Dan Chung // Creating the Album Cover for Travis Scott's RODEO


Artist //

Dan Chung

Interviewer //

Shane Allen

Posted //

April 27th, 2021

To little kids, dolls and action figures are a huge source of entertainment. You look up to and want to be like those figures your playing with. That's why you have to be held in high regard to acquire the honor of having one made in your image. If you're made into an action figure, you know you did something cool, A prestige not many of the famous have accomplished, you can't just be famous to become an action figure, you have to be iconic.

The cover of Travis Scott's album Rodeo, features his iconic action figure that was developed and made by none other than Dan Chung. Dan has been a figure sculptor for over 20 years and we got to ask him a few questions about the process as well as the story behind the Rodeo cover.. Do you remember your favorite action figure growing up?

What were some of your favorite action figures you played with a kid?

I had a 12” Mego Batman that went everywhere with me when I was about seven years old, the classic MOTU He-Man, plus a handful of 4” Star Wars figures. Ultimately, not really a lot of figures, but boy they were well-loved and played with.

Did you have any homemade action figures? Did you ever make any as a kid?

Not full figures, but I do remember making tons of little heads out of plasticine. Mostly monsters, zombies and disfigured humans, I kept the bar low {Laughs}. My proudest accomplishment wasn’t even the sculpting, but the fact that I discovered you could make a good flesh tone by mixing purple and yellow.

Later, in a high school ceramics class, I made a pretty good Arnold Schwarzenegger/Conan the Destroyer figure that I was pretty proud of, but it got stolen the moment it came out of the kiln.

What was the first action figure you ever made?

So, the first full action figure I made was actually of Jackie Chan. I had moved to Los Angeles after grad school, written a martial arts epic screenplay, got it optioned by Arthur Sarkissian, who had just produced RUSH HOUR and was looking for the next Jackie Chan project. I was trying to steer myself towards directing and thought I could stay involved with the production, maybe impress a few important people if I could storyboard the key action sequences.

I bought a wooden artist’s maquette and began sketching when I realized, if I could swap the head of a poseable action figure for a custom sculpted one, I could just snap pics rather than a sketch to get the movement across. So the first head I ever sculpted in 1:6 scale was of Jackie Chan. I later molded the head and presented a duplicate figure as a gift to another RH producer, who ended up commissioning me to make a Chris Tucker to go with it. Once people saw them, I started getting flooded with commissions. It didn’t help that I posted pictures of the figures on the internet. I’ve been making them ever since.

Someday I’ll get back to filmmaking, but I’m already having fun.

How was the idea of making an action figure of Travis Scott presented to you?

Epic Records/Sony Music contacted me, asking if I could help them promote Travis’ upcoming RODEO album release back in 2015. I was a known figure designer in the community and someone had pointed them to my work. I agreed to meet with them at Travis’s house at the time in the Hollywood Hills.

What sort of direction did they give you?

After the meeting, they gave me a mood board with photos of Travis to make sure whatever I designed fit with his style and image, but regarding the actual figure’s design, they were very hand’s off and let me do my thing. They were really good about listening to my input. Initially, Travis’ idea was born out of his desire to reward fans with something akin to a Cracker Jack toy that they could package with his album, something along the lines of a green army man type trinket or smaller. But, as my specialty was in 1:6 scale design, I pitched the idea of something larger, grander, more detailed, more capable of hopefully blowing minds and becoming iconic.