very good. Are you from Thailand?

Speaker 1:

Yes, I was born in Thailand and I came here and I don't remember the exact date, but I was probably like six or seven, okay, okay.

Speaker 3:

So your family moved here when you were a kid.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my mom had a green card sponsorship thing. It didn't work and then brought me over and yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome. And did you move directly to Fremont or were you no Southern California?

Speaker 1:

Okay, highland, san Bernardino Okay Out in the boonies very suburban like the birds, no tall buildings a lot of open spaces, but it was relaxing.

Speaker 2:

I guess, and calm.

Speaker 3:

So let's talk about props and pops.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so being an artist and also being in the industry full of artists, game artists and stuff people, we come to realize like a lot of artists like to make and sell their own stuff. You know like if you go to Comic Con there's an artist, alley where a bunch of independent artists making sales their own like little posters and cards or whatever of their own artwork. Yeah, and.

Speaker 3:

I was like cool, you know.

Speaker 1:

I mean I could do something with 3D. I mean because at the time 3D printers were still at its very new and kind of pricey or whatever.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, they were. They were very pricey. Right now it's like two, three hundred bucks.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you know back then, when it first came out, it was like a thousand and more.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was gonna say, I started looking at them when they first came out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but since I was a kid, I was sculpting, I was playing with clay and stuff, you know. In high school, okay, I took sculpting class, and so I've always been a sculptor.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Manually you know, hand sculpting yeah, by hand.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and so I was like you know, maybe I can make some stuff, so I did. So I started sculpting. I learned in high school. I learned how to use super sculpting, which is a polymer clay. Okay, so you, it doesn't harden unless you bake it. Oh but it's an oil base because it's soft and it's not like water based. Yeah, it doesn't dry anything yeah.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's nice.

Speaker 1:

Very easy to work with. Yeah, so I, you know, sculpt a few characters and then I learned how to make the mold and cast my own stuff. And back then, 2011, 2012, youtube was also still, it's already around, but educational stuff wasn't that much. Yeah, right, so I had to do my own research, buy books and learn from whoever, wherever I can, yeah, and then through trying to error and we were just doing that on the side- for a while because we were working full time.

Speaker 1:

You know we were making six figures, you know each person, yeah, and you know it was just fun. Yeah, yeah, creative outlet. I guess, because when you're working for somebody, you're making their stuff not your own personal stuff, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, I mean it's fun to be, involved in a bigger project like that for, especially for people that are doing, you know, things that are being used around the world.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but then you have your own private interests as well, the things that you enjoy that you dream about at home, Exactly you know it's always nice, or feels you feel more accomplishment by making your own personal artwork or creations and selling it, or having people want to buy it or appreciate it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's right. That's right, yeah. So you started dabbling in making your own stuff. I think you was at 2012 or was it before that yeah 2011.

Speaker 2:

2011? Okay, yeah 2011, 2012.

Speaker 3:

Like I think what were the original things that you created for yourself, like? What were the things that like when you started just thinking about the things that you would design and make for yourself? What were some of those things?

Speaker 1:

So I was a character artist a 3D artist where. I create characters for games, okay. So I want to make characters. So I made this one character. It's like a little great white shark, but he's like standing up, yeah, and so he's kind of like a, like a, you're a typical Bronx kind of gangster, you know with the cap and the cigar, like the big tough guy, like a wise guy right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And but he's a great white shark and he has, like, gold teeth and and yeah, I mean we went to this show called Ape Convention or ApeCon Okay. But it's not around anymore. Okay, this was back then and, yeah, we saw the whole bunch.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome and we just kept doing it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and my wife also sculpted like a little I don't know if you heard of, like the Money or, dany, like the one by the Kid Robot.

Speaker 2:

Okay, it's like a blank. Okay, no, I, I, I.

Speaker 3:

I mean, maybe I've seen it, but I didn't know what that was.

Speaker 1:

So so it was like a basic blank. I guess you can call it like a boy, okay Pudgy little boy with like a kind of like a hair. I have it somewhere like a little weird haircut, but it was blank. So you, there's no feature other than the hair and the silhouette of the body, okay, okay and then we can take that one blank and turn it into multiple characters just by painting different face different outfits yeah, the hair is always the same because it's sculpted in, okay, but the body is just like smooth.

Speaker 1:

So you, you can paint on clothes and stuff.

Speaker 2:

Okay, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

So we had like three different designs of that and along with the shark character and yeah it did really well. Like people loved it and and you know it kind of, we kind of slowed down a little bit from the show because it does take a lot of time and we were also working, so we were just selling stuff online.

