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Old 04-02-2006, 04:10 PM   #1
Kdawg59
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Clayburn Moore interview PART 1 of 2

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Clayburn Moore has been in the business of sculpting fine art for a long time. He has earned a reputation for being one of the very best there is in this field. The human form is a mystery that so many times it seems that only a few others have unlocked and Clayburn Moore is one of these few. He has been wowing us all for years with his gorgeous females and his brawny heroes. Clay is one of the friendliest and good-natured sculptors there are. I recently have had the extreme pleasure of being able to "sit" down with Clay and ask him a flurry of questions. Even questions as simple as our friend, kick-ass sculptor, and future interviewee, Andy Bergholtz (HULKFAN) had...

What does the "S" in "CS Moore Studio" stand for? It's been bugging the hell out of me and I can't figure it out! Is it just his middle initial or something?

Yes Andy, my talented amigo, Clay has replied, "The "S" is for Samuel, which is my middle name."

Now without further ado I give you part one of my interview with the immensely talented Clayburn Moore.

SF: First off I would like to say thank you for answering these questions for us at Statue Forum. I am very excited that you are here and have your own section here. More excited still that Dan, knowing what a big fan I am or your work, asked me if I wanted to be the one to do it. We are all very excited that you have reformed your business and started wowing us with your work again from Moore Studios. Right out of the gate you have hit us with gorgeous pieces like Liberty Meadows and Kabuki as well as Eric Larsen’s She-Dragon. I know that you have been sculpting all along but somehow it feels like you went off the radar for a bit and now you are back with a vengeance. How does it feel to be back with your own thing?

CSM: It is fantastic. The response has been great and is very much appreciated. I really do best working directly with creators and bringing their characters to 3-D. I feel as though I'm doing some good work these days and I'm having a terrific time doing it.

SF: How did you get started in the sculpting business and what is your education in the arts Clay?

CSM: I come from an artistic family and we always used to draw and such for fun. There were about six of us out of nine that were artistically gifted. I was stronger in sculpture and always found myself more comfortable doing that. I decided to major in Fine Arts and got my Bachelor's degree from the University of Texas. Home of the Longhorns: The national champions, although I really had nothing to do with that.

After UT, I spent two years studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, but lived there a third year.

In 1992 or so, Randy Bowen contacted me after he saw my sculptures entered in the art show of the San Diego Comicon. I had done an art exhibit of my fine art sculptures and at the last minute decided to enter them in San Diego. He apparently thought my skills would be well given to a Vampirella sculpture.

I did the Death Statue from Vertigo comics although Bowen changed the head and hair. I did a couple more pieces with BD and then started my own company licensing characters such as Savage Dragon, Pitt, Ripclaw, Lady Death, Shi and the Maxx. I then did Witchblade, Aphrodite IX, Fathom and others. I started Moore Action Collectibles and did a number of action figures for several years including Chaos characters, Witchblade, Vampirella, and a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:24 PM   #2
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SF: How long have you sculpting?

CSM: I've been a professional sculptor making a living at it since 1988, although I began selling my bronzes in 1983. I did a short stint sculpting in the special effects field in 1990.

SF: What was your first professional piece?

CSM: I started selling my bronzes in Italy. They were very small torsos. I also designed t-shirts for the Italians in the market in Florence to sell to American tourists. In the comic’s field, it was Vampirella, as mentioned above, although the sculpture was changed without discussing it with me or asking me to do it. Those things happen, but I don't think the changes were for the better.

SF:
What were you doing before you got into the business?

CSM: Living in Europe sculpting and trying to perfect my very imperfect Italian. If you mean this comic statue business, I was showing my fine art bronzes in galleries in Seattle, San Antonio, Annapolis, Carmel, etc. I had a growing clientele and was building a good rep, I think.

SF: What do you find is the most rewarding part of sculpting for you?

CSM: There's so much that is rewarding. It's great to do a small thumbnail that really works and conveys emotion even though it's small and simple. You can see the potential. When you rough out the full piece and it just flows; that's a terrific high. Sometimes it just flows off your fingers...sometimes you have to fight through a block until things work again. The completed piece is a rewarding achievement and knowing that you did your best and didn't rush it. It's rewarding to solve new problems and to learn something with every new piece.

I think artists are similar in that they put themselves out on display through their art. If you have done your job, people will respond well to it and that is very rewarding. There's nothing like someone telling you how much they love owning a piece you've sculpted. That's a pretty huge compliment and it's important to me.

SF: If you were forced to give me the short version... Who is Clayburn Moore?

