RC: Art + design but neither one nor the other. My background was in industrial design in New Zealand, from there I went to SVA an art school in New York where I entered into a design degree doing a performance art based thesis presented as a designed object. I’ve bounced in between both art and design much of my life and the processes and methodologies I use reflect that.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
RC: I have many different sources of inspiration but the times that truly shake me to the core are moments of quiet wonder. Looking up at the stars at night, or the leaves rustling in the forest or the strike of thunder. In these breif moments I find myself tingling with awe – a part of something many scales bigger than me in both time and space.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
RC: Its different for every piece. There are so many elements that shape the path of a design, client, brief, materiality, intended function, intended audience, scale, production techniques, time. So many different ways into a design with different importances and weightings on each. Sometimes a client has a very closed brief or need something made from a specific material. In my current studio I have a particular size and set of tools and machinery that lends itself to working with specific production techniques. All of these elements come together in some sort of hierarchy to set the foundation of the piece. From there is play. If the project is driven by materiality then it becomes a matter of playing with that particular material. Or if it is driven by a new production technique then experimenting with it, break it, find its limits, push it into happy accidents and oddities. Through playing and experimenting with the elements they are more likely to flow naturally into an end result, rather than starting at the end and shoehorning them into something they are not.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
RC: Depends on the piece, but in more cases than not I’m creating something because I love it and want to share it with others – rarely is there some sort of hidden agenda or message.
RC: Life at the studio is busy, much like life in New York – always so many things to do. Things seem to move insanely fast and excruciatingly slow all at the same time. Much of my studio time is tinkering and playing with new ideas, materials or methods. A large part is also taken up sourcing, designing with available or existing parts used in new interesting ways. Many of my phone calls begin with “this might sound like a strange request but”.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
RC: Different people work differently, I prefer the impulse, the chase of the unknown project, its much more conducive to play.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
RC: Do what you think is right, be kind and respectful but stand your ground when you need to.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
RC: Not as such.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
RC: Things never being finished, there is always more that can be done or improved on, learning when to move on is tricky but essential.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
RC: I get to play.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
RC: Way too many to name here but some that come to mind would be Charles and Ray Eames, Dieter Rams, Lindsey Adelman.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
RC: It’s another tool in the growing skill sets of artists and designers, it need not be overplayed nor underestimated.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
RC: I don’t think so – at least not in that order. The way I see the world helps to define me as a person, the things I look for, or that interest me, which in turn might lead me to a creative path – being an artist or a designer doesn’t define how I see the world. Its not so much a difference in seeing but a difference in looking.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
RC: I do! Wellington in New Zealand, was my first home away from home city, an amazing atmosphere and a city just small enough to be big.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
RC: I read a lot of Wilbur Smith books when I was a teenager and nothing has gripped me quite the same since, stories of Egypt, Africa and the Oceans inspired me to adventure.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
RC: We have a few new lines of products coming out of the studio in the next little while, so focusing on that for now. Though in the longer scope I plan to begin traveling with works overseas to exhibit larger scale interactive installations.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
RC: Creating value and sharing that value.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
RC: Wherever possible I try to join two elements that would seem opposites, and join them in such a way as to create something unique and interesting – I call these Harmonious Contradictions.
CHECK OUT MORE ON: RICHARD CLARKSON