Speaker 3:

Okay, so you had a did, you had a website and everything yeah.

Speaker 1:

I think at the time was like Shopify and it was like brand new back in the days.

Speaker 2:

It was like like it was so rough, so basic and basic and stuff, yeah, so yeah and then we just doing you know, started making more and more.

Speaker 1:

We didn't make more and more.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

We kind of stuck with those same things that work. That's because yeah exactly Plus we didn't. We were really busy with working stuff. And then 2017, I guess the company I was working for. I left EA and went to another company. Okay, you know, again it was a movement more money more responsibility.

Speaker 1:

We just fine, because I have to experience, but we, that company I was number 87 and 2000, I forget, but like 2017, when I was laid off, we was like over 300 people, so it was one of those things where the company grew too fast, too much, too fast.

Speaker 3:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And at the, and then all the projects they were working, or half the projects they were working on, didn't happen, or oh man, cause you know you go through testing phase, you go through presentation phase to investors, and then that, and then if they don't like it, then it goes away.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah and yeah so.

Speaker 1:

I was one of the people who got cut off, laid off, but, you know, and then my wife at the time already left EA and went to Disney Okay, disney interactive and she was working on like Star Wars game it's cool, you know. So actually she got laid off first a year before I did.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

But, because she was at EA prior. She went back as a contractor.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Like a year you know which is kind of easy. You just do the contract, yeah. And then I got laid off 2017, right before her contract end and I was like you know, we technically have a year of unemployment to figure out what you're going to do yeah.

Speaker 3:

So at the time we started doing slightly more stuff, we started selling stuff on Etsy, okay, and so when you yeah, so was it still some of the same stuff that you were doing at that point on Etsy, or did you kind of change In the beginning?

Speaker 1:

yes, okay, it was the stuff that we had before, yeah, plus we added some more stuff like, like cute animals, and it's all resin, yeah. And then we, and it was, you know, a couple of hundred bucks a week, this and that on the side, and we were like, you know, we can if we have more inventory, yeah, more products and more time to make more. And what could happen.

Speaker 2:

What can we do?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what could we do? You know now that we have plenty of time tackling it full time, can we make it? Can we make it grow?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Which we decide to do because you know again unemployment you're both unemployed, you're receiving unemployment, so yeah, so why not? You know?

Speaker 1:

we have time to experiment and test it out. And and luckily it worked out, and it's not only Etsy, it's because we started. The first show we ever did was Maker Fair in 2017.

Speaker 2:

Here in the Bay Area. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And when we went to Maker Fair and we started selling stuff and we met a lot of people, a lot of artists and stuff, and then they see what we were doing, but these are 2D artists.

Speaker 5:

They just draw.

Speaker 1:

Okay. But they have ideas like oh you know, I want to make a toy out of something that they had already created or drawn themselves. It's a 2D drawing but they want to turn this into an actual physical thing. And they saw what we were doing and they're like, oh, can you do it for us? And then we're like, hmm, I mean sure, Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I mean, we now 3D technology is much cheaper, Sure, and I have, or I built my own 3D printer. I'm, even though I hate technical stuff, yeah, I liked you like messing around with it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'm a tinker. Yeah, yeah, you're like my dad, we'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. You can hear the rest of this conversation in just a moment. If you need help navigating the local real estate market, contact Petracelli Homes on Niles Boulevard. With almost two decades of experience, this family-owned brokerage is an expert in the local real estate market. Give Jennifer Petracelli a call. With her wide-ranging knowledge of the real estate industry and expert negotiation skills, jennifer goes above and beyond for her clients. Jennifer helps her clients make smart real estate decisions that benefit them in the long run. So if you're looking for a realtor who knows what they're doing and who genuinely cares about your needs and wants, reach out to Jennifer today and discover why Petracelli Homes is the right choice for all of your real estate needs.

Speaker 5:

Do you have any idea how excited I was when Banter Bookshop opened? Like, do you have any idea how great it was to hear that Fremont finally had like a real independent bookshop after all that nonsense with the two big chains. So good, go to Banter Bookshop. It's in downtown Fremont, buy something. This is a very short ad. I'm so excited.

Speaker 3:

And now back to our conversation. So my dad, he went to school for electronics and when I was a kid he would have stacks and stacks of electronic boards that he would have me try to take. Basically, I would scavenge all the parts and pieces, the chips and stuff off of it.

