This Artist Makes Incredibly Detailed Miniatures for Stranger Things, Sennheiser and More

Little things mean a lot

Making miniatures for film and TV is no small feat. But David, the Canadian artist behind David Miniatures, is a master of the craft.

He's renowned for creating tiny versions of locations from Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Sopranos, The Office and more in astonishingly intricate detail.

Netflix recently hired the artist to recreate sets from Stranger Things, including the Palace Arcade and the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor. Those hyped "Stranger Things Day" and the show's upcoming fifth and final season. For Sennheiser, he built a holiday living-room diorama showcasing the brand's Ambeo soundbar mini.

David accepts private commissions, too. He just made a replica of Michael Scott's domain from The Office for none other than Joe Jonas.

Oh, and David also interviews other artists on his podcast, Scale Talk With David Miniatures.

Here, David, discusses his process and how brands can leverage his talents.

Muse by Clio: For anyone interested in making miniatures, what kind of skills does an artist need to have? Sculpting? Woodworking? Sign painting?

David: Miniatures aside, I've always been one of those Jack of all trades, master of none. Any skill you have can be used in miniature because it's basically real life—just smaller.

The miniature holiday living room you made for Sennheiser had a working TV and lights.

I've always been into electronics. I'm a computer person. I'm sort of the geek in my group. I'm a tech person. So, adding lighting and screens and things like that is a must for me. It adds so much more character, and it makes the piece come to life instead of being a sculpture you just look at. When there's light, and there's a TV on, or there’s sound, it becomes a world.

You also created a miniature outdoor scene for a social media campaign from BMW that, of course, showcased a car. Is making little cars from scratch especially challenging?

Cars are one of the only things I don't make [from scratch] because they exist. Someone manufactures them, so there's no point in my trying to make something. BMW sent that [miniature car] to me—that was an exclusive car they made. When it comes to my other builds that have vehicles, I usually will purchase a toy car of the right scale, but 99.9 percent of the time I completely take it apart. I repaint it, I add details, anything to make it look more real or accurate.

Recently, I did another scene from Back to the Future, and it had Biff's truck. It's a very specific make and model and year, and nobody makes it. So I had to buy three different types of pickup trucks to make that one truck look like the one that was in the movie.

When you make a mini version of the Palace Arcade set from Stranger Things, or Satriale's Pork Store from The Sopranos, are you working from photographs, or are you able to get your hands on specs from the original production? How do you make everything to scale?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm working from photos or stills. I extrapolate the dimensions by finding something in the image that I know the size of. Then I can bring it into my software and trace the elements in that image to create blueprints. And then those blueprints are used to build a piece. Then I decide what's going to be cut by hand, what's going to be laser cut, if there's anything that needs to be 3-D printed—that type of thing.

A lot of our readers work in advertising. How can they best work with an artist like you?

I think you always get better results when you trust the artist to just do their thing. There are two types of clients: Ones that are like, "Hey, I've seen your work. I love it. Here's a rough idea of what we want. Have fun." And then there are ones that are unsure, because they've never done anything like this before. And their way of feeling better is to micromanage the project, which is never good in any situation. But I've been very lucky, very blessed that a lot of my clients are sort of, "This is what we want. Do it your way. We've seen enough of your work. We trust you."

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