My approach to making art is the same whether I’m painting, drawing, or making sculpture. Process and craftsmanship are always the starting point. As a young artist, my concepts seemed to be beyond my skills. Now, however, as a mature artist I see that anything is possible with a little research and the right tools. Why limit myself and my artwork to the skills and processes I currently posses when I could let the artwork teach me some new skill? Craftsmanship should be so good that no one sees it. It is impossible to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions through an artwork that is poorly designed and constructed. “The right tool for the job” should be the mantra for every artist.
For me, the magic of making art lies in the problem solving. Each new idea presents new challenges in design and process. Each new piece dictates the materials and processes to be used, some known to me but some unknown. My work has not only lead me to hone my skills in woodworking, metalworking, and drawing and painting, but often requires research into other areas such as bookbinding, tool design, animation, and mathematics. This variety keeps me keenly interested in my work. The engineering involved in The Time Machine was both exciting and overwhelming, requiring that I not only research clock making but also demanded a return to the basic Newtonian physics of gravity and motion.
An Art History professor once told our class, “Don’t try to be an artist. Rather, try to be a cook, a mechanic, an astronomer, an engineer, a philosopher, and a geologist. Live life and the inspiration for your art will come”. These words supported what I suspected all along but was apprehensive to admit; that the artist need not live in an artistic vacuum. Artwork that is esoteric seems somewhat self-serving. Having worked my way through college pumping gas and, later, managing a hardware store, I always saw myself as “the average working man”. Hence, for me it is paramount to make art that speaks not just to artists but to average folks. Herein lies my inspiration. My interests in science, philosophy, politics, and sociology have had, and will continue to have, an immense impact on my work. I would like to note here that working at a hardware store is a great way for a sculptor to familiarize oneself with his/her materials. Sculpture need not be limited to the traditional mediums of clay, wood, metal, and glass. I often use plumbers, electricians, and die makers as informational resource and go to the hardware store for my "art supplies".
It is difficult to see through poor craftsmanship but great craftsmanship should be so great as to go unnoticed. This notion can be applied to everything from painting and sculpture to telescope building. Design and problem solving give an idea physical form and inspiration gives it meaning. Equal attention to all aspects of making art has helped me to yield successful results.
Michael "Mac" McAvoy