Speaker 3:

And so he taught me how to use a soldering iron. He taught me how to do all this stuff Well. As I got older and as he developed more in his career, he went from building electronic boards now robots and machines do it to then he went into software. So from hardware to software and he started helping develop software and stuff like that.

Speaker 3:

So he worked. But the funny thing is is that whenever I would look at the computers that he used, he would always use computers that he built himself and it would be like, I mean, if you look at a desktop computer now, you got all these fancy ones lights, leds and sides.

Speaker 3:

And his would be made out of plywood or he'd be. I mean, it wasn't like. I mean you can buy make it yourself kit desktop computers and stuff. But that wasn't him Like. He would find ways to build a frame for places to mount it. It was the craziest thing and it would be like the most the least state of the art looking computer. But I was always impressed with the fact that he could have the junkiest, oldest computer. But what he could do on that which is blow everyone's mind because he knew how to maximize what he had.

Speaker 3:

Whereas today most people are like I need a new computer, why? Because of this and this and this, and they might be using like 5% of what the computer can actually do, and not only that, it's so expensive nowadays.

Speaker 2:

That's right, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And, technically speaking, if you build your own, you'd probably save, like half the cost.

Speaker 2:

That's right, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Which you know, until we got these laptops, like all my home computers, were also built.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I mean, you sound like my dad in the sense that if he was thinking about ever using a 3D printer, he would probably prefer to try to build it himself.

Speaker 1:

And in my opinion, the fastest way to learn something is to make it yourself and then from the trial and error you learn so much to where anything that goes wrong you can fix it yourself. That's right. Where if you just buy a computer, something goes wrong. I think it goes to port and then you gotta pay somebody and then the price keeps going up and up, and up. Exactly, yeah, so and that's but you know. But then it comes down to okay, once you had the money, there's no need to build it.

Speaker 3:

It's more about just so, but you started out your first 3D printer, building it yourself then. Okay, how long did it take you to build one?

Speaker 1:

A week just be you know, I was able to find this cool website called Instructables. It's basically people who made stuff themselves that uploaded All like all the-.

Speaker 3:

How to? Oh interesting, okay, and it's handy.

Speaker 1:

When I was a kid.

Speaker 4:

It all comes down to that usually.

Speaker 1:

I usually take stuff apart and put it back together. Sometimes it works still and sometimes it does, which you know, but that's kind of like part of the experiment. The first client I ever got to making a toy was this company called 100% Soft.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And they make, and we made their first toy for them, which is now their bread and butter like-. Wow, it's called Dumpster Fire, if you haven't heard about it. Okay, it's a Dumpster Fire toy. It looks like a dumpster with a happy face and it has a fire on it. It's and we made it for him like 2018, right before pandemic, oh my goodness.

Speaker 1:

And if you can imagine that Dumpster Fire toy, it was such a perfect timed release to the pandemic where it just blew up and now he hasn't made him China by the tens of thousands.

Speaker 3:

Oh my goodness, but you guys made the first one for him.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And that was something out of a 2D drawing that he gave you.

Speaker 1:

And that's kind of like kickstarted after we made that for him and he posted on Instagram and said we just got all kinds of followers and all kinds of inquiries and then and we were doing stuff from out of our garage at home and that basically put us on the map.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And after that we were practically making toys for people. 10 to 15 projects a year oh wow, if you can imagine doing three projects per month and showing the two of us, it was a lot of work, wow. And right now we've cut it down to like less than half, like four or five projects a year.

Speaker 3:

Okay. So when you say a project because I'm imagining when you talked about this Dumpster, Fire toy, just one toy being a project. Is that right?

Speaker 2:

Or are you yes?

Speaker 1:

One toy is one project Wow, wow. So well, sometimes it's more than one, like we have a client that had two characters, but it's like a main guy and a sidekick.

Speaker 2:

Okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

So it's part of the same box, yeah, it's DJ Lance. I don't know if you heard. He's like an 80s kind of he's like a black guy. He wears these jumpsuit he had like a kid's show back in the 80s.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think I know who you're talking about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and he's local in the Bay Area and yeah, so the guy that I did the toy for it's a friend's with him and he's also an artist, so he kind of worked with DJ. Lance oh okay, okay, and then we made a toy for him.

Speaker 4:

But yeah, yeah, that's cool.

Speaker 1:

So a project could be more than one toy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but as long as it's like one box, one present you know, I know you're saying how many projects that you're kind of limiting yourself to per year, but like how long? Like how long does it take? What is the process of going from-.

Speaker 1:

So usually it was the whole shebang like from 3D 2D drawing. We don't do the 2D but.

