WWE’s artist since 2013, you may have seen Rob Schamberger’s amazing paintings and prints. Now he also creates the diorama backdrop for Mattel’s 2018 WWE Elite Collection line.
Starting with Mattel’s Elite Series 54 action figures, Rob’s artwork is being included as a backdrop diorama display. This series is the first of the new 2018 packaging, which is a major refresh, so it makes sense that a new feature such as this is included. The diorama is standing and all six in the series connect together to complete a bigger art piece.
We recently caught up with Rob regarding all things related to the artwork and Elite dioramas.
What Brought you to the Mattel action figure line? We understand you had been going back and forth for a while and WWE fans may of course be already familiar with your unique licensed artwork prints.
RS: We started talking at the WrestleMania in Dallas and bounced ideas around for about a year. I actually got the email from them that they wanted to formally start working while I was working at WrestleMania Axxess in Orlando the next year.
Were you a childhood WWE fan? Did you collect any WWE figures growing up?
RS: I didn’t get into wrestling until I was 18 or so, actually. I grew up in a single mom household with one TV and Mom didn’t want to watch wrestling. I think Murder She Wrote was on opposite it. As a kid, my toys of choice went from He-Man to GI Joe and Transformers, then Ninja Turtles. I stopped getting toys so that I could get more comic books, and comics were what made me want to be an artist.
I’ve been WWE’s Artist in Residence for five years now, so there’s actually a lot of them (WWE Superstars) that came in after I started.
Clearly you may have a heads up on future artwork to begin drawing, how far in advance do you prepare for each diorama?
RS: I’ve actually completed all nine paintings and finished the last one back towards the beginning of the year.
What is it like meeting the WWE Superstars face to face after spending many hours drawing their artwork?
RS: At the end of the day, it’s a professional relationship. I’ve been WWE’s Artist in Residence for five years now, so there’s actually a lot of them that came in after I started. We talk about ideas sometimes, but mostly they like what I do and let me do it. In a couple of circumstances we get to collaborate more, but that’s more about each of those individuals, like Natalya getting me photo ref of her cats or Jeff Hardy and I actually doing a painting together. (See video below).
How do you feel knowing that your name is on the front of the packaging featured in a best-selling Mattel action figure line?
RS: I think for 2018 I might be the most visible artist on the planet. I don’t know how to measure that, but my name is present on the shelves of every major retailer around the world. Oddly I haven’t seen any major change in my life from it directly and I think I won’t really see the fruits of this for another 5-10 years. My brother and sisters really like showing it off to their friends, though!
Series 59 was unique because you had the 4 wrestlers with a USA flag theme, (Kurt Angle, Zack Ryder, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) how was this challenge and is there any other challenges which stand out from a design process?
RS: When I saw that those four had the flag motif going I thought that’d be fun to use in the design, and the challenge was actually more how to fit Finn Balor and The Miz into it. I ended up using them as bookends, done in greyscale and black with the red stripes, framing the others. It was a fun challenge.
How does the artwork go from your hand creation into the printed diorama? It looks like about an A3 size canvas its drawn onto. Is there a scanning process and then it gets printed onto the card?
RS: The originals were actually done on 30″ x 22″ watercolor paper, not canvas. Due to the size, I photographed it and then used that for the final file that I sent to Mattel. Working larger than the final printed piece is an old artist trick used for most any printed material as it tightens everything and reduces any mistakes in the original pieces.
Do you think there are any other possibilities with other different Mattel WWE lines in the future?
RS: They know I’m available!
So there you have it! Rob has already completed nine dioramas for Mattel’s Elite Collection line up to series 62, stay tuned to see them all revealed in due course!