Making a living creating creatures for movies is a dream come true for Luke Stalker-Switzer.
If the Vancouver-based sculptor and artist who grew up in Salmon Arm happens to win awards in the process, it’s just an added bonus.
But that’s just what Stalker-Switzer did with his work on the Universal Studios film, Aliens Stole My Body.
For his work, the artist won a 2021 Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Special Effects, Costumes, Makeup” and a 2021 Leo Award for “Best Makeup in a Motion Picture.”
Stalker-Switzer runs his own company, Creature Vaults, but often does work for Todd Masters of MastersFX (MFX), who he praises highly. Stalker-Switzer’s Emmy and Leo wins were part of a team effort with other artists working under MFX.
“It was great working with the team,” said Stalker-Switzer.
“I’ve never worked on a project like that before. Being on a smaller budget, we had to be a little more creative than usual and do things a little different to achieve things you’d expect to see in bigger-budget movies.”
Designing creatures for a kids’ movie was a fun, new challenge for Stalker-Switzer because he often creates scarier creatures.
His favourite work from Aliens Stole My Body was the bug alien he sculpted, pictured here.
“Todd Masters had a great sketch and design he did for the character, and I was charged with bringing it to life,” Stalker-Switzer said.
“It was great getting lost in all the little details and intricacies of the sculpting.”
Stalker-Switzer said it’s always amazing to see so many creative people come together to create movie magic — his sculpting is just one of many, many steps viewers may not realize goes into creating an actor’s costume and makeup.
Since his award wins, Stalker-Switzer said he’s been non-stop busy as usual. He has been working on a new Bruce Willis film that involves a super-villain jail, in which he designed most of the characters. He loved the sheer amount of cool creatures and makeup, combined with being able to use his sculpting skills.
“We had a wonderful team of people that worked tirelessly to make the characters all come to life; it’s gonna be a fun movie,” he said.
Stalker-Switzer also pursues fine art when he has the time. However, he’s had to drastically rethink the way he does it. In 2017, he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer for which there is no cure, but for which remission is a possibility.
“I’ve been developing new ideas in the 3D printing and digital world,” said Stalker-Switzer of his fine art. “I’m looking forward to realizing those ideas, but right now I’m so busy with film. I think I’m a stronger artist, being forced to think about how I produce art.”
Being diagnosed with cancer inspired Stalker-Switzer to start working on a memoir. He said he’s had an interesting life so far, with a lot of wild ups and downs.
“Cancer, I wouldn’t even say it’s the worst part of my story,” he said. “At times, it’s been hard to write, but it’s cathartic and enjoyable.”
Despite the hard times Stalker-Switzer has endured, he wants his memoir to show his imagination and playfulness; to let people see the world through his eyes.