Artist Q&A: Brooke Howell


Booke started her art career in 1998 as a caricature artist, which developed her seeing and drawing skills. Further training as an illustrator gave her the proficiency to tell visual stories. Brooke realized her passion for sculpting post-art school, so pursued jobs from which she could learn every aspect of the craft; sculpting themed children’s play areas from foam, chasing wax in a foundry, and as a lead sculptor for a company producing monumental bronze works.

Her personal work has been shown in many galleries, and Brooke and her partner were awarded their own bronze public art commission, which was installed January of 2011. She has also won numerous awards from the International Society of Caricature Artists and the Colorado Alliance of Illustrators. Most recently Brooke attended the Creative Talent Network convention and exhibited at the Spectrum Fantastic Arts Live convention, laying a career path into the entertainment industry.

Mold3D: Hi Brooke! Thank you for taking the time to talk to our audience! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Brooke: I am a freelance traditional sculptor of many mediums living in Denver. 

Mold3D: How did you get started Sculpting?

Brooke: Making things was always in my blood, but the decisive day came in a children's book illustration class. The assignment was to sculpt our main character to reference for illustrations, but I took my little reference sculpt to an extreme, painted it, and eventually just used photos of it with backgrounds as the illustrations. Unfortunately, the realization that I wanted to sculpt came at the end of my college career, so that led me to lots of odd jobs. I chain-sawed large, themed children's play areas out of foam and fiberglass, chased wax in a bronze foundry, worked on a small team sculpting monumental bronzes for museums and creating maquettes for public art proposals, and have done personal work for gallery show.

My interest in animation/entertainment has always been present, but only recently have I decided to pursue work in the industry. I have been lucky to pick up work with some amazing designers right away!

Mold3D: How would you describe your aesthetic style? 

Brooke: I have such a varying body of work that it's difficult to pinpoint a style, per se, but I love to incorporate humor as much as possible. I also enjoy capturing gesture and feeling in my personal pieces, but not all jobs allow for that. 

Mold3D: Do you have any favorite artists that inspire and influence you?

The first few sculptors that come to mind: Bernini because well, Bernini; Virginie Ropars for her insane detail and unique characters and aesthetic; Philippe Faraut for the design, rhythm and breath he captures without any stiffness; Honore Daumier for his loose, humorous, sculpted caricatures; Damon Bard, Jerome Ranft and Mike Murnane for their maquette work.

Mold3D: What’s your tool of choice? Digital or Traditional?

Brooke: Currently only traditional; though I am learning ZBrush.

Mold3D: You’ve recently teamed up with 2D concept designer Nicholas Ilic to produce a maquette. Can you explain the process of working with a concept designer?

 Concept design by Nicolas Ilic. Brooke teamed up with Nicolas to transform his 2D design to physical maquette.

Concept design by Nicolas Ilic. Brooke teamed up with Nicolas to transform his 2D design to physical maquette.

Brooke: Nik sent me one drawing of his viking character. I was excited by the challenge of sculpting it without any supporting turnaround drawings; it allowed more freedom in my interpretation. Luckily, Nik was very easygoing and trusted me to create freely. I did a quick clay sketch to make sure he liked the direction I wanted to take. He did some clarifying sketches over the photos I sent along with some notes and references to show me what types of textures and finishing details he envisioned. That gave me a clear idea of what the final would look like before I started it, so I was able to complete large chunks of work with confidence. Technical issues are inevitable when translating 2-D space don't physically work in 3-D, so when those things arose, I sent Nik photos with possible solutions and he was able to pick which options best suited his vision of the character. He gave final approval once it was mostly complete, before it was painted or the final details (like the hair, beard, and stitching) added. 

Mold3D: What other sculpture projects have you collaborated on and with who?

Brooke: Most recently I have worked on a personal project with concept artist Paul Sullivan for Red Giant Studios. I also have a couple secret projects currently underway.

Mold3D: It seems that designer/sculptor collaborations are popular. What are the benefits of teaming up with other designers?
Brooke: It's fun to work from such a broad pool of inspiration and vision. It allows me a chance to explore approaches, styles and outputs, have new challenges, and be a part of lots of super cool projects. I also enjoy being art directed by other artists; it offers a totally different perspective.

Mold3D: Your primary medium is clay, do you have any interest in checking out 3D printing?

Brooke: Yes! The ability to 3D print has definitely been an influence in helping me decide to incorporate digital sculpting into my repertoire. I can see the the benefits of using 3D printing compared to traditional sculpture as a way to save time and money otherwise spent on building armature, refining, molding, and casting. My future plans are to use 3D printing as a means to quickly produce prototypes, one-offs for promotional/personal use and visual aids for proposals.

Mold3D: Thank You Brooke for taking the time to talk to us. Looking forward to seeing your future printed work!

Brooke's personal website: