Armen Balyan

Sculptor Armen Balyan

It was later in my artistic career that I saw Norman Rockwell’s art for the first time. I remember feeling an instant connection to his work, and his love for everyday people and capturing heroes was something that resonated with me.

Armen Balyan Working
Armen Balyan Posing

From an early age, sculptor Armen Balyan showed an interest in the arts. At 10, he enrolled into Hakob Kojoyan Art School in Yerevan, Armenia, which he attended alongside his general schooling. Armen went to take master classes at renowned artist Hakob Torosyan’s studio following graduation and was later accepted into Panos Terlemezyan College of Fine Arts, graduating in 1987. Following a two-year stint in the military, Armen continued his education at the prestigious Yerevan’s State Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1997, Armen and his family immigrated to the United States. While living in Los Angeles, he struggled to make ends meet while making time to sculpt and paint whenever he was able. He taught children at “Creative Hands” Art studio in Hollywood, worked as the stage designer for “Music Mailbox” Comedy Theatre in Glendale, and was an illustrator/cartoonist for the Armenian satirical magazine “Kach Nazar.”

In 2002, Armen began as a freelance sculptor for Gentle Giant Studios, and was later hired as a special projects sculptor. It was here where he sculpted a life-size statue tribute to legendary visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen as well as worked on projects like Medusa (“Clash of the Titans”), Kyuzo (“Red Star”), Jabba the Hutt (“Star Wars” series), Sauron (“Lord of the Rings” series), and Voldemort (“Harry Potter” series), to name a few. Armen was also a part of a chosen team for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

Following his time at Gentle Giants, Armen freelanced as a sculptor with Sideshow Collectible Studios, creating life-size busts of Marvel superheroes Thor and Daredevil, and bronze statues of Wolverine, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. He also worked as a sculptor for Walt Disney Imagineering and took on commissions, including a monumental bust of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Tibor Rubin. In the last few years, Armen has started to collaborate with Deborah Murry in a series of sculptures based on the famous American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

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Working on the Rockwell projects had a few exciting technical challenges to them. In the paintings there are many blind spots which must be reimagined to function in three dimensions. There is often a compositional structure to these paintings that may not work in 3D; it could look good from just one point. So the problem became that sculptures need to look good when viewed from every point.

The original ideas need to be translated over without corrupting and distorting them unrecognizably. Style and idea are important in preserving the overall message. I poured my personal feelings and soul into those blind spots working with what Norman Rockwell had left behind to bring his ideas to life.

Armen Balyan
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