Brent Estabrook is an American artist known for his large-scale oil paintings of stuffed animals. Born in Arizona and raised in Seattle, WA, he holds a Bachelor of Studio Arts from the University of Arizona and a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Louisville. With a playful yet meticulous approach, the artist combines surgical precision with a childlike sense of joy, creating textured and vibrant compositions. Estabrook has exhibited in notable art fairs across the United States and Long Beach Museum of Art hosted his solo exhibition "Creature Comforts" in 2022. Currently based in Los Angeles, Estabrook continues to captivate audiences with his evocative artwork.

You Name it! WIP Photo by Brent Estabrook

Your artwork showcases a diverse range of styles and themes. Can you tell us about your creative process and how you decide on the concepts for your pieces?

Concepts and ideas come to me like I think they come to any artist, from that divine creative source that is just a little mysterious to all of us… For me specifically, it comes from a place of love, joy, happiness, thankfulness, love for the creative process, and a knowing that it is going to add to the positivity in the world.

Aside from that creative inspiration, that is the biggest factor on how I decide on a concept for a piece... Is it going to add positive energy into the world?

Many artists find inspiration from various sources. What are some of the influences or inspirations behind your work?

I was often told early on in my career to go to museums and galleries to get inspiration. And while there is so much value in that, especially the large-scale paintings and beautiful frames, I have also wanted to tell my own story without being overly influenced by other artists. I wanted to be unique in the world. That said, artists that have influenced me include George Condo, Wayne Theibaud, Walt Disney, and James Jean.

My biggest inspiration now to create more art has become to look at the art I have already created because in it, I see the challenges I have met and grown from.

I also get inspiration from listening to jazz music. I love that many jazz songs challenges the listener to consider whether the song is “correct” or not. I am currently playing around with this idea in my art. The other day, I had a drip in a painting that I would have tried to cover in the past, but now I let it be. It captures the moment in which the painting occurred and that is enough for me.

Block Party Mural WIP Photo by Ronald Perez
Photo by Jonathan Jovel

Your use of color and texture is quite striking. How do you approach the visual elements of your artwork, and what role do they play in conveying your intended message or emotions?

I let the painting tell me what to do, almost like I am along for the ride. So much is in-the-moment decisions based on what is right for the painting. When you look at one of my paintings, you can see that the brushstrokes convey the excitement and positive energy that was occurring as I was painting. Artistically, one of the things I love to do as an artist is use complementary colors. By placing these colors next to each other it is very visually exciting. Texture is another layer of this dialogue. Through varied brushstrokes and the physical depth of paint, I strive to give viewers a sense of the energy and passion that goes into each piece. It’s like leaving a part of my spirit on the canvas.

I love to infuse playful elements into my paintings—whether it's creatively integrating my signature or adding unexpected details to the edges of the canvas. These are not just artistic choices; they're invitations to viewers to explore and find joy in unexpected places. It’s about breaking the traditional boundaries of art and making it an interactive, joyful experience. I love taking art less seriously for the benefit of the art.

Collaboration can often lead to unique and innovative projects. Have you ever collaborated with other artists or professionals from different fields, and if so, how did those collaborations influence your work?

Specifically talking about paintings, I did a collaboration with Matthew Ryan Herget in 2016. We did this amazing skull piece together. I wish I still had it. He and I were on the same page creatively and it worked really well. I would love to collaborate with another oil painter again.

My biggest collaboration thus far has been the Smiles necklace with Alex Bellman of Bellman Jewelers, and the forthcoming Smiles earrings with Ryan Rehbock.

Creating “Smiles” the plushie was also a big collaborative effort as well. I was heavily involved in the design process but many hands go into a project like that.

Another important collaboration I’m doing on a constant basis is that of my business with my team. You need good people to grow in life and you need good people to scale a business. I feel like I am creating a collaborative, creative vision with my team.

These collaborations fuel my art, constantly pushing its limits and enriching how I view my own creations. By merging diverse perspectives and expertise, we unlock more vibrant and resonant pieces. Each collaboration opens my mind, sparking fresh ideas that weave into my work. This synergy enhances my artistic expression and underscores the vital role of community and shared creativity in art.

Art often serves as a reflection of society or personal experiences. Are there specific themes or narratives that you frequently explore in your art, and what significance do they hold for you?

