Artist Spotlight: Nikos Dresios (NAG)
Yes! We’re back! The Artist Spotlight series! Wooooo!
If you missed our first installment, check out Nick Mulpagano’s interview HERE
For this segment, our guest is a man whose product line boasts such iconic offerings as the “75K”, “98 Proto”, “2K”, and MANY others. Based out of the magical land of Greece, Nik has been providing us with some of the best masks and blanks in the hobby. Back in ancient Greece, making a rad Myers was part of the Olympics, too. Look it up.
Let’s get to it:
Zac Crook: When did you first start sculpting? Were you into it when you were a kid?
Nikos Dresios: I was with my family [at] a friend of my Mom’s visiting, and this lady had some pottery clay – like water-based clay. I was at the age of 13 or 14 [and] saw some of her work – which was pottery stuff – but I got into play[ing] with clay and back then there was WWF all over TV, so I sculpted Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior heads that very day.
I need to mention that art is in my blood; my mother is a painter, her grandfather was – and I was – good at painting. I had no clue I could sculpt, though. My great [great-great-great-great] grandfather was a famous painter; my mother’s last name is Vassilacchi.
ZC: It’s incredible to have come from that kind of lineage.
So, you were a wrestling fan as a teenager. When did you start getting into horror?
ND: Well, at the age of 11-12. I always liked horror movies. [I] didn’t know about the Halloween movie though – mostly Jason, Freddy, Hellraiser, etc.
My first inspiration for sculpting were vinyl model kits – Horizon model kits.
ZC: You saw those and said, “I want to make something like that”?
ND: Yes, when I was 16, I think. That was my real first inspiration. The 2 sculpts I did [when I was] younger [were a] one-time thing as a kid.
ZC: Have you had any formal training for sculpting? Did you go to school or anything for it?
ND: Nope – I’m completely self-taught. I’v [taught] sculpting to many, though. I stopped, though, due to not much time.
ZC: Was it mostly through trial and error that you developed your techniques?
ND: Yes, I tried to replicate all famous sculptures and study them – Michelangelo[‘s] “Pietà”, Auguste Rodin[‘s] “The Thinker”, and many more. I made replicas of those in smaller scale for study, and I found out early that the most important thing is anatomy – in anything. Anatomy is the base for all things.
ZC: So, you trained yourself on the classics – that’s a far cry away from Pennywise! How did you transition from replicas of Michelangelo and Rodin pieces to masks?
ND: Well, classic stuff [has] been done. I think the good sculptors of our era work mostly in movies; that’s a step further. With special effects and animatronics, [you] can see your creation come to life. Working in movies is a nice experience and very important because when [you] see – from pre- to post-production – how a movie is made [it] makes you understand different aspects of creating a creature, a character, etc.
ZC: How did you end up getting involved in working on movies in the first place?
ND: At first, here in Greece. I have these two friends who [have] run an FX shop for, like, 20 years – the only FX shop in Greece, and [I’ve known] them since I was a kid. We [were] friends for years, working exclusively in Greece, and when they got a nice project for [the] USA they needed a good sculptor to sculpt full-sized werewolf costumes. So, they [called] me. It’s a low-budget flick called Wolf Moon and Dark Moon Rising. It was fun working on [the] pre-production then shooting; that took place in Nevada. After that – [a] few years later – I got a call for a Spanish horror/vampire film to sculpt the main character called “Callejon”. [A] few years later another shop approached me, which is the larger one in Montreal called “MaestroFX”, run by Adrien Morot. He invited [me] there and I stayed for one year or more. I started working when they were finishing a movie called Warm Bodies. After that, we started on the last Riddick film [for] which I sculpted and designed many [things]. The last one I worked [on] was Noah, which was [a] very, very interesting movie [for which I was] creating many creatures from marquettes to full-sized ancient rhinos and elephants to lifelike babies.
ZC: Can you tell me a bit about the first Myers mask you did?
