The term “Renaissance man” is often overused, especially in Berlin where piecing together one or more odd jobs in the arts can often be misconstrued as a sort of genius. However, there are rare occasions where the tights and tunic of a Da Vinci-type could not fit more snugly, and today we bring you a behind-the-scenes chat with just such a man.
Sean Hunter Williams is not only an established comedian, talented sculptor, and international man of mystery, he is also an accomplished fabricator who has worked alongside renowned contemporary artists like Danh Vo.To find out what it’s like working on commissioned pieces which will never bare his name, as well as personal projects that can involve everything from stone carving to getting sprayed with red paint by a knight, we sat down with Williams at The WYE , where he often works.
BAPs: We first met while you were working at The WYE on a boar’s head sculpture that was commissioned, not a personal passion project. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like working on a piece of artwork that is explicitly for someone else?
SW: Commission work has a different motivation behind it in that, in that your task is laid out in front of you and there is little freedom in the variation between the original idea and final piece. All in all, making sculpture is a joy and I have been fortunate in taking on interesting jobs so far.
BAPs: What is your process like? What does a day in the studio (or wherever) with Sean Hunter Williams look like?
SW: I start by getting as many reference photos to work from as possible, and printing them out. Then I use those photos to create an armature, which creates the pose for the model, which that I then add clay to. Some days go smoothly, and I can just work the whole day; some days I’ll have to go out and buy a tool for a specific effect I’m try to achieve.
BAPs: You’re an incredibly skilled mold-maker, and I know you’ve worked on projects ranging from special effects for horror movies to sculptural pieces for artists as renowned as Danh Vo. How did you get into this kind of work?
SW: I got into sculpture through my dad. My dad is a stone carver, and I’ve been around the sculpture process my whole life. It wasn’t until my teens that I really started to realize how much I enjoyed it. I went Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia to further my technical knowledge of sculpture and fine art in general. In Berlin it’s been about getting to know the right workshops that do this kind of work, and keeping in good contact with them.