Artist Spotlight: Hiroe Goto – Sculptor / Prop Department


Artist Spotlight: Hiroe Goto – Sculptor / Prop Department

One of the great things about working in the stop motion animation industry is the opportunity to meet so many talented and amazing artists. Part of what running this magazine is about is to shine the spotlight on as many of these artists as we can. This specialized art form requires many different skills and none of them are easily obtained. So in this first Artist Spotlight we would like to shine the light on Hiroe Goto. She is a young talented artist whom I met through working on the hit Amazon Prime Show Tumble Leaf. Her abilities are inspiring and her humble demeanor is something we all could strive for. The following is a short interview I did with Hiroe to get a better understanding of who she is and what she does. You can also checkout her work at

SMM – How did you learn how to sculpt?

Hiroe – Pretty much self-taught. Job to job I figure it out and am still learning.

SMM – What drives you as an artist?

Hiroe – I don’t know.. I think I was looking for what I want to do and what I like to do since I was younger. When I had to pick a high school where to go I didn’t want to just study like Math or English (i was a stupid kid too), and also wanted to do something else so I picked a technical high school for Industrial Design, and since that I’ve been doing some kind of artsy stuff. I don’t call myself artist yet though I am just a sculptor now, maybe in the future I will..

SMM – How did you get into stop motion animation?

Hiroe – I started my career doing SFX make-up but I also wanted to learn more stuff and did an internship for a project at Charged studio in NY after that I was on and off doing make-ups and stop-motions but since I moved to LA somehow I have been working on stop-motion projects more. I do like stop-motion animations, making props and sculpting characters, it’s fun but I still like live actions too because I love sculpting life-size figures or animals.

SMM – What’s your favorite clay to sculpt in?

Hiroe – Definitely Wed clay (water based clay). There are pros and cons but I just like the feeling of it. I can use my hands to feel and shape, and also feel like “I am sculpting”. And it’s really easy to shape and be able to sculpt very fast. But on stop-motion gigs it’s rare to use.

SMM – What type of tools do you use with your larger sculptures?

Hiroe – It’s depend on what kind of material to sculpt in. Larger scale usually we have to use styrofoam because of cost. In that case I use hot wire and a chainsaw to get good rough shape, wire brush, rasps to detail and sand paper to finish. One time I had a job making a 12 feet mammoth head, we used water based clay to sculpt the head and trunk, molded and casted with latex and flex-foam, it was really fun and cool experience.

SMM – Where did you learn to build sets and props?

Hiroe – On jobs. Every shops and everyone has deferent technics so I watch them and steal the skills.

SMM – What prop or set that you built is your favorite?

Hiroe – Humm.. I have few.. can’t quite decide which one is the favorite.

– Baby pig; for a short film “La Ricetta”. A life size baby pig, sculpted casted in silicone, and stuffed guts inside of the belly. On the shot they cut the stomach and the guts came out and blooded. It was beginning of my career so sculpting wise probably I could make it better now but still like the shot and I wish I could keep the pig.

– 1.5” miniature shoes; for an artist’s show, made with sculpey. I love shoes and love making shoes also (specially the Van’s).

– Manatee; for “Tumble leaf”. It’s about 12” prop and appears on season 2 and 3, and there is a new “Manatee” on season 4!, check it out on Amazon prime 2018!

SMM – When sculpting characters what type tools and clays do you use?

Hiroe – I use Chavant clay (plasteline modeling clay). I like using metal sculpting tools and use rake tools a lot. Sometimes I make my own sculpting tools for the specific shapes.

SMM – Favorite animated film?

Hiroe – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the sky, and Toy Story

SMM – What was it like working on Tumble Leaf?

Hiroe – It’s pretty cool. The show is feature quality, I like the color of the show and how they animate it. Everybody is professional and talented. I am the only one sculptor in the shop so I take the responsibility it only because they trust me and let me do stuff so I like to answer to them.

SMM – Do you have a dream project that you’d like to work on?

Hiroe – I do not have particular project I want to work on but I love British films so I’d love to work on some British films someday. And travel around the world on jobs, that’s kind of my dream work life.

As you see Hiroe Goto is a very talented artist and we hope to see more great work from her in the future.

If you have an artist that you feel should be in the Artist Spotlight on Stop Motion Magazine please feel free to send us suggestions in the comments below.