Interview #1 Tim Bruckner

So, in my last blog post I spoke about inspiration. Particularly the things and people who inspire me. That led me to thinking about what inspires those who inspire. I sent out some messages to several people in my list of sculptors who inspire me, asking if they'd be willing to answer some questions on inspiration and other things. They all responded - YES. I can't tell you how excited I was. I sent off the questions right away. So I've decided to do a new blog post each week with a new interview (similar questions - different artists).


First up is the very talented Mr. Tim Bruckner. Tim has been in the commercial sculpting business for a long time, and in that time has created some amazing and inspiring works of art. His client list is very impressive and the work more impressive still. These days, Tim has been working on his newest project: Pop Sculpture - How to sculpt Action Figures & Collectible Statues. A book in which he, along with some of his very talented colleagues, lay out the step by step process of making these amazing figures. Look for the book this October, and follow along with the blog to read some really great interviews with other amazing talents.

And now, for the questions:

AP: When you were a kid, did you already have a sense that you would be an artist some day? If so what were some early sources of inspiration for you? If not, what kind of things did inspire you?

TB: When I was seven, maybe eight, my parents gave me a set of booklets about various artists from the Byzantine to Baroque. You had to paste in oversized stamps of art reproductions next to the appropriate text. I don’t think I bothered with the text, but the images grabbed me in places I’d not been grabbed before. Those miniature pictures of art by Michelangelo, DaVinci, Rubens, lifted my spirit and imbued me with a kind of curiosity that drives me today. Through the years, what inspires me has changed as I have changed. If you have eyes to see, you are surrounded by the possibilities for creation. When I was younger, I think I was more closed off to those possibilities. These days, the inspiration to create is everywhere, in everything. The problem for me isn’t what to do, the problem is finding the time to do it.

AP: When did you discover sculpting? Who were some of your first "Sculpting Heroes"?

TB: The clearest recollection I have of actually trying to sculpt something was around the same time as having those art booklets. There used to be a type of candy that would come in wax tubes about six inches long. They were filled with a brightly colored syrup that could induce insulin shock and the sugar shakes. After draining the syrup I’d knead the wax into a little ball, and using a straight pin and the tine of a fork, I tried sculpting the heads of the seven dwarfs. I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for over forty years. Heroes? Too many to mention. But that won’t stop me. Just to mention a few: Claus Sluter, Michelangelo, Cellini, Bernini, St. Gaudens, Alfred Gilbert, Chester French. And those are just a few of the dead guys. There’s a whole host of living sculptors; friends, colleagues and people whose work I know but have never met that just leave me gobsmacked. There seems to be a kind of Renaissance in figurative sculpture these days and its driven by pop sculptors (no plug intended). Fine art, for the most part, is people trying to convince you how good it is because you don’t like it and/or don’t understand it.

AP: What was your first professional sculpting project? Looking back on it now, how do you feel about it?

TB: The short version is, the neighbor across the street owned a Jewelry store. I was sculpting a papal button for shits and giggles and asked him what it would take to have it cast in gold. He saw it and offered me a job. I was a wax carver/apprentice goldsmith for a couple of years. Looking back on it now, it was one of the most important events of my life. It helped make me what I am and who I am. At the time, after a few months, I thought I was too cool for the room. But that’s youth, ain’t it. And to quote a character in one of my favorite movies, “youth is wasted on the wrong people”.

AP: Do you still feel that you're a fan of this type of work? and if so, do you ever find yourself getting excited to meet another sculptor?

TB: Absolutely. And.. absolutely.

AP: How does it feel to have hardcore fans of your work?

TB: I don’t know. I don’t know that I have hardcore fans. To be honest, I don’t think about it. If people like my work, I think that’s cool. If people don’t like my work, that’s cool too. If you work for the appreciation of others, you’re screwed. If you’re hands-for-hire, you work to please your client. If you create personal work, you work to please yourself. You have a better chance of accomplishing the former than satisfying the latter. The day you look at a piece of sculpture you’ve done and can’t find anything you could have or should have done better, its time to stop sculpting.

AP: How important do you feel it is to seek out inspiration? What are some of the things you do when it feels like inspiration is running low?

TB: As a hands-for-hire artist, you don’t have the luxury to wait for inspiration. You have a deadline. That’s your inspiration. Aside from that, you have an obligation to dig something out of the job you’ve been given. We’ve all worked on things we’ve had no affinity for whatsoever. That’s when you have to dig the deepest. There’s something in it, somewhere. Your job, apart from creating something in 3D, is to become a fan of what you’re working on. Your fandom doesn’t have to last longer than the job lasts. But during the job, your enthusiasm can wane. If it does, it shows. Good work comes and goes. Bad work. Lifeless, uninspired work, hangs around forever.

I want to give a big thanks to Tim for doing this. I hope you guys reading this have enjoyed it and will come back for the next interview (to be posted next week).