How did you get started doing what you do?
Born in San Francisco I grew up in Pacifica, a nearby city. I took ceramics my freshmen year in high school. The following year a glassblowing program was created and I was one of a handful of students chosen to participate. Attracted to it almost immediately, I went on to study glass at the College of San Mateo and California State University, Chico. Upon entering the glass program I immediately got a job as the technician, which I did for a year. This helped lay the ground work for using the equipment necessary in the glassblowing field.
In 1977 I opened my studio in Chico, California and began making the glass in the Art Nouveau style, using luster glass and hand trails. This was highly marketable at the time. Within a few years I realized the need to move in my own direction and started creating more landscape oriented designs with nature scenes, such as the Harvest Moon and Mount Shasta series. This style continued to develop into designs that incorporated various flowers, petroglyph images, numerous seascapes and eventually the very popular jellyfish series.
What’s your inspiration?
Nature. Always has been, always will be. Since much of my designs are based in nature, I would have to say that the environment around me, whether the forest, the ocean, or even my own backyard, is what inspires me everyday.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Spend less, save and invest! This is true in all facets of life, both personal and professional. Professionally markets can be up and down, to save for the rainy days and invest in better equipment, supplies and materials is key.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Work on technique, continually practice and always . . . always be original. Can’t stress these three enough, especially in the realm of glassblowing. You can have one or two without the other, but all three is how one can succeed.
What are your thoughts on art school?
Art schools are great. Definitely a good way to get exposure to various ideas, concepts, techniques and to find mediums you wish to pursue.
What art supplies do you use?
Over the years we have tried and used numerous manufactured glass in all forms (powder, frit, cullet, pellet, etc), as well as, our own in-house colors. In the end the majority of colors we use are made in-house, but we nonetheless keep trying new product, experimenting with new formulas, buying from various manufacturers with the goal of always trying to improve what we make and how we make it.
What’s your process like?
Once I have an inspiration, like seeing the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the bamboo that is just outside my door, I do light sketches, think about the colors or the techniques necessary to make my idea work. After that a lot of prototypes, everyday looking at how the day before made the piece come together, what I liked about it and what I didn’t, then continuing to build on that until I achieve the end product that best encapsulates my original inspiration.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
More galleries run by knowledgable and friendly people. With the world of retail ever changing and the web providing access to art at one’s fingertips, the galleries have the means to provide the knowledge, tactile experience and pleasant customer service one can’t necessarily get through a screen.