My primary purpose is to inspire others to understand they are always capable of more than they ever thought possible.
Disney Senior Sculptor Chuck Williams
Chuck Williams at work. To see more pieces, visit his studio.
by Kaki Flynn // Editor // Jacksonville Mag
Chuck Williams has Madonna to thank, in part, for his career as a professional sculptor that has spanned more than 20 years.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, a high-profile entertainment executive, came across a piece Williams had sculpted. Katzenberg was impressed, and asked Williams to create a life-mask of the pop star for a project he was working on.
Williams nailed the piece, which nailed him an array of jobs with studios such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios, the Cartoon Network, D.C. Comics and Disney.
A hint of his career to come happened after he completed his first amateur work at the age of five, when he decided to carve a large relief of an Indian nickel into the garage floor of his parents’ house using a screwdriver and hammer.
His first formal art training then came from a correspondence class with Dick Smith, the make-up artist for The Exorcist and The Godfather, which lead to work at local theatres and then Sally Industries, where he first started sculpting seriously.
Williams says that that background in make-up actually laid a solid groundwork for his later career in sculpting.
“I take two-dimensional designs and turn them into characters that need to feel just as alive as what people see on screen,” he says.
Then came Madonna, and later author J.K. Rowling. Williams was commissioned by Warner Bros. to sculpt models that show what Harry Potter will look like as he ages, and Rowling loved the pieces.
If you see Winnie the Pooh at one of the Disney theme parks, chances are you are seeing some of Williams' work. He made maquettes of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Tigger from copies of the original Model Sheets used on the short films for Disney. These were then adopted by Disney Imagineering, and scanned and enlarged for the Theme Park rides.
After Williams was hired by Disney, he became the first sculptor to have his own studio. His time in that studio surrounded him with many Disney legends. "I remember passing Roy Disney in the hallway at work," he adds.
Williams is currently creating pieces for The Lenox Group for the White House, as well as his own personal bronze sculptures.
Williams says his favorite work, by far, has been creating a replica of the BatMan cowl for Adam West with his wife, Lynn. She has achieved a high level of success on her own, including doing costume designs for D.C. Comics.