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July 2012 Volume 1

ART MAGAZINE

FEATURING Steve Altman | Arnt Arntzen | Deborah Brackenbury | Kate Cusack | Mark Doolittle Pierre Fouché | Jon Goldberg | Julia Jeffrey | Enrico König | Vincent Leman | Lightexture Ptolemy Mann | Alice Pasquini | Anthony Scheffler | Cole Thompson | Erik Wolken 1


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From the Editor

Where did the name “Creating Linus” come from? Well, that’s a bit of a story. But first came the idea: when I was in college, there was a very distinct line between the fine arts and the craft arts and then there were the design departments; I always found this distinction frustrating. As a Jewellery major I often found myself in the position of having to justify my “art”. I was even told by one of my drawing teachers that going into jewellery “was a waste of my talent, as jewellery was not art”. A friend of mine once commented that my prices were too high, after all “it’s just a bit of silver”, I responded by saying she should consider lowering her prices since her paintings were “just a bit of paint”; she failed to see the connection.

Why this need to define art by materials? Artists use materials to express ideas, thoughts, emotions. To make a statement or just to beautify. The idea behind ‘Creating Linus Art’ is to desegregate the arts; to be a forum for all art forms.

Now back to the name. As an artist I often feel unable to really get “it” out. There seems to always be a search for something, I can almost taste, smell and touch it; but it slips away. I think this is why I never get bored with creating; the challenge to get “it” out is always there. When I was a child I fell in love with Linus from ‘Charlie Brown’, and I’ve always used him as a kind of secret measuring stick. Much like creating art, finding Linus has always been allusive to me. So I put the two things together: Creating Linus.

Nicole Baxter, Jewellery Artist & Educator nabstudios.com

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Navigating the magazine As an online magazine, ‘Creating Linus Art’ is able to offer functions that print magazines can’t. Links will allow us to bring readers directly to websites in an instant. If you see a word underlined, highlighted or a web address, click on it and you will be redirected to that site. As long as you are logged into the Creating Linus website all of the links will work. If you need further assistance with navigation click on the “?” icon and a legend will appear telling you what each toolbar icon means.

visit our

website

If you like the Creating Linus magazine duo make sure you spend some time on our website too. If you’re a member you have access to some great features like:

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The Artist Index Did you see an artist in one of our issues, but can’t remember which one? In the Artist Index you’ll be able to quickly find who you’re looking for and one click will take you directly to their feature.

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Magazine Archives Did you miss an issue or want to reference something you’ve read? This is your virtual Linus magazine rack. Here you can view any issue, any time without the cluttered stacks on your coffee table.

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Members Forum Got something to say? Maybe a question to ask? Post it in our Members Forum! We want our readers to talk to each other; answer questions, give suggestions and discuss. This is your opportunity to meet and connect with fellow makers and art lovers from around the world. How cool is that?

creatinglinus.com

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s t s i t r A e h t t e Me

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König Enrico man e L t n e Vinc

ture Lightex Mann y m e l o Pt uini q s a P Alice heffler c S y n Antho pson m o h T Cole olken W k i r E

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Meet the Artist

felt • photos • concrete

An interview with

Deborah Brackenbury I received a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 1987 and my MFA from the University of Florida in 1994. In December 2001 I withdrew from teaching to focus on my studio work. At that time I was a Professor of Art at the University of Oklahoma; since then I have taught occasionally at Penland School for the Arts in North Carolina. Although I studied photography and installation art, my studio work currently focuses on concrete vessels and felt designed pieces, as well as on my continued work with photographic commemorative plates.

“There are so many ways to be an artist.”

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Q:

Has formal training as an artist been an advantage or disadvantage for you? As you can see by my bio, I have a MFA with a concentration in photography. My goal in returning to school for an MFA was to offer me the opportunity to teach, but it expanded my work and life in ways that were very beneficial. The heightened exposure to art history and contemporary art helped me contextualize my own work and become more fluent in my goals, which in turn helped me achieve those goals. Also, the opportunity to work in a close-knit community of peers was incredibly stimulating and through that I made life-long friends. Additionally, the “forced” exposure of graduate school to variety of mediums also increased my visual language and the options offered to me in expressing my work.

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? I am working in three different mediums presently and they all represent their own set of problems and solutions. I use the word problem here in the best sense of the word because art making to me is all about setting up and solving problems. Perhaps that’s why I tend to jump around to different materials— it makes my work fresh—in my own mind anyway. Since I am a conglomeration of my genetic makeup, and a media saturated culture, spewing out a hundred and fifty billion images a day, my goal in any of my art is to try to unravel that noise in my head and talk about what is specific to me. My most conceptually based work would be the series of commemorative plates, Wannabes. These plates directly address our culture’s reaction to the human/animal conundrum. This series is the most important to me personally and the one that makes my brain strain the hardest.

impurevessels.com

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Meet the Artist

felt • photos • concrete Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how? My life has been steeped in past and present art for so many years now that it would be virtually impossible to decide who has had the most influence. The artists that are influential at any particular time are so because they help offer a solution to a problem I’m trying to solve. And I don’t necessarily mean that it’s a visual solution. There are artists I don’t necessarily like that are very influential because they still teach and inform me at some level.

Q:

Q:

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What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? It was a very different scenario when I was in academics—a lot of grant writing, exhibition proposals, etc., and I was fairly successful at it. Now that I work in craft-based arts it’s all about being seen in sales venues. Of course the internet is a huge resource for that and I feel I don’t milk it enough.

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? It’s all about location, location, location. I see myself not in Oklahoma, but an environment that has crisp mountain air with moss growing at the base of large redwoods, and clumps of snow in June. In terms of my art? I’ll be working in my concrete studio in three days because it will be below 100 degrees in Oklahoma. Since my art is a lifelong feature of my personality, I’m only concerned with the problems facing me in any particular week.

What are your other interests and how do they influence you in the studio? I have a VERY active dog—a viszla—and she loves nothing better than a good long hike everyday regardless of ice storms, heat warnings, or snowstorms. I walk on the average of 2-3 hours a day—it keeps my brain on straight, my girlish figure, and my dog happy. It’s a peaceful time dedicated to thinking--or not.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an artist? You can set your own hours and no money.

Why are you an artist and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? A life in art was not Plan A, or Plan B, or Plan C, I think I must be down to Plan Q right about now. A series of events collided at a particular time in my life and directed me to this path. The events themselves are really inconsequential to others; it’s all about action/reaction.

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What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? It makes me feel alive. That’s enough motivation.

Advice would be relevant to the intention of the artist. There are so many ways to be an artist; it may be to create art to place in your yard, it may be the desire to become “famous”, it may be to teach, but the one thing I do know is art has to be made. Whether it’s an ephemeral moment such as dance or performance art, or a threedimensional object to hold, you have to produce it. So make art.

impurevessels.com 10


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Meet the Artist


zipper jewellery

An interview with

Kate Cusack Kate Cusack’s transformation of zippers into jewelry reminds the wearer of the power of imagination and the joy of discovering a view of something that would otherwise be overlooked. Traditionally, a zipper is a device designed simply to function. It is a fastener and not a feature. Cusack’s fascination with zippers comes from her general love of transforming ordinary materials into wearable objects of art. Because the metal zipper teeth are attached to a fabric edge, it is a material both rigid and flexible. Cusack enjoys the contrast between the whimsical shapes that she creates and the harshness of the metal teeth. Cusack earned her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA in costume design for theater from the Yale School of Drama. All of Cusack’s experiences – from costume design to the creation of wearable art---culminate in the Zipper Jewelry. All of her work relates to the body, combining theatrical influences and her love for the transformation of unusual materials. Since Cusack’s signature Zipper Pin design, in 2003, she has created an everexpanding collection that includes Zipper Necklaces, Zipper Bracelets and Zipper Brooches.

“I was always creating things from drawings to dress-up.”

PHOTOS BY

Frank Cusack 13


Meet the Artist

What led you to use zippers as a medium? I saw an old plastic slipcover that was being thrown away that had a giant zipper all the way around it. I cut the zipper from the yellowing plastic, brought it home, bleached it, and knew it should be something more than a closure for a plastic slip cover. I think in this case, it was really the size of the zipper that caught my eye—and the fact that it was such a long zipper. I looked at that zipper and saw a faceted piece of metal. Naturally, it reminded me of jewelry. Because the metal teeth are attached to a fabric edge, the zipper is a material that is both rigid and flexible. I enjoy the contrast between the whimsical shapes I create using the zipper and its harsh metal teeth. Traditionally, the zipper is a device designed simply to function. In fashion and costume design the zipper is often looked down upon as a shortcut: it is a fastener and not a feature. What made you want to use such common, household items? I see everything as a potential material that can be transformed into something exciting. When I see one item repeated in large quantity or in an extreme size, I start to see it in its very basic visual form. I begin to make associations based on shape, color and texture and I am freed from traditional restrains about what that item or material should be used for. There is a seemingly endless supply of household items because it’s intended to be used and then disposed of. When the material is not precious, the pressure to create something “meaningful” and “special” disappears and the creativity has free reign. Another issue that is very important to me, is the notion of humor and lightheartedness. I think that may be another explanation for why I work with unusual and humble materials. I like to create polished, elegant work (whether jewelry or headresses, etc) that a viewer can appreciate in a serious way, but then when the viewer notices whatever the object is made out of, it surprises them and brings a smile to their face. When I transform an everyday material into something elaborate, it reminds the viewer about the power of imagination and the joy of discovering a new view of something that would have otherwise been overlooked.

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zipper jewellery You have a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. How has your costume design, sculptural/wearable art and experiences with theater and window dressing influenced your zipper jewelry? I think that my experiences at MICA opened the door to the realm of “anything is possible.” Annet Cowenberg (fiber artist) taught a class in which she told us that any material can be either a line or a plane and from that you can make anything else. For an assignment, we had to make a list as long as we could of materials that fell into the category of a line or a plane—for example a piece of spaghetti can be a line, and a piece of paper can be a plane. To make clothes, we weren’t restricted to fabric, to make sculpture we weren’t restricted to marble. It is very freeing when you can let you imagination and your creative eye tell you what to do. At Yale, it was surprisingly quite the opposite, in my experience. A great value was put on historical accuracy, as far as costume design was concerned. To me that approach created a definite lack of freedom or creativity (of course this is a great simplification). I think now, I am more aware of historical references in my jewelry design and the importance of solid research, as a result of my studies at Yale. I think all of these experiences—costume design, window display, sculptural/wearable explorations—culminate in the Zipper Jewelry. They all relate to the body, and combine those theatrical influences and love for the transformation of unusual materials. What is the story behind the creation of the zipper pin? How did the pin lead to the creation of entire line of zipper jewelry? I made my first Zipper Pin in 2002. I had recently finished designing and creating costumes for a children’s dance-theater company and I got my hands on bags and bags of zippers. At that point in fashion, pins and brooches were very in style. I was originally inspired by the idea of the Chanel flower, and thrifty/resourceful decoration of fashion from the 1940s. Because of wartime restrictions on materials, designers were forced to be more resourceful with extra pieces of fabric to decorate their garments. I always love these kinds of designs because there is a bit of a self-referential notion, and there is a simplicity when an entire garment from body to decoration is made from only one material. I made a Zipper Pin for myself and wore it on my jacket. I was freelancing in the visual merchandizing department at Tiffany & Company at the time and the woman who I worked for, admired my pin. I was working there to design and create five marie-antoinette-style wigs made entirely from plastic wrap (that you’d use to cover left overs with) for the store windows along 5th Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan. I made the second Zipper Pin as a gift for the woman who’d hired me when the project was complete, as a thank you. Another gift lead to a former high school classmate noticing the Zipper Pins and consequently placing an order for her new jewelry store in Brooklyn. NY Magazine came to write about the new shop and then decided to feature my pins in the Best Bets section of the September 2003 issue. 2003 was the year I began my 3-year MFA program at Yale for costume design. In October, I entered the Zipper Pins in an exhibition at the Felissimo Design House called “Made in Brooklyn.” They were accepted into the show and later sold at the gift shop. A number of buyers from other stores frequented that gift shop and later placed orders for pins. After about two years of making the Zipper Pins exclusively (and working through a very intense graduate program) people asked for necklaces. So on a summer break, I made my first collection of Zipper Necklaces. In the summer of 2008, people asked for bracelets, and I answered with a collection of Zipper Bracelets and Zipper Band Cuffs.

