Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in NYC, grew up in Waldwick, NJ, and moved back to New York to attend college: first at Parsons School of Design, later at NYU and Hunter College. I moved to St. Louis in 1994, where I live with my fiancée Rachel, our two Boston Terriers, Sassy and Winston… and a black lab mutt named Jack.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Usually the cooking, the dishes, the cleaning. I feed the dogs, take out the trash. Now that we’re no longer living in a seventh floor downtown loft, I’ve also been messing about with the landscaping in our tiny city yard.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
I tend to view my life in terms of the people around me, so how about Other Living Things. I promise I’ll never be writing a memoir, though.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It’s strange, but my inspiration has always been related to issues of problem solving. Much like abstract art, the problems are largely made up. I begin with a series of self-imposed limitations and work from there.
What does handmade mean to you?
It usually means perpetually dirty clothing and annoying little cuts or blisters on my left hand. It also means that I tend to view everything through the filter of what I can possibly make myself. It means my front yard can have a steel flower box standing in the middle of my gooseberry hedge, just because I thought it would look interesting.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My mom and dad were both very artistic and they always encouraged me in whatever I was doing. My dad went to Pratt and designed corrugated cardboard packaging. Occasionally he would have sheets of cardboard laid out on the dining room table, measuring the complex flat pattern of the box he was designing. Years later I found myself making large paintings in a similar manner: measuring and cutting shapes from sheets of flat plywood, wrapping them with fabric, and reinserting them. Now I work with sheets of steel and find myself, like him, imagining the three dimensional object locked inside.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Probably when I was about 10 years old, when I first began to appreciate comic books more for the art than the story. Jack Kirby and John Byrne eventually gave way to Robert Ryman and Gerhard Richter. I made paintings for years before I started working in welded steel.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A simple cardboard “paint by numbers” panel that my grandfather did. The thing is — and you can tell almost immediately when you look at it — he clearly never cared a bit about the numbers. He simply opened the box and used the little coded paint cups to just start working. It’s brilliant.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
A trip to the steel yard will usually do the trick. Since the recycled metal they deal with comes in every size and shape imaginable, it’s nearly impossible to walk around there without some piece of steel suggesting a new design.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Target…or Design Within Reach? I hope that doesn’t sound like heresy. Many of the things I make are very design-oriented. As such, their existence owes as much to the concept of DIY as it does to the idea of “handmade.” I particularly love the challenge of creating new work. I’d also like to be able to work on paintings again someday!