From time to time I plan to write a post highlighting the artists that have had a positive influence on my own artwork. As I have stated many times before I for the most part am a self-taught sculptor. I’ve never taken a formal sculpting class and most of the techniques that I have learned up to now have been through a lot of trial and error (in some cases mostly error) and various forums and tutorials from other websites on the web. I still believe that I have a long ways to go before I become the skilled artist that I want to be, however I have progressed a lot over the past few years. I owe that progress to a lot of tutorials from a handful of sculptors that are out there today.
When I first started sculpting in November of 2003 the only clay that I was familiar with or even knew existed at that time was the water based clays. I had never even heard of polymer clay and naturally when I started my sculpting journey I picked right up from where I left off during my high school art experience. I did a brief two to three week sculpting project back in high school so I was already familiar with some of the basics for sculpting with water based clays (i.e. How to remove the air bubbles, making the sculpture hollow, firing the sculpture in a kiln but nothing on how to sculpt different forms, etc).
I really was a complete newbie at the time I decided to play with the clay again so I started using the internet to learn as much as I could about sculpting. I remember one evening coming across several images of sculptures created by the amazing Shiflett brothers. The Shiflett’s, for those that have never heard of them, are two of the most talented sibling sculptors in the toy and fantasy art industry today. The level of detail and the quality of their artwork that I was exposed to at that time completely blew me away (and still does today).
More importantly the Shiflett brothers for the most part are polymer clay artist. I read about how they used this clay called Super Sculpey to create most of their creations. The forum on their website gave detailed instructions on how they created their sculptures using the Super Sculpey clay (both Brandon and Jarrod Shiflett have always been forth going giving detailed sculpting information away for free).
The level of quality in their artwork inspired me to give Super Sculpey a try and I have never been the same artist because of that decision. Although these days I do consider myself more of a wax sculptor, using Super Sculpey over the years has really helped me become a better artist. It laid the foundation that I use today to create a lot of my artwork and I owe that exposure to the talented Shiflett brothers. The Shiflett brothers are also proof that you can achieve a high level of detail with polymer clays. I’ve proven this myself with some of my older artwork and my shift to predominantly using wax is due to personal reasons and not a limitation of the polymer clay (i.e. I do not like to build armatures and I like to hold the sculpture in my hand when I sculpt).
I’m grateful that I was lucky enough to be exposed to the Shiflett brothers artwork in my early sculpting days. If you are not familiar with their work I would recommend that you take a look at what they have been able to achieve. You can view more of their artwork on their website by clicking here. I’m sure the quality of their work will be as much of an inspiration to you as it has been for me. I have also included a video off of YouTube that captures some of their work.
All the best,