Q&A with metal artist Scott Cawood
An interview with sculptor Scott Cawood
by Joan Conklin
How did you decide you wanted to be an artist?
I used to be a blacksmith and welder. I was working on armatures and mounts for art museums. It inspired me to make my own art. A few years later, people started buying it, and now I just sell art.
How often have people told you that art isn’t a reliable career?
It used to be more prevalent back when I started. The people who tell you that usually aren’t artists. Some people like that go to art school and think they know everything about art. People who think that don’t know anything about art. The naysayers don’t slow me down. If anything, they made me more determined.
How old were you when you started making art?
I was 35 when I really started to pursue it.
How old were you when you realized you were capable of making good art?
I don’t think in a linear way like that. I guess when I started selling it. The early ’90s, I would say.
What medium do you use?
I use steel almost exclusively, sometimes with copper or brass accent pieces. I can manipulate it to do what I want it to do. I tried wood once, and it didn’t work as well.
What is the best reaction you’ve received to your art?
A man went to tears when he saw one of my pieces. Also, I had an unveiling of the siren motorcycle in Las Vegas with me standing next to it and a lot of people standing around. It was quite a spectacle. The reactions to that were probably the most dynamic.
And the worst?
It was a small figure that was anatomically correct. A male figure with a penis. A woman was offended by it, and I thought that was kind of bizarre. It wasn’t overt or anything. I told her if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to look at it.
Where do you sell the most art in town??
I haven’t come here a lot in the past few years, because I’ve been in bigger markets. But since the recession, Ricco and Ellen have given me an opening in their gallery. It’s my base now. I also have a long history with the CATF, ever since it started 19 years ago. Ed Herendeen gave me my first art show.
What pieces have you commissioned in town?
A private group of young parents with money, the Orange Swing I believe it was called, commissioned me to do a bench in the alley beside the Town Run. It’s a mother and two children. The mothers bring their kids to thrown rocks in the stream, and I did it to celebrate that idea.
Who was your most important commissioner?
This guy in Switzerland who is the father of Paris Hilton’s ex-boyfriend. He’s commissioned a couple of pieces and bought a couple from me. The commissioner of rent control in New York City bought a New York City table from me, and it’s in his office.
Where do you sell the most art?
I sold a lot in New York City, New Orleans, Miami. I sold quite a lot in Maui, through an international art dealer.
What’s your favorite piece that you’ve made?
It’s the one I’m working on right now. The love for me is when I’m creating, so it’s always the piece that I’m working on. When I’m done, it’s a reminder of the process I took to make it.
Who are your favorite artists?
Albert Paley is a metal artist that I think is fantastic. Tom Joyce, a guy from Santa Fe. Their work is different from mine, but they have an original approach. I like originality. When someone comes up with their own methods and madness, I can tell. You see it in their work almost immediately.
What else do you like to do?
I like to work in my garden. It gets me out of the shop sometimes. I also like to write short essays.
What do you plan to accomplish with your work in the future?
I just plan to keep moving forward. I want to keep challenging myself and my vision. I never know when I’m going to get another idea. I live a very meager lifestyle. People say I’m like a monk without the religious conviction. If I can sell enough art to keep making it, I’m successful. I just need to keep making art because that’s what I enjoy in life.
What direction are you headed in?
I’m moving in a more figurative direction. I want to take old scrap steel and make you have an emotional reaction to it. I don’t care what emotion. I just want a reaction to it.
What would you tell young aspiring artists?
I’d tell them to pursue their ability and not give up. To improve their work in their own eyes. And you have to master your ability to manipulate your medium. You have to be able to work with a medium, make it look like what you see in your mind.
Cawood’s work is on display at the Ricco Gallery at 125 West German Street
through Aug. 2.