ND: Sure! The first was a replica that looked like the Resurrection mask. I only sold copies inside Greece; I was not familiar with the internet that much. After I understood that there was an original mask made for H1, I made the “Screenused” replica which was a Halloween 1 mask.
ZC: Your next mask that made quite a splash was the H78. How did that come about?
ND: The H78 was sculpted from scratch and it was my first attempt to make a replica that looks like Josh Warren’s old Don Post ’75 Kirk – and it still holds up. I’m not sure if you know this but it was actually used on the official Blu-ray disc of H2 [as] the cover.
ND: If I remember correctly – because its been, like, 10 years – [I] did a small run together with Mike (AHG), which made the mask extremely popular. The H78 was a Kirk sculpt, after the [original] I did a re-sculpted version that was only Myers eyes, and it’s [called] the “H78 Retool” I think that mask is extremely underrated still today. I didn’t advertise it much, I guess. [The] same thing happened with “The Cover Mask”. That was another mask I sculpted [referencing] the Halloween 4 poster, but years later the “Cover” became popular and people [are] still asking to buy one. That didn’t happen with the H78 retool, though.
ZC: The “2K” was the next big Myers/Kirk project you had. What can you tell me about that one?
ND: The first version of the “2K” was [what is now called] the “Classic 78”. It was created the same way the “75K” was made – with the Shatner lifemask. I was not 100% happy with the Classic, so I made a retool [of] it to create the 2K mask. This mask was very limited and expensive, and I replicated everything from the exact latex to the exact same Don Post hair and each mask had an extra foam head.
ZC: I’ve read that the “75K” and the “98” share similar lineage. How true is that? Could you touch on those two masks a bit?
ND: I was lucky enough to find an original ’98 prototype, which is almost as good as a real ’75 Kirk. The condition of the mask was bad enough (misshapen with surface issues), so I wanted to bring that thing back to life with restoration, shaping, etc. The first attempt to replicate the ’98 [prototype] was the 75K. When I managed to get it done even better I called it – at first I couldn’t call it “98 Replica” because Don Post Studios was still [in business]. When they were [closed] I gave the name in public. I’m saying that because I heard from few people that I was hiding the history of the “98 Proto” mask. [I’ve] also [owned] the master mold – in silicone – of the ’99 Shatner mask, made by Don Dost, for many years now. This mold is a laser scan of a real ’75 Kirk but with not much detail. I hope I find time in the future and add details on that one and make a run. There is a production Don Post mask called “99 Shatner”. The Copyright says “98” on the back, but it’s the ’99 Shatner – totally different from the ’98 [prototype] mask. The ’98 [prototype] is [a] direct ’75 cast; the ’99 was a laser-scan of a Kirk. The one that came out in ’99 was a clay cast of the silicone mold I mentioned and retooled by, I think, Darren Perks or someone else [who] worked at Don Post at the time. If I do make a clay cast too, the detail and accuracy will be far superior to the ’99 version.
ZC: I understand Michael Myers is only a small part of what you do. What are some other projects you’ve got going on?
ND: Lately, I’m quite busy with Pennywise – 90’s and 2017 versions. There is a new Kirk I’m working on. [I’m] not sure when that will be done, but it’s gonna be really nice.
ZC: Can you tell me more about your Pennywise sculpts?
I had a friend named Mark messaging me [asking] if I like the new Pennywise. At first, I thought [it wasn’t] gonna be [that] big of a deal, but when the first tests I made came out nice, people were very interested in getting one. I started by making 1/3 scale heads, then a life-size wall mask version came out, and then [a] life-size bust version. At the same time the life-size version was done I had some messages [from] people asking for a Tim Curry version, so I went for it. The very first copy I made was sold to a guy who owns a horror museum and it’s displayed there.
ND: It’s been, like, 2 years now that I started sculpting at home in 3D. That’s simply because when I’m home I cannot get my hands dirty with clay, so I found a freeware program called Sculptris. It’s like ZBrush, but much more simple. So, lately I’m working in 3D sculpt, then print, then transfer into clay for detailing. That’s how I made the “Halloween Reflections” mask, which is a brand new sculpt of William Shatner how he looks now (more H2-like).