Speaker 5:

If somebody does a 2D drawing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then we turn that into 3D.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Usually we tell them about four to six weeks For 25.

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

So we do have a low minimum of 25.

Speaker 3:

Oh, so this is like okay, so like one project could be one particular toy, but then you're having multiples.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we manufacture them here Manufacture them here. Okay, I got to check, yeah because going to China, if you're doing low minimum, you're spending way more money, oh, interesting. Okay, especially if you're doing vinyl, which is the end thing right now is designer toys and vinyl toys. Okay, because molds are metal and just that metal mold, just to make like a three inch, four inch figure, is like six to $8,000.

Speaker 2:

Wow.

Speaker 1:

Wow, but metal mold lasts forever Right. And you can. They can just spend cast thousands with that same mold. Yeah, what we do here is silicone, and silicone will only last about 25 to 30 pulls before. Well, after about 20 casts, just silicone will start to deteriorate, okay. It starts, the inside surface start to harden and then seam starts to go bad, and then so we limit it to 25, because anything beyond that it's just too much work to fix it, okay.

Speaker 2:

I gotcha.

Speaker 1:

And it's a waste of our time and we don't want to have to charge you more for it, right, but if you want to, you know yeah.

Speaker 3:

If you want to pay for it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah that's right, yeah, so yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's just so from start to finish. Usually we say four to six weeks. Okay, as long as it's not too complicated, that's right.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so props and a pops. When did that name come about, Like when did you, when did you?

Speaker 1:

get into that it's a little weird, but at the same time I mean it works. It works Well. Half of it works Pop right. The first half props. We don't have any. I mean, we've made props here and there for our clients, but even though it's in the name, it's not our main focus.

Speaker 4:

But it's in the name, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I mean, luckily we've done a few that was pretty decent, like we did a prop for California Lotto commercial. We made these gold nuggets. That has California Lotto on it.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's cool. It's like a big gold nugget.

Speaker 1:

We did two of them. So they had like a shoot on location. In Mirror Woods it's like a little stream and somebody was hiking and they're panning for gold and all of a sudden they got that chunk of gold that says California Lotto. So that was a cool project and then we did another one for like a Netflix movie, but it's like a Taiwanese movie my wife's Taiwanese and then one of her friend. He owns like a production company, so he was hired as a for that. They were shooting in San Francisco.

Speaker 1:

I guess there's like a cemetery up on the hill I don't know the location, but in San Francisco. So I was hired to make a fake tombstone out of EVA foam. I carved it and I laser etched all the information and then I painted it and make it look like black marble.

Speaker 4:

Okay, it turned out pretty good.

Speaker 1:

It was only like two seconds in a movie, but it was cool.

Speaker 5:

Hello Fremont. Do you know what's never caused a fight in Target? 280 individual episodes of the Fremont podcast. Instead of spending that amount of money on an insulated cup, buymeacoffeecom, slash the Fremont podcast. Slash membership for one dollar a month the Fremont podcast. We've never caused a fight in the middle of a conglomerate chain store.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and then how did you what? How did you get the Fremont?

Speaker 1:

So after high school, I like a week after graduation, I just moved to LA okay, which is about an hour, I guess, more north, okay, of San Bernardino, and then just started going to LA Cedar College, because you know Cedar College is cheaper. So I was thinking, you know the whole, get the GED like General stuff cheap, yeah and then do the hardcore.

Speaker 3:

That's good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, save you money for that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, which, yeah, so you know, it's kind of like just did that for two years and then went to Platt College okay, latt, okay, it's, it's a technical college and took a graphic design course. Nice, got my AA started working and I was like this sucks.

Speaker 2:

Which happens.

Speaker 1:

You know what was it.

Speaker 3:

What was the particular type of art that grabbed your attention, that got you into graphic design? Was it? Was it just?

Speaker 1:

design in general in terms of you know just I Mean everything you see, there's, you know somebody, a graphic designer touch.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like everything so yeah, so it was and you know I I've always been artistic and you know, since I was younger, you know. So I thought that was a more Easier feel to get into. Then let's say fine art. So it, as you know about the term, starving Artists are being artists.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I didn't want to take that route, just because you know yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm an artist, you know.

Speaker 1:

I just thought to go this route and it's it's more mainstream and yeah, I mean more jobs, yeah, you see it everywhere and it's useful everywhere, so it's got to be a demand for it. Yeah, I mean unfortunately, at the time of graduation on graphic design was such a flooded Field and flooded Major yeah yeah, you know graduates and you know, oh, we're like a dime a dozen and then the the value dropped.