katecusack.com PHOTOS BY

Frank Cusack 15


Meet the Artist

Can you explain the process in creating each zipper piece? When I begin a new piece, sometimes I work directly from a sketch, and other times, I sketch three-dimensionally on a dress form. Whether the idea starts two dimensionally or three dimensionally, all of the Zipper Necklaces are shaped on a dress form. This ensures that the piece will relate to the body. Sometimes my designs are inspired by the zipper, itself, and other times, I imagine the design and then choose the right zipper for the project. You wear a couple of artistic hats (pun intended) as sculptor/jeweler/ costume designer. How has your career unfolded? My career is constantly unfolding and I am constantly learning about my creative process. I often think of my career as a braid—different pieces influences and experiences overlapping and coming together from various directions to form one complex creative career. The through-line that runs through my work is the association with the body (as in jewelry or costume) and the love for unusual materials. Is recycling an important aspect of your zipper jewelry? If so, how? The Zipper Jewelry is not made from zippers exclusively for the sake of being “recycled.” I enjoy the idea of it being eco-friendly, but the majority of my zippers have never been used before and are purchased in the garment district. In my studio when I am making a piece, I do save all the scraps and often make new pieces of jewelry from discarded end-pieces. I like that idea of making use of everything. It also becomes dangerous, because I rarely throw anything away, and as a result, my material stock-piles overflow. Your artist statement mentions that you approach jewelry design as a visual artist rather than fashion designer. How does this approach affect your zipper jewelry? Because I see everything as an artist, it means I am freed up from certain constraints that typically come with certain professional approaches. I can see the material for what it is, what it “should” be used for, and then I can decide how I want to re-imagine it. As a jewelry designer, I don’t set out to make a necklace with beads or sterling silver, but instead, I manipulate the zipper into shapes that are like beads, and I make a comparison between sterling silver and the base metals used in zippers. SOURCE: KATE CUSACK Frequently Asked Questions 2011

PHOTOS BY

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Frank Cusack

katecusack.com


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Meet the Artist

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

I can only speak for myself, but my time at the Maryland Institute College of Art was extremely worthwhile for me. It was an amazing time where I was able to develop various kinds of work with incredible resources and mentors.

Q: Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how? I am inspired by people like Philip Treacy and Julie Taymor because of their outrageous designs and the way they have forged their own paths. Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? I have an interest in theater and performance. A sense of theatricality is often evident in my work.

PHOTOS BY

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Frank Cusack

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? For me, the material itself (the zipper) is the real inspiration. I have found that creation happens in cycles. The “tough times” while tough, are an important part of the process. They heighten the spark of inspiration when it finally comes.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? It’s extremely important to keep accurate records and to be very clear about expectations with clients. The business side of being an artist is often a challenge because it takes you away from the physical creation, but finding the balance between the two is what it’s all about.


zipper jewellery Q: Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I prefer to set goals that are not so far out in the future, and relate to what is happening in my life at the present. Of course, I would still like to be creating new designs and finding joy and excitement in my work. Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Lately, I’ve been working with taking the fabric element off of the zipper so that I am working with only the metal teeth. This is a whole new kind of relationship to the zipper and has opened up new design possibilities.

Q:

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What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Be professional, responsible and reliable. Ask to meet with other more established artists that you admire and find out about their lives and their work. Be generous with your colleagues—share information and resources. Make sure to give back, once you are no longer just starting out. And from a book I read, “action creates clarity,” meaning, just do something and then you will figure out what you need to do next. Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? Coming from an artistic family, it was never really a consideration that I would be anything but an artist. I was always creating things from drawings to dress-up.

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What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist?

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What are 3 words that best describe your work?

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

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Where are you located?

I think it’s challenging to balance the creative element of being an artist with the business side of being an artist. It’s also hard to stop working. When you have a 9 to 5 job, weekends and evenings are very clearly defined. As a freelance artist, I find it hard to not be working on something most of the time.

Innovative, Fascinating, Sophisticated

A thimble.

Brooklyn, New York.

katecusack.com 19


Meet the Artist

furniture • by kurve

An interview with

Enrico König Enrico was born on BC’s west coast in 1965 in a now-deserted mill town and raised in the central interior. Completed a BA in Halifax after travelling around Europe and the Middle East in his early 20’s. Despite a 2-year gig in Switzerland where he built odd cabinetry for an eccentric family that owned a chocolate factory, he admits he never really gave a serious thought to furniture until he was in his mid-30’s. Perhaps it isn’t as incoherent as it often seems to him. His father, a pastry chef when he came to Canada from Switzerland, switched to carpentry when Enrico was six or seven. The whole family pitched in to renovate old houses, often while they were living in them. Enrico did a bit of carpentry himself after finishing high school. He even worked for a while in a window and door factory which filled Ikea orders in the winter when normal business was slow. (He liked that job so much he went tree planting and used those earnings to fly to Europe.) His mother has always been hands on too, these days designing and making purses. She has her own annual craft show circuit. His partner is a print and ceramics artist. They live in Vancouver with their dog, two cats, and Tom Waits. They try to get out camping in their 1977 Boler as much as they can.

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Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist? Being shown how to do something by somebody that is good at it is, by far, the easiest way of learning something new. Being self-taught, however, I didn’t do it this way, which makes me like to believe that formal training is not necessary. It can even be limiting, this reasoning goes, in that some just follow along in the footsteps of their teacher. Or where there is more concern about teaching the “right” way of doing things rather than encouragement to explore new form and technique. That being said, I am completely envious of those who get a broad, creative introduction to their particular craft by the better teachers and schools out there.

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how? Here in Vancouver, Arnt Arntzen has been my greatest influence and unintentional mentor. Unintentional because, during the time I was just starting to make furniture, I would visit Arnt’s studio every year during East Vancouver’s Culture Crawl and pester him with questions until I could see he was becoming annoyed. His life as an independent designer/maker – working mostly alone and making objects of the highest quality that are easily distinguished as coming from his shop – was and still is hugely influential. But there are many, many furniture makers whom I consider to be icons of the craft, people who have developed unique techniques and impressive bodies of work: Peter Pierobon, Brent Comber, Jere Osgood, John Makepeace, Michael Hurwitz, Roseanne Somerson, Michael Fortune, Wendell Castle, Wendy Maruyama … just to mention a few. And I am always amazed anew by how creative and clever so many makers, in so many disciplines really are.

“It comes down to hard work, and more hard work...” Q:

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? My studio practice, because of the time and financial restraints it places on my life, has severely limited my activities outside the studio. I used to be a huge reader, but the kind of time that is necessary to read whole books can be hard to find these days. I used to do quite a bit of back country ski-touring, but one can’t be an occasional telemark skier because of its physical demands. I still ride my bike quite a bit, but the old days of bike tours of several months are long gone. I haven’t given up my lifelong enthusiasm for fly fishing BC’s lakes and rivers though. Being on water removes me from shop conundrums and disappointments. And sitting around a campfire nursing a decent single malt (hell, it doesn’t even have to be decent) is my definition of heaven.

kurve.ca 21


Meet the Artist

furniture • by kurve

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? Necessity, for me, is the mother of creation, and having an upcoming show or a client that is waiting is the type of motivation I need to crack some eggs. If you ask me, the concept of inspiration is over-emphasized. It comes down to hard work, and more hard work, to gain the skills necessary to make whatever it is you want to make. And doing it over and over and over again is what will make you good. There are no shortcuts. When things get tough, I procrastinate and put off whatever it is I’m supposed to be working on. And then I do my best to come up with credible excuses as to why I’m late on the order.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? I took a 6-month self-employment program when starting out 10 years ago. That forced me to do some intensive research and financial planning, and provided useful information on things like bookkeeping and sales tax and insurance. But I was fortunate in that I started a forestry business at the same time. That provided enough cash in four or five months to finance the shop for the entire year. As the forestry business declined year to year, the furniture end of things picked up, until I was doing it full time. Almost like I planned it. As far as actual production goes, I am constantly searching for better and more efficient ways of doing things. Batch production is the only way I can survive, making things in multiples so that the inherent inefficiencies of small-scale production are minimized as much as possible.

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Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? People often assume that to be an artisan or an artist means that one is in the possession of some natural talent and inclination. That wasn’t really the case with me. I just happened to have a carpentry background because my Dad was a carpenter. Because of that, I got some cabinetry work while travelling in Europe.

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it?

Then, after a BA and a year of trying to write fiction, I bumped into an old tree planting buddy who had a small back-alley workshop. He invited me to use it to make some Christmas presents. Before I knew it a small fortune had been spent on tools. At the same time, a gallery called the BC Wood Coop opened in Vancouver, and suddenly there was a way to get something back out of an ever-increasing investment.

Hopefully not living in my parents’ basement. Perhaps even with more free time out of the shop.

The reason I do enjoy my life as an artisan, and continue to plug away at what is a difficult profession, is not because of some vague necessity to be creative. It’s because I want to have as independent a life as is possible: set my own hours, self-direct my work, nitpick obsessively on small details.

My latest work couldn’t really be called a series. Perhaps, at best, the exploration of a few new ideas. Some have worked, some haven’t. And the only thing I’ve ever tried to achieve with any of my work is to make a living as an independent artisan.

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Don’t. It is too hard. And if that is enough to dissuade you, you will never make it.

Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work?

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

But all artisans – unless independently wealthy or supported by a partner - are reliant on a buying public. An inescapable reality.

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What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist? Biggest challenge: having people like the work enough to actually fork over the dough for it. Just as big a challenge: educating the public about what constitutes quality work, particularly when it comes to veneer.

Curvy. Sleek. Finicky.

Another major challenge in these economic times is the evaporation, all across North America, of actual furniture galleries. Not having these to introduce new work to the public will make it increasingly challenging to eke out a living as a maker.

There are actually two: my hands. I’ve been using them for some time, and have grown quite attached to them. I hope we continue to work together in the future.

Q:

Where are you located? Vancouver, BC.

kurve.ca

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Meet the Artist

glass

An interview with

Jon Goldberg Jon Goldberg lives a dual life. His ‘9-5’ work week is spent as a computer consultant, but evenings and weekends he pursues his passion: working with glass. He founded the largest public-access glassblowing studio in Philadelphia. This studio has become a focal point of the local glass community as a place where many glass artists create their work, teach the next generation and learn from each other. Goldberg’s work is a study in balance. Minimal form is opposed by very complicated, layered coloration. Transparent elements are balanced against the reflections and refractions created by thick-walled forms and facets cut into the objects’ surfaces. His pieces are suggestive of naturalistic ideas, but abstract enough to allow the observer to create their own interpretation of the world within the object. The semi-random compositions seen in nature are fascinating to Goldberg. Lightning zagging across the sky, tangled vines, ripples on a lake, striations in marble are inspirational in pattern and color. He finds something profound in the contrast and tension created within simple shapes containing multi-layered, infinitely detailed coloration.

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Q:

Has not having training as an artist been an advantage or disadvantage for you? I first worked with glass in a series of evening classes at a local glassblowing studio. I continued taking classes at the studio and then started taking intensive workshops at the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. This approach has worked very well for me because I can study with specific artists whose work resonates with me or who work using techniques that interest me. There are many elements of a ‘traditional’ artist’s education that I have had to develop on my own. The hardest thing is the ability to look past technical process and create work with deeper meaning and expressing ideas. Also artist with a formal background generally have a better understanding of the context of their work and where it fits in the ‘Studio Glass Movement’.

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I keep a ‘graveyard’ shelf full of pieces that are either broken or not particularly successful. This shelf is one of the richest sources of inspiration. Often I’ll take a piece from the shelf, put it on a turntable and just look at it, slowly turning, then finding new aspects or details. Or I’ll take one of the pieces and alter it in some way, cutting facets, applying a different texture to the surface. There’s often some element of the piece that I find intriguing, serving as inspiration or creating motivation to evolve the series in some dramatic new direction.

Q:

Can you tell us something about your work? The predominant colored elements in some of my work are kiln-formed, using the vitrograph or ‘pot-melt’ technique. In this technique, different colors of glass are arranged within a terra-cotta flowerpot, and then melted through a hole in the bottom of the pot into a ‘puddle’ of color. There are many parameters under my artistic control, but serendipity plays a role in the ultimate result. I see this technique as a close analog to the geologic processes that create natural stone. When constructing a piece, the process and steps are planned, but the end-result cannot be completely predicted. There are always elements in the final product that surprise me and inspire the next evolution in the series. Glass is a unique material, able to reflect and refract light. I exaggerate these properties, using thick walled forms having a curvature and incorporating colored elements at specific depths within the clear material to maximize the optical effects. Shadows and reflections between layers and interior walls are planned, though surprise results are frequent and welcome. The objects I create could only be made from glass and I strive to showcase the properties of the material.

