Comics sculptor and illustrator Joe Menna

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140129_JM_bioBy day, Joe Menna designs and sculpts coins for the US Mint. But by night, he has a secret identity: as one of the leading sculptors of collectibles for companies like DC Direct, McFarlane Toys, Dark Horse Comics and Hasbro, using ZBrush and Modo to produce digital sculpts ready for manufacturing. He has worked on collectible versions of some of the world’s best known characters, from Batman to the Ghostbusters franchise. Classically trained in sculpture and drawing, he has also recently been getting back into digital 2D art and illustration, as he told ArtStation in the exclusive interview below.

Tell us about your journey

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid. Comic books were my main influence artistically and continue to be an important part of my life to this day. My love of solid, dimensional drawing learned from comics extended into the third dimension in art school and I fell completely in love with all things sculpture. I spent the rest of my time in school trying to get the best classical sculpture and drawing education possible and ultimately finished those studies in Russia [at the Saint Petersburg State Art and Industry Academy]. More than anything else, it was my time in Russia that made every succeeding opportunity in which I’ve ever been able to artistically engage possible.

How do you want to impact the world?

I’ve been really lucky to get a lot of positive responses to my work over the years. In addition to my ongoing sculpture work, I’m getting back into doing a lot of 2D art and drawing. I did an Edgar Allan Poe drawing from scratch in Photoshop CS6 [shown below] that ultimately might wind up as part of a series of illustrations for The Masque of the Red Death to be featured in my favorite comic book anthology of all time, Atomeka’s A1, published by Titan Comics. A1 has hosted some of the greatest comic artists and writers, so to be able to do my first 2D comic-related work for it is an incredible honor.

What are you passionate about?

My wife and kids are my heart and soul and every time I pick up a stylus, pencil, or piece of clay I’m always working with them in mind, one way or another. Outside of art and family, I love to surf. I’m an absolutely terrible surfer, but I love it deeply and it brings me a sense of peace and connection to the universe that’s like nothing else.

What would be your #1 advice to other artists?

Work your ass off, don’t quit, and always ask yourself if you are doing your best possible work. Don’t BS yourself. If you are honest with yourself and keep pushing and growing, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

Related Links
Joe Menna’s website
Joe Menna’s Instagram feed

Injustice: Gods Among Us statue. Copyright by DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Injustice: Gods Among Us statue. Copyright by DC Entertainment and used by permission. The project was art directed by Bryon Webster. Wonder Woman and the rocket were digitally sculpted by Dave Cortes; Batman and the base by Joe Menna. The statue was printed, cast and painted by Jason Wires.

Arkham City Catwoman for DC Collectibles. Copyright by DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Arkham City Catwoman for DC Collectibles. Copyright by DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe: a digital illustration for The Masque of the Red Death, scheduled for inclusion in the new A1 anthology.

Arkham City Solomon Grundy Action Figure for DC Collectibles. Copyright DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Arkham City Solomon Grundy Action Figure for DC Collectibles. Copyright DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Arkham City Solomon Grundy Action Figure for DC Collectibles. Copyright DC Entertainment and used by permission.

Arkham City Solomon Grundy Action Figure for DC Collectibles. Copyright DC Entertainment and used by permission.

About the author

Jim Thacker is a contributing editor for ArtStation Magazine.