Speaker 3:

That's right, because it was so money to choose from.

Speaker 1:

So it's like 2003. At that time you I'd be like we'd be lucky, making, you know, $15 an hour. Wow, where 10 years prior, like in the late 90s to, yeah, late 90s, early 80s you'd be you can easily make like 80 to 100k Wow.

Speaker 3:

So it was a back then. That was, that was a great salary. Yes, because it was niche.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but then it was so good that we want you.

Speaker 1:

Everybody wanted to do yeah, yeah, and I wanted to do that's right, that's right yeah after a year I was like you know, and I had friends in the same field and they're like, oh yeah, working for this big company making $15 an hour. Like really, you're designing like DVD covers for movies and stuff and you only make $15 an hour and and, and you know, funny thing, or weird thing, is that I, I graduated, my first job was I work in a mortuary. Oh, which was people like what?

Speaker 1:

I was a graphic designer for a mortuary okay but it was a big one, they had like 10 locations. Oh so I was the one to design like Stuff for funerals.

Speaker 3:

Okay, I was gonna say you got me curious.

Speaker 1:

now, like what kind of a kind of a job Is that?

Speaker 3:

yeah, just just imagine is that, like, like the, the handout, the bulletins or whatever that we're giving out, yeah, like pamphlets and.

Speaker 1:

You know, like flyers and cards and also video. Okay, they, they want like video slide up, like like video of images with like music and kind of putting all that together because my major was graphic design, but also motion graphics so I can also do video.

Speaker 4:

Okay, and you?

Speaker 1:

know that stuff? Yeah, and it was cool.

Speaker 4:

I mean.

Speaker 1:

You know again like 15 hours of that, great, but you know it pays the bills.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, at the time, at the time, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So then, after a year or was it, were you a year at the mortuary?

Speaker 1:

then and then.

Speaker 3:

And then you were like this sucks.

Speaker 1:

And you're like Well, so at the time my roommate was going to AI, our Institute of Los Angeles. He was going to that college for 3d animation and you know I'll see him working on stuff. I'm like, wow, that looks cool man. You know it's 3d, you know, because I love special effects. Okay, I'm a huge collector of Blu-ray, dbd's or you know. Yeah, not anymore, but the new ways and I always get the ones that has all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I love watching how it's done.

Speaker 1:

Yeah so that caught my attention quick that my roommate was doing that or learning that. So you know, he's gave me a copy of the software that they're learning and some video tutorials and I just started doing it myself and I was like, well, okay. So after that I was like I should go back to school. So I went back to school. Oh wow, which very convenient, okay. So after the mortuary thing I went to another job which was like a Not advertising is like where they do like real, it's like market research on advertisement okay so actually I went there first okay and the reason I Decided to go back to school was the school was right next to that.

Speaker 1:

And I was these students walking around and I was like, oh, what is that place? And I figured out what it was and I just walked over. One day. It's like, hey, you know what I'm interested in, what kind of course you guys have. And they got it bad like a, a new, new course of like 3d animation, okay, which I was like cool, that's perfect, because that's kind of like what I want to get into now.

Speaker 2:

That's cool.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I just, it was easy, I just walk over after work.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. Yeah, it was.

Speaker 1:

I'm. Unfortunately it was full-time.

Speaker 3:

Okay, but it would pay any better than the, than the mortuary job.

Speaker 1:

No no, it was like 13 something, but, but you know but you.

Speaker 3:

But the convenience was nice.

Speaker 1:

Because I was working there full-time and school was considered full-time because it was accelerated classes 9-of-5, wow, and then six to ten. I did that for three years I got my BA. Okay, like the first month after I graduated, they the school did their job. They found me work, oh wow, which is rare. I mean it is. Sometimes it's hard for school to find work for students because there's so many students. Yeah, luckily I graduated like the top of my class, so I guess, awesome.

Speaker 4:

I guess I got first did.

Speaker 1:

it's because I learned on my own yeah okay.

Speaker 2:

This is my roommate.

Speaker 1:

So so you know that all worked out, yeah, and I got into Activision in LA.

Speaker 3:

That's cool.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I'm sure you have a heard of Activision now. Yeah, video game opening. Yeah, yeah yeah, so I started working in video games. Oh, okay, worked on like Shrek. Wow, Transformers yeah, napoleon Dynamite that was. This is back in mid-2000s.