"always remember what it is that you most enjoy about creating your work" eastfallsglass.com/jon 25


Meet the Artist

glass

Q:

Which artists have influenced you and how?

Q:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an artist?

The biggest influence has been artists with whom I’ve studied. Sometimes this influence is technical, but there are teachers who have more profoundly influenced me with their approach to the material or their aesthetic ideas. The artists I’ve studied with include William Gudenrath, Elio Quarisa, Mark Matthews and Josh Simpson. I spend a lot of time looking at glass at galleries, museums, and in the literature. I am particularly influenced by work made by some of the early Studio Glass artists, including Harvey Littleton, Tom Patti, David Huchthausen, Mark Peiser and Christopher Ries.

The most fulfilling moment of the creative process for me is seeing the completed object for the first time after spending many hours on conceptualizing and then executing the piece. It also feels really good to exhibit and to observe the audience’s reaction and their interaction with the work. The worst part is the extraordinary amount of work and resources required to enable the creative process. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the mechanics of running a studio to the point where one is not longer able to create.

Q:

What are your other interests and how do they influence you in the studio? I maintain a full-time job as a computer consultant, and I take an almost ‘programatic’ approach to glass. I work in series, and build a library of technical and aesthetic ideas, which are alternately shelved and combined in innovative ways to allow evolution of the series.

eastfallsglass.com/jon

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Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it?

Q:

Facetting gemstones is a process through which light passing through and the optical properties of gems are controlled by cutting flat surfaces in specific configuration at specific angles. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of applying these techniques on glass objects. The unique refractive and reflective characteristics of glass can be manipulated with these facets creating beautiful and often unexpected results. Unfortunately the tools I have to create these cuts are ‘stone-age’ compared to the specialized apparati available to gem cutters. I’ve been reading as much as I can about facetting techniques and trying to figure out how to adopt some of them in the process of creating my art.

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Being an artist is extremely difficult. There are very few artists who are able to sustain themselves entirely from their artwork and even fewer who are free to create what they want rather than what the market is demanding. My advice would be to always remember what it is that you most enjoy about creating your work. If you ever find the artistic process is becoming ‘empty’ or not providing this satisfaction for whatever reason, stop and figure out what changes can be made to keep yourself inspired. This might mean setting aside time to make ‘your own’ work apart from the work which is putting food on the table. It might mean taking some additional chances and going an entirely new direction.

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? I have been lucky that I’ve not had the pressure of supporting myself with my art. This has provided the freedom to pursue ideas that most interest me. It has also allowed selective exhibit and promotion with the goal of creating an audience based on the strength of the work. I set aside time every month to research and apply to calls-for-entry for juried exhibition. I’m slowly establishing representation; I reach out to galleries, sharing images when the work takes a surprising evolution. I also find an audience for my work using the Internet, looking for online venues to showcase the work.

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In the next 10 years, I plan to continue what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. It is hard to predict the future. 10 years ago, if you’d asked the same question, the answer I would have given would not have resembled my life today. In the past 10 years, I’ve gone from being a ‘casual’ glassblower, taking classes at the local public access studio to owning my own studio, teaching others and creating a body of work. My hope is that this trajectory will continue although I can not say with certainty what direction it will take.

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Meet the Artist


metal • wood • furniture

An interview with

Arnt Arntzen Arnt Arntzen is a contemporary studios furniture designer/ builder using reclaimed metal and wood. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada and has been an artist for over 25 years. His Interest in metal began when building a 36 foot steel schooner in the backyard with his father. His first sculptures were created from the scrap pieces. Woodcraft and design developed through renovating vintage houses. The years from 1984 to 1987 were spent in Los Angeles turning his attention to studio furniture design. For fifteen years Arnt has been focusing on working with helicopter and airplane parts combined with hard woods he cuts himself from local windfall trees such as elm, cherry, maple, alder, birch, oak, fir and sycamore. The simplicity of form following function in aviation design ties in perfectly with his mid century modern inspired pieces. Pioneering new methods of combining dissimilar materials has become a trademark of his work. Arnt has shown in California, New York and various Galleries across Canada.

“I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do.” arntarntzen.com 29


Meet the Artist

metal • wood • furniture

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how?

Q:

I don’t know about formal training as I have very little of it, but I think any training you can get is invaluable since most of my training came from my father.

Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Isamu Noguchi, George Nakashima, Hans Wegner, George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Gehry, too many to list. I lean towards modern design but admire certain aspects of design in all genres. Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Music, surfing, sailing, snowboarding, boat building, nature, and travel all influence my work in one way or another.

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? New designs and the various found materials that surround me in my studio are what motivate me, as well as reminding myself that I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’m very lucky to have my wife Valerie, who loves and supports what I do and helps out with a lot of the technical and financial aspects.

I see myself doing the same thing but less pieces in a given year and doing more collaborative and theme based shows such as the Hanger Show (www.thehangarshow.com) I did a couple of years ago in an seaplane hanger at the south terminal of YVR. Oh yeah and maybe more public sculpture as well.

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Meet the Artist


metal • wood • furniture

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? I’m focusing on chair designs right now since they are probably the most difficult and challenging to do. I think my next show will be all chairs.

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life?

Don’t try to do everything at once. You need to balance work with art until you can afford to do nothing but the art. Don’t give up no matter what, perseverance always pays off. To do more of the things you want to do, try to do less and less of the things you don’t want to do.

I first started welding abstract sculptures when I was fourteen years old from the left over scraps of steel of a 36 ft. schooner sailboat I was helping my dad build in the back yard of our house in North Vancouver. I would put them out in the yard to rust and ever since then I wanted to be an artist.

Q:

What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist?

Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work?

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

Well it’s definitely not running out of ideas. I’d have to say time and space. Finding the time to build all of these ideas, and space, for without it I simply cannot build more pieces until they’re sold or donated.

Without blowing my own horn I’d have to say, innovative, contemporary, and transformative.

My 32-inch 1903 Crescent bandsaw from an old shipyard in Vancouver.

800 Keefer St. Vancouver, B.C. Canada

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Meet the Artist

illustration

An interview with

Julia Jeffrey Julia Helen Jeffrey is a Scottish artist and illustrator. She studied painting at the famous, Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed, Glasgow School of Art. Her main artistic aim has always been to capture feeling, as expressed through the face and figure. Gradually, through the years, her work has come back closer to the things which first inspired her to want to draw and paint; the sense of magic in the atmosphere of the Scottish countryside, which she experienced in childhood holidays and day trips, exploring ruined castles and clambering over cairns, and the incredible power of illustrated books to utterly transport you to another world! Her faery and fantasy-themed work, of recent years, has attracted considerable acclaim and attention, with features in numerous fantasy journals. October 2008 saw the publication of her first book cover (and illustrations) for the young-adult fantasy novel “Lament” (by Maggie Stiefvater), followed in 2009 by more sinister supernatural fare for fellow Scot Daniel McGachey’s “They That Dwell In Dark Places”. Her work also features alongside celebrated artists and best-selling authors including Neil Gaiman, Holly Black and Charles De Lint, in the illustrated short story collection “Ravens In The Library”.

etsy.com/shop/StonemaidenArt

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Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how?

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

Well, some are quite obvious, given the work I do now. Like: Brian Froud, who is such a massive influence and inspiration! Likewise, Alan Lee. Arthur Rackham, who I see as their forefather, really! Along with other “Golden Age” book illustrators. The inspiration I take from these Artists is: the incredible strength of drawing, lyrical sense of movement and life; their outstanding ability to evoke atmosphere! There are, also, so many artists I deeply love, and who’ve fed into my vision in perhaps less direct ways. Some of those are: Paula Rego, Kit Williams, Rembrant, Goya and Carel Weight.

Well, many things, some of which I’ve already mentioned; seeing wonderful art, and reading. Getting out for a walk can make an enormous difference, if I’m feeling stuck. I take huge inspiration from the natural world, sometimes I like bring something back with me; a sprig of berries or bit of gnarled wood, and that can help me keep the connection.

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Meet the Artist

illustration Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? With difficulty! Business planning, hasn’t come naturally. The only way I can really deal with it is a step at a time, it’s still very much a work in progress! One thing I would say, is that getting my work out there via the internet has made an enormous difference.

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Uh! ~ that’s so hard! ~ I permanently feel like I’m just starting out myself!! ..... I suppose the main thing I would say is, follow your own vision, I think that’s what sustains us through the many difficulties of trying to make a living from our creativity!

Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? Because drawing, painting, and making things is what makes me happy! ~ and it has been for as long as I can remember! It makes the world make sense to me!

Q:

Do you think that having training as an artist has been an advantage or disadvantage for you? Hmmm, bit of a mixture really I think! I did a degree in Fine Art, at The Glasgow School of Art, and later a course in Illustration, and both were kind of a mixed bag. I did learn a lot from both, but often from accident and experience, rather than teaching! One thing I certainly took from these courses was the need to believe in my own vision and follow it relentlessly!

“the best is spending your life doing something you love passionately”

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Q:

What are your other interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Books! I’m quite passionate about books! My Dad was a Librarian, and so they’ve always been a huge part of my life. And of course, as an illustrator, books are very central to what I do! I get a great deal of inspiration from reading, and am also fascinated and beguiled by old books as objects, they’re ceaselessly wonderful!

Q:

Could you tell us about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Currently I’m beginning work on a very large series of paintings, to be used for a tarot deck. This is a very exciting, and also rather terrifying new challenge! ~ the sheer number of images (78!!) is somewhat daunting, but the themes and archetypes of the tarot are deeply fascinating, and a huge source of fresh inspiration.

Q:

What is the best and the worst part about being an artist? The best is spending your life doing something you love passionately, using your talents, and constantly learning. The worst is how unstable and financially difficult it is, and sometimes, the isolation.

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Q:

Can you tell us something about your work?

What I really want is to keep doing what I’m doing, but reach more people with it! ~ keep following the vision and building up my body of published work.

Well, the best thing is just to look at it!

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Meet the Artist

An interview with

38

Erik Wolken


wood • functional sculpture

Erik Wolken was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1961 and received his BA in geography from West Virginia University in 1983. He spent the spring of 1988 studying furniture design with Chris Weiland at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then spent the fall and winter of 88 /89 in the Program in Fine Woodworking at Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina. From 1989 to 1995 he worked as a cabinetmaker for Woodpecker Enterprises in Apex, NC. In 1995 he opened his own studio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and has been working on private commissions and showing his work nationally since. I build functional sculpture, work that serves both a sculptural aesthetic and a utilitarian function. There is a rhythm and poetry I seek to create in my pieces, a flow to the lines, a confluence of color and texture that makes a complete statement. My pieces are often the result of a process of discovery. Seldom do I start with a plan written in stone but a series of rough pencil sketches and the belief that I can devine the meaning of a piece in the process of building it.

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist? I have tried many forms of formal education and training, some more worthwhile than others, but all of which contributed to helping me grow as an artist. My first experiences were taking week long workshops. I then took a more serious stab at conventional education and tried my hand at a MFA program, which lasted all of a semester. Thinking I still wanted a formal education but something a little less rigorous, I tried a two year community college program. I lasted a year there before starting my final education, which was four hard years in a cabinet shop. All of the above contributed a piece to the puzzle that formed my skill base and to some degree also informed my aesthetic sense. If I had not undertaken this educational odyssey, it would have taken considerable more time to learn my craft and would not have been nearly as fun or enriching. I cannot conceive of trying to learn a craft or art form solely on one’s own without significant formal guidance from others and as my path illustrates, there are many options out there.

