‘Artist Spotlight’ Of The Week: Casey Parlette

Howdy Nation! In today’s post, we are going to be featuring our ‘Artist Spotlight’ of the week: Casey Parlette. A naturalist at heart, Casey credits his adventures and anthropological studies to inspire and influence his octopus art. He will be showing us how he made a large metal octopus as well as a wooden version!

Meet Casey Parlette!

Growing up in Southern California, Casey Parlette spent a lot of time among the local wildlife as he explored the nearby hills and ocean. Inspired by the fish, birds, and plants he saw, he began sculpting at a young age.

After graduating from UCLA with a degree in anthropology, Casey was recruited to work as a commercial diver and a career ocean lifeguard.

Welding hundreds of suckers to each arm!

He also has operated underwater cameras in exotic seas for the award-winning TV series Inside Sportfishing and adventured into remote areas of the world!

On top of all that, he’s an artist!

In today’s post, we will be showing some of Casey’s art pieces. Let’s check them out!

bronze metal octopus sculpture in pool
Metal octopuses forged and welded out of bronze. By: Casey Parlette

What draws you in or fascinates you the most about octopuses? When did this start for you? 

“Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated by the way octopuses move and change their color in different environments.

I used to go visit tide pools often when I was a kid, and I’d almost always find an octopus on my adventures!

Spending all that time feeding them and watching them really cemented the octopus as one of my favorite ocean creatures.”

OctoNation members love knowing how long your work takes you to complete… Can you describe the process?

“When I’m trying to portray an octopus, there are two things I think about:

  1. The way they move over an environment they flow and blend into that environment
  2. When an octopus moves it sort of unrolls over that environment.

It generally takes a long time to complete an octopus piece, no matter the size or materials used.”

“I’ve done a number of different octopuses and cephalopods and, depending on the overall look I want for the piece, I draw from a lot of different metals and wood materials.

Wood has a soul to it, along with swirls and spots that really reflect the look of an octopus, so I like to use wood in that aspect.”

“For the large outdoor octopus pieces, I like to use bronze! I like the textures and the look of a forged welded piece, so the tentacles are all made of forged bronze and I bend them to get the shape I want.”

“Then, I weld the individual suction cups one by one, to give me more intimate control of the flow of the piece. This captures the way that the octopus interacts with the surface that I’m building on, whether that’s a rock or a structure.”

“The head and the webbing is all shaped out of a bronze sheet that I texture through hammering!”

Was this modeled after a specific octopus species? Did you use any references?

“Over time, I’ve done many different cephalopod and octopus pieces modeled after various species. My reference material is my experience out in the wild observing their movement.”

Assembling Octopus Prime
Octopus Prime By: Casey Parlette

What materials are used in your work? 

“I use Bronze and various species of wood including:

  • Manzanita burl
  • Maple burl
  • Curly redwood”
The wood octopus is carved out of a single piece of manzanita burl
The wood octopus is carved out of a single piece of manzanita burl. By: Casey Parlette

Who (or what) are your biggest influences?

“I’ve always been inspired by nature!”

tidal pool octopus by Casey Parlette
Tidal Pool Kraken. By: Casey Parlette

When do you feel the most creative?

“I’m usually most creative when I’m inspired by a new project that has some exciting elements to it that provides me with new challenges.”

handmade cuttlefish sculpture
The Cuttlefish is carved out of maple burl. By: Casey Parlette

How do you know when a piece is finished? 

“With something like an octopus that has so many details, it’s hard to know when it’s finished. But, at a certain point, the flow comes together and it just looks right!”

nautilus wooden art
The Nautilus is a combination of forged and welded bronze and curly redwood. By: Casey Parlette
nautilus sculpture made with wood and forged metal hanging on wall
‘Equilibrium’ – Curly Redwood & Hammered Welded Bronze Sculpture

What’s the best website for people to discover your work?

“You can check out my website caseyparlette.com.”

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

For eight months, Casey lived in the Peruvian Amazon where he discovered a previously unknown species of fish, which has been officially classified as Rivulus Parlettei! (named after his last name, Parlette– isn’t that cool? #LifeGoals)

Thank You For Joining Us For Artist Spotlight!

First, we want to give a big thank you to Casey Parlette for allowing us to showcase his work on OctoNation. To continue supporting Casey and his wildlife sculpture, make sure to follow them on Instagram @caseyparlettesculpture, on Facebook, and on Youtube.

If you are interested in commissioning a piece from them, fill out this form.

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

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