About

Jessica DeStefano

Jessica DeStefano is an award-winning sculptor with studios in New York and California. She is best known for her small sculptures, portraits, and theme-based chess sets.

In the early 1980’s she became known in the world of collectibles for her figurines of fairies and mermaids which were sold to collectors all across the United States.

Her fine art exhibits include the National Sculpture Society, New York, NY and the prestigious Sawdust Festival and Festival of the Arts, Laguna Beach, California.

Her work has been accepted into the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and the World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis, Missouri.

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Casting DeStefano’s Work

RFDesigns casting studio is located in Sterling, Massachusetts. Richard Felix is a master caster and mold maker specializing in polyester resin compounds.

He created a proprietary polystone for Jessica DeStefano’s sculptures that enables him to reproduce the fine details she is known for. He has been her exclusive caster since the early 1980’s.

Other Talented and Much Appreciated Members of the Artist’s Team:

  • Harry Henderson – photographer
  • Joe Brady – photographer
  • Jim Rue – editor
  • Leonard Szymczak – editor

Jessica's Words On Becoming an Artist

I began my career as an artist while still in high school. Every holiday, I could be found at one of the local department stores or the mall sketching portraits in pastels on a special velour paper. At Christmas time, there would be lines of people waiting for a Christmas portrait to give as a gift, and I would sketch one every 20 minutes.

I soon tired of 2-dimensional work and wanted to sculpt in clay. Large abstract works of art were being featured in most art circles and galleries at the time, but I believed art that was small offered a unique perspective and encouraged a more intimate way of seeing. Besides, making small art was a necessity for me. I had neither lots of room to work nor money for large amounts of clay or other art materials.

My first year of college, I began making small ceramic heads that were less than an inch high. It was the mid-60s, and beads were popular among the hippies. I would poke a hole up through the bottom of each clay head, fire them, and sell ten on a string as beads. They sold as fast as I could make them.

Besides helping me pay for college, these beads allowed me to practice sculpting faces. At first, in order to get different faces, I had to sculpt a recognizable character like a clown, a pirate, or a king, etc. As I got better and better at sculpting, the beads took on very intricate features and expressions. I’d attempt portraits of people I knew or famous people and celebrities. I loved Mad Magazine. The wonderful caricature art of Mort Drucker and Sam Viviano taught me how to grasp the essence of an expression, and my clay portraits got better and better.

After college, I married James DeStefano and began making larger works. His love of my work and willingness to support it made it possible for me to devote every day to being an artist. I have been blessed beyond words by the opportunities that have developed because of our team effort.

James made a studio for me out of a back bedroom in a little stone bungalow we bought 60 miles north of Manhattan. I joined The Pen and Brush in New York City and began to work for some of the biggest collectible houses in the US at the time: The Franklin and Danbury Mint, The Rawcliffe Corp., and Hudson Creek Collectibles. Among the lines of collectibles we created were the Bubbles Fairies, The Sea Myst Mermaids, and Tillie the Homeless Frog.

Above my work table, I put the words “WHATEVER IT TAKES” and on the wall, I tacked a modified version of Frederick Franck’s Ten Commandments for Painting. I called them My Ten Principles For Sculpting. Here they are:

My Ten Principles For Sculpting*

  1. Be willing to sculpt anything and every day.
  2. Do not wait for inspiration, for it comes not while you wait but while you work.
  3. Sculpt as if you had all the time in the world and it was the greatest thing you had to do.
  4. Trust none but your own eye and make your hand follow it.
  5. Consider the beads you sculpt to be as important as all the contents of all the museums.
  6. Do not adore your good sculpts and promptly forget your bad ones.
  7. Let each sculpture be your first, your best, and a celebration of the eye awakened.
  8. Believe every mistake you make is a necessary step to making it right.
  9. Be willing to do whatever it takes to make it right.
  10. Do not worry about being of your time, for you are your time and it is brief. *Adapted from Frederick Franck

 

It was working, living, and breathing these 10 principles daily that led me to discover the real meaning of the “creative process.” There were many turning points as I strove to “trust none but my own eye and make my hand follow it.” One such time was when I broke my favorite sculpting tool using it to scrape some glue off the top of my desk. The tool had been given to me by Kahlil Gibran, the nephew of the poet by the same name. I was so upset with myself. I felt lost without my “magic” tool. I couldn’t work.

Things only changed after I changed my attitude and entertained the notion that if my favorite tool was gone, perhaps I wasn’t supposed to use that tool. I began to pick up any tool, and let it be “a celebration of my eye awakened.”

I discovered that the more I removed my own ego from the sculpting process, the more easily the creative process took over. I came to believe I was not the one sculpting.

Art has a life and a will of its own. I was but a tool in its hands. I will pass away, but Art lives on using artist after artist. My job as an artist is to make myself worthy to be its tool.