Anthony creates under his brand Ace of Clay. He is a self-taught sculptor and has been sculpting on and off since he was twelve years old. With his audience on social media, over 400,000 subscribers on his Youtube channel, he has been a huge inspiration for many clay enthusiasts. "There is nothing I love more than creating art, and sharing it with you makes it so much better," he says. Get to know more about him in this interview.
Since when have you been dedicated to the visual arts and what brought you to it?
I have been an artist my entire life, it’s really all I know. It’s how my brain works. I have always loved every kind of art whether it’s sculpting, illustration, painting, or anything creative at all.
Do you still remember your first monster you made?
I remember way back when I first started using polymer clay when I was 12 I made an evil wizard and I still have him. He was one of my very first projects.
Why do you create monsters?
I love the freedom I have when creating them. There are no rules to follow, it’s just me creating whatever I want and bringing the creature to life. I also enjoy other subjects, but monsters and creepy characters are definitely the most fun for me. It also happens to be what my audience is most interested in, too. My love for creepy, monster related things goes back to when I was a kid. I loved Halloween and anything weird and spooky.
Sounds great, where do you get ideas for your work?
When I create my original characters I never really look for inspiration or ideas, I want the whole creature and concept to come out of my head. I don’t even sketch concepts before I start sculpting, the first step is always picking up the clay. I do draw inspiration from amazing artists like Tim Burton because I feel such a strong connection to their work.
What is the process of preparing for modeling your sculptures?
My process is pretty simple, before I sit down and start sculpting I always make sure I have solidified what the sculpture is going to be and then I decide whether it’s going to be freestanding or if it will need a base and I go from there and begin the armature. I always have to make sure that I’m in the right mindset though. I have to be patient with myself. If I don’t feel like sculpting, I don’t like to force it.
You have an incredibly high number of followers on social networks, just like YouTube, etc. Do you have any advice on how to get such attention?
Truly love what you do and love sharing it with the world just as much. At the end of the day, you’re the only one that can create your art and think the way you do and you will be amazed at how many people will want to be a part of your creative process and journey.
Does anyone help you with the management of social networks, or other stuff like for example with video shooting?
it’s always been just me since day one. I manage all my social media pages, I edit my videos, I do the backend day-to-day business dealings and it all seems to work pretty well! I do have two administrators for my Facebook group, Snakes of Clay that help keep things in order there.
How long have you been doing art as a full-time job?
I have been a full time artist since March 2020! I actually lost my job in the events industry as a graphic designer due to the pandemic and I’ve been 100% self-employed since then and I’m not looking back.
What did you do before you have discovered polymer clay and started your artistic journey?
Before polymer clay, I went to art school and got my BFA in graphic design. After graduating I landed a full-time job as a graphic designer. After being quite burnt out around 2014 I needed something new and started Ace of Clay as a sculpture business selling small sculpts and customs.
How many hours a day do you spend creating - whether it's modeling or anything else related to your Ace of Clay brand.
Ace of Clay is definitely a full time gig. I work anywhere from 4-16 hours a day on my business and brand. Monday’s are usually dedicated to answering emails, meetings, and social media and Facebook group management, Tuesday and Wednesday I’m sculpting for YouTube, Thursday I’m editing, and Friday I’m adding final touches to my video and uploading it. I always make sure I have a clear weekend to recharge and unwind.
Your creations are perfect in every way. Do you still have a goal where you would like to move forward in your art?
Thank you so much, that’s very nice of you to say! As far as where I’d like to move forward with my art, I definitely want to start thinking bigger. Work on larger, more sensational projects that take longer to complete. I really want to push myself and show people what I’m really capable of!
Did you gain your experience as a self-taught artist or you attended workshops of other artists you liked?
I have no formal training whatsoever in sculpting. I am completely self taught and I’ve never attended a workshop. I would, however, love to host one myself one day!
Do you have another hobby that you do in your free time or does modeling consume all of your time?
I love gaming when I have the time! It’s not often but it really helps me to unwind. For the most part, sculpting is truly fun for me and I don’t find myself needing too many breaks from it. I am so grateful to be able to wake up and do what I love every day.
What do you create besides your characters? For example, we noticed cell phone covers and switches on your Instagram. Is there anything else?
Aside from the characters, like you mentioned, I do love the occasional customization like phone cases, switch plates, and sketchbook covers. I definitely have more of these planned for this year!
Do you create commission pieces as well or you implement only your ideas?
I spent the first 5 years of Ace of Clay creating commissions for people and working on my Etsy shop and I loved every second of it, but all good things have to come to an end. I was getting tired and needed something different. In the future I’m hoping to sell sculptures again but these won’t be customs, they will be my ideas.
Do you combine different materials or do you stick purely to polymer clay?
I love the idea of mixed media sculptures and occasionally I will add fabric, string, or synthetic wool to my sculptures if necessary. I would love to expand this further in the future.
In your opinion, what are the main advantages of polymer clay over other materials?
I love the versatility of it and that there is no working time limit. You have as long as you would like to complete your piece and it won’t harden until you decide to bake it. I also love that there are so many variations of it available in different hardnesses, strengths, and flexibility levels.
Where do you see the future of this material?
I don’t think this stuff is going anywhere anytime soon! It is easily obtainable, extremely versatile whether you want to create jewelry or a life-size bust, there are no limits to polymer clay if you use it correctly.
Do you have any favorite artists from other fields of art who inspire you?
Like I mentioned earlier I love Tim Burton, Henry Selick, and director’s like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson. Bob Ross is a huge inspiration as well. I can’t forget those who created my favorite kids shows like Stephen Hillenburg and Craig Bartlett. I also love my daily scrolls through Instagram and TikTok where there are so many other incredible artists creating non-stop. My followers also heavily inspire me. Their support makes me want to create even more because they have given me this gift and I want to constantly give back to them.