Since opening Southpaw Studio 30 years ago, David Bollman has received countless awards and accolades for his original wildlife paintings, sculpture, murals and taxidermy. Little did the artist know that one day his creativity and talent would land him work on one of the biggest films of the year—“Oz The Great and Powerful.”
“I never imagined that I’d work in the entertainment industry—it was the farthest thing from my mind,” said Bollman. “It’s an interesting story… About seven years ago, I was contacted because of my experience in taxidermy. A movie called ‘Highland Park’ was being filmed locally, and one of the main characters (played by Danny Glover) happened to be a taxidermist. The producer wanted to rent some of my taxidermy work for the film. Through the process of interaction, I ended up becoming Glover’s technical advisor. This got my foot in the door to the industry.
“From there, I started networking with people on the set and joined the IATSE Local 38 (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees). I quickly discovered how much opportunity the Michigan film industry offers for our state; I’m proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to his work on “Highland Park,” Bollman’s work has been included in “Oz The Great and Powerful,” “Transformers 3”, “Harold & Kumar” and “LOL.” Currently, he’s working on “Transformers 4” and “Low Winter Sun.”
“As a kid, I loved Disneyworld,” said Bollman. “I always wanted to work there. So, having the opportunity to create the mural for ‘Oz’ (produced by Disney) was a dream come true! It was an exciting film to work on because it was such a big production and so many creative people contributed to it. I was given a lot of freedom and autonomy. Being able to contribute to this film has been my proudest professional accomplishments so far. And I can’t wait for what’s ahead!”
Bollman’s creative inspiration stems back to the days of playing outside as a kid. He lived on the edge of the city and enjoyed romping through the woods, fields and streams close to his home. Birds, crayfish and other small creatures intrigued the young boy. Sketching these animals taught Bollman about anatomy, and motivated him to complete a correspondence taxidermy course. In eighth grade, the young artist won awards for his science fair project—a taxidermied starling that depicted the process of how taxidermy is done.
“It was then that I realized what I was doing could become more than a hobby,” Bollman explained. “I was working on commissioned pieces by the time I got into high school.”
Over the years, Bollman became more and more passionate about his work. He enrolled in art courses at CCS and appreciated the opportunity to take courses across a wide variety of disciplines. Eventually, he decided on graphic communication as a major, which landed him a 12-year career as an art director at Exclusive Publications (originally based in Southfield, but later relocated to Pompano Beach, Florida). Eventually, Bollman decided to move back to Michigan where he opened Southpaw Studio.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and encouragement of my mentors at CCS,” said Bollman. “My classes and experience in graphic communication taught me about design, composition and layout, and I use the techniques and skills I developed in my painting classes every day. I can still remember the smell of oil paints in Russ Keeter’s studio…
“Over the years, I’ve continued to visit campus—sitting in classes every so often and taking advantage of the opportunity to use the foundry and see my good friend and great teacher Todd Erickson. Whenever I come across young creative people, I tell them about CCS and encourage them to follow their dreams. I tell them that if you can do good work, the money will follow. Being an artist is the most gratifying career anyone could ever have.”
To view more of Bollman’s work, visit http://www.davidbollman.com/.
- Graduation Year: 1979
- Major: Graphic Design
- Employer: South Paw Studio
- Title: Owner
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