The Shiflett Brothers are noted Texasbased sculptors working in the comic book and gaming industries who have parlayed their love and passion of Sculpting, Fantasy Art, and Comic Book Art, into a long and dynamic career through their amazing sculptural creations.
Most recently, their work was awarded the Gold place, in the dimensional art category at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3
Their work stood out from a field of over 5,000 entries at the noted 21st edition of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Annual, held in the Midway theater in Kansas City.
Spectrum Art Live is a three day event and high-energy showcase for the best and brightest in the fantasy and science fiction art community. It brings together artists, industry professionals and fans.
“The Shiflett Brothers are to sculpting what Frank Frazetta is to painting.” - John Howe, Concept Designer: The Lord of The Rings Film Trilogy
The Shiflett Brothers 2014 Spectrum Fantastic Art Gold Award Winning - “Vertical Man-Tank” (1892)
(Photo by Joe Winston)
2014 Spectrum Fantastic Art Gold Award Winning Sculpture.
(Photo by Travis Lewis )
SC: Tell us about your background?
Brandon: We were big comic book fans growing up and we really wanted to see those characters that we loved in three dimensions. There really wasn’t a comic book statue market back then…it just didn’t exist (yes, we’re that old). So we learned how to make sculptures by trial and error, in fits and starts, using the wrong materials, wrong armature wire, wrong everything, until finally we got the hang of it. We took every comics related sculpture we’d done out to the San Diego Comic-Con and that’s how we got discovered. This was in the early nineties.
Jarrod: Since then, we’ve worked on video games, in the comic book statue industry and on our own stuff as well. Most recently, we’ve been having a great time working on our own characters, produced in porcelain, resin, and bronze.
SC: What was your experience leading up to and at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 3?
Jarrod: We’ve done the first two Spectrum shows and they were amazing. The level of talent in the room is like no convention we’ve ever attended…every other booth seems to be some world famous artist. Cathy and Arnie Fenner and John Fleskes are incredible hosts and they really take care of the attending artists.
Brandon: And there is a real sense of camaraderie there among all of the artists, sculptors, painters, and Illustrators. There is a really positive vibe, a sharing environment. Everyone open to helping one another, discussing methods, discussing process, everything. It’s very cool.
SC: Had you entered the Spectrum Competition before?
Brandon: Yes, we have entered pieces for consideration to be in the book before…and, in fact, we’ve had about seven or eight pieces in the Spectrum Book throughout the years, in probably five or six separate issues. We even won the Spectrum Silver award years ago, before the book and the awards were as established as they are now. That Silver Award was for our sculpture of Draco from Dragonheart, which was produced by Clayburn Moore and Moore Creations as a cold-cast porcelain statue back in the mid-nineties. We were hugely honored and really excited as young sculptors.
Jarrod: The book has grown in terms of its impact and influence on the industry. Its a really amazing collection…you get to see exactly what is going on in the realm of the very best fantasy artwork from that year.
SC: How did you go about deciding upon your entry piece?
Jarrod: This piece, “The Vertical Man-Tank, 1892,” was unlike most of our other work over the last few years. It has a more mechanical feel, there is more of a hardware look involved. It is beaten up and rusty. We thought the idea of the mechanical walking machine with the old human inventor inside was a cool enough concept that it had a chance to do well.
Brandon: And there is a companion piece, called “The Dragon Crane, 1893,” that also made it into the book. But the “Vertical Man-Tank” is what won the Gold Award.
SC: Tell us more about the winning piece and how it came to be?
Brandon: We don’t do much sculpting of hardware. But we’re inspired by some 2D stuff we’ve seen from Ashley Wood and Jon Foster, people like that. We definitely like the beaten-up look for these mechanical pieces…I don’t think we could ever do, like, and Iron Man piece, for instance…something that would need to be very clean and precise lines. We would totally suck at that. But rusty, junkyard, metal pieces…that we can sculpt.
Jarrod: In fact, we’ve had to turn down lots of jobs that were robotic in nature. Super clean edges…it’s just not our cup of tea. We love that stuff…we just can’t sculpt it!
SC: What was it like in the time leading up to and once they announced you as winners? How did you feel when the announced you had won?
Jarrod: We were elated. Our mother was there and the next day was Mother’s Day. It was kind of magical. There were some really good pieces in our category. Kristine and Colin Poole, who did an amazing life-sized figure with a dog’s head, won the Silver Award. And, as we said in our speech that night, the great sculptor Forest Rogers had a piece in our category, and we really look up to her, so that was cool. She was even sitting with us in the audience. We were surprised to win, no question.
Brandon: I cried on my mother’s shoulder and thought: “Well, fuck, that was embarrassing,” So I dried my eyes, pulled myself together and turned to my girlfriend…and immediately started crying on her shoulder too. Damn, I’m a wuss.
SC: How did you celebrate?
Brandon: We drank way too much, of course! Though, to be fair, we would have drank way too much had we won the Silver, as well. Or lost altogether. Or come in a tie. We had every eventuality covered with a drinking plan, basically. And all the plans were identical.