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how? My earliest memories of wanting to be a woodworker happened when I stumbled onto a book by Wendell Castle, “The Wendell Castle Book of Wood Lamination” in my college library in the early 1980s. Though I never tried to produce work that ever looked anything like Castle’s, he was a powerful introduction into the possibilities available in making furniture. Other influences over the years have included Piet Mondrian and many of the cubists who I have admired for their minimalist sense of form and color. Like many other woodworkers and sculptors, I have also been inspired by the work of Brancusi but I am also inspired by the work of my fellow contemporary makers. I am always out on the lookout for what other makers are up to and how they solve problems and experiment in their own work. I would be remiss in not mentioning my own family as a source of influence and in particular my brother Jonathan Wolken, a cofounder of the Pilobolus dance company and a intellectual and creative force that always challenged me.

erikwolken.com 39


Meet the Artist

Q:

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Besides art my main other interest is playing music. I play bluegrass and old time music on the mandolin. I do not understand music on the same visceral intuitive level that I understand visual art but in many ways that is a good thing. My music playing is often a release from what is going on in the studio, a time to get of my own head and relax. I am also a total documentary film and film junky, I have always loved a good story and since I am a visual person I prefer to “see it”. I prefer non-fiction to fiction. In Durham, NC, we have a wonderful documentary film festival called the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, where I have volunteered for the last 5 years. Each year, over the course of four days, I see so many films that the images are bouncing off my eyeballs by the time I go home on Sunday afternoon. Story also factors into my work as I would like to think my better pieces have a narrative to them. This would be especially true of my torso series which combines digital images in with the work. My sister refers to these as my documentary cabinets.

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? Creativity is a strange and unpredictable muse that I can never call when I need to. When that moment of inspiration happens I try my best to capture it in either my sketch book or in the studio. More often than not though inspiration is a process of little pencil sketches that get developed over time into a finished idea. When I am struggling creatively, I usually leave the studio and find something else to do, which in most cases is taking a long walk or playing the mandolin. I think the best skill I have learned after 20 some odd years of being a studio artist is when to walk away. If I cannot focus and just don’t feel creative, it is time to leave and give it a try another day. When I must get something done, like design work for a paying client, I have a small but adequate design library, and sometimes flipping the pages and looking at other people’s work helps me get jump started.

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wood • functional sculpture Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

I continue to struggle with this aspect of my career. I have sought advice from art consultants and talked to other artists on this subject and continue to explore new avenues for promoting my work but I have yet to figured out the pieces of the puzzle. Last year, I was able to build a studio at home in my back yard. This has eased some of the financial pressures and has created a better work and creative environment for me.

A big question in my mind has always been can I do work that is better than what I have already done, that fear that I have already done my best work. That is a quandary I will carry with me for the next 10 years, for at this point in my career and life, having crossed the 50 threshold last summer, all I know how to do is keep plugging away in the studio and challenging myself to do new work.

Mix equal parts patience, stubbornness and fun, and take as needed. This journey can be a long slog, never give up, know when you need to walk away for the moment and remember to have fun.

“I have the ‘disease’ of making things”

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Meet the Artist


wood • functional sculpture Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Over the years, I have been intrigued with the human form. I have a series of torso cabinets, as well as many smaller forms that reflect this interest. Recently, I took a hiatus from actively working on any series of work in order to make money and build a studio at my house. Now that the new studio behind my house is up and running, I intend to get back to my interest in the human figure as a source for inspiration in my work. Last summer while helping a friend teach at Penland, I started working on a series of small abstracted figure sculptures in wood that are essentially sketches in wood. I might try to develop some of these sketches into larger scale functional objects, but I am also at a point in my career where I would like to try and dabble in pure sculpture and let these little pieces be just that. I have no intention of giving up making furniture, as that is where this journey began. I still have a love for making functional work. In that vein I have a series of pieces I call “Little Big Man” which is an exploration of multi functional forms. Pieces that when paired or rotated take on a different function and appearance. This series has held my interest for awhile now and takes up quite a bit of space in my sketch books so I am sure more pieces are to come from it in the future.

Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? The short answer is, I have the “disease” of making things. I have images, ideas, objects in my head and they must get out, so I make them. I remember being in biology class in the ninth grade and having this really great idea for something and immediately feeling the need to draw it out with my finger in the air in front of me as my classmates watched dumbfounded. That is probably my earliest recognition of my “disease” and when I knew I was headed for trouble. The longer answer is I come from a family of incredibly talented artists, scientists and writers who all found a way to make their own unique path in life and set quite an example to follow. Life would have been far less complicated had my parents and siblings sold life insurance.

Q:

What are the major challenges you've faced as an artist?

Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work?

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

Financial survival has always been number one but closely following behind that is keeping the work fresh and finding new fertile ground to explore. A fellow artist once said to me, success is finding your niche, your one good idea and then making a thousand of them. I have never subscribed to that school of thought. I continually move from one idea to the next in an eclectic path that has taken me in many directions, always in a search of the next good idea.

Movement, figurative, narrative

The hand held angle grinder, and when I need something a little quieter, a rasp or surform.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Meet the Artist

light • by Lightexture An interview with

Avner Ben Natan Yael Erel

&

Yael Erel is a registered architect, graduated with honors from The Cooper Union School of Architecture where she received the Irma Giustino Weiss Prize for creative achievement. Before co-founding New York based YEStudio with lighting designer Avner Ben Natan, she worked for the award-winning firm Diane Lewis Architect and ROART Inc. Erel Completed architectural projects both in Israel and NYC, and together with lighting designer Avner Ben Natan has been developing light fixtures and installations. Erel was a visiting architecture design critic at Harvard GSD, she has taught Architecture Design Studio at Columbia University and The Cooper Union, and has been teaching Architecture design at Pratt institute since 2004, where received a faculty development grant to develop environmental lighting fixtures. Her work has been exhibited at the Krakow Biennial, Pratt Institute Gallery and other NYC galleries. She has lectured at The Bronfman Center and The City College School of Architecture among others. Avner Ben Natan is a lighting designer. Prior to moving to New York City in 2006 and co-founding Lightexture with architect Yael Erel, he has been a lighting designer for Film and TV in Israel 1992-2006. In Lightexture Ben Natan has been designing and building lighting fixtures and environments for art and dance installations, residential and commercial projects. He has also been occupied with writing Hebrew poetry and prose since the early nineties. In recent years, after completing a collection of short stories, Ben Natan has started to compose and sing his own poetry. He studied in Alon film school and also in Tel Aviv University and received a BA in Sociology and Anthropology.

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Q:

Has not having training as an artist been an advantage or disadvantage for you? We both went to art school, which exposed us to schools of thought and artists works as well as develop our own language. Although, we never studied lamp-making per se (Yael learned art and architecture and Avner studied film), This in a way helps us create our own unique interpretations of the lighting field. On the other hand, learning a new field from scratch involves a lot of hard work, trial and error.

Q:

Q: Which artists have influenced your work?

Best- the act of making. The creation that keeps you alive and at times makes you laugh.

The artists most influential to us use light as a medium and create environments that are in search of the sublime. Whether abstract light artists such as Anthony McCall, James Turrel and Olafur Eliasson or traditional shadow theater artists. Another great influence is our work with ceramic artist Sharan Elran, who brings forward his work and thoughts, something that physically impacts and deepens ours.

What is the best and worst part about being an artist?

Worst- self doubt, the lack of meaning and the lack of money.

Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? It is less a decision as it is a path. We were both in art school and that formed some of our perceptions of ourselves and art. We are both professionals as well as artists and In some respects we returned to art. Art is a creation reflecting on the world and the artist is a vessel for that creation. We enjoy being this vessel.

"Making and creating is what we know what we do and how we live."

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Meet the Artist

light • by Lightexture Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? Making and creating is what we know, what we do and how we live. It’s not a physical necessity though it seems to be what we do when our physical necessities are satisfied. Sometimes it’s a joy, and other times it’s just life, tough or easy.

Q:

What are your other interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Generally we see our selves not bound to one discipline per se. Yael is an architect, Avner is a lighting designer but also a writer, Poet and composer and together we make music. All of the aspects of our making impact each other in multiple ways. Avner’s writing is influenced by Taoist philosophy and non-dualist writings. These ways of thinking about ourselves, the world and what constructs the world impacts the core of our making. We both love science fiction writings stemming from similar departure points (such as Ursula Le Guin and arguably Stanislaw Lem) and in some aspect allow it to seep into our making. Currently we are also working on a project that incorporates some of Avner’s poetry into our physical work with light.

Q:

Can you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Our latest series ‘lightexture fields’ was a development of the single opening aperture found in our (patent pending) Steamlight light fixture series, based on a stainless steel vegetable steamer.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? As best as we can, it’s not our strong side or where our passion lies, but we try to use a lot of common sense and push this side of the work as much as we can so it will make more financial sense to continue making and creating.

In this work we expanded the single aperture into a network of events in which one operation will impact the movement of multiple apertures and transforms a field. We further developed the overlapping leaves mechanism as different types of individual iris lamps so we can further understand the range and capability of this mechanism.

lightexture.com

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Q: Q:

Can you tell us something about your work? Our work is an exploration of light and an attempt to touch subjects such as the nature of reality, everyday objects and invention. Light is the principal matter with which we grasp the world, its waves and particles are constructing reality within our minds (together with sounds, smells and our body’s nerves).

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Try to find your voice, your path - in order to do that you must think, observe and do. Don’t avoid making mistakes, you learn more from failure than from success. Enjoy the path.

I often think of the metaphor in which the world is being screened on our consciousness in the same way a movie is being screened on a screen. Exploring consciousness through light is what we tried to do by putting screens and light sources together, allowing the viewers to enter the light-drawing and have their shadows become a part of the drawing itself. Culture makes us name a particular object as a vegetable steamer. Fascinated by it, we are on an ongoing exploration of the three dimensional Iris existing in it, we found it to be extremely effective with light. Using it as a lighting fixture may create a tiny crack in our own concepts of reality and the symbols that compose it. Where a newborn child sees waves of light, a grown up sees an object he knows by his own culture to be a steamer, but it is not a steamer, its a lighting fixture. A steamer is a cultural concept, a lighting fixture is also a concept, both are composed of light, matter and the cultural language we have learned to understand the world with.

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Taking that into consideration that “life is what happens when your busy making other plans” (John Lennon), we see ourselves developing all the directions of our creation (including the family we just expanded with our new baby boy). Living in the house we designed and built together, some of our lighting lines are industrially manufactured while others are still custom designed and built in large wood and metal and ceramics shop. We both continue to develop our individual careers, Yael’s teaching and academic career and Avner’s writing. His screenplay ‘ Yogurt’ had been shot and was a great success in theaters, we recorded our second music album and preform in New York and Israel. We are still happy and content, taking life as it comes yet driven to create and to reinvent ourselves.

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Meet the Artist


textile • art • design An interview with

Ptolemy Mann Ptolemy Mann has been running her textile art and design studio since 1997. After graduation from Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, she has established herself as the unique creator of one-off woven architectural art panels. Her ability to encompass the fields of Design, Art, Architecture and Craft equally has enabled the development of a varied and dynamic working practice. Mann has recently developed an IKAT COLLECTION of commercial textile designs for furnishing fabrics and fashion. This portfolio shows geometric repeated pattern designs inspired by her existing one off art pieces; the intention being to evoke a hand-made quality and blending of colour in the more commercially viable form of woven and digitally printed fabric production. She has collaborated with Christopher Farr to license a range of flat woven rugs and a digital print linen called Adras. Other collaborations are currently in development with John Lewis PLC, Ercol Furniture, Linenhouse and Studio Levien. In March 2011 she was awarded with the Homes and Gardens best Fabric Designer Award. Ptolemy Mann offers a colour consultancy service to architects and interior designers across a wide range of projects with a specialism on external healthcare facades. She exhibits and lectures regularly throughout the UK and abroad and currently has a touring solo show called ‘The Architecture of Cloth, Colour and Space’ travelling the British Isles. She writes regularly for the textile magazine Selvedge and has been a member of the GLOBAL COLOUR RESEARCH UK Colour trend prediction panel. In 2009 she curated the exhibition ‘Significant Colour’ at the ARAM gallery in London. Clients include NHS, Hilton Hotel group, GlaxoSmithKline, The Open University, Cunard, KPMG, Savills, Derwent London, Building Better Health, Land Securities Swankye Hayden Connell Architects and Stanton Williams Architects. Ptolemy Mann shows at Contemporary Applied Arts, is a regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Craft Fair, ORIGIN, 100% Design, SOFA New York and Chicago and is a selected maker on the Crafts council register.

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Meet the Artist

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

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Which artists have influenced you, and how?

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It’s essential to have some form of apprenticeship or technical guidance. It’s important to know your craft or skill inside out.

Josef Albers, colour theorist. Mark Rothko, amazing colour and abstraction. Donald Judd, Sculputral chromatic minimalism. Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Architecture is a very important influence for me, Luis Barragan taught me much about colour and saturation.

