This week I wanted to talk about Inspiration. A subject that we all have in common, but each one of us is unique in who or what we choose. It seems only fitting that this week's topic should be inspiration, since I just went to Monsterpalooza for the first time. A wonderful collection of artists creating some of the most original and fascinating sculptures in the world of model kits and collectibles. This week (today actually) happens to also be my birthday, and it seems that this is also another good reason for reflection on the things that inspire us the most.

Where to begin the topic of inspiration? I guess the most logical place would be at the beginning. My childhood was relatively art free. Meaning that my family didn't really get into art, take me to museums, or even have art around the house. What I did have was T.V. and movies. Kids of my generation where exposed to what I think was a golden time for Saturday morning cartoons. The Warner Brothers (Bugs, Daffy, Wile-E-Coyote, Marvin the Martian, etc), Scooby-Doo, He-Man, Voltron, Silverhwaks, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Super Friends... The list goes on. We also had some of the most influential movies of all time. Star Wars was an endless source of coolness. We also had movies like The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Legend, Indiana Jones. I would spend hours watching these cartoons and movies and then wanting to draw the characters. Not out of some artistic need, but simply out of fascination for the variety of characters. I learned to draw through cartoons and movies, and that eventually led to a passion for art. I wanted to grow up and draw cool things. I thought I'd be an illustrator. But even with all that drive I still didn't learn much about the art world and the influences that were out there. I watched cartoons and spent my time trying to draw them.

Later in life, I found myself in college (the Art Institute of Southern California was it's name until it changed to LCAD - The Laguna College of Art and Design). A whole new world of inspiration opened up to me. I learned about the great masters of art, and found myself gravitating to the world of "fine art". John Singer Seargent, Bouguereau, Alfons Mucha, Edwad Munch and many others were all great sources of inspiration at the time (and still are to this day). Then at the end of my second year, I discovered sculpture. Wow! What a world of beauty, imagination and yes, Inspiration. I couldn't stop wanting to learn more (and sculpt more). Rodin, Bernini, Michealangelo, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Rembrant Bugatti, Daniel Chester French, Anna Hyat Huntington, Malvina Hoffman, Camille Claudel... so may great artists. I was surrounded by inspiration, my mind filled with new ideas and compositions. A passion for the human form filled me to the very core (and it remains there to this day). I felt a connection to the past through all these great artists. I was following a tradition set forth centuries before me and I felt like one of them. I continued in the world of 'fine art' for many years afterwards, finding inspiration in contemporary sculptors like Richard Mac Donald and Javier Marin. Then around three years ago, I came across a video that changed my life yet again. It was a video pod cast of a show called "Heroes, Villains, and Artists" and this particular episode featured the sculpting work of Tony Cipriano.

This episode was the first time I had seen somebody working on the sculptures that you find in the collectibles world. I had seen these sculptures before and they were very impressive, but I had never seen them being made, or even knew who made them. Seeing Tony explain his beginnings in this field of commercial sculpture was like an awakening for me. I thought to myself "I want to do that!" I set about to learn more about commercial sculpting and picked up some new materials (Sculpey and epoxy putty) that I had never used before. I discovered online forums with more people making this great stuff. People were sculpting the characters that I had grown up watching as a kid. Saturday morning cartoons and the movies I loved as a kid were coming to life through sculpture. I took on the challenge of learning how to sculpt for this industry and now my main source of inspiration was yet again, other sculptors. People like Tony Cipriano, Tim Bruckner, Andy Bergholtz, Ray Villafane, Adam Bean, Mark Newman, Trevor Grove, Tim Miller and many, many more are setting the bar and raising it for artists like myself. Everytime I think I'm getting a little closer, one of them pushes sculpture to new limits.

Now that I'm a little older and the world of the internet has opened up the ease of finding information, my sources of inspiration seem endless. I've made friends with many of the artists who inspire me, and I hope that on some level, I'm also inspiring others and perhaps working as their spark, like Tony's work was for me. Inspiration is what drives us as artists, and we must never stop the search for it. Whether we find it in other artists, T.V., movies, books, nature or wherever, inspiration is the spark where new ideas are formed, and that in itself is an exciting idea to me. So get out there and start looking.

Feel free to post your sources of inspiration so that others (and myself) can find something new and perhaps someone might just find that life changing moment.