With nature serving as his muse, self-taught artist Jeff Sellers has found his passion for creating representational metal art depicting nature in all its beauty. Jeff resides in the great state of Texas, where he has turned a hobby into a thriving outlet for his creativity. Jeff’s sculptures effectively convey his love of the outdoors and experiences in nature with his viewers.
Jeff, thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughtful responses with us. You have given the readers an opportunity to glimpse into the mind of a person who truly enjoys what they do. My personal favorites are your remarkable hummingbird pieces. I can’t wait to see more exceptionally creative work from you in the future.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Jeff Sellers. I’m 57 years old. I have lived in Texas for the last 43 years. I’ve been married to my best friend Brenda for 35 years and have a son and daughter. I have a love for the outdoors. I have worked at Southwest Research Institute for the last 33 years. I converted our detached two-car garage into my welding/art shop.
Where is home?
I live on 1-1/2 acres out in the country close to Helotes, Texas which is just West of San Antonio. I’ve been at our current house for 20 years now. We have lots of deer, hawks, lizards, snakes, wild pigs, and foxes on and around our property.
How did you discover your passion for your art?
I have been a welder for 30 plus years and have been making small art pieces for friends and family but never knew that I could make sculptures until about three years ago. I made an eagle out of old rusty scrap metal and it actually came out nicely. That expanded rather organically into making sculptures for neighbors, co-workers, and family. Before I knew it, I had a waiting list of people wanting me to make them a custom sculpture. What started out as a hobby has become a passion and drive to make the next original sculpture. I have become addicted to the reaction I get from people that see my sculptures for the first time.
What inspires you?
Nature is what inspires me. I love all things beautiful and see it every day in nature. My dad was in the Air Force and when I was in middle school we were stationed in Anchorage, Alaska. My time in Alaska made a profound impression on me and gave me a love for the outdoors. I love the idea that I can make sculptures based on images in my head from my experiences in nature. Just like a photographer, I try to capture a moment in time that is intimate to me but has a connection to the viewer.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I have a degree in welding and machining but I have no formal training in art. I’m self-taught in that regard. I’m not afraid of making mistakes which have helped me expand my abilities in the shop.
What project are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a bonsai cherry blossom tree that will have a hummingbird nest in it and the mama hummingbird will be feeding her babies. The tree will be made from mild steel, the nest will be a combination of stainless steel and copper strands, the hummingbird and babies will be polished stainless steel and the flowers will be copper. I figure that I will have to make about 200 copper cherry blossom flowers, uhg!
What is the process you go through when creating a piece?
I will usually get a request like “please make me something with a hummingbird in it” and will go from there. I will see the piece in detail in my mind and usually dream about it. Then I will make a simple drawing to help me with proportion. After I am satisfied that I know how to start and what direction I need to go, I put on my headphones crank up the rock music and let my hands go. The best thing I can do as far as being creative is to get out of my own way and not be afraid of making mistakes.
How do you know when a piece is complete?
I know what I want a piece to look like before I even start so I know when I have reached the end of a particular sculpture. As an artist, it’s important to recognize when I have added too much in a sculpture. Too many leaves, too much color, it’s important to know when enough is enough and adding more will only distract from the piece.
How do you go about pricing your work?
This is what I struggle with the most. Right now I pay myself minimum wage for the hours spent plus materials to come up with a price. I hope to be giving myself a raise soon!
Have you ever found it difficult to part with any of your pieces?
Yes. I usually will make a sculpture and ship it out the next day. This gives me no time to spend with my creation and I know this sounds rather silly but I do have an attachment to all my pieces.
What is your favorite piece and why?
The eagle. It was my first attempt at making a sculpture and it was the moment that I realized that I might have a talent in this art medium.
What do you hope viewers take away from your work?
I hope the viewers see the quality that I try to put in each one of my pieces. I want people to see the beauty of nature that I have tried to capture and hopefully, it brings a smile.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
Not yet, but I have only been making sculptures for three years now. I will say that I have redone some elements of certain pieces because I didn’t see the quality. This drives my wife crazy. I will show her something I’m not happy with and she will tell me it’s fine and I will spend 30 hours redoing that element anyways.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
I made a horse head sculpture and donated it to an equestrian therapy center to raise money for them in an auction. The piece sold for $1,000. That was the tipping point for me. Then I had a friend ask me to make a hummingbird sculpture for her grandmother. The hummingbird sculptures are getting more and more popular and I’m getting a lot of requests to make them. This gave me a lot of confidence that I can make artwork that will sell.
Where do you currently display your art? How can people purchase one or more of your pieces?
I have a website jeffsellersmetalart.com that people can see my work and request to have a sculpture made for them.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I was lucky enough to have my artwork recognized by a television show called Texas Country Reporter. They filmed a segment on me and my artwork last week and it will air this fall. They have about 12 million viewers so I may be getting really busy soon. I will be retiring from my day job in 18 months and plan on doing art full time. I would love to do an art show in a gallery and I am planning on doing a full-sized eagle with a seven-foot wingspan soon. I want to be known as an artist that makes beautiful art which I believe is what all artists want!
Are there other mediums of art that you would like to explore and experiment with?
I would like to learn how to do clay/bronze sculptures. I like the amount of detail that clay allows you to put into the pieces.