Speaker 3:

Okay, yeah, okay, 2005, I think. Yeah, those were video games, all the video games that you're working like on Like ps2 and original Xbox.

Speaker 1:

Wow that was before the newer one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we're working for, I think, six years.

Speaker 2:

Okay, and.

Speaker 1:

Then, 2008, I moved to the Bay Area because I got job offer from EA.

Speaker 2:

Oh.

Speaker 1:

Which is Red Wishores. Yeah and yeah I. I Got the interview. I drove up here overnight for Like the morning at the same interview same day. Wow, I drove up here Stuffed in my car. I went to the interview on Friday and then on Monday I got the job offer and I Sold everything I could, whatever I couldn't. I left it on the side of the street and I moved up here like that. That week, that's the week. To be honest, I was getting a little bit sick of LA.

Speaker 2:

Okay, Okay, you know yeah.

Speaker 1:

I actually want. I came to San Francisco before. On vacation and whatnot, and I really like the Bay Area. Sure, the vibe was much relaxed A little bit, a little bit more slower pace, maybe not in downtown San Francisco, but just in general the Bay Area Like people are more Cool you know, yeah, it's a little bit more crazy in LA.

Speaker 1:

Yeah the nightlife, the party stuff the not for you, so I just want something new. Yeah so yeah, I made the move. I moved up here 2008. Okay, so I'm working for EA. That's where I met my wife. Oh very good she was also. She also got hired, I think a few months after I did.

Speaker 2:

Okay, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Wow, and we were in like the same room, so you know, okay, yeah, what has been one of your favorite projects that you've done?

Speaker 1:

Most of the projects that we work for clients are pretty cool because in the beginning we were taking whatever projects we can because we just started. We can't say no because we need money.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you need to be aware. We're not making money unless we're working on something Right.

Speaker 1:

And it could be an okay project.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Something we wouldn't want to really show people, but that's what the client want.

Speaker 4:

That's what they get yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then there's some really cool ones, like some of the like that one right there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, it's kind of like a dinosaur character.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I helped work on that one. Okay, and this guy right here, oh, that's cool. Yeah, this guy is also one of my favorite, hold on.

Speaker 3:

I'm going to take a picture of it so we can post it on the so people know what we're talking about here.

Speaker 2:

Let me see. I know that lighting is cool or not. There we go.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that's cool, yeah, so who is this character?

Speaker 1:

His name is Afronut Afro. Okay, so my client. He's art director for a game company in Florida. Okay, and he's similar age to me. Maybe us.

Speaker 2:

I'm like 47. 45, yeah, so I'm worried. I mean, I don't look it, but I get that. I'm like what?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I thought you were younger than that.

Speaker 1:

But yeah and yeah. So his one of his favorite anime back then was Macross, or Robotech. Yeah, so this is kind of like a spin off of that, so you can kind of tell a little bit. Yeah 80s, 70s, 80s, kind of Japanese cartoon kind of feel, and so yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's cool.

Speaker 1:

So this is one of the characters that we made for him Nice.

Speaker 2:

Really cool.

Speaker 1:

Really fun characters.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a very cool character, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And this is more like, obviously, the client work.

Speaker 2:

Sure.

Speaker 1:

In terms of personal work, like for myself, my favorite one that I did was a. So this character? Well, I think if I show you a photo, it's. If you go to Instagram, oh, it's because I'm a huge dinosaur.

Speaker 2:

Okay, you love dinosaurs? I was a kid, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so one of my favorite piece was this huge life size, Dunkelastius skull.

Speaker 3:

Oh, dude, that's cool. Yeah, oh yeah, I was looking at, I was looking at, yeah, and you got to. You made that. Yes, oh wow, that's incredible, that's like, that's like two or three feet in diameter Five feet.

Speaker 2:

What Five feet? Oh my goodness Five feet across.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's crazy. So it's five feet across, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And, yeah, did you have to make that in multiple parts and then assemble it or is?

Speaker 2:

it 72 pieces. Oh my goodness, yeah, that's incredible Because my printer is only that big. You made that on that printer over there yeah.

Speaker 1:

Piece by piece. Yeah, yeah, but it was a fun project.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I mean of course.

Speaker 2:

I was paid for it.

Speaker 3:

That's right yeah.

Speaker 1:

But it was the biggest thing I've ever made, wow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

I saw that. I don't know if it was on your website, but I'll go to your Instagram and make sure that I check it out as well and share that, but that's really cool. Thank you, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And that's probably one of my favorite piece. My real goal with my dinosaur stuff or fossil replicas is to try to get them into stores. Okay, and then I'm going to go into museum gift shops and this and that because that's the way to go. Sure, I mean, you know, because it's such a niche. Yeah, I have two NC shops, one is called Blue Dinos, which is for my dinosaur stuff, and then one is called Props and Pop for the other shop.

