Funko Spotlight: Rob Schwartz


Tell us about your background! What led to your job at Funko?

I am a suburban family man; two kids, one wife, one dog. My dad was a career military officer so I moved a lot, lived in several states, and spent many years in Japan before graduating in Alaska. I think always being the new kid made me turn to drawing. Most of the time, I drew monsters.

After attending art school, I began as a t-shirt artist at Seabell Sportswear in the 1980s. Seabell would soon hire Mike Becker as a salesman. We both drove 1959 tailfin Dodges and loved all things retro. In the 1990s, artist Sean Wilkinson joined Seabell. Mike began thinking of starting his own nostalgic toy company around 1997 with Sean and myself doing the art. Originally it was to be called Brainworks.

Funko officially began in 1998 with the BIG BOY wobbler as our first product. It was a crazy, creative first few years as we honed the Funko brand. Wacky Wobbler bobbleheads were Funko’s big success. Our main themes were obscure nostalgia as major licenses were out of our league: Gumby, Frankenberry, Reddy Killowat, Quisp (ask your Grandma, she knows these guys).

Mike would later sell Funko to his friend and Hanna-Barbera collector Brian Mariotti. We would go on to try many different things (Funkovisions, anyone?). Better licenses followed like KISS, Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and Scribblenauts. Then Pop! exploded on the world. It has been an incredible rocket ride ever since. Now the art department alone numbers over 30.

For me, seeing the Funko brand go worldwide and all our fantastic teams working together makes me so proud, words fail me. Thank you so much to all the Funatics who made this possible.

Funko Spotlight: Rob Schwartz

What are your biggest artistic influences and/or who are your favorite artists?

My first influences were two magazines, Famous Monsters of Filmland and MAD, Wacky Packages, and Rat Fink type monsters. So the hero artists of my youth would be Jack Davis, Bill Campbell, Dave Deal, Basil Wolverton and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth.  Artists whose work I love are so many, but include Jim Flora, Amanda Vissel, Thomas Hart Benton, Abram Games, Bernie Wrightson, I could go on. For me, my favorite art of all time is the Colonel Bleep cartoon. I think the artist is Robert D Buchanan. It’s perfection to me.

 What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on at Funko?

I like all things weird and spooky, so I will always be fond of the monster stuff, El Diablo, some of the Spastik Plastiks, Rat Fink and the Star Wars Monster Mashups. As for Pop!s, I’ll just pick 5 that I’m proud of: Hershel, Well Walker, Robby the Robot, V for Vendetta, and the 1966 Batmobile Pop! Ride.

What programs and/or tools do you use most often?

    Photoshop, Illustrator, and the pencil, an elegant weapon from a more civilized age.

    Funko Spotlight: Rob Schwartz

    What is your dream project?

      Believe it or not, through Funko, a lot of my past dreams became reality. A one-time junior high KISS fanatic from Anchorage, Alaska got to make KISS plush, Pop! figures, and robots. A former art school punk fan got to make Misfits, The Ramones and Sex Pistols Pops. All my favorite slashers, robots and monsters have passed through the drawing board because of Funko.

      But the ultimate dream for me would be to unleash an unlicensed line of products from the imaginations of our many designers. We have some awesome talent here.

      What do you collect? 

      I am obsessed with Art Deco and mid-century design. My entire house is basically a diorama of 1962 with a little 1935 thrown in, so I collect anything that adds to that theme.

        I also semi-collect Tiki stuff, retro-futurist toy vehicles, vintage war helmets, and Halloween decorations. Occasionally dust bunnies, too.

        Funko Spotlight: Rob Schwartz
        What is your favorite medium?

        When I do paint, I use acrylics. I also really like doing 3D work. For years I have been making custom toys, either with wood or using Funko products as a base. Recently, I have been making dioramas for them. Funko’s photographer Bob Mickschl has been shooting them, with lighting help from fellow Funko artist, Mike Martin.

        A few are included here. I actually have quite a lot and one day soon I will put a site up. Almost all have a monster or goth-y theme.

        Any advice for aspiring toy designers?

        Funko started by finding a market vacuum or a need that wasn’t being filled. Art is a lifetime passion. After a day of making toys, I go home and make even more toys that no one ever sees, just for the joy. Like music, it doesn’t have to be your career, sometimes the hobby is just as rewarding.

        Funko Spotlight: Rob Schwartz