Doug Johnson is a longtime fan who has parlayed his love of some of geekdom’s greatest titles into a career designing for Bioworld, one of the foremost pop-culture product makers in the business.
You may not know it, but many of your favorite Loot Crate items over the years were created in conjunction with Bioworld! Now, we’re thrilled to have them providing amazing apparel and accessories for our upcoming Star Wars Endor Rebel Crate.
Hi Doug! Thanks for chatting with us. To start, tell us a bit about your position and what you do at Bioworld.
I am the creative director and brand manager for the Heroes & Villains line here at Bioworld. I lead the direction for all the collections and am the curator and head designer involved in the Star Wars Endor Rebel crate.
How did you pursue a career designing awesome geeky wearables and collectibles?
I grew up in Austin Texas, moved up to Dallas-Fort Worth area for school. I received my graphic design degree from University of North Texas. I was hell bent on finding a career where I could be creative on the daily. The fact that I get to work with these brands I grew up obsessing over is something I could have never imagined. Lucas Arts, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Star Trek, Nintendo … the list is endless. I would never proclaim myself to be an expert on all the intricacies of these brands because the universes are sooooo vast and forever expanding. I will say I am a fan and I love research. I love to dig in and find the underlying story lines that fans know and love but are never surfaced in the mass releases. I hate when I see the styleguide artwork dropped on product with no purpose other than to be “trendy” or promotional.
When did your current gig at Bioworld begin?
I have worked at Bioworld for over 10 years. Through my time here I have worked in various categories and in various capacities. I have been a part of countless initiatives from straight up product design to new product launches and overall creative direction across all product categories.
My current endeavor has placed me squarely in the world of direct to consumer brand development and product design. We launched Heroes & Villains in 2018 at SDCC and had an awesome response. The product we have been making for years really has paved the way for this launch. We established a market for adult focused pop culture products that serve as an extension of the fictional worlds they derive from. We really are interested in telling more of the story that maybe hasn’t been told before. In a sense we look to create fan fiction content through product development.
With regard to Star Wars, what’s your earliest memory of the franchise that really stuck with you all these years?
I was 4 years old when Return of The Jedi came out. My earliest memories of Star Wars relate to that release. I was crazy about the scout troopers and the speeder bikes as this is right around the age I started riding bikes. As a kid Luke Skywalker was my hero and till this day Luke’s blacked out Jedi outfit is by far my favorite version. The battle of Endor in that film really stuck with me. The introduction of the Ewoks as a kid was super intriguing. Although today The Empire Strikes Back is probably my all time favorite, the Return of The Jedi really stood out to me as a kid. So from there my toy collecting began… I didn’t have the biggest collection on the block but I did have a full Vader case. I had all the usual suspects but I gotta say that the one that really stood out to me was IG-88. The IG-88 action figure was so different from the rest and was such an intimidating character I just found “him” super interesting, not to mention the crazy big blaster that came with him. But honestly the biggest thing that has held true to me all these years is the feeling that Star Wars is real. The idea that this takes place long ago in a Galaxy far far away allows you consider the possibility…
Do you have a preference for a particular Star Wars film, or certain favorite characters?
My favorite is Empire Strikes Back but I really do love some of the new films too. The Force Awakens is awesome and Rogue One is probably my favorite of the newest films. The scene with Vader in the hallway is one of the all time most epic moments never seen before.
As for favorite characters… Boba Fett is probably my favorite. All the stories surrounding his origin and the wild west lifestyle he lives… or lived, is intriguing to me. That said, I am equally intrigued with Bossk and the entire concept of The Bounty Hunter Guild. I think I like the fact that these guys have established their own allegiance to getting paid over serving the Empire or Rebellion.
What other TV shows or films rank among your favorite fandoms?
Man, there are sooo many these days. I’m all in on Game of Thrones for sure and really like Black Mirror. I think that one of my favorite series of recent is Fargo. Fargo season 2 is unbelievable. All the seasons tie together in one way or another but all are solid entertainment on their own too.
Outside of the items you are working on for this crate, are some of your favorite designs that you’ve had a hand in designing for Bioworld over the last decade? Any that were specifically part of a previous Loot Crate?
Oh man, well the things I am the most proud of would certainly be the collective pull togethers we create. I love how the translation of a concept across a variety of products tells the full story. It’s always so much more compelling when you have the companion pieces in an assortment. A few of my favorite pull togethers are the Han Solo collection (see image, above) and the AT-AT walker pilot piece we did at SDCC 2017. In terms of specific products I’ve done… I really like the Deadpool katana umbrella (pictured, left) I did a while back. It just worked out, the connection of brand and product was just perfect. Then there was this line of Star Wars luggage tags I did a long time ago that I really enjoyed. Honestly the products in this crate are the first Loot Crate specific products I have done.
What do you find the most rewarding about the work you do, and the responses that you’ve gotten from fans to Bioworld’s designs?
The most rewarding part is working with these amazing brands and artists. I never thought I would be working so closely with the biggest pop culture brands on the planet. For me as a fan I think that that’s my biggest reward. To be able to translate that brand to product that people appreciate is just over the top. When I go to these conventions and reveal a new line of product and see the reactions of our fans… I can’t explain how fulfilling a feeling that is. Being able to discuss the designs and relate on concepts and ideas with the community is the final end goal for me. I get so much inspiration from the fans and really they are the driving force behind the Heroes & Villains concept.
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to pursue a career designing products for fans to wear and collect?
Research, research, research and be original. There is always another angle to look at things and really that’s what it’s all about. If you know your market and what everyone else is doing then you can find what it is you need to do. Most importantly I would say that if you believe in a concept, see it through.
Get yourself out there and make some cool stuff! Hit me on LinkedIn or DM us @heroesvillainsbrand on Instagram, we are always looking!!