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Inside the Studio

"I go in and out of zones, sometimes with no thoughts at all, and sometimes with too many. There are two of me working at the same time. One is simply enjoying the process and the other is analytical."

(From an interview with Pedro Boaventura)

Featured Artist Interview

Give us a glimpse of your background.

When I was child, I was always fantasizing about what I could do when I grew up. The main reason was that I am an introvert and didn't enjoy being at school. I preferred to be alone, drawing or creating something. I also did not believe in the Japanese education system. I was eager to do a creative job of any kind.   

I tried car designing, clothing design, furniture, architecture and zoology, since I also love nature. I jumped on anything I could think of, even if the activity was childish. One time, I watched the first Star Wars film. That movie really got me interested in special effects in the film industry. I started making miniatures and shot with an 8mm camera. I couldn’t possibly be interested in special effects make-up, since I hated horror films. But one day, I found magazines and books about artists like Dick Smith and Rick Baker, and soon realized that it was not just about horror. Those two artists are very different. After I found an article about Dick Smith in a magazine called Fangoria, it became a goal for my future.

At 17 years of age, I started to do special make up as a hobby and contacted Dick Smith. Then right after I graduated high school, I started working in the field as a professional. I moved to Los Angeles in 1996 and started to work for Rick Baker.  In 2007, I started my own company.


When did you start sculpting and how is this related to your activity?

After working on several films in Los Angeles, I started feeling discontent working in the film industry.  In 2002, I completed and showed the portrait of Dick Smith, this was a big realization of “raison d'être” (reason for being), although, I couldn't figure out how to make a living as an artist.  It took me a while to finally make that move.
In 2011, I decided to leave the film industry. Once I made that decision, I received several offers to partake in artistic collaborations. 


So, your career started as a special effects makeup artist. In what ways are these activities similar and opposite from each other?

Sculpting portrait is very close to what I was doing in special effects make up.  It is not exactly the same but it is close to what I wanted to do and what I pay attention to or am interested in and conscious about. That is the interest in the human face, character, anatomy and beauty. 
I spoke about the similarity, but the opposite thing about working in the film industry is that it is really based on commercial aspects and I had to make many people happy. What I believe is that if I mix too many opinions in one goal, the end result becomes very weak.


What does a typical day look like?

After I finish my morning routine, like drinking coffee and taking a shower, I read and reply to emails, I take care of business matters and sometimes run a few errands. I have lunch early and then start working on my projects. I will work as long as I can keep going for, so therefore, until late night. I like to work at night because there are fewer distractions. 


Making a realistic depiction is a highly complex process, which demands great knowledge, technique and tons of patience. Have you ever felt annoyed, and in the mood of giving up or felt frustrated with the outcome?

Yes, I have, it happens every time. I always make mistakes and learn from improving or correcting them. 

I presume that you are an extremely meticulous, patient person with a great ability to focus. How would you characterize yourself?

I am curious, passionate and obsessed. I have great respect for nature and creativity.  Many things about them fascinate me.  And those passions are what drive me. 

How long did it take to form your career as a full time Sculptor?

I think it took my whole life. When I was child, I could not figure out how to make sculpting as a career. I started to work in the film industry as an answer to living the way I wanted, then realized how to live like I do now.

What is the average time necessary to finish one of your sculptures?

The actual time I spend on it, could be 3-5 months. But before I get started, the idea is cooking in my head while I also do research. Every piece has been different. 

How do you start an artwork — do you have any rituals?

It depends on the starting point. I first start to design in my head and do sketches and I also do a lot of research. 
I do lots of constructing and taking apart in my mind before I start physically. I gaze in the air, visualizing the image in front of me. 
I don't have any religious rituals.

Professional-wise, what’s your goal?

I have lots of goals; I want to keep creating pieces. Other than myself, I want to be a good example for people who are hoping to make a living as an artist. 


Describe your working process to us, from the idea’s conception to its achievement.

First, I will decide on a subject if it is a portrait. I will do a lot of research on that person and try to understand or sometimes internalize, I mean try to understand what they went through in their life, reflect my life to them, or what was going on behind the superficial and known life. I will figure out what I want to say about that person or what I want to express about him through my work. 

I will do sketches and make a small sculpture. Once all comes to life, I will start to make life-size sculptures. I will then enlarge it to two times larger than life-size. When the sculpture is complete, I make some molds to cast silicone skin. The base will be molded separately since usually it will be casted in resin or a different material.  Then the cast out silicone skin is painted, and hair is placed one stand at a time. I proceed in making a pair of eyes and then put it all together.

What will be the project of your dreams?

I have a lot of them, but I think I better not to talk about it.


What is your state of mind when sculpting?

I go in and out of zones, sometimes with no thoughts at all, and sometimes with too many.
There are two of me working at the same time. One is simply enjoying the process and the other is analytical. 


You’re a self-taught artist, from where did you get so much knowledge on anatomy?

I don't think I have enough knowledge. I always try to learn from many different sources. I learned a lot from nature. And I have some videos of anatomy made from doctors. Of course, that is not enough. Whenever I find new resources, I dig right in. 


And how did you develop your technique with original methods and materials?

I always go through the phase of trial and error, and then improve it. I learned from other people as well and I do a lot of tests. 
It is important to learn how to make what I want to show. 
I do a lot of imaging in my head to realize or figure out something, or to create new ways of doing it, a process that I enjoy.


What is the main challenge that you face when starting a sculpture?

It is to get the likeness right and then put life in the clay.


What is the artwork that you are most proud of? Why? 

All artworks are part of me. It is like talking about which one of your children or pets, you love the most. I don't adore my artworks like living things but all are the result of life’s moments that I have lived through.


Creating is usually a lonely process. Is the artistic life a lonely one?

When I create, I need some isolation. So it is not loneliness.


What do you enjoy most in life?

I am enjoying the current moment I am living.


What moves you?

Nature and living things, natural beauty, love, passion and compassion are what moves me.


What inspires you and what upsets you?

Hatred, superficiality and inconsideration is what upsets me. Basically lack of the above.