Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a Production Designer?

The Production Designer of a TV show or a movie is the head of the Art Department and the person responsible for the look of the show.

“Since the look of a picture is so critical, one person – the production designer – is normally in charge of coordinating all its elements. This includes not just the props and set decoration, but every place or thing that will be photographed.”
From Film Budgeting (Singleton, Ralph. Ifilm Publishing, Lone Eagle, Hollywood, CA, 1996)

“The Production Designer is the person ultimately responsible for every aspect of film décor and set construction. His duties range from designing and preparing all studio and outdoor settings to the acquisition of all properties required by the script. Probably the most underrated of cinema artists, the Production Designer may dominate the visual quality of a film, and the caliber of his work often determines its mood and atmosphere. His knowledge of architecture and design, a good grasp of decorative and costume styles of all periods, graphic ability, business acumen, and a working knowledge of everything concerning film production, including photography, lighting, special effects and editing.”
From The Film Encyclopedia (Katz, Ephraim. Harper Perennial, NY, 1998.)

2) What got you doing this kind of artwork and making the leap from photography to steel?

“I was a matte camera operator at a special effects company and drifted into the physical special effects side where I learned how to weld and use the torches. That put me farther from camera and closer to fabrication.

I started doing metal sculpture because in the early days Monster Garage didn’t have any money for sets, but we had all the tools and BIG spaces on the walls to fill. I suggested doing a skull and crossbones “metal panel” plasma cut and backlit for the first Hearse build. The producers liked it so much they wanted a different one for every show. I only do special shows now because we are all out of wall space!”

3) How long does it take for Dan to create a panel?

“Every panel is different, but they always take longer than I think they will. The design is a lot of research and drawing, many days. The cutting is a 12 to 14 hour day, and that doesn't always include finishing touches.”

4) Do you ever design on the fly because of your time constraints or do you work from sketches/roughs first?

“Often because of the time constraints I don't get to do as much sketching and research as I'd like, but I always make a rough sketch of the piece to be done.

The real time in drawing comes when I transfer the sketch to the metal because it is only then that the concept really gels with the medium and I can see how best the design works with the metal.”

5) Has there ever been a Monster Garage build that has been really hard to interpret for one of the pieces of wall art?

“The hardest Monsterpiece I've ever had to do was the one for the Cop Car/Donut Maker. It was really hard not to have it turn out stereotypical and stupid. I spent two weeks on the drawings and more hours of cutting than on any other panel because I had to cut layers of flames, the car and the donut shack. But it was worth it. 'Bad Cop, No Donut' is one of the best pieces I’ve done for the show, so far.”

6) How long did it take for you to get the hang of working with a plasma cutter?

“I'm still learning. It is like anything else that requires motor skills, practice, practice, practice…”

7) What kind of training or schooling do I need to become a metal artist like Dan?

“Almost anybody can weld or use a cutting torch; that is really not the hard part. It only takes practice and the will to do it right. The hard part is coming up with ideas and designs, and then actually drawing them out.

I studied Photography and Art History in college, worked in the Special Effects and Art Department in the entertainment industry, and I am a certified welder. Although all of these endeavors shape who and what I am, my studies in the visual arts and art history are what (I think) make my art work well for the show.

If we don’t know what went on before our time artistically, we will constantly be re-inventing techniques and styles that have been around for centuries. Visit museums, see films, read books on art. Learn to draw. You can’t cut what you can’t draw. Stay in school and move on to college, more for the people you will meet than for the classes you are forced to take.

Take chances, risk everything.”

8) Where can I find a plasma cutter like the one you use?

First you have to determine if you will be using 220 power or 110. Plasma torches are available in both, but more power is always better, it's just that not everybody has access to 220.

Second, plasma torches require an air compressor. Only the really small 110 power torches have their own air compressor built in, but they aren't really suited for my kind of work because of the recycle time required.

The best thing you can do is go to a welding supply outlet (under welding supply in the yellow pages, Airgas is pretty national) and let them help you out. It's pretty much what I did when I bought my own 110 plasma.

9) What is the “Tattoo Tribe's Gold Award of Excellence 2004"?

The Tattoo Tribe has a website called “The Vanishing Tattoo”, which is like an extreme tattoo encyclopedia:, where any question about tattoos will find an answer, plus they have a great gallery with tattoos from all over the world.
They grant websites with supreme quality their “Tattoo Tribes Gold Award of Excellence”. We feel very proud because Vulture Kulture was selected for this award.

10) Does Dan Statler only make panels with skulls and flames? Can I get a custom made panel or metal sculpture?

No, Dan not only makes panels with skulls and flames. He can create a panel for anything. Just check out the Rolling Stone section in the gallery for an example of different logos with very different styles cut out by Dan.

11) Which company designed your website? I would like to have a website like yours.

We did! Vulture Kulture has an in-house team of professionals that design, build and constantly update We are now accepting projects for other artists and companies. Please use the Contact Us form for more information.

12)Does Dan come up with all the design ideas for the furniture on the set or if is he told by the producers what to build?

Dan designs everything he does. Probably the only piece he has had the less input was the one commissioned by Rolling Stone. Other than that, the producers of Monster Garage, Driveshaft and Original Productions give him completely liberty to design and create the art and the furniture.


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