Batavia sculptor works in special effects
By Paul Sullivan For The Beacon-News December 23, 2011 11:32AM
Artist Dave Link, 50, owner of Batavia-based Evolution Studios, is pictured with one of his creations. | Paul Sullivan~For Sun-Times Media
347 McKee St.
Batavia, IL 60510
Updated: January 28, 2012 8:04AM
Many artists find in grade school they have a special talent other kids don’t. Artist Dave Link, 50, owner of Batavia-based Evolution Studios, did not discover his special talent until much later.
Says Link, “I always wanted to work in special effects for Hollywood. At my high school, there were no earrings, no long hair, no art classes. Other than the football posters I did, my only other outlet (for art) was Halloween at Dad’s house.”
After high school, Link discovered his special talent in a sculpting class at Morton College. Describing his epiphany, he said, “Oh my God! I can sculpt. I can make something in 3-D.”
Link has been sculpting ever since. At his studio, in a 150-year-old former Batavia church he bought 15 years ago because he fell in love with it and had to have it, Link sculpts objects from quarter-size on up. For McDonald’s, he creates prototypes for Happy Meal toys that are sent off to Asia for mass production. He also does work for Sterns Pin Ball, IGT Gaming, Sega, Hasbro, Mattel and others doing design illustration, model making, mechanical design, mold fabrication and prototype casting. “I’m a hired gun,” he said.
Critters and fantasy creatures line his studio shelves. Here a Yoda, there a flying dragon. “I don’t really need all this space anymore for my wood shop,” he said. “Most of my work now is 3-D computer modeling.”
Link also owns, along with his partner Mike Skodacek, the Halloween haunted house “Asylum Xperiment,” described as 30,000 square feet of terror, held annually at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park.
“It takes two months to set up,” said Link. “We run it for 15 days and then a couple of days to take it all down. After that I sleep for a week and then I get back to work (in the studio).”
Link said the event last year drew 10,000 people. “So we made a little money. But you gotta remember we have rent, advertising, and Mike and I have over a half-a-million (dollars) in inventory in the show. We have 100-plus staff and family working there any night. We’re artists, not businessmen trying to make a buck. I’m ADD. I’m constantly tweaking it. That’s both my gift and my curse.”
Link said he does not know until the end of the year how much money his businesses make.
“What I do is highly specialized,” he said. “I can split one one-thousandth of an inch four ways, but I don’t know anything about taxes. I have an accountant and a bookkeeper. I’m a simple guy. I just want to pay my bills and feed my family.”
After the Asylum Xperiment ends and he sleeps for a week, he begins to think about putting up Christmas decorations at his Batavia home.
“As a kid I always wanted Santa and nine reindeer (decorations),” he said. “Now I have them every year up in the air flying off the corner of my house.”