Artist Bobby Causey makes wax sculptures of celebrities that are so life-like, you’re going to have a hard time believing they’re not real. The self-taught professional, based in Allen Park, Michigan, painstakingly creates each piece by hand, even punching in each individual strand of hair one at a time!
Causey, who won several art shows as a kid for his drawings, said that he enjoys sculpting a lot more – his favorite sculptors include Jose Ismael Fernandez and Michelangelo. He also remembers that special moment when he realized that sculpting was his ‘thing’: “It was the Lost Boys: David piece. I loved that movie and loved the soundtrack; once I completed the piece, I could hear the music from the movie, and got some chills. I said, ‘I think I found my special purpose; what the hell can I sculpt next!’”
Some of Causey’s most notable works include Heath Ledger as Joker, Jack Nicholson from The Shining, and Christopher Reeve as Superman. They’re all jaw-droppingly hyper-realistic, I’d say good enough to give Madam Tussaud’s a run for their money. And one of his most interesting pieces is the sculpture of his own daughter’s likeness as an Avatar – she loved that movie, and he thought it would make a great combination.
Before he begins to make a sculpture, he exhaustively studies hundreds of photo references of his subjects, observing each and every detail. “Basically, the only guide I have is the person, or my subject; I know what she looks like and I have to not only try to get a great likeness but also alive with feeling or thought,” he said.
Since Causey has never attended a class on sculpting, or even read a book on the subject, his techniques are quite unorthodox. “I just know what needs to be done and I do it,” he says, nonchalantly. “What I can say for sure is, I would start with NSP (Non Sulfurated Plasteline) Medium Clay, a shit-load of photo reference, and a desire to sculpt the person you are going to be sculpting.”
Like any other artist, he isn’t 100 percent satisfied with his work, and makes his sculptures over and over again until he is happy or he can’t go on anymore. “An artists work is never finished; it is abandoned,” he declared.
Although he primarily works for himself, Causey has done a few pieces for TV shows. He has received a few requests for movies too, but he feels that it’s just not in him to do that kind of work. His main attraction towards sculpting, he says, is doing characters who are already established in popular cinema. He loves to depict an emotion that has been set by what the camera has already recorded.
“For instance, if I sculpted an old man with his eye closed, and made him creepy-looking and called it ‘The Mortician’, the feeling would not be near as strong as watching Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man in the movie Phantasm. The emotions were already placed by the actor and the filmmakers,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, eventually I would like to do some original art works, but for now I really enjoy the movies and the actors I sculpt.”
He doesn’t even display his work at galleries; he takes it to charities instead, like the Make-A-Wish Foundation for kids. Most of the time, when he finishes a piece, it is gone the very next day. So he has now started to make a piece for himself after he completes a major project, so in around two years he could have 30 good pieces to show. His advice to aspiring artists is simple: “Don’t be afraid to fail a couple of times; I did and I still do.”
Photos: Bobby Causey