Why I Make

Why I Make
Like many children growing up in the 80's and 90's I was exposed to a series of influential movies (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Labyrinth, The Never Ending Story, and The Goonies for example) that stimulated my imagination with quests full of adventure and exploration, led by a hero figure on a search for something precious. These types of films nourished my curiosity and fueled my creativity. This genre of film with its expressive use of visual imagery still is a major source of inspiration for my artwork. Now, however, the role of explorer and hero is often played by scientists and entrepreneurs proposing controversial theories, building new technologies and pushing our understanding of our world and our existence in it. In turn, they provide artists like myself new seeds of inspiration and avenues to explore. They establish possibilities and propose "what ifs" allowing us to fill in the blanks. Three of my favorite forerunners in scientific thinking and technological development are American aerospace engineer and author Dr. Robert Zubrin, British theoretical physicist, author and professor of mathematics Stephen Hawking and inventor and founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Elon Musk. Dr. Zubrin is one of the major proponents for manned Mars explorations, Professor Hawking is a primary contributor to the science of cosmology and our knowledge of black holes and Elon Musk strives to make Space affordable with the development of his private rocket company and strategies to take humans to Mars. I believe the fields of science and art are offspring of the same parents - Curiosity and Exploration.

As an adolescent my artistic strengths were in two-dimensional work and I enjoyed creating methodical drawings of still lifes and richly detailed paintings with vibrant, and contrasting colors. I found three-dimensional work difficult - sculpture being one of my least favorite mediums. However, towards the end of my high school career I enrolled in a jewelry design course and discovered a medium that blended my two-dimensional obsession for detail with a material and technical process that was endlessly fascinating and exciting. The technical side of my brain could understand the orderly construction processes necessary to create a piece. Procedures such as manipulating metal through hammering and attaching two pieces of metal together using a torch in the soldering process thrilled me and still delights me to this day. I was finally shown a medium that supported my two-dimensional love of design and ornament and also provided a vehicle for bringing those ideas into a three-dimensional realm.

"Decorate construction, never construct decoration," said the influential British architect, Owen Jones in his 1856 book The Grammar of Ornament. In other words; an object's form must be harmonious for the ornamentation to be successful and no amount of embellishment will make up for weak design. This is a crucial benchmark in my design process where much of the time is spent working out the structural harmony of a piece before any thought of embellishment enters the equation. The separate components of a work should be able to capture one's attention individually yet not detract from the overall form. Having my work read as something beautiful, superiorly crafted and intriguing drives my desire to create. Inducing a feeling of awe and having my work allude to a grander time is something I strive to achieve in the art I produce. I hope to create objects that transcend me as a maker, to become a physical symbol for the creative spirit and a stimulus for imagination.

A common question I am often asked and one that I find challenging to answer is, "where do your ideas come from?" While I can define certain over arching themes present when I design; contrast, repetition, architecture, science fiction and fantasy art, the fluid lines of art nouveau, current discoveries in space exploration, maps, anomalies and an interest in complex patterns and forms, it is difficult to say with any certainty the impetus for any one specific idea. Often a few gestural lines in my sketchbook will trigger the inspiration for a piece. Just as easily, something I see on one of my travels may spark a flash of inspiration.

Ultimately the creative process is different for everyone but I believe it stems from a common desire to understand oneself and one's world completely. It's that persistent question that hounds us and the motivation to solve it that drives many artists to make. "What would happen if...? What would the effect be then...? How can this be approached differently...? Where can it go from here...? How does that work...? Just as early explorers left behind much of what they knew in hopes of discovering amazing lands on distant shores, artists often forsake what is comfortable for what is challenging, interesting and hopefully worthy of persistent exploration. Frequently the avenues we take lead to failure but every once in a while we land on something beautiful.


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Tom@TomFerreroStudio.com
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