Speaker 2:

Okay, okay.

Speaker 1:

So the Blue Dinos sells much less stuff because it's niche yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I was just in Colorado for Thanksgiving with my family and we went and visited this place that has the largest. It was a geology museum and it had the largest display of Colorado rock in the world, but in there it also had a whole display of dinosaur bones and stuff like that.

Speaker 3:

But I thought, you know, when I started looking at your website and started seeing the things that you did like, some of the things that you have in there reminded me of the things that I saw in that museum and I actually thought, man, it'd be kind of cool to have one of those at home, you know yeah. And so I can totally see you being able to make stuff that would sell in a museum or something like that One day, one day, there you go.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I had to figure out how to.

Speaker 3:

What you need to do is you need to lean into our local.

Speaker 5:

I need a distributor.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, well, not just a distributor. You need to lean into our local. Like prehistoric, like fossils that are here in Fremont, like you have the Saber. Tooth, guy, tiger and all that stuff, you know, what that's a good idea.

Speaker 2:

I never looked into that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, Because I mean they've got like you can go to.

Speaker 1:

Is there some sort of a museum for in Fremont?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so there's a I think there's a natural, a natural history museum over off on Fremont Boulevard. Okay, we've actually been trying to talk to them about having the person who's in charge of that on the podcast as well. We haven't done that yet, but they have the natural history museum right there, and I'm sure there's a few other places around Fremont that have things like that, but I think that would be really cool to be able to make something and say yeah.

Speaker 1:

It was made right here in Fremont and you know you can make it. I mean I would love that, I mean it's one thing selling a one piece here and there on Etsy, but being able to actually have your product in a gift shop or a store.

Speaker 3:

And you could start off with that and kind of work out the kinks. And then once you get that figured out and have a package, then you can reach out to other museums.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, for sure yeah.

Speaker 3:

So let me ask you this when I was looking at your website and trying to figure out what all you do, you've kind of shared the story of how you got to where you are now and I've seen on your website how you can. You know you've offered to take people's two day drawings and turn them into 3D. You know objects and then and then you have people that are submitting projects to you. I also saw that you offer workshops and stuff like that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so what do you do? Yes?

Speaker 1:

We just recently, like two weeks ago, I had a workshop. It's a three days crash course of resin toy making from start to finish, which includes mold making, casting and painting. Okay, and it's fast paced, but it's really fun yeah.

Speaker 3:

So somebody wants to learn how to do some of what you're doing, then they could take that three day class.

Speaker 1:

And we make it so that it's accessible to anybody. Other materials are easily bought over, like Amazon or whatever, we're not dealing with anything.

Speaker 1:

3d, because 3D is a specializing word. If you can learn on your own, that's great, but it's very complicated for most people, to where it takes more than a few months, if not in your years, to really get good at. So, basically, we're using a polymer clay. Okay, so I teach people how to use the polymer clay and how to sculpt, and then on Friday it's three days, friday, sorry. On Sunday and on a Friday is sculpting, hand sculpting. On Saturday is mold making, and then by the end of the day we cast. That's awesome. And then on Sunday is like post processing, like sanding smoothie now, and then we're going to do painting and then by the end of the day, you have a toy that you made from scratch.

Speaker 3:

That's amazing.

Speaker 1:

Not only the original, but you also made your own mold and made a copy, so you can always make more copies for yourself later because you have the mold. That's awesome, so you learn how to not only sculpt or make your own toy, but how to manufacture your own toy because, a lot of artists can't afford to pay me or pay somebody else to do it. Some people wanted to learn how to do it themselves. That's cool. You do save a lot of money doing it yourself.

Speaker 3:

You just have to learn how. That's cool. Is that the only workshop you guys offer, or another one?

Speaker 1:

Well, for now I have just sculpting, where you can just learn how to sculpt with polymer clay, okay, and that's like a one day. And then mold making, like mold making, because some people are sculptors but they don't know how to manufacture. So that's cool. And then I have the third course, which is the three days crash course toy making, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

In the future we want to also offer how to do concrete casts off of simple let's say, if you have like a used milk carton, you can cut it in half, you can pour concrete and make a little planter.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome, paul. I love all the stuff that you've done. This is really really cool.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 4:

And yeah.