Happiness and positivity in their essence are really important to me. I think all of us humans are in pursuit of these and all my art is about adding more of that positivity to the world.

Since I create in so many styles and series, there are many different emotions I pursue. Quilts are all about beauty, with their color and movement, the Stuffed Animal Piles and Single Stuffed Animals are about joy and playfulness, Crazy Stuffed Animals are about wonder and whimsy…  there is a lot of overlap with the emotions I seek to inspire with my artwork but positive emotions are at their heart.

Gumdrop fur face Photo by Brent Estabrook

Technology has significantly impacted the art world in recent years. How do you incorporate digital tools or techniques into your artistic practice, if at all?

I know my art career, now and until the day I die, will be centered around oil painting and sculpting. Knowing that allows me to explore infinite creative possibilities and an infinite number of tools, including digital, while maintaining my center. I do a lot of drawing with my ipad, plus AR and VR are really interesting. I am excited about finding more time to explore them.

Art can evoke different emotions and interpretations from viewers. What do you hope people feel or take away from experiencing your artwork?

On a general level, inspiration is what I hope viewers immediately feel when they look at one of my pieces. Joy, wonder, happiness, all those really positive feelings are what I hope people take away.

Specifically, I would love for someone who maybe just spent a long day at work to see one of paintings and feel inspired and energized to go home and play with their kids. Or to feel so moved by the brightness of the colors and joyful movement on the canvas that they are inspired to pursue their own creative passions.

And beyond the immediate interpretation of each of my pieces, I hope my message of inspiration and growth creates a desire in my viewers and collectors to embrace a life filled with creativity and joy. I want them to take that sense of wonder they experience from my artwork and apply it to their daily lives, whether it’s through engaging more deeply with their families, reigniting their own creative pursuits, or simply finding happiness in the small, everyday moments. Ultimately, my art is about more than just aesthetics; it's about inspiring people to live more fulfilling and passionate lives, reminding them of the boundless potential for joy and beauty in the world around them.

Stick em Up! cRaZy stuFFed aniMALs Photo by Brent Estabrook

Many emerging artists face challenges in establishing themselves in the art world. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are navigating their own artistic journey?

Creativity is infinite. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Don’t let people try to tell you what to pursue or what to paint or what to create. Create what is really internally driving you. By doing and creating what you love, you’ve won.

The only way you can get in trouble as an artist is to create exclusively for the market or when you quit doing what you love. People recognize authenticity, and that doesn’t mean everyone will love your work, but having a true belief in yourself and what you’re doing is the key to success, despite the frustrating, not-good-enough days.

Creating a world around your art and telling a story about your art is another way too. Social media and realizing art is a business really is key. In order to succeed, you either need to develop a business sense or find someone you trust to help you with the business side.

Do things that challenge you. I also can’t recommend enough meditation and breathwork. Just like physical exercise is important for your physical health, meditation is great for your mental health and learning to embrace the discomfort, the underlying fear. Remember it’s not a nervous breakdown, it’s a nervous breakthrough, and that is how you elevate yourself as an artist.

Lastly, can you share any upcoming projects or exhibitions that you're currently working on, and what can audiences expect from your future work?

From July 12 through 14, we're hosting the “Smiles Experience”—the unveiling of 'Smiles and Friends,' my new luxury plushie line. Alongside the 2024 release of the “Smiles” plushie, we'll offer a range of collectibles featuring “Smiles,” my signature pink teddy bear. We'll also debut three new paintings, each embodying the “Smiles” motto: "Different is good." These works reflect my commitment to spreading joy and encouraging everyone to embrace their passions, rediscover playfulness, and pursue personal growth. Additionally, attendees can try their luck at a claw machine to win their own “Smiles” plushie, among other surprises. Designing this entire experience from scratch has been a thrilling process.

Later in July, I will also have a solo show in Gstaad, Switzerland with Maddox Gallery featuring my  “CraZy stuFFed aniMALs” series like never before. Definitely stay tuned for all the details ;)

In terms of future creative work, I often don’t know what I'm going to create until I step up to a canvas. I've learned not to create expectations of what blank canvases become. That bigger, divine creative force guides me as to what I create next. It’s constant adventure and excitement! That said, I know I am going to explore more flowers and garden themes, and I know I will also do more of the “CraZy stuFFed aniMALs” series and “Quilts” series.


Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017. Find more of her work here: