Gordon K. Uyehara is a freelance artist/designer and writer. He is also an Art Clay Silver Senior Instructor. Born and raised in Hawaii, Gordon received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. After working thirteen years in the information technology field, he decided to take some time off for artistic exploration. Taking a class on silver clay at a local workshop he realized that he had found his muse! Gordon still lives in Honolulu and from there he is actively involved in local, national and international competitions. He conducts workshops and speaks at conferences and his art is often featured in magazines, books, blogs and websites. Gordon authored a book,Metal Clay Fusion, which came out in March 2012.
Gordon, we are very excited to have the opportunity to speak with you today. Your book, Metal Clay Fusion,is a very popular, very informative one. Would you share with us how writing it came about?
Mahalo for taking the time to talk with me! I am very happy that the book has been well received. I had toyed with the idea of writing a book for many years. When I was approached by Lark Crafts, I decided it was time. Much of what is in there, I already had collected as miscellaneous notes or thoughts. So it all got thrown together and organized into a digestible form. I want to mention that while the term “PMC” is often used, many of us use the generic term “metal clay” because PMC is particular to a brand, one of many now, and also there are base metal clays, not all are precious.
Would you tell us about your work with metal clay? What first drew you to it?
I try to make things that I think are cool, stuff I want to see. Often these things are very challenging to make, so a lot of the work that I do is also experimental. I had never heard of silver clay until I read a little blurb about it in the back of a newspaper. I was curious about it so I took a class. Then I became obsessed in making it do what I wanted it to do.
What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
Currently I’m working on a base metal clay vessel. The subject itself is not very different but I’m still learning the nuances of working with base metal clays.
At times metal clay is referred to as a fad, what are your feelings on this?
It’s okay, but it has been out since the mid 90s, so it is a rather long fad! I think there are many,many more areas of expression to be explored – when I reach that end, then perhaps I will personally be through with the “fad”. But it is all good.
When did you decide to become an artist/ designer?
2002 was when I decided to explore it directly rather than just as a side thing. I decided I needed a change.
What was the best advice ever given to you as an artist?
As an artist, I never really asked for advice. I got lots of advice early in life, but that’s how you get messed up. If I wanted to know something, I’d look it up on the web or join a group and read the message threads. Or borrow or buy a book to read. I am more open to opinions these days but I think most answers are already there before you, often they are either consciously or unconsciously blocked. In the end I think Frank Zappa’s advice is good, “There’s only two things to remember: 1) Don’t stop and 2) keep going.”
Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art. How do you sell your work? How do you market yourself ?
I sell mostly through a co-op gallery I’m a part of. Sadly I’ve been rather lackadaisical about selling stuff so I’m probably not the one to ask. I market myself by being and remaining visible on the Web.
Will you share some of your thoughts on the creative process?
Start working even when you don’t feel like it. You can’t always wait for inspiration, it can come at anytime, but usually it comes after you start.
Is there a way for a burgeoning artist to develop their creativity?
Yes, the first thing to understand is that creativity is a mind-set, a way of thinking. It is not a talent you are born with. If you say you are not creative, then you are choosing to be so. Give yourself permission to create, play, and experiment, without judgment. Immerse yourself in the type of visual information that excites you. Be open to mixing unrelated ideas. Try to look at things from different perspectives.
Is there a tip that you would share for working with metal clay?
Spend time working with the clay. It is important to develop a feel and understanding of the material. Test fire some of the base metal pieces so that you are sure to get the results that you want.
If I were to follow you around in Honolulu looking for inspiration, which places would we go? What would we see?
We would head to the beach to look at the tide pools, or to the mountains – to look at the fabulous flora and fauna.
Gordon thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!
To see more of Gordon’s work, visit Honudream.com and see his amazing current creations and some older works as well.