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What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? You just keep going... you have to. Reading/looking/photography, talking, writing... all these things feed into the work all the time.

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How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’ve learnt as I’ve developed, made some good and bad decisions. You learn by your mistakes.

In an exotic place half the year...running my studio from afar but still with passion and commitment

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textile • art • design

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? I’ve been doing some circular stretched canvas pieces. Technically quite challenging. Stylistically very different to anything I’ve done before. Still works in progress.

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What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

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Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life?

Work hard and keep going. Be dedicated to your passion.

Never any other options for me. Creative parents. A natural leaning towards it.

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What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist?

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What are 3 words that best describe your work?

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What is your favourite tool?

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Where are you located?

Running a studio for 16 years and keeping it going. The current recession.

Colourful – Architectural - Skilled

The shuttle

Sussex, England.

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Meet the Artist

wood sculpture

An interview with

Mark Doolittle Mark Doolittle has a doctorate in biology, and has been involved in biomedical research for over 25 years. His research in the area of coronary artery disease has culminated in the discovery of a novel gene contributing to triglyceride levels in the blood. Along with a research career, Dr. Doolittle has become increasingly involved in wood sculpture over the last eight years, employing his unique vision of natural form that is distinctive to this artist alone. His pieces reflect a creative diversity of form and function, with no piece ever duplicated; most feature fossils or minerals that are integrated into the overall design. Each piece is conceived and executed by the artist alone, using exotic hardwoods and burls from around the world. Although his style involves intricate carvings and texturing involving many hours of bench work, he never employs laser or CNC machinery; rather, each piece is crafted using rotary burrs and bits as wells as hand tools, such as rasps and chisels. His work is in collections, and has been featured in the magazine Fine Woodworking. Dr. Doolittle is now a full time artist, with a new studio located in Joshua Tree, California.

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Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist? I think that is dependent on the artist and person. Formal training can be a great help in the development of technical skills and design fundamentals. However, some people can acquire these through experience and reading alone, while others respond best in situations where there is formal training available. In my case, I had a lot of formal training in science, and it has served me well in art, as scientific research relies heavily on creativity and problem solving. Indeed, I approach my studio art with many of the same skills I developed to implement my research goals. With that said, every artist must have an innate desire for self-expression that cannot be taught or learned.

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Which artists have influenced you, and how? As a movement, Art Nouveau has had the most influence, with artists like Alphonse Muca expressing so beautifully in artwork the form and symmetry of the natural world that I try so hard to express in my wood sculpture. Among wood artists, I am drawn to those that love to express and epitomize natural elements in their sculpture, including Alain Mailland, Marilyn Campbell, Bill Hunter, John McAbery and Kerry Vesper. I should also include the great ceramicist, Charles Birnbaum, and the many other talented artists that together inspire me to continually elevate my craft and creativity.

“I believe that creativity dwells within your idealism, not your cynicism.�

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Meet the Artist

wood sculpture Q:

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? My keen interest in biology has had the most influence on my art, particularly the form and symmetry of microscopic structures in plants and animals. I have always found a strong aesthetic in tissue and cellular architecture, and many elements in my sculptures have borrowed from these microscopic structures. My objective in art is to have my sculpture perceived as having “grown� rather than having been carved by an artist. I also love to incorporate fossil ammonites, fish and other organisms in my sculpture, mainly for their innate beauty but also because they symbolize the natural history of our planet that dates back millions of years. I love classical music and opera, and I listen to hours of it as I carve sculpture; I also take daily hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, which is adjacent to my studio. These help to keep me in the right frame of mind as I create in the studio.

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Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Along with freestanding sculpture, I am going to start producing wall pieces as well. I want the pieces to be extremely organic, with many free-flowing edges, and to incorporate several species of wood with contrasting colors, textures and grain. While I tend to work big, I also want to challenge myself in these new works to create some smaller, more intimate, pieces as well.

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Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I believe that creativity dwells within your idealism, not your cynicism. To be creative, you must rise above the daily turmoil and the self-doubt of your ego, and see the world with a clear eye. Some see beauty and grace, others tragedy and injustice while others find charm and humor. It is our innate desire as artists to express our ideals that stir our creativity. Thus, to be creative, you first must achieve a state of mind that accesses your idealism and not your cynicism. For me, music and nature hikes help in this regard, but being in the studio working is one of the best places to find inspiration to be creative. My studio has my raw materials on display (in my case, wood and fossils), keeping my eye always on the source of my creativity. I also suggest that you review your past work every so often, and see were you have been; it can have a positive impact on future ideas for new directions.

When things get tough in the studio, keep working! As artists, we must realize that not every piece will reach the pinnacle of our best work. While Mozart composed over 600 works of music in his short life, many were mediocre by his standards…but among them emerged the giants of his creativity. I believe that great pieces come in the process of making art continually. It is a mistake to hold out until the “great idea” comes along; we find creativity in the daily process of making art. In this regard, I would add that to “try and fail” is acceptable, but to quit is not. Try new things, both technically and creatively. Treat these for what they are…immature, embryonic, but potential paths to new ideas and abilities. Have fun and play, and suppress your critical eye; look past the obvious flaws and try to see the potential. For me, I often keep these embryonic works to myself…they are too fragile to be subjected to the scrutiny and criticisms of others. Visit them often and see where they lead.

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Meet the Artist

wood sculpture

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? I try to use all available formats to promote my work: a website, social media, and soon a blog. I have traditionally sold my work through the American Craft Council (ACC) Show and the American Craft Retail Expo (ACRE), which both promote shows in the Western United States where I reside. However, I will be also marketing my work online through e-commerce sites like Artful Home, and to appeal to brick-and-mortar galleries as well. I believe the future of the business of art and craft will demand that artists take advantage of the variety of opportunities to market and sell their work.

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Making art. I would love to incorporate the female face in my sculpture repertoire; I have begun with a piece called “Beautiful Mind”, and found that sculpting the female face is technically and artistically a wonderful challenge. Nevertheless, my work will always be influenced by my love of nature and biology, and it will always have an organic flair. What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Have fun, don’t be intimidated, and work hard to achieve your own style and vision. Listen carefully to others, particularly respected teachers, colleagues and mentors, but remember that ultimately it is your vision, not theirs, that counts in your artwork. Listen to your “gut” and don’t try to create art based on what you think others may like or buy. Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and to enjoy your materials and the process of making art. It’s a cliché, but it truly is the journey, and not the destination, that is most important in life.

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Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work? Organic; complex; graceful.

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What is your favourite tool?

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Where are you located?

Probably gouges and rasps, as these tools let me feel the wood as I work, and are adept at creating long, flowing lines.

I have a small home and two separate studios located on land adjacent to the border of the Joshua Tree National Park. This small National Park is about 150 miles east of Los Angeles, CA, and harbors a high-desert habitat with its hallmark rock formations that are truly unique and inspiring. I welcome studio visits by invitation only.

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? As you have already discovered, I did not start out as an artist, but as a biologist (and even before that, as a classical musician). As a graduate student in molecular biology and later as a teacher, I found that biological structures, particularly those seen through the microscope, were extremely aesthetic as abstract forms, and that outside of technical artwork, these forms had not been as captivating to artists as had biological structures seen with the naked eye (such as flowers). With this in mind, and with a latent interest in woodworking and carving, I began exploring these forms in a purely artistic way, first in gourds and later in wood. I soon became captivated and found that art was a path in life that I needed to explore, so here I am.

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What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist? The business of art is the most difficult challenge for me; I find it difficult to price my work objectively (I tend to under value my work). Most seriously, in these down economic times, the difficulty of selling work can impose selfdoubt as well. Finally, the everyday course of life tends to draw everyone away from the studio, and it can be tempting to eliminate studio time in order to take care of immediate deadlines.

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Meet the Artist

photography

An interview with

Cole Thompson Cole Thompson grew up in the 50’s and 60’s travelling around the United States. At age 14 he was living in Rochester, NY where he discovered photography, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he became an artist. Cole now lives in Northern Colorado on a small ranch where he raises Llamas and children. I am often asked, “Why black and white?” I think it’s because I grew up in a black-and-white world. Television, movies and the news were all in black and white. My heroes were in black and white and the nation was segregated into black and white. My images are an extension of the world in which I grew up.

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Q:

Has not having training as an artist been an advantage or disadvantage for you?

Q:

There are advantages to both ways of learning, I’m sure. I have no “formal” training in art or photography. In the past this has caused me some embarrassment as I could not speak in “art talk” and didn’t know about different artists or techniques. But with age comes wisdom and now I realize that those were vain concerns and that art should be about the art and nothing else.

Edward Weston was the most influential on me, not because of his images but because of his attitudes. I love reading his Day Books, a set of journals he kept during his Mexico years. Many photographers are simply that; photographers, but Weston was an artist who used photography. He also took an unusual view of his art and his obligation to the viewer. Here is one of my favorite stories as told by Ansel Adams:

I do take pride in being self-taught and have benefited enormously from every single mistake that I’ve ever made!

“After dinner, Albert (Bender) asked Edward to show his prints. They were the first work of such serious quality I had ever seen, but surprisingly I did not immediately understand or even like them; I thought them hard and mannered. Edward never gave the impression that he expected anyone to like his work. His prints were what they were. He gave no explanations; in creating them his obligation to the viewer was completed.”

Can you tell us something about your work? I have a blind friend who asked if she could see my work, I was puzzled and asked what she meant. She said that I could sit and describe the images to her. As she was blind from birth I asked how could she relate to things she had never seen, and she explained that she has “mental image” of things.

A modern photographer that has influenced me is Alexey Titarenko. He created this magnificent study of the bleak Russian cityscape using long exposures. It is that work which inspired me to pursue long exposures and to ultimately create my series “The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau” where I portrayed the ghosts that still inhabit the death camps.

I told her my images were dark, and contrasty. That my images follow my heart to many different places and so my work is varied and cannot be classified into a single category such as landscapes, portraits or still life’s. The images do not reflect what my eyes saw, rather are created according to my vision and how I see things in my mind, similar to how she “see’s” things. Sometimes my images have a deeper meaning to me and sometimes they are simply beautiful pictures and no more than that. My images are a part of me, but in a way I cannot describe.

Q:

My influences have been other photographers, the great b&w masters of yesteryear: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Immogen Cunningham, Wynn Bullock, Paul Strand, Paul Caponigro and others. For years I studied their work and unfortunately, tried to copy it. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I needed to find my own vision, my own style, and create my own work.

I’ve enjoyed some wonderful advantages by being self taught. There were a lot of “rules” that I never learned and I’m grateful because I can so guiltlessly break them! Learning by doing also helped create in me an “I can do anything” attitude and confidence.

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Which artists have influenced you, and how?

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I hope I’ll be doing exactly what I’m doing today: following my heart and creating what I want. I hope that also means my work will continue to morph and I’ll be exploring a variety of new subjects, styles and having fun with it all. I also would like to publish a book, I think. I’ve not done that yet and would enjoy the experience.

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Only do something because you’re passionate about it. Ignore all rules or better yet, don’t even learn them in the first place! Keep things simple and focused on the art. Pursuing your art is not a contest; others do not have to lose for you to win. Please yourself, for in the end your opinion is the only one that matters. Be a nice person, this ultimately will have more to do with your success in life than anything else you do.

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Meet the Artist

photography

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I am by nature a pretty logical person and I earn a living in the business world. Creating my art allows me to be completely different from my “normal” self and I find that it brings real balance to my life. I don’t know how to describe it, but when I create a great image, it just feels good! I feel very fortunate that I have not chosen to earn a living from my art. This means that I create what I want, whenever I want and I only need to please myself. I have no schedules or deadlines and it doesn’t matter if my work sells. I create for only for myself. This freedom means that when I hit one of those creative “lulls” I don’t get too upset. With time and experience I have learned that those slumps come and go and that trying to force them is often counterproductive. I’ve also learned to appreciate those down times, it’s a chance to let my creative field lay fallow and to rejuvenate. So when I hit one of those lulls, the first thing I do is accept it. I do not rush it and I continue to work, having faith that it will pass.

