Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Artist Interview

Does this happen to you? You get an e-mail from a friend / acquaintance / complete stranger, that says, "I'm doing a paper / article / research project, would you be willing to answer a few questions?" It happens to me...not a lot, but often enough, a couple times a year maybe. And generally this is how I respond..."oh fuck, now I have to do a homework assignment and I'm not even in a class!" (Yes, that really is how my brain works and very often the first thing I say)...Well that happened again and after I said "Oh Fuck!" I thought this time I'm going to write it once and for all and then anytime somebody is doing a paper / article / research project I can just send them to this entry on the blog and my part is done. Good idea, right?!?!

So here is the latest list of questions: (from a friend)

What is your educational background?

How long have you been using this material?

Can you tell me more about this medium? And why you are using this?

What was the biggest learning curve working with this material?

Do you have ideas for what medium you might try next?

What artist inspires you and or your work?

And here are some other questions I've been asked...or maybe these are the questions I would ask if I were interviewing me:

How long have you been an artist?

Why did you choose to be an artist?

Are you a full-time artist?

What other materials have you worked with?

If you were to do something else, what would it be?

I guess that's it, I'm sure I've been asked other questions over the years but I can't think of them now...and really these are the important ones.

I'm going to start with my questions in case you have a short attention span... ;o)

How long...well truth be told I was probably born with it. My favorite toys were the wood blocks, lincoln logs and legos. I was very serious about my legos this was before they came with a map to tell you what to make, none of that...back in my day (hehehe) we had to use our imagination. I also built interesting things for my Barbies. A butcher shop store front complete with hanging meat, all made out of aluminum foil, wheel chairs made out of paper plates for their recovery after the car wreck, etc...But I didn't put a name to this disorder until I went to college. I started as a psychology major (and some days I wonder "what if?" I might be a doctor right now), then I took that first photography class...during one particular critique the instructor said about my work "This is a photographer's photograph." That was it, hook, line and ego jumped up and said yep that was me, I did that, look what I did!!! I went and changed my major...I think that was 1984.

Why did I choose this...if you read the last paragraph you know that I didn't choose it I was born with it. It's kind of like being gay; it's not something you's something that you just can't not do.

Full-time...If by "full-time" you mean do I pay all my bills from selling art, no. I have had moments of that; I think there was about a year when I had no other job. Right now I have two other jobs. If by "full-time" you mean does it take over every waking moment of my life, then the answer is yes. I'm a maker it plays out in everything I do...I can't help it.

Other materials...I was a photographer, an industrial sewer, a steel sculptor, a visual merchandiser, a house painter, I've insulated, drywalled, caulked, I've framed rooms (and some pictures), I've built fences and a deck and a waterfall and terraced flowerbeds and furniture, I've carved stone and wood and plastic, I've cast paper, bronze, aluminum, resin and jello ;o). Right now I believe that given the right tools and some instruction (or not) I could just about make anything out of anything...and if you ask my wife she would tell you that too (I'm pretty sure I have her convinced).

What else...I've often thought that if I had picked a vocation that actually had a paycheck with it I would have become a structural engineer or something like that. My brain works that way, figuring out the structure of a thing or the way things are put together are my favorite parts of the making process.

OK now for the official questions:

Education...I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography. I attended the University of Nevada Reno, University of Montana and graduated from Boise State University. I have a Master of Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpture from Boise State. And I have years and years of self-taught, hard-way, wouldn't ask for help if my life depended on it, mistakes and failure...there is just no better education than that.

Current material...polyurethane resin...hmmm...I know that it's plastic ;o) I know that now after five years of working with it, it will most of the time do what I tell it to and I think I've seen most of the possibilities of what it does when it's not obeying. I have used it in almost all the ways that the manufacturer recommended against...I think?! Really the hardest thing about working with it, besides having to be a freak about dust, is that it is unpredictable. But then again sometimes that's good because I have made some pretty cool discoveries. It has also done some things that I just can't get it to repeat.

What next...well I'm not finished with what I'm doing now so I'm not moving on any time soon, but I have thought that next I might get on the "green" bandwagon and start making art out of garbage...??? I might even be able to fool you into believing that it's not garbage?!

What artist...Well I have a list: Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Gober, Doris Salcedo, Tara Donovan, Anselm Kiefer, Robert name just a few. But those names don't really cover the things that inspire me. I'm also inspired by numerous other artists whose names I don't remember or never knew in the first place. I'm inspired by cracks in the sidewalk, broken things, decay of any sort and things that have been taken over by nature; I'm also inspired by objects that have been really well designed and really smart song writing. Or like I tell my students, "Everything you see, everything you hear, everything you read and everything you experience."

OK there you have it "The Artist Interview" does that about cover it? Sorry it got so long but now my homework is done and with any luck I will never have to do this again (unless of course someone comes up with a new question%).