When BLAST Inc. producer Junya Okabe came across a stuffed polar bear displayed in a storefront, he couldn’t help but feel sad. This once living and breathing majestic beast had been killed, only to become a lifeless, decorative object for human entertainment. Despite his despair, Okabe was struck with an idea—to artistically create lifelike animals without harming them.
“I'll use my experience to create animals that look alive. Not by killing animals that were alive,” explains Okabe. He teamed up with Japanese animal sculptor Shinobu Matsumura and chief model creator of Zeppet workshop Yuya Takahashito to create an anatomically-correct model of a polar bear sleeping peacefully with its cub. This sculpture became the first of an ongoing series, titled ANIMALS AS ART.
Extensive research allowed Okabe and his team to create a base structure that mimics the feel of muscles, soft tissue, and the skeleton of a real-life polar bear. They then covered both bear bodies with synthetic, cruelty-free fur that was sourced from a manufacturer who produces fake animal hair for Hollywood blockbuster films. Each polar bear hair is meticulously implanted one-by-one to recreate an authentic look and feel.
The life-sized sculpture also features realistic details such as the texture of the paw pads and the sharpness of the claws and teeth—it’s hard to believe this isn’t a pair of real taxidermied polar bears. “Take a glimpse of its fierce row of teeth, which hides just beneath its unassuming peaceful expression,” says ANIMALS AS ART. “Our Polar Bear is not only cuddly, but it also reminds us of its carnivorous origin.”
Okabe hopes that his ANIMALS AS ART series will help people see that they don’t need to kill in order to display wildlife as decorative objects at home or in film. The animal lover also plans to donate 1% of his revenue to WWF Japan.
Find out more about the ANIMALS AS ART online, and check out the creative studio’s second project—a hyperrealistic model of an adorable dog.