Q:

What is the best and worst part about being an artist? It’s really all good, I mean, what’s not to love? People actually pay me to travel, create and to do what I love! I guess there is one drawback to being a photographic artist. When someone hears that you’re a “photographer” they ask if you can take their portrait, shoot their daughters wedding and photograph birthday parties. And while that’s both funny and irritating, it actually opened a door and provided me with a wonderful experience. A woman named Linnie had purchased a print of The Angel Gabriel from me and later asked if I would photograph her. Here is her story: Linnie, A Portrait of Breast Cancer. In July of 2008 I had the privilege of photographing Linnie, she had a rare breast cancer, endured a mastectomy, was undergoing chemotherapy and feared she would not live the year. She was an acquaintance who purchased “The Angel Gabriel” and had then asked if I would photograph her and her mastectomy, as she felt there was good to be done by this act. I was uncomfortable for several reasons; I have never been good at photographing people and portrait photography requires special skills that I do not possess. Then of course, there was the subject matter; terrifying, destructive, deadly and very personal. I did not want to do it, but did and I’m grateful for the experience. Linnie is beautiful, dignified, brave and so many other things; it was very humbling to photograph her. These images may be controversial for some and too private for others. However it is Linnie’s wish that they be shown and good come of them, and that’s as it should be.

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(Update: Linnie received some experimental therapy and is alive and doing very well)


Q:

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? I became a photographer at age 14 and it consumed my entire life for the next 10 years. But when it came time to decide what I wanted to do for a living, I chose not to become a photographer for fear that it would take the fun and passion out of it. Instead I chose a career in business and I still earning a living this way. For many years I saw myself strictly as a photographer. As such I felt my role was to document and not to modify the image, which is silly because you cannot help but impart your color to an image based on where you stand, how you frame it, expose and crop it. Everything a photographer does modifies the image! In 2004 I met a woman, Vered Galor, who became my mentor and helped me transform my thinking from photographer to artist. It was a difficult mental shift after a lifetime of thinking one way, and it took a few years to take hold. Now I consider myself an artist who uses photography and “creates images” rather than “capture photographs.” I enthusiastically modify, change and color my images according to my vision.

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How have you handled the business side of being an artist? For many artists the art comes easy and it’s the business side that is tough. For me it’s the opposite; I live in the business world and so I easily manage that part of it. But like everyone, I do resent the amount of time that it takes away from creating new work! I mean, do we really need to fill out quarterly tax reports and other forms??? One of the things I’m trying to learn is the new paradigm of getting exposure. I feel the gallery system and print media has reached its apogee and a new formula is emerging, but what that formula is, I don’t yet know. I am very active on the internet and pursuing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because I have faith that it will be a part of that new paradigm.

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Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? My current work in progress is The Fountainhead. This portfolio is my tribute to the principles espoused in the novel The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. One of those principles is that we should achieve success on our own terms. In the past I would rely on society’s definition of success which is often measured in terms of money and fame. I no longer subscribe to that view. External success is a fickle mistress; she may love you one day and not even know you exist another. You’ll never really know her, for her standards change frequently and she’s always looking for her next new lover. To measure success by her standards can lead to an insecure existence and frustration as you try to win her love by creating work that you hope will please her. For me, art is an expression of the heart and only one opinion matters; mine. It is my creation and if I love it, then it doesn’t matter what another thinks of it. Success is an internal standard that must be met before any external measures matter. Please do not misunderstand, I still enjoy showing my work, exhibiting it and I do gain pleasure when others like it. But these are not the reasons why I create and those things are not necessary for me to feel good about my work or myself. Another long term work in progress is my Harbinger images. I love this series, I love the implications of the title and it’s definition and I love the mystery of the single cloud. I’m not really sure what it means and what I’m trying to say, but that’s okay, I don’t need all the answers to be able to create. Harbinger: \’här-bən-jər\ noun 1. one that goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald. 2. anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign.

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Meet the Artist

“The act of creation is a profoundly satisfying experience.�

An interview with

Vincent Leman Vincent Leman can hardly remember a time when he wasn’t building furniture. He grew up working in the shop building fine quality custom cabinetry and woodwork for the family business. After completing his degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, Vincent made the decision to return to furniture building after realizing a strong aversion to cubicles and deskwork. He spent the next several years developing a very distinct, quirky style which could be described as a revolt against straight lines and the expected. During this time he built one-of-a-kind art pieces ranging from cabinets, bookcases, mirrors, to beds and anything that entered his mind to build. Maintaining that art can be both beautiful and functional, Vincent combined his knowledge as a fine woodworker and his engineering skills to create gravity bending furniture with personality, while leaving function fully intact.

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furniture • by Dust Furniture

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Meet the Artist

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? My desire to create is an inborn trait. I can’t help it, I love to create things. It is a trait I was given and possess just like my eye or hair color. A Newfoundland will naturally help save people from drowning & Vincent will naturally want to make something. It’s something I can’t take credit for and scarcely understand; it just is. When I hit a rut or a bit of designer’s block, I find that a little time alone in a coffee shop with my sketchbook is the answer. Generally it’s the noise of life & business that weighs down my creative spirit, so getting away from the din is the best way to motivate myself toward creative work.

Q:

Can you tell us something about your work?

Q:

What are your other interests and how do they influence you in the studio?

I typically describe my work as ’abstract traditional’ furniture. I may seem modern & different, but I root my work in traditional furniture design. It keeps the pieces familiar & approachable despite the outspoken shape. In my view, I actually consider the work a return to more natural forms. Traditional furniture is bound by straight lines largely because it happens to be convenient to cut a straight line with a table saw. My curved shapes are more in line with natural forms found in nature. Just look.

I enjoy brewing beer. It’s funny that something I do to relax is still a creative endeavor. I don’t know that it influences my work in the studio, but it does exercise a different part of my brain which is both stimulating (to use a different part) & restive (to give the visual part a break!). I am also a practicing Christian, which largely influences me to make use of the creative gifts I have been given & to do the most excellent work I am capable of doing. I am also interested in business. While this isn’t a romantic endeavor, it does help me pay the electric bill & pay for wood. So without that concern I can’t make furniture. So it doesn’t directly affect my design style, but it helps me keep my studio doors open… which is rather important to my design work, after all.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? I have an engineering degree & have a natural love of problem solving (part of what enables me to give life to such furniture). Jessie, my wife, handles the marketing side of the business which leaves me with the financial half. So I treat the financial/ business side of being an artist with the “engineer + problem solver” part of my brain. I actually really enjoy the challenge… and it is a challenge. We have largely learned the business of art by doing & with much trial and error… & fortitude & patience & sacrifice & stubbornness… starting an art business is not for the faint of heart.

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furniture • by Dust Furniture Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how? Marc Chagall, Antoni Gaudi, Amedeo Modigliani, God, Frank Gehry & John Suttman… not necessarily in that order. Early in my career, I found that the path I thought I was forging had already been cleared by John Suttman. He is a truly gifted artist & sculptor. I remember seeing his work for the first time & being in awe of what he did and at the same time being deflated because my work wasn’t as original as I thought it was! While I have never intended to emulate John, he did provide early inspiration & encouragement to continue my work. Not so much informing individual designs, but by seeing his work I was encouraged to bravely develop my own. Anotoni Gaudi has created many buildings that are very atypical & organic in shape… just seeing his example is enough for me to feel that my work is not baseless and that it does have a family to belong. Not feeling alone is an important feeling for me as an artist. Marc Chagall talks about the benefits of developing outside of a formal art community & the benefits of being free to develop a style independently. That (along with an appreciation for his work) provided encouragement to continue working even though I lack the depth of art education I would prefer to have.

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Do you have training as an artist? Has it been an advantage or disadvantage for you? I do have a little art training. I “self-taught” as a child growing up; I spent a good deal of time drawing, making ceramic objects & taking photographs. In High School I consistently took art classes. And at University, while earning an engineering degree, I also pursued a minor in Art & Design (though the programs do not mesh at all so I was short on requirements). But to answer the question, the paucity of formal training is, like many things, a doubleedged sword. In many ways, being limited to a basic art education was enough to “get the ball rolling” without artificially forming my style as an artist. So, in that regard, being free to develop individually is a benefit. But the lack of formal critique is something I continue to struggle with as an artist. There are times when I crave a community of artists to actively critique my work as a way of strengthening my design style. So my answer is a very frank “yes”, a lack of formal art training has both been an advantage & a disadvantage.

I just appreciate the spirit of Modigliani’s work! He is not bound by formally by what he sees. Frank Gehry has produced some exception buildings… again; the focus on organic, moving shapes is what I found encouraging. Lastly, I appreciate God’s work as a creative genius. Bugs that glow, electric fish, flying squirrels, reefs… nature is such a richly diverse, colorful place that designing work to conform to someone else’s preconceived notion of what furniture should look like seems like a small, silly urge. Our lack of imagination & tendency to make everything beige & uniform is disheartening… looking to the God’s creative example is enough to inspire any artist.

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Meet the Artist

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Be patient & persevere. You are reading this interview some ten years after my initial beginnings… and those years have been filled with much blood, sweat & tears. My wife & I have both sacrificed a lot to pursue what we love; don’t expect anything about being an artist to be easy. Few endeavors that have real value are. Practically speaking, follow your natural loves & talents. Work very hard to pursue them and don’t force avenues that are disgenuine. And please, get another job and begin part time or in your free time. If you cannot find motivation to work when you are tired at the end of the day, it will be hard for you to withstand the other trials and tribulations that life as an independent artist holds for you. Figure out how to sell you work. Start on Etsy. If you can’t sell your work, you can’t eat. If you can’t eat you won’t produce artwork for very long. You must learn to balance practical pressures of life with creative purity. Start small; master each baby step before quitting your day job. Try, please try, but don’t give a half effort because you’re afraid to put yourself out there & then act self-righteously offended & rejected when your half-hearted effort produces no results. It’s easy to recognize crap work… and I don’t mean bad as much as I mean forced or dishonest work. Don’t be afraid to truly & genuinely try… it will hurt to do so… truly putting out great work is an act that makes you vulnerable to rejection and criticism… But if you can’t stretch yourself to produce your best work, you have a hobby, not a profession. And that is fine, just be honest with yourself. So… again, be patient & persevere.

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What is the best and worst part about being an artist? The best is independence and the freedom & privilege to produce something I love. The worst part is the financial stresses associated with operating a young business through a major recession.

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furniture • by Dust Furniture Q:

Can you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Currently I am working the “Object Series”. This series focuses on the role of real objects in our increasingly virtual lives. Books are the most poignant example. Just a few years ago, when we wanted to read a best seller, we bought the cheap paperback. For these collections of paperbacks, we required voluminous bookcases to hold them all. Used book stores popped up as a place to exchange these low-valued objects. Now we don’t buy the cheap paperbacks so much… no we might be inclined to buy an e-book instead. The same is true with newspapers, magazines, music albums, etc. Our lives require less physical objects; so what happens to the physical objects that remain? We might still purchase a special edition hardcover of some rare treasured book… not so much for the data or words contained, but as a sacred (or special, set apart) object in our lives. Similarly, we might buy a vinyl edition of Pearl Jam concert we attended, not so much for the music but as a totem to remember the experience. The physical manifestation of the story now holds more meaning in our lives than just the data contained in the story. So I see a split forming in the realm of physical objects. Objects we value little (a disposable magazine) are going away. That means the objects that remain are increasing in the value we place in them. So the “Object Series” focuses on this increased value of the remaining real, physical objects in our lives. It focuses on the importance of objects that cannot or we choose not to replace with pixels. At this point the series is more an exploration of the topic rather than a statement.

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Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? It was more a process of discovering & accepting who I am as a person. When I graduated from High School I was largely insecure & ignorant of who I was as a person. Venturing out with vague direction I decided to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. While my education is now crucial to giving substance to my designs, when I graduated from Purdue University I only left with a realization that I did not fit in with the engineering crowd and that life in a cubical was not for me. So I began exploring my options & throughout all of my different endeavors, building furniture remained constant. So it eventually dawned on me that I didn’t have to choose a path, I just had to recognize that path I was already on. Instead of choosing to become an artist, I just accepted what I was already naturally doing & pursued it in earnest.

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Where do you see yourself in 10 years? My hope is to expand the studio enough that I am no longer required to do manual labor day in & day out. I enjoy doing a portion of the work now, but I am 34 & in 10 years I will be 44. At that point I hope I will be able to employ my design & management skills more fully. I find these tasks much more challenging & rewarding that using my skill of sanding wood! And more personally, I hope my wife & I are settled into a home. We would like to start a family & possibly have a dog and/or cat. I also have a wild fantasy of driving an old, crappy truck. Which sounds funny, but it’s true.