CSM: I hate questions like this. Like most people, I'm many things to many people. My family and the Best Woman in the World think I'm a principled person who cares about honesty and self-respect. And I love animals and give to animal charities. I tend to speak my mind and this has had a price. Some of those to whom I've spoken my mind think I'm an as#@*le, but I like to think it's because I called them on dishonest behavior. Sometimes I was just having fun. I'm naive and idealistic and I try to live by a code of treating others as you want them to treat you. I don't always succeed, but I don't stop trying. I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong and to apologize. That's something about which I'm fiercely proud because you'd be surprised how many people can't do it. Also, I hate hypocrites. Sometime or other, we're all hypocrites, but some people act as if it's a virtue. For better or for worse I am what I do. I try to warn people, but it doesn't help.


SF: Tell us a bit about how we got from Moore studios (before Diamond and Dynamic forces) to the CS Moore studio now. I used to go to your old website daily. One day it was just gone and was being redirected to Diamond. I would love to hear a little about these couple of years before the reformation of your own company.


CSM: There are a number of reasons we shut things down, but the main reason was because we had lent a huge amount of credit out to Another Universe/Fandom.com and when they went under we couldn't come back from the loss. We also had lent a large amount of credit out to some retail accounts and the amount owed became huge. We worked hard to keep things going and when I decided to close the doors, I had paid all employees, all royalties and all sculptors and shut things down. Also, I had become more of an administrator than a sculptor and wasn't enjoying it anymore. Buffy was a good license for us, but it became a sort of anchor around my neck. We had completed 14 action figures from both Buffy and Angel and I cut the deal with DST for them to put out the toys. I don't have much else to say about that because it wouldn't be complimentary if I did. Let's just say that trusting the wrong people can be expensive. I don't have any interest in doing any toys again. I think I did some good figures and I'm proud of what we accomplished, but when all is done, I'd like to be remembered as a fine art sculptor, not as a toy sculptor. It's much more fulfilling to me to sculpt statues for production in resin and bronze. I like the idea that people place my work in their homes and enjoy them. I guess there are still some speculators out there, but I prefer to think that people acquire my work because they think it is beautiful and they want it to display it in their homes, whether it's a comic character or a piece I designed.

Basically, those couple of years were difficult, plain and simple. The Thor/Silver Surfer and Wolverine in the Snow were sculpted during that time, though. Sometimes your best work comes during adversity. I went through a divorce back in 1991 and it was horribly difficult, as these things are. During that time, I did a sculpture of a mermaid jumping through the waves with two dolphins and it's still one of my favorite pieces.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:31 PM   #3
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SF: You speak of this stressful time Clay. We all have things that we enjoy that are a source of relief from stress. Stuff that you do outside of sculpting to recharge your battery. What does Clayburn Moore do for relaxation and fun? What are your outside interests, your outlets, the things that renew your inspiration?

CSM: Well, I like to stay active. Sitting on your rear sculpting is fulfilling, but does nothing to keep the heart strong. I run and like to cycle, I hit the gym several times a week, also. I treat exercise as a daily necessity, not a leisure activity. I also like it, which helps. It's important to clear the mind and forget about everything, and getting through he next set sometimes givers the word “focus” its purest meaning. Weights or extremely intense exercise can be like Zen Buddhism that way in that your mind becomes focused on only one thing, if even for that few seconds. We try to go on a couple of trips somewhere every year and if it's somewhere I can swim, kayak, snorkel, all the better, although we never miss an opportunity to go to museums and historical sites. I love and am fascinated by history. I usually have a couple of books I'm reading at the same time, although sometimes I can only read just before bed. I go back and forth between ancient history and modern history. I'm reading a book now about the rise of Al Queda; best to understand your enemy well, I think.

I have a big family, as I said, and I talk to them often while I sculpt. I have a sister in Japan and if we talk at midnight my time, then it’s a little after noon where she is, so it works well. She’s one of the very artistic ones in the family, also. Family and friends are important to all of us and Shelley and I make them a big part of our lives.

I'm also into numismatics: coins. I collect ancient coins, especially Greek coins and some Roman. The sculpting is amazing on some of them, just extraordinary and quite beautiful. I collect for the beauty and quality of the sculpting by the celator, the sculptor/engraver of the coin.

I also collect art and have several very tiny Frazettas and a number of Williamsons, Buscemas, Schutzes, and Krenkels, etc.


SF: During that time you were sculpting for Diamond and Dynamic Forces Clay, you had several pieces that you were slated to work on. One thing that I know everyone has been wondering about is what ever became of those projects? We have seen your awesome work on the Thor vs. Silver Surfer piece and there are so many that feel like it is a great injustice that this piece hasn't been produced yet. There were others like She-Hulk and Rogue as well as the wedding of Logan and Mariko busts... Did those projects just never get off the ground? I myself was most looking forward to the Rogue piece as your take on that piece would have been unbelievably gorgeous.

Also out of those pieces which were you looking most forward to?

CSM: Hmmm, I answered a bit before, but I'll elaborate a little. And thank you very much for your kind words. Let me say here that I don't follow much of the sculptures that are being done out there. From a licensing point of view I require that the licensor doesn't do another sculpture with someone at the same time. I try to study the work of the French sculptors and the European/American immigrant sculptors of the period from 1850 to 1930, absolutely incredible work and so inspiring. Sculptors like Webster, Gerome, Carpeaux, Huntington and Remington and many others. I just don't go to forums much and I don't search out other sites. I just would rather be sculpting or reading or traveling somewhere, preferably snorkeling or kayaking.

By the way, I was looking forward to She-Hulk, but doing She-Dragon kind of scratched that itch. There's something about a green woman...

Anyway, I don't want to put a negative light on anything else anyone is doing especially since I may not know who did it and they may be very nice and good people. I had met with DST and we agreed that I would do a series of Marvel women with them. I had asked who they wanted me to start with and they suggested Emma Frost. I suggested She-Hulk and Rogue for a couple of reasons. I said that I thought the She-Hulk character was great and would sell well. DST wasn't sure and said she was a secondary character, but if I wanted to do her, so to speak, fine. I thought that Jim Lee had done a fantastic job on Rogue and wanted to do a Jim Lee style Rogue; very sexy, but very powerful and beautiful. They then suggested Black Cat. The Black Cat 4-part series by Dodson had just come out so I did that one, then Emma Frost, I think. I'm fairly certain I suggested the two-version approach although it was just building on a repaint by offering substantial re-sculpting. Doing an Emma Frost as John Byrne originally designed her was my idea, if I remember correctly. I really had fun doing that corset and her just spilling out of there. Good times. The idea was to do a retro and modern version of each. Things then went south with DST and they went forward with She-Hulk and Rogue. That’s just an expression; the South is where I am from and it is really nice. Anyway, I have seen those pieces and they are what they are. I would have done them differently. She Hulk is beautiful and strong. Everyone knows she is strong. There’s no need to make her doing a double biceps pose. That’s what I mean by not wanting to offend anyone. My understanding is that DST did very well with the Emma Frost and Black Cat pieces.

Back in the more communicative days with DST I tried to make them understand the importance of subtlety in a piece. They were doing the Punisher in the act of shooting someone’s brains out. I tried to explain the importance of approaching the character not with what he is doing, but with what he is capable of doing because of who he is inside, not because he can shoot an express rifle.

She Dragon is not only beautiful and sexy because she has big boobs and a nice derriere, but because she has the expression and body language of someone who doesn’t realize the power of her body. The idea is that she is on the verge of realizing that power. It depends on the piece and what you are trying to accomplish, but subtlety usually works better than the frying pan approach.

Wolverine is a good character that exemplifies the point, too.

Logan and Mariko? DF lost the license and wasn't given an extension thanks to DST. I would have liked to sculpt that since Paul Smith is a friend of mine and he had given me that cover (X-MEN #172) as a gift. Quite a gift, right? Paul's a great guy and wonderfully talented.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:47 PM   #4
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SF: Not to down play your incredible sculpting ability of muscle bound heroes but speaking of the Rogue piece or any other female piece for that matter... What do you love most about sculpting these gorgeous female characters? You have established a rather unparalleled reputation for sculpting females. Ask any sculptor or any collector who sculpts the most gorgeous comic book women and they will all agree that it is you. What is it that most appeals to you about sculpting women? (other than the obvious reason that the female form is art unto itself)

CSM: Thanks again. Well, you've hit on it. It really is a challenge and it is recognized as the most difficult form in nature to render successfully. There is so much subtlety, sexuality and implied strength. It doesn't have to be overt to be beautiful and powerful, and that’s how I see women.

Body parts? I suppose I enjoy the torso the most. There are some incredible torsos in art that are such powerful statements on their own. The hands are so important, also, as they convey so much emotion and they direct the viewer. Bringing it all together with a properly sculpted face is important, of course, but the hair can make or break a piece. I think a lot of sculptors would agree that as you work the hair material onto the piece, it takes on an organic life of it's own as it flows around the sculpture. I see it as a framing of the female form and it needs to accentuate the body correctly. I hope that answers your question somewhat.

SF: Do you prefer to sculpt females over male heroes?

CSM: I would say that I prefer sculpting females, but only by a small margin. I really enjoyed sculpting Invincible because he isn't muscle bound. That said, I may have sculpted him a little more muscular than he is, but the fact that it was a sculpture required that, I felt. Luckily, the creators (Kirkman, Ottley and Walker) agreed. I think Ryan Ottley's drawing style works well in the comic and he is a terrific visual storyteller, but it would have made for a fairly simple sculpture and I wanted to do more with it without sacrificing the character. Luckily, the creators were supportive of the approach and approvals were smooth and positive. I especially enjoyed sculpting the back partly because backs are so difficult to capture.

I also really had a great time with the Savage Dragon Bust. I wanted to sculpt the best biceps pose I could and I think it came out well. At least I know I sculpted it as well as I could.

It depends on your goal, of course. Pitt was a totally over the top anatomy, as the Hulk would be. The Silver Surfer is much more subtle and beautiful. Almost like a ballet dancer. The Surfer's hands are more important than those of a character known for his raw strength.
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Old 04-02-2006, 04:55 PM   #5
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SF: In this business it seems to be all about the "popular" license Clay, yet despite this fact, you have your pieces flying off the shelves with pieces of (all due respect) lesser-known characters from the indy scene like Kabuki, She-Dragon, Brandy from Liberty Meadows... These pieces sell so well in part, because they are Clay Moore pieces even though a lot of people don't know a thing about the character. This is a huge testament to your ability. People have been saying for years that you would blow the competition out of the water if you had a Marvel or DC license. I would agree wholeheartedly with that considering the Marvel pieces I own that you have done.

CSM: Marvel licenses to several entities and that affects all of the licensees' profits. Maybe not all; I don't know really. It's funny because I am a Silver Age Marvel guy. I have pretty nice collection of all those titles. FF was always my favorite. At the same time, licensing from major corporations carries it's own set of huge headaches and I feel that life is too short for that. Those licenses require a certain number of pieces per year or month or something oppressive like that. I think my work would suffer on that sort of schedule. I know my health would. Also, I really enjoy licensing from the independent publishing world for a number of reasons:

First, as I've mentioned, I can work directly with other creators and artists. I like that. Some of the very best art out there is being done in the independent world. Certainly, the stories are more creative or at least the ability to exercise creativity is there. Mark Schultz is, simply put, an awesome talent, in the true meaning of the word. I look forward to our project together for many reasons, but in part because we will only answer to one another.

Also, artists’ artistic respect for one another comes from their opinion of one another's ability. It helps if they are also good people. Corporations tend to base their opinions on profits and only that. Your value is assessed according to how much money you can make them. To a certain extent that is understandable and this is the real world, after all. Still, I prefer to work with people who I like and respect and who know that by working with me, the profits will come, especially if I do my best work and market it properly. These things can't be expected to sell themselves if I don't market them well.

I have some DC's in my collection, but really only those by Neal Adams. His talent was so far ahead of his time, it couldn’t be overstated. His work on Batman is still some of the best comics work ever done, in my humble opinion.

Okay, I have all the Kirby titles and George Perez, too, but I always consider them Marvel artists. I also liked Ditko's work on the Creeper. I don’t mention Kirby lightly. He was an awesome talent, really in a class all his own and a huge influence on succeeding generations of artists, just as Frazetta has been. He was and always will be the essence of what comics are, artistically. Kirby is to comic art what Frazetta is to Fantasy Art: the Master.

I think one of the great talents in comics is Marc Silvestri and his women are very much as I like to sculpt them. There is a great sense of composition there and his poses are very three-dimensional. This is true of the best. You can look at their work and see it as a sculpture very easily. This is true of Frazetta, obviously, and Silvestri and Schultz have that innate approach to their work.

I've had a great relationship with Top Cow for years and I'm happy to be working with them again. I'm almost finished with a new Witchblade that I hope your readers will enjoy seeing. Then I'll move on to a new Magdalena.

And David Mack is a fine artist (meaning gallery or museum art) doing comics. Marvel Comics, too. His work really does surpass the genre. He's always a joy to work with and very astute when it comes to marketing. We've worked together for years and I'm looking forward to the next Noh Assassin bust. I need to get started on that...
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:02 PM   #6
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Come back next week for the next installment of our interview with this modern master!!!

The best is yet to come!
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:17 PM   #7
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Awesome stuff. Thank you Clay and Dawg.
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:22 PM   #8
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Great interview!

I think its funny that Clay was selling his works and t-shirts "al mercato del Porcelino" in florence - too cool!

Viva la Fiorentina!

Claudio
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Old 04-03-2006, 01:53 AM   #9
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Great interview...I assume part 2 may shed some light on future releases?
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Old 04-03-2006, 02:08 AM   #10
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Loved the interview. I really think we were able to see how clay is. I get from him that he is an honest and upfront guy. I like the way he seems to do business to.

Gret work kdawg
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