ZC: Speaking of Shatner, what juicy details can you give us about the new Kirk you’re working on?
ND: The new Kirk project is something exclusive that [I] plan on doing with my good friend, Freddy Loper [of] Mirror Image Masks.
It’s a ’75 Kirk, but sculpted opposite. I’ll explain: when we usually wear a mask and we look at the mirror, we see the opposite reflection of the head. With this mask, in the mirror, we will be able to have the perfect reflection. Freddy Loper is a good friend, and [the] name that he uses is “Mirror Image Masks”, so I had this idea and I was thinking he is the right guy to team up with. It will be [a] limited edition Kirk and Myers, the name will be “NAG/MIM” or something like that.
By the way, the opposite of the mask in [real life] looks AMAZING! You can all check in the mirror – it looks familiar. You know what mask you [are] looking at, no matter if everything is opposite. I think it’s a pretty cool project.
ZC: I understand you’re also finishing up a Nick Castle project.
ND: It was an idea I came up [along] with the Loomis, Laurie, and Dick Warlock busts. The Dick Warlock bust was actually the very first project I wanted to do years ago, and I contacted Dick about it. He was very interested and he wanted to be part of the project. We had messages back and forth and he sent me pictures of him to use as reference. Unfortunately, [a] work proposition came for some movie work, so I had to pause [the idea] and travel to Canada and USA for film work. So, this project stayed there. The heads I have semi-finished are: Laurie, Nick Castle, and Dr. Challis. I hope I find the time to finish and offer them all. Loomis is available as a mask and a bust.
ZC: I saw the photo Scott Kennard posted on Facebook of the Castle bust.
ND: That’s only a test head. The production copies will be much better-looking.
[More on the Castle bust in the video HERE]
ZC: There is a lot of appreciation for the texture and quality of your pulls. Are you using a kind of latex that isn’t available in the U.S.? I have a “Nightmare Unlimited” and it’s as soft as chewed bubble gum.
ND: True – I use medical latex. Don Post latex was very similar [for] the 70’s masks. The 70’s latex was not as tough through the years, though. Latex is organic liquid, so it needs care. I had some older pulls made with different latex [varieties] and people didn’t give proper care to it, so the result was some very thin masks [starting] to dry. That’s why I ask people to get medium masks or at least medium-to-thin, because my latex is very elastic. The most commonly used latex in the U.S. is RD407. It’s tough stuff and [it’s] nice, but it’s not that good because its not accurate to the Don Post 70’s latex. The main difference is that it has no stretch to it – it’s stiff. I also use RD407 for props and display pieces, but for masks I only use the medical stuff because it’s strong. It lasts and it stretches, which is ideal – especially for H1 masks (everyone loves the castle stretch look 🙂 ). Also, another major difference is that mine can be cooked in the over for few minutes and sets and becomes even stronger. It’s only available in Europe, I didn’t find it in the U.S.A. or Canada.
ZC: Do your masks require any care or maintenance routines that differ from other masks?
ND: No, not all all. Just some talcum powder after use and [keeping them] away from direct sunlight should do. Even the shape stays intact no matter what – not like other latex. That’s because [of] the latex I use getting baked in the oven. It cannot lose its shape.
ZC: Do you mean that you bake every pull or do you bake the latex in batches to “activate” it?
ND: [It] depends, really. I’m trying to do it to all the masks. I don’t have a large oven, but baking [the pulls] is only like 3 to 5 minutes so it’s not a huge problem.
ZC: Are you also a collector, Nik?
ND: Of course! I collect statues, figures, movie stuff; I own the hero mask from H6, for example.
ZC: How did you land that score?
ND: It was one-in-a-million score – the only screen-matched mask with C.O.A.’s and everything. I have many [things] – not from Halloween – but I do collect. I think it’s impossible to [be] making collectibles and not collect!
ZC: Nik, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me. This has been fun.
ND: It was my pleasure and I wish I was less busy so I could talk to you more often, Zac.