INTERVIEW: Creator Rich Kearney on the Wonderful World of Custom Pops

Rich Kearney is the proud owner of Pops company Cerebral Customs, a bespoke custom-made pop figure company that tailors to individual tastes and designs. Rich has a diverse clientele ranging from his loyal regulars, several donations to charities, and even a celebrity pop requested from Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor himself.

As an avid horror fan, Rich has turned his hand to making some incredible custom ghouls. I managed to catch up with him to discuss his passion for horror pops.

Emily: What inspired you to make horror pops?

Rich: Candyman was the movie I introduced my life long friend Barry Taylor to, and it entered me into new exciting world which I have been a part of ever since!

I feel as an artist you need to take pride in your creation and I have found a fantastic avenue to explore by making horror come to life though my pops.

Emily: How much work goes into making a pop?

Rich: A lot more than people may think! It isn’t as straight forward as saying “Hey, I’m making Candyman today”. There’s a careful planning process where you identify the exact look you’re going for. There are fine details to consider like the haircut, clothing or something so specific as arm position. You have to ensure you various paint shades, and most of all, a custom pop can take anything from 1 hour (a repaint) or 13/14 hours (my most recent headless horseman).

Once the sculpting and painting is complete, I then have to interact with the customer in order to find out various details to go on the custom made box. Sometimes, something is simple and inspiration comes naturally. Other times, the customer likes to be more hands on with pictures to use specialist messages on the box and various other unique touches. Once that is complete, the box then has to be made with a clear plastic window added to make the pop visible.

Emily: Is there a horror director/actor/figure you admire?

Rich: I have always admired two directors: the first is Clive Barker because Hellraiser was the first franchise I ever fell in love with way back in 1993. The second is John Carpenter. I love his style of directing, the surrealism, and making something like They Live into a timeless classic.

Emily: What do you feel your biggest challenges are as an independent pop maker?

Rich: The biggest challenge I face at the moment is balancing my time. Having several projects is incredible, but I am a perfectionist and I want to make sure I inject my time and creative energy into every pop, meeting strict and heavy deadlines.


Emily: What’s your favourite film character that you have made?

Rich: This is a tough question as I find myself being drawn towards nearly every pop! If I absolutely had to choose, it is between the Candyman and a pop called LDShadowlady who I made for my 7 year-old daughter as her first ever commission.

Emily: What was your favourite part of shooting your video “Making a Pop”?

Rich: The interaction with customers is hands down the best motivation I have for continuing my craft! I love nothing more than having a brainstorm and planning everything start to finish.


Emily: What upcoming horror pops are you doing?

Rich: Well, at the moment I can’t reveal too much, but you can expect to see a few Nightmare on Elm Street characters and the rest of the Firefly Family. You never know – I may one day get commissioned to make my dream job: a full diorama Freddy vs Jason cabin scene!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Rich Kearney for taking the time to talk with us!
Check out Rich’s Facebook page for more information and pictures of his awesome work – or to put in a request for your own custom pop! You can also follow him on Instagram.


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