Today we’re talking to artist Steve Casino, who took the world by storm with his tiny peanut-based character art. Using his design background and a lifelong love of toys, he sculpts pop-culture caricatures and scenes out of peanuts, Coke cans, old game cartridges, and other miscellaneous “junk.”
Check out the full interview below, and be sure to visit his Instagram (@stevecasino), TikTok (@stevecasino), Facebook (@painterofnuts), and Twitter (@stevecasino1) accounts to see more of his incredible artwork.
Tell us about yourself. What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?
I’m a lifelong pop culture enthusiast. Have been into toys, cartoons, horror, comic books, and sci-fi since watching the premiere of Scooby Doo one Saturday morning in 1969. I was 3.
My love for toys has never waivered and it led to a career designing and inventing them. I also do artwork unrelated to toy inventing.
About 8 years ago I turned a peanut into a person using paint and clay. This gained me international recognition and propelled me into making all different kinds of artwork.
My favorite piece that I’ve done so far is a functioning wooden toy of the “Wonkatania” boat from the film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.”
Tell us about your workshop/workspace
I have been working in a portion of my basement for 7 years. It’s an absolute mess and freezing in the winter.
I have another studio upstairs that is clean and warm but I only use it for preliminary drawings and design work.
What is your favorite material or tool to work with?
I like to work with used vessels like Coke cans and peanut shells.
How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?
I’ve only been doing this 3D, art-for-art’s sake for 8 years.
I taught myself most of it and learned other things on the job like mold-making. I also ask other artists a lot of questions.
What is the most challenging aspect of your craft or business?
Finding enough time to do everything. I have so many ideas but only so many hours.
Any advice for beginners to your craft?
Learn how to draw.
Copying is fine but you need to learn basic perspective and other building blocks of art.
Jackson Pollock’s art looks like a mess to some people but beneath it all that guy could draw like a master. Same with Warhol.
Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?
My buddy Jason Freeny (@gummifetus) inspired me to start making art. Check out his amazing stuff.
Anything else you’d like to share? (stories, anecdotes, etc)
One of the coolest things that has come out of this is that I’ve inspired a lot of (mostly young) artists to start sculpting.
Many of them try their hand at my “Infestation” art. That is where I sculpt creatures coming out of empty containers like soda cans.
It’s really fun to see the directions they take it in.
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