SC: How is the work for Spectrum judged?
Jarrod: It was judged out in California this year. There is a jury of renowned artists assembled over a weekend to look over all of the entries. It is tough enough to just make it into the book, but then the judges narrow it down to five pieces in each category as the nominees for the Gold and Silver Awards, which are announced live at the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live Event in Kansas City in the historic Midland Theater. People dress up, it’s quite the spectacle, and a great event.
Brandon: Yeah, the jury this year was made up of the great pencil artist Allen Williams, champion of the Face Off make-up effects show, J. Anthony Kosar, painter and illustrator George Pratt, illustrator Corey Godbey, and concept artist Shelly Wan. Jarrod and I were on the jury for Spectrum 18, and it is a lot of work and a total blast, as well. Our category is “Dimensional,” of course, but the judges also had to pick the winners from “Advertising,” “Unpublished,” “Comic Books,” “Concept Art,” “Institutional,” “Book,” and “Editorial.” We really respect the work the jury did.
SC: Were there many pieces in you category?
Brandon: There are 5,000-6,000 entries for the book in total. I’m guessing around 1,000 of those are sculptures. Then the jury decides which of those 1,000 piece will make it into the book. There is no upper limit and no minimum to the number of pieces they can pick, however many they pick will be in the book, even if they needed to make the book super thick to accommodate them. But then the judges, discussing among themselves, in a sort of debate format, decide which five sculptures, from the ones they’ve decided to include in the book, will be the nominees for the Gold and Silver Awards.
Jarrod: The book comes out around September. We haven’t even seen all the sculptures that will be in the book…we’ve only seen the five amazing pieces that were nominated as the best.
SC: What was some of your favorite work that you saw there at the show?
Brandon: The art at the show is absolutely amazing. We are huge fans of the the French Figure-Sculpting Witch Virginie Ropars, and the pieces she had on display were incredible. As we’ve said, we love the work of Forest Rogers, whose sculptures were more breath-takingly beautiful and delicate in person than I could have possibly imagined. The great DC Collectibles sculptor Tim Bruckner had some amazing stuff on display as well. All of the sculptors were in one area…it was very cool. We had a big super panel of sculptors on Sunday which we called “Thunderdome,” where we all just passed the microphone around and answered questions from sculpting enthusiasts in the audience. And we sculpted on group “jam pieces” out in the middle of our area, between our booths in the show. When you had the urge, you could just walk over and pick up where some amazing sculptor had just left off. We would just see where these sculptures went organically, with as many as six or seven pro sculptors working on the same pieces. It was so much fun! All this was set up by Tim Bruckner and we were thrilled to be included.
Jarrod: We got to see awesome 2D work from Justin Sweet, who is incredible. Badass comic book art from Steve Rude, Frank Cho, and Mark Schultz and paintings from a true master, Greg Manchess.
Brandon: I spent a ton of money on art. When we take in any money at our booth, I just grab it and walk around and spend it immediately…that’s just how I roll. Jarrod’s like “Hey, where’d that money go?” And I say, “Do you like my new Justin Sweet sketch?”
SC: What’s next for the Shiflett Brothers?
Jarrod: We have lots of cool stuff in development and we have many new Shiflett Brothers’ Originals piece coming soon, our own original designs and characters. We also are excited about our first Frank Frazetta piece, “Monster Out of Time” officially licensed by the Frazetta family, which we are sculpting in one quarter scale, about 22 inches tall (really big for us!) and which will be produced by a really cool company, ARH Studios.
Brandon: And we are producing more and more bronzes of our own work, and we love that avenue. Everything looks better in bronze!
Jarrod: We want to say that we love Sculpt Club, both the Facebook page and the site are freaking awesome. Thank you guys so much for taking an interest in our work!
SC: Thank you and congratulations to you both, Brandon and Jarrod!
Here’s what other noted artists have to say about The Shiflett Brothers.
“The first time I saw the art of The Shiflett Brothers, I knew I was looking at the work of a couple true masters of the craft. Their incredible imagination, couple with their scholarly knowledge of anatomy and sense of design makes the among the most respected and respectable artists in their field; I stand in awe of their extraordinary creations.” - Jordu Schell, Leas Characters Designer, James Cameron’s Avatar
“If Rodin sculpted fantasy characters today he would surely have to watch his back – the Shiflett Bros. would be giving him a run for his money.” - Wayne Barlowe, Concept Artist: Avatar, The Hobbit
“The Shiflett Brothers are producing some of this hobbies most incredible collectibles. The artistry of their work is only surpassed by the unique and energetic style in which they sculpt each of their figures and this gives their work a completely spontaneous and fresh aesthetic. I am very pleased to have some of their exceptional work in my collection.” - Richard Taylor, The Weta Companies
“Simply put: The Shiflett Brothers kick ass!” - Randy Bowen, Bowen Designs
Shiflett Brothers Gallery
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About Spectrum Fantasy Art Live:
Spectrum Live is a high-energy showcase for the best and brightest in the fantasy and science fiction art community. It brings together artists, industry professionals and fans.[spectrumfantasticartlive.com]