The Shif lett brothers
Dynamic duo Fantasy sculptors Brandon and Jarrod Shiflett talk clay, dentist tools and canine studio mates
Our studio is a big mash-up of practical work space and a collection of all the things that inspire us. It's important for us to keep the statues, books and images that you see here around us, to remind us why it is we do what we do.
We used to rent studio space, but now work out of our house – so we can just roll out of bed and get sculpting!
The tools of the trade are vital to us and you can see them all around us, in every direction. We use some big electrical tools for cutting pieces apart or for constructing bases, but the important tools in our arsenal are the sculpting tools.
We have ball tools, loop tools, old tools given to us by dentists, and most importantly for us, a piece called a burnisher, with which we do most of our work. A large supply of watercolour paintbrushes also comes in handy for applying alcohol to smooth imperfections out of the clay and to apply petroleum jelly, which allows soft, unbaked Super Sculpey to adhere to the hard, baked stuff.
And of course, not all the cool statues in and around our studio are our work! We proudly display the work of heroes and friends of ours, including Japanese master Takayuki Takeya, Paul Komoda, Hollywood sculpting icon Jordu Schell, Bryan Wynia, Simon “Spiderzero” Lee, Missmonster, Yuji Oniki, Greek sculpting freak Aris Kolokontes, and others. We keep all the fantasy and sci-fi and classical art books we’ve ever collected in our studio and will turn to these for reference at a moment's notice. Studying Rodin late at night always helps!
We also collect portfolios and sketchbooks of two-dimensional artists (yes, 2D artists are artists, too!) that we look up to, easily within reach. This group includes Claire Wendling, Travis Charest, Simon Bisley, Frank Frazetta and Moebius. If you’re having a bad night, and you pull down a Moebius book… ta-dah! Instant inspiration.
Lastly, we have our studio mates (not pictured), all of the canine variety: Little Red, Scar, Hoss, Zoe, Max and Watson. They are only interested in clay if they think it’s food and we like having them around because they are never, ever critical of our work.
Different artists use differing kinds of clay – whatever works best for you. For us, that product is Super Sculpey Firm. It’s a polymer clay that bakes at a pretty low temperature. You bake it, let it cool down, then continue to work on it. We love the stuff.
Simon “Spiderzero” Lee (Pacific Rim, Edge of Tomorrow) sculpted this bust of one of our characters. Simon is an old friend of ours and one of the most talented sculptors the industry has ever seen. A print of the work of the French sculpting witch Virginie Ropars. We are total fanboys and we hang around her booth at cons. She signed some prints to us, writing very sweet things in the margins, probably to ensure we would go away.