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Pop! Bam! Shazam! Comic Book Art A Passion For Stevenson's Gallo

Communications Team
event banner for Visiting Artist Series featuring Bryan Gallo

It happens to a lot of parents.

Helping your kids enjoy their childhoods takes you right back to your own.

Bryan Gallo (pictured below left) took his trip down memory lane while shopping at Toys ‘R Us.

“We were there looking at toys for my daughter Giana…and then I started to look at the action figures. I loved playing with action figures when I was a kid,” Gallo said with a laugh. “It was like I was right back in my childhood. My favorite is Wolverine. And I love X-Men."

Visiting Artist Bryan Gallo

Visiting Artist Bryan Gallo

“Then I found out there was a whole big action figure community…and it just took off from there.”

“It” is a passion, a hobby and a possible career that Gallo never expected.

By day, Gallo is a member of the Facilities Team at Stevenson. By night, like many of the action figures he loves so dearly, he transforms into his alter-ego: an action figure and comic book artist extraordinaire.

“I’ve always been into art,” the 35-year-old Gallo said. "It is really rewarding that something you really care about can care about you back.”

Known for his colorful, precise and three-dimensional dioramas that are made from foam and paint and glue and are transformed into replica locations from the comic book universe, Gallo has become quite popular with collectors in the action figure world who are looking for accurate settings to stage and display their pieces.

For the last month, Gallo’s unique artwork has been featured as part of Stevenson’s 2022-23 Visiting Artist Series in the Visiting Artist Gallery. It will be there until Friday.

Last week, Gallo visited two art classes at Stevenson to explain his form of artistry and to give students a peak into his unique world, which really took off during the pandemic.

“In 2020, when we were told that we got all that time off for COVID, something told me to stock up (on supplies), so I got a bunch of foam and paint,” Gallo said. “It had been taking me about two to three weeks to make a diorama but my goal at that point, while I was at home, was to try to make one a week. That year, I almost got it. I made 49. And people were just buying them up. I sold all 49.”

Some customers, the serious ones, quickly became repeat customers.

“You’ll see a lot of (action figure) collectors who have multiple display cases in their houses with LED lights with shelves and shelves and shelves,” Gallo said. “I think it’s the nostalgia of it. The relationships we build with these characters is so strong when we are little and it means so much. And then when you find out that you can collect them and that it’s cool to collect, you’re like, ‘I’ll buy one…and buying one is the rabbit hole, you’re falling down the rabbit hole.’ And then you want a cool way to display them, so you look for the dioramas to add to your portfolio.

“Today, everything is so digital…and to be able to own something, to put it in your hands, in a collection, there’s something to that.”

Word spread like wildfire in the action figure world about Gallo and his super cool dioramas, and soon, he was getting even bigger clients. Corporate clients. One client recently paid him $72,000 to create an entire townscape diorama (the blue buildings pictured with his daughter, now an eighth grader, shown for scale) for a promotion it was doing.

The students in the art classes that Gallo spoke with last week perked up when he told that story.

“The main thing I wanted to tell the kids was that if you don’t let anyone ruin your confidence, you can go places,” Gallo said. “I grew up in a pretty bad neighborhood in Chicago. I didn’t get a lot of opportunities. The opportunities here at Stevenson are amazing. You want to make sure that you are taking full advantage of that. You want to make sure you are doing well in school and working hard for your grades and go on into college and get a career. 

“But at the end of the day, you also want to have something for yourself. You never want to give up on something you like to do for yourself. Because…you never know what you might be able to do with it.”

Artist Bryan Gallo giving a demo to a fine arts class