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Meet the Artist


mixed media An interview with

Pierre Fouché Cape Town based artist Pierre Fouché (b.1977) completed a Masters degree in Fine Art (cum laude) at Stellenbosch University in 2006. His production spans a number of distinctive media and approaches, including traditional craft techniques, re contextualized found objects, performances and interventions. In 2007 he was awarded one of South Africa’s most prestigious art prizes: the Absa L’Atelier award. He is represented by “Whatiftheworld” gallery in Cape Town where he will present his third solo exhibition “These Waves” in September 2012. Artist Statement: Portraiture, the languorous gaze, domestic photography, and how these intersect with desire is central to my work. My employment of these broad categories constitute an example of the subtle and poetic side of queer representation. I consistently represent individuals, from close familiars to strangers whose likenesses are culled from the realm of domestic photography in all its guises: from scratchy old prints to digital downloads. The portrait is subsequently crafted. It is woven with lace-bobbins, embroidered, written out, cut out of paper, knitted, letter-embossed in plastic, crocheted, assembled with dice or painted on a puzzle. The residues of these laborious construction techniques often become secondary portraits by default - aesthetically autonomous, yet reminding of the primary figuration and its creation. Each instance of my interpretation of an individual likeness involves a triadic narrative: the story of the individual represented, the story of the photographic likeness, and the history of the medium and technique used to reinterpret the photographic instant. These narratives are layered in the final portrait that monumentalizes the personal, the individual, the mundane. The contrast between the lens based source material, the fraction of a second it took to expose the moment, and the months, years, to translate the image in thread, for instance, open up meanings from the specific and personal (the instant) to the broad and collective (history).

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Meet the Artist

mixed media

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how?

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Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio?

Q:

I think a formal art education is more of a rite of passage than an absolute requirement. Great art emerges from every sphere of life.

My grandmother and my father, for introducing me to the joy of making things and figuring things out for myself. Neither would call themselves artists, but they are in their own way. Famous international artists that continue to inspire me: the understated emotion of Felix Gonzalez-Torrez, the courage of Wolfgang Tillmans. Locally, in my native South Africa, the exuberance of Liza Grobler’s work, the intensity of Jennifer Lovemore-Reed’s performance work.

I’m a notorious collector of hobbies - jumping with enthusiasm into random leisure pursuits only to abandon them after a while when the next obsession beckons. I can accordingly play guitar (badly), I can speak a little French and Chinese (but understand little when spoken to). The next one will probably be to learn the Tango... The only ones that have really lasted, however, is reading and the pursuit of interesting books to read, listening to music (and the same pursuit of the new), cinema. All these pursuits inform my work in the studio in some way or another. Chuck Palahniuk wrote in his novel “Diary”: “The job of an artist is just not to forget” What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I often smile at the thought that even when things are not going well in the studio, that there is hardly anything else that I would rather be doing.

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

With great difficulty! I’m still figuring things out as I go along. Having a naturally reserved personality, I find that working with a gallery is by far better than doing it alone.

I think it is counter-productive to think that far ahead when it is sometimes difficult to see past the end of the day, next month’s rent, the next exhibition. I have been very fortunate in meeting some 80-plus year old artists who’ve proven to me that creative people age well if they continue working, so hopefully I’ll always be doing something creative.

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Meet the Artist


mixed media

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? With my latest body of work I am utilizing my “amateur”-status in many art and craft techniques (as well as the iconography of the amateur artist, craftsman - lowbrow art if you will) as a binding element between many disparate works. I am, for example, busy with a series of “Sunday Paintings”: watercolour plain air seascapes, (which I literally make every Sunday). Another work is a very traditionallooking continuous lace-edging (into which I’m near-imperceptibly coding a poem about a sailor’s seduction and drowning by the sea in morse code into the pattern.

Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work? Possible Asperger’s Syndrome? No.. I don’t know.... Someone has described my work once as “quiet, labour-intensive and very personal”. I don’t feel uncomfortable with that description.

Q:

What is your favorite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? To read Rilke’s “Letters to a young Poet”. It is a truly magnificent guide to being creative and managing all the variables that hamper creativity... and to nurture family and other relationships because they’re ultimately more important than art.

Q:

Q:

I have many! The most surprisingly versatile tools are my 0.4mm crochet hook, a pair of fine embroidery scissors and a staple gun. My most beautiful tool is a customized set of spangled lace bobbins, and the tools I’m most sentimental of: a pair of embroidery scissors my partner gave me for my birthday once, and a set of artist-quality watercolour half-pans that has travelled the world with me even though I don’t use it regularly. The tool my studio cannot be without is my 1954 Peppermint green Janome sewing machine (I’m also very sentimental about this one..), a chest of paper drawers...

Cape Town, South Africa

What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist? Overcoming paralyzing self-criticism is a constant struggle.

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Meet the Artist

illustration • paint • street art

An interview with

Alice Pasquini “I create art about people and their relationships. I’m interested in representing human feelings and exploring different points of view. I especially like to depict strong and independant women” Alice Pasquini is principally a Visual Artist. She works as an Illustrator, Set Designer and Painter; usually in colour spray paint and acrylics, or for illustration: inks on paper and photoshop. Although based in Rome, she has lived and worked in The United Kingdom, France and Spain; traveling the world bringing her art to the streets of many countries. Alice has collaborated on illustration, graphic and design projects, including the graphic novel “Vertigine ed Rizzoli”.

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Meet the Artist

illustration • paint • street art Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

My artistic background is academic. I studied Fine Arts. I specialized in old style Animation and worked as an Illustrator and Set Designer. But I wanted to escape the “Academic” World, so I embraced street art as a way to totally express myself. When I paint in the streets the final result, the artwork, becomes secondary; for me the act of painting itself is much more important and what I feel while I’m painting.

Q:

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough? I’m interested in “Moving Pictures”, in moments of life that in some way are universal; in which the concept doesn’t change with time: it was the same fifty years ago, it will be the same in fifty years. I also think my artworks are not done to be looked at for long; they are done to be enjoyed in a precise moment; the viewer creates the moment, spotting the piece in the streets. My pictures depict everyday moments that for me represent the real magic of life. I really think the real magic of life is the way you live every single moment.

Q:

My newest show “Cinderella Pissed Me Off”, opened at the 999 Contemporary Gallery in Rome on April 28th, 2012. It reflects the experience of many years of constantly being on the road; where my work focused on the imagery of childhood. The visitor initially has to interact with a visionary installation (a huge, imaginative, “Dollhouse”) to access the second part of the exhibition, which includes work made from material found in the street. The whole work is from a girl’s perspective and speaks about real life - real and at times, brutal. This work is dedicated to all those princesses who prefer four mice and a pumpkin to a carriage with white horses.

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? I am not a studio painter; I paint always outside, in the streets on the walls or in my sketchbook. For me doing art is the act of painting, the performance, rather than the artwork. If I create something on canvas, the people coming to the exhibition are expecting to see some art, they come for that. In the streets, the viewers are not expecting to see art, so the impact they have with the artwork is unexpected and I think it’s much nicer; that’s why I will keep traveling and painting.

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it?

Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Be yourself and find your own style.

Q:

What are 3 words that best describe your work? Emotional, Chaotic, Spontaneous.

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

My hands.

My base is Rome, Italy; but I travel most of the time.

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? It’s a drama!

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Meet the Artist

An interview with

Anthony Scheffler I enjoy exploring simple unadorned forms defined fundamentally by the intersection of straight and curved lines. Characteristically my work is informed first by function and then explored through form. My style has been described as geometric and architectural. I tend to avoid complex or fanciful surface displays which can hide the basic design. Wood is my material of choice because of its universal appeal and endless variations. However, I will occasionally incorporate weathered metal, anodized aluminum and found objects into my pieces as a way of complementing and drawing attention to basic shapes. Fundamental to my work is a belief that technique should advance, but remain subordinate to, subtle, thoughtful expression of form. I began actively showing my work in 2008 which includes open and closed vessels, teapots and wall sculptures. Several of my pieces are in private and corporate collections including The Kamm Teapot Foundation’s collection and the Fleur Bresler Collection. While I have participated in a variety of workshops and classes and enjoy an ongoing exchange of ideas and techniques with a diverse community of artisans, I am largely self-taught having developed my skills through years of furniture restoration, design, and construction.

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“I’ve learned not to fret over a lull in inspiration. It’s like a leg cramp.” Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

You know, it’s hard for me to say. I have lots of formal education but none as an artist. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to attend workshops and lectures lead by some amazing artists, but I’ve never enrolled in a formal program of study. It would be easy to conclude that formal training isn’t really necessary, but in reality I’m sure there are advantages and disadvantages. Will a formal arts program provide valuable technical training?... Yes. Will formal training give a context and perspective for art?... It certainly should. Will an arts program make you “artistic”?... not likely. Of course if you hope to teach art, with rare exception, you’ll have to get the appropriate university degree. That’s just the way it is. I’ve seen some wonderful work by both self-taught and formally trained artists. If formal training is the path that appeals to you I say go for it. But if you don’t choose formal training you’ll certainly be in good company.

If I knew for sure exactly what inspires me to create I’d do a lot more of it, whatever that may be. I believe inspiration is a kind of gestalt which comes out of a dynamic body of experiences that is continuously enriched by subsequent experiences. For me the most valuable experiences tend to be organic. That is, they come from observations of and interactions with the natural world. The interplay among these experiences over time manifest, I think, as new ideas. So, I try to stay aware of the world around me. I tend to pay particular attention to how things are shaped and how individual shapes come together to define an environment. Very often I’ll be drawn unexpectedly to a particular shape, which could be anything from a hanging fence rail to a leaf pattern. Eventually that same shape may find its way, directly or indirectly, into one of my pieces. I’ve learned not to fret over a lull in inspiration. It’s like a leg cramp. You just have to walk it off. You keep working. Typically, for me anyway, the energy soon comes back. Occasionally I may stop what I’m doing if things don’t seem to be flowing well and clean up the shop. In the process of picking up drop offs and putting away supplies I’ll often come across shapes and textures that kindle new ideas. Right now the shop is a mess… that’s a good thing.

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Meet the Artist

Q:

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how?

I wish I was better at it. Actually I’d like to leave it all up to my assistant. Unfortunately the last time I looked I had no assistant. It’s the promotional part of the business that’s a challenge for me. I just don’t seem to have the energy for it. Even so I find myself spending more and more time tending to promotion and other business related details. I’ve learned the hard way not to let things pile up. What I find to be the most efficient way of handling things is to schedule time each day to address the business tasks. Try as I may however, I still suffer occasional bouts of procrastination and I pay a price for it.

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed looking at art and learning about different artists. All of whom, I am sure, have influenced me in some way. To this day I spend a good bit of time looking at amazing works of art by both established and emerging artists. One of my favorite memories is of weekend visits to the old Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans in order to watch films about the lives of seminal artists. I think the way they lived their lives had as much an influence on me as the work they produced. One of the artists that first caught my attention when I was young was the Dutch Master Hieronymus Bosch. I was fascinated by the detail in his paintings, especially the triptych “Garden of Delights”. It seemed that every square inch of the painting held a separate group of images that could stand on their own and tell a story. I was floored by the depth and the organization of the painting and the resulting power that was afforded to its message. During this time I really got into the Old Masters. I found both their work and their life styles fascinating. I think this early interest in “classic” art lead to a growing awareness of how color, shapes and composition can be used effectively by artists in all mediums. Years ago I had the privilege of attending a small group, weekend workshop with Sam Maloof. I’m a little embarrassed to say that at the time I was not fully aware of his reputation as a world class furniture maker. It soon became evident however that this guy was no ordinary woodworker. I was so impressed with the fluidity and precision of his efforts as he constructed from scratch one of his beautiful chairs. He was obviously a technical master, but mostly I was impressed by his unpretentious approach to his work. He was a master craftsman and designer interested primarily in getting the job done without obsessing over the process. He was so good natured and always willing to answer questions and share his techniques and ideas. Sam Maloof will always be an important role model. Some years later I participated in a week long workshop at Arrowmont lead by Michael Hosaluk. Like Maloof, Michael demonstrated early on his impressive technical skills. However, it was the simple and striking beauty of his unique designs and their impeccable presentations that completely blew me away. To this day I often go back to some of his early work for inspiration. Another artist that I both admire as a person and as an artist is Gary Knox Bennett. I love his irreverent attitude, his willingness to challenge the norm, and his unconventional use of diverse materials and designs. I was so pleased when, as a respected furniture maker, he so publically drove that nail into his finely crafted Padauk cabinet. The impact of that statement still resonates today.

