Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?
A)My name is Derek Weisberg, I am 23 years old, and I am an artist working in the San Francisco bay area.I am primarily a ceramic sculptor but do not limit myself to that medium.
Q)How did you get started making art?
A)I started making art when I was very young. I have all those funny stories from when I was a kid and I would sculpt my mash potatoes instead of eating them, or take apart my action figures and glue them together to make new toys.My mom saw my interest in art and enrolled me in a ceramic class when I was 7 years old.From then on ceramics and art have become my life.
Q)How would you describe your art?
A)I make figurative ceramic sculpture. I comment on human emotions and the human condition. All of my work is self portraiture, not necessarily a physical representation, but an emotional representation for sure.However I try not to make work that is limited to my own experiences and feelings, but create work which reflects also a larger picture; work which reflects the atmosphere or emotions of the world around me.There is all this work that is being made now which is called "street art" or "urban art" or "graphic art" whatever you want to call it, and some of the influences are coming from Hip Hop and Punk cultures, skate culture, graffiti, etc. I would say that my work is that type of "urban art" in a sculptural form. It takes some large influences from Hip Hop.What I tell people a lot is that my old work used to comment on Hip Hop, however now I use Hip Hop in my work to comment on something else. My work deals with content and not concept, I think this is a big distinction. I want my work to reach all types of people not just an elite group or a specially educated crowd. And I think conceptual art tends to appeal only to that special group. Concept by definition deals with the number 1, specifics, and the idea of abstraction. I want my work to be more about content, multipe issues in layers, like a "table of contents", general themes, and grounded real experiences.
Q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?
A)Inspiration, I know this is corny but life is my main inspiration, as I am working with my emotions and the emotions of those around me, life effects me. I guess that is really general. Other inspirations, Hip Hop music is a huge inspiration. Also groups of people or an individual who have done something unique and new out of nowhere or nothing. In terms of artists who have inspired me the list is long but off the top of my head quickly: Ancient Egyptian art, 14th century Spanish Sculpture, 15th century Christian Art, Fra Angelico, Hans Holbein, Egon Schiele, Van Gogh, Giacometti, early Picasso, Cy Twombly, Basquiat, Odd Nerdrum, Robert Arneson, Peter Volkous, Stephen Desteabler, Barry Mcgee, Thomas Campbell, Phil Frost, Doze Green, Clayton Brothers, my good friend Mike Simpson, I know there is more I just cant think of them right now, I love art history.
Q)What are you working on now?
A)Right now I am working on several projects, I have a bunch of shows coming up this month of November and I am getting ready for them. I am working on a series of jars inspired by Egyptian Canopic Jars, but instead of Egyptian Gods faces on them they have just regular down and out dudes faces. Also working on a series of small (20 inches or so) wall hanging pieces where the upper torso, arms and hands and heads are sculpted out of clay, and the lower torso is made of some other material, like cloth or wood or plaster. I have a show in Riverside California were all artists have to make 50 pieces and I am making these pieces that are kind of suggestions of a figure but have faces and hands made of clay in different gestures. Just finished a bunch of work where the figures were put in shanty town environments for a show called "Shanty Town" in LA at the Lab 101 gallery.
Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?
A)Most of my work is done in a series so I get an idea for a body of work or a series and create from there. My work always starts with an emotion I want to depict, and it starts in one of two ways. Either I hear some song lyrics (which usually become the title or part of the title) that I like and want to reference and then I do a drawing from that and then the sculpture.Or I do a drawing first, then make the piece and then title it later. On bigger projects I take photographs for reference and I might make a maquette.
Q) What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?
A)Ceramics is by far my favorite medium. It is forgiving, you can do anything with it; push, pull, add on to, take away from, carve, texture, etc. There is a process to it which I like. It can be colored in so many ways. Clay just has a great feel to it, for some they fall is love with it from the first touch, I think that is what happened to me.
Q) Do you collect anything?
A)Yeah I collect music, I know we are in a digital age with all this electronic file stuff but I love CDs. I really love the hunt for used CDs, like for some the hunt for records, but I never got into records. I also collect a lot of junk. Rusty pieces of metal, pieces of wood, little odds and ends, which I then use in a lot of my sculpture. My friends and I go out every Sunday morning, often to railroad tracks and just walk and collect junk, which we call gold, to reuse for some other purpose.
Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?
A)My work is all hand done, I hate the computer, but know its importance.
Q) What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?
A)I like exhibiting work on the street, in the public, then it takes on its own life, and is accessible to everyone. However I also like the gallery setting because people who are specifically looking for art can find it. I think it is important for art to be used as an educational tool, and should be available to appreciate, and I think galleries can help with this.
Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?
A)People generally like my work. And Figurative sculpture and I think sculpture in general is lacking, so I think it is kind of a fresh medium. However most of my work is a little depressing or can be scary, and I hear that a lot. But people can usually deal with or even begin to associate with the content of the work, and the good craftsmanship, and tend to like it.
Q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?
A)There is very little time when I am not creating in some form. If I am not creating I am probably sleeping.
Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?
A)In America, I think the greatest challenge is the importance art is given. In this society art has little importance, it is always the first thing cut from school programs, government funding is limited, limited press, etc. Because art is not valued artists struggle.
Q) What is freedom to you as an artist?
A)To be able to go to my studio everyday for as long as I want and just create whatever I want. Which does not happen for me (yet I hope)
Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?
A)Yeah I just finished this piece called "Illuminating the Lonely Path of Forever". It was a piece I did for "Shanty Town". A seated 3/4 figure is sitting on a makeshift throne or perch of some sort, in front of a makeshift stain glass window. The figure is pointing and looking off somewhere, to me to an unseen object, but some might think he is actuall pointing to something, which is cool. he is kind of fat with pathetic skinny arms, and he sits slumped. His mouth is slightly open in mild awe as he stares off. Some people say there are religious overtones, but I am not really religious, to me it is more spiritual feeling, and the figure is trying to deal with or find some sort of spirituality.
Q) What it the coolest thing you have seen recently while wandering the streets?
A)I can't really think of anything specitically right now, there is always some good graffiti, crazy people, etc, to provide for good times while roaming the streets.
Q) Do you carry a notebook? Do you draw in public?
A)I always have my sketchbook with me, but only draw in public if I have to put down a quick idea. Unfortunately I dont have the time to just hang out in a park or a cafe and draw, as much as I wish I had the time.
Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?
A)My favorite galleries: Well in San Fran and area: Upper Playground, White Walls, (in a shameless plug because it is a gallery I co run) Boontling Gallery, there are a bunch in LA that I really like, Black Market, Lab 101, New Image, 1988, Anno Domini in San Jose, Dietch Projects in NY.
Q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?
A)I get emotionally attached to my work occasionally but usually am willing to let it go, as I know I will be making more and more art, and there will always be something new. If I get good documentation of it I am happy. Plus I always liek the money, and I can run out of storage space fast.