Speaker 3:

So if people wanted to find out more about your workshops and what you're doing, I mean just the toy making, the workshops and some of the stuff you're doing with the plants, the all of these things are things that people might find interesting. You can find them on the website, right.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

And then you guys have pretty active Instagram as well.

Speaker 1:

Not as much as we like to, not as yeah, yeah, like once a week.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, okay, posts, but sometimes less.

Speaker 1:

But you know I go through spurts of, oh, I should post more, and then I'll post two, three times a day for a few days, and then I just fall off. That's it.

Speaker 3:

I understand that. I understand that.

Speaker 1:

But you know we try to, so we have two Instagram.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

One is just props and pop. Okay, and that's more for the toy making the toy making Okay. And and then one is called props and pop decor. Okay, and that's more for the, the planters and all the other stuff that we make and sell ourselves. Okay.

Speaker 3:

That's cool.

Speaker 1:

And a website is props and pop Okay Dot com.

Speaker 2:

Dot com yes.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and that has both.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So people who wants to inquire about making toys or people who wants to inquire about the the workshops that we have, it's all on our website, Okay, and you know, it's, and we're planning to hopefully add more stuff, and we've even had parents asking about oh, how about kids?

Speaker 2:

type of workshops or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Something simple and easier for kids to and fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So we will be coming up with something, because you know the jujitsu class right here, yeah, every early in the day it's kids, yeah, and in the evening is more adults.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And we get a lot of parents and with kids and then parents just standing around waiting for the kids to finish their class. So they'll come in here and they're like oh, what do you guys do here? We sell stuff. So that oh that because you know art classes right, yeah. Parents are always interested, which is cool because you know, I'm an artist.

Speaker 2:

So so you want to encourage that Exactly.

Speaker 3:

You want kids to be able to look back and say I had the opportunity to learn.

Speaker 1:

It's a I feel creativity is sometimes is a little, you know, it's a little bit of a little. Sometimes it's a little a little lacking in the, in the next generation or just more like educational like high school, elementary, you know it's, it's more like oh, in college. Then you can choose to be an artist or then you can get into it, but for me, if they're already interested, since they're young. Why don't you start them young?

Speaker 3:

That's right.

Speaker 1:

And then you can get creative. Creative like courses and classes and elementary and high school. But yeah, that's just sometimes budget right.

Speaker 3:

Right, oh, unfortunately, yeah. Yeah, well, paul, thanks for your time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and thanks for sharing all this I know that you guys are busy, hard at work and thanks for taking a little bit of time to have the conversation, no problem.

Speaker 1:

It's been fun. I mean, it's a. I'm always open to share, share my experience and whoever wants to learn about making toys or how we do what we do. You know we're always open.

Speaker 3:

That's great.

Speaker 1:

And like you said, you know some people do say there's not much going on in.

Speaker 2:

Fremont.

Speaker 4:

And.

Speaker 3:

I want to maybe help change that, you know, if possible. And it and it and it takes a community too. I mean, the way I found out about you was through Fremont gear, miles over at. Fremont gear. He posted a something on Instagram about you and I was like that is so cool. I didn't even know that existed here in.

Speaker 1:

Fremont. So we reached out to you and the fact that the whole maker movement has been becoming more and more popular like year per year.

Speaker 3:

There's more like craft shows and conventions about art and making and all this stuff and I know that there's some things that I've been interested in putting together to kind of share some exposure with other artists in. Fremont, so I'll reach out to you and get something going.

Speaker 1:

Any ideas or if you want me to help with something just let me know. We're definitely down because, you know again, it's the Fremont community that we're trying to bring awareness about, not just our business but all local business and creative business and makers.

Speaker 3:

And stuff that's awesome, very cool, well, thanks again for being on the podcast and good luck with all the work you have to do, no problem.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, thanks for listening.

Speaker 4:

This episode was hosted and produced by Ricky B. I'm Gary Williams. Andrew Kovett is the editor. Scheduling and preinterviews by Sarah S. Your reviews help other people find this podcast. If you would please leave a review on iTunes. Be sure to subscribe wherever it is that you listen so you don't miss an episode. You can find everything we make, the podcast and all of our social media links at thefremontpodcastcom. Join us next week on the Fremont podcast.

Speaker 1:

This is a Muggins.

Speaker 2:

Media podcast.

Artist Entrepreneur's Journey
From DIY Electronics to Toy Manufacturing
Career in Graphic Design and Animation
Character Design and Dinosaur Replicas
Polymer Clay Toy Making Workshop