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Q:

Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? I like to spend time outside. I can do some of my best work, so to speak, while I’m sitting on the tractor going back and forth all day long cutting the pasture. It’s kind of relaxing. I’m not necessarily thinking about art at the time but that’s probably a good thing. It’s an opportunity to take a break and recharge. Inevitably when I get back into the studio I’m energized and the work flow’s more comfortable. Something I also enjoy and wish I had more time for, is spending time in cities that have unique arts districts. It’s fun to talk to the residents of these areas and experience the galleries. I guess that’s why New Orleans has such appeal. With all of its problems the city has a cultural and artistic energy that is compelling.

Q:

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Assuming I still have all of my fingers, I’d like to be making art. I’ve always wanted to own a gallery one day but I’m not sure I’m really cut out for the rigors of the business side. And, unfortunately the challenge of surviving as a gallery owner seems to be increasingly difficult. In the last few years I’ve seen a number of galleries close for lack of sales. I think also I’d like to be living closer to a population center that has an artists’ community. I enjoy spending time on the street, so to speak, in conversation with diverse groups of artists from all mediums. But who knows for sure. In ten years I might be a long haul trucker. I’ve often thought that would be fun.

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? I started out making open and closed vessels and wall sculptures. At some point I began creating teapots that are functional in form but use a nonfunctional material, wood. I think the teapot series has challenged me to balance form and function and to keep with my intent to use unadorned shape as the primary optic with minimal surface design. In the last couple of years I’ve concentrated almost exclusively on teapots. I am fortunate to now have several of my teapots included in some noted collections. I am about to embark on a new series which is a departure from anything I’ve done before. I’m in the process of creating a number of jewelry pendants made primarily of wood and embellished rough cut stones along with the occasional found object. This is something I’ve always wanted to try. After talking with a couple of gallery owners who were looking for something new in moderately priced jewelry designs I decided to see what I could come up with. I hope to present some of these pieces in the coming weeks.

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life? I think you do what you feel good about and what brings you a sense of completion. I’ve done lots of different types of work all of which I valued and learned from. But regardless of what I was doing I always found myself back in a studio even if it doubled as a kitchen table or a clothes closet. But truth-be-known I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. For now however, I enjoy what I’m doing and look forward to doing more of the same.

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Meet the Artist

Q:

What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist? I suspect the challenges I’ve faced are no different than those faced by most artists. Staying focused, dealing with the realities of the cost profit balance, and finding a market for your work. There are always new hurdles that come along but that’s true in any profession. If I had to pick one of the most recent challenges it would have to be dealing with the down turn in the economy. Just about every decision I make now-a-days seems to be influenced to a large degree by economic factors.

Q:

Q:

What is your favorite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out? Talk to other artists about the reality of the life style. Work hard, learn from failures, follow your gut, welcome feedback and advice but don’t succumb to every suggestion. If you plan to make a business of it you’ll have to learn to balance the commercial realities of making art with free expression. Try not to be different just for the sake of being different but at the same time you don’t have to have anyone’s permission to break the mold and try something new. Develop a line of “bread and butter” pieces that you can make quickly and sell in volume. Michael Hosaluk tells a funny story about how he spent his early years turning spinning tops and selling them at family fairs as a way of financing his artistic endeavors. And last but not least, try to avoid becoming immersed in “art speak”.

Well, I guess it’s the tool I want the most and don’t yet have. Right now that would be a small band saw. I have a large saw that I use almost exclusively for resawing. However if I want to cut tight curves I have to change to a smaller blade, which is a real pain. Maybe one of these days I’ll invest in a smaller saw. If I had to pick a favorite tool that I currently have in the shop it would have to be the sliding table saw. It’s the work horse of the whole place. I cut everything from huge blocks of dense hardwood to very small accent pieces. I’ve learned to treat this saw with great respect not only because it will dispassionately eat your fingers in an instant but because it can be a bit temperamental at times. If for whatever reason it elects not to start, as it has done on occasion, little can happen in the shop until it comes around and decides to behave.

I grew up in New Orleans and return there often. While I still consider New Orleans my home, I currently live with my wife and child on a small farm in South Georgia. It’s quite a contrast to living in a large city. We’re surrounded by other farms and are some distance from the nearest neighbor. I can go for days without seeing anyone outside of my family and a menagerie of forest creatures that occasionally drop by to visit. We don’t lack for entertainment, however. Minolee, The Happy Day Teapot and the three Dancin’ Teapots put on a great show when they don’t think anyone is watching.

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anthonyscheffler.com

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Meet the Artist


An interview with

Steve Altman I’ve been working with wood for 40 years. For about 20 of them I was a cabinetmaker in New York City doing what is generally called “high end residential interiors.” I worked for some of the wealthiest families in the world. If you want to get a sense of what that was like, go to my website, scroll down the menu on the left to an item called “Past” and then click on “Over Time” right under it. Now, I just like to make boxes. Maybe it’s because my father made boxes, too, except he made them out of paper and cardboard in a display box factory many years ago. As a child, sometimes I played in that factory. I saw lots and lots of boxes, canyons of them. I guess it had some effect on me. I know that they’re just decoration - bits of eye candy perched on a dresser, sitting on a desk, or plunked down haphazardly on a table. Hopefully, though, inviting a closer look, they also provide a glimpse of wood’s infinite possibilities: sight and touch, color and shape, figure and texture, revealed aspects of natural wonder, arrangements bound by simple human effort... Plus, they hold things.

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Meet the Artist

Q:

In your opinion, how important is it to have formal training as an artist?

Q:

Which artists have influenced you, and how?

Q:

It would be somewhat silly if I said that formal training was important, since I have none.

Dozens of artists have influenced me. They make me realize that art is worth it. Besides art, what are your interests and how do they influence you in the studio? Computers, programming, computer games, sports, cats, and everything else. I just don’t watch TV. Everything influences me in the studio. Not much sticks.

“I’ve always had an overriding, never-ending Q:

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio? I don’t have inspirations to create. I just create. No motivation. And things don’t get tough. I don’t see it in those terms. There’s just the act of creation - the processes, routines, habits, obstacles, decisions, reflections, emotions, choices, actions...

Q:

Could you talk about your latest series and what you are trying to achieve with it? Actually, the latest series, which isn’t up on my website yet, is an attempt to make a few boxes that, like, normal people could buy without taking out a loan.

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compulsion to create things�

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Q:

What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?

Q:

I wouldn’t even think of giving them any advice. I might, however, tell them about studying Tai Chi:

I have no idea why I’m an artist. I do know that I’ve always had an overriding, never-ending compulsion to create things, to build things, to express myself by visible means. I know that I can stare at wood for hours, intently considering figure and grain and color. I know that I love - adore - my tools, my bench, my machines, my shop. I know that I have spent, literally, hours sharpening one plane iron. I know that shapes and structures continually present themselves in my mind, all the time, even at most inopportune moments and that I can’t ignore them - even to the detriment of my relationships with others. I know that sometimes in my shop I feel serene and exhilarated and completely absorbed and a billion other things, all at the same time.

I do the “Short Form”, which is about a 12 minute exercise, done, as you probably know, very slowly. I’ve been doing it for many years. When you first learn Tai Chi there’s usually a desire to learn it fast to advance, get good at it. Every day, almost every time you practice you think “Aha, that’s it. I’ve found some idea or thought or way of holding my body which is THE WAY TO DO IT.” But the next time you realize that “THE WAY” isn’t the way at all. THE WAY doesn’t last. Ever. When that happens, especially if it happens a lot (it happens a whole lot) many people get frustrated and stop practicing. But if you’re lucky, you might find that it’s sort of fun just to keep doing the form, day after day after day, dozens of times becoming hundreds of times, becoming thousand of times. You just keep doing it. You keep taking classes, where you just do the form. You do the form surreptitiously, while standing in mall, waiting for your wife to finish shopping. (if you don’t use your arms, people just think you’re doing a strange little dance or exercise. Or they think you’re just strange...) You do it while waiting on lines. You do it while you’re waiting for water to boil. Your legs get very strong. You find that, lo and behold, you become more “soong” which is a Chinese word that means something like relaxed. You get, sort of, better at it.

Why this is the case is beyond me. Actually, I don’t care. But I don’t think art is “my path in life.” I don’t have a path in life. Just a life. No path.

Q:

Q:

Q:

Q:

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

What are 3 words that best describe your work? Follow the colors.

Q:

What is your favourite tool?

Q:

Where are you located?

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? Badly.

What are the major challenges you’ve faced as an artist? Convincing myself that what I do has any value whatsoever.

You keep thinking you’ve found “THE WAY”. But you never do. But then it doesn’t matter.

Why are you an artist, and how did you first decide that art was your path in life?

Ichihiro 24mm bench chisel, Kaka-uchi style. I’ve got about 100 other favorite tools I could list. But you get the idea...

Boonton, NJ

Hopefully, still alive and in good health.

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Become a Collector

ART

Bring some

into your world

Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine the world without art. If we don't support artists that is what it will look like. I recently acquired a beautiful little print by Valdas Misevicius for $25. An original etching, titled "Poise". Measuring 12.5 cm X 12.5 cm. I was drawn to the tight manic energy of the figure. I often find myself thinking about that figure; suspended alone in the world, yet daring us to look. I can't decide if he is stark or joyful. I suppose the answer depends on my mood. Art is a reflection of both the artist and the viewer; there is a shifting communication. Really good art is engaging. Most artists when asked "why they make art" will say there is and always has been a need or drive to do so. The most perfect moments for me are when I'm bent over the bench with a piece of metal; there is a peacefulness unlike any other when the metal agrees to move as I wish it. Stephen King once said, he had no idea where his stories came from, he just opens himself up and out they come. Native American soapstone artists believe they are freeing the form from the stone. A painter friend of mine, with a very troubling

childhood, works out her inner fears on canvas; to which her audience often relates and receives a sense of empowerment - for they are now not alone. Every culture on this planet creates art; it is part of the human experience; a way of communicating and understanding the world around us. In todays busy, rushed, consumer driven world there is very little time for reflection. I am often told by my students the time they spend in the classroom is the highlight of the week. Creating art is selfish; it is completely selfabsorbed; it takes resources away from the family and is time demanding. But what it gives back to the world is unmeasurable. Artist are dependent on patrons. The dream for most artists is to spend the days working away in the studio. Most need a "real" job to pay the bills. I once had a heated argument with a high school social studies teacher when she stated: "Todays artists just aren't as good as renaissance artists - they lack the creativity and skills". Even as a young artist I was offended for my fellow creatives. How could we even begin to compete or measure up to the great masters when they started their training at 5 as full time apprentices and we are offered "craft time" in school once or twice a week? Do you have any idea how much a chunk of marble to carve the David today would cost? When you buy art you support the arts. You enable artists to work on art, not at "real" jobs to pay the bills. Although I make my art for me; that "something" that needs to come out, it is very nice to have someone appreciate the results enough to lay down a few bills and bring it into their world. When things get tough in the studio I remember that feeling. So start collecting. Start going out to galleries, openings and sales. Get to know local artists. Ask for a studio tour and have a look at what they have to offer. Start looking on the internet you have all the worlds artists to choose from. See more of Valdas Misevicius's work at: www.etsy.com/shop/valdas Become a collector. Post your latest art acquisition and the story behind it in our CLA Members Forum.

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WILD PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS

Small group photographic tours and workshops with individual tuition. Explore new angles, extend your vision, share your passion. Iceland’s Northern Lights & Ice, from September to April. Spain’s Costa Verde, October. Mystical South India, December and January. For more information phone 00354 588 8939 or visit our website:

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the

wall

In recent years the internet has become an important tool for artists to exhibit and sell their work. Multi-vendor websites like Etsy.com offer a collective forum where buyers can access many Artists under one website. “The Wall” represents the best of Etsy. If you see something you like, click on the image and you will be redirected to that artist’s Etsy page where you can see more of their work. Would you like to nominate an artist for The Wall? Let us know in our CLA Members Forum.

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Sydney Lynch

Alice Sprintzen

Jan Smith

Claudia Steiner

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Explore the jewellery artist within. creatinglinus.com


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