In the Studio with Dave Clark

In the Studio with Dave Clark

What does a day in your art practice look like?

Heading out to the studio after coffee, the paper and emails… then sorting things out to start something new. Usually, I have an idea from the previous night of not sleeping – something as a start of sorts. Press On for music (I play back randomly 1000 tracks/files to the system in the studio – makes for a fun day as what plays is always a surprise mix of everything we own).

Kind of like my art – I have an idea of where I am going but am often surprised by where I end up. Might spend a day or more working on something. I know things are going well if the music is moving me and at the end I am smiling. Tired and dirty. While I have gloves, a heavy apron, “artist” paints and shirts (those covered with whatever) … I know I am onto something when I am working and realize, “Damn, did not change my clothes, wearing the wrong shoes… and my hands are covered with whatever.” Oh well, that shirt or pants are ruined now.

What would life be like without art?

No idea. No doubt I would find something else to stimulate my artistic/creative needs. What that would be, can’t imagine. I do know that when I don’t do something, make something, or let alone have music playing, I get somewhat out “terms” with things. I lose energy and focus. Can’t just sit and not do something. Plus, our house is filled with art from other artist friends. We buy as much as we have space for and can afford. We surround ourselves with art though for whatever reason we tend not to go out to openings or galleries/museums. Especially those outside of Long Beach.

What is the hardest part of creating your art?

Dealing with my own limitations in terms of abilities. There are times I wish had access to other tools – whether they be real (welding, metal brakes, etc.) or of my own. I see what other artist create and think, “How the heck did they do that?” Especially so with abstract painting or whatever. Intrinsic talent/abilities or learned? Either or, too often it is out of my reach.

Then there is always the difficulty in the justification of making “more” when the place is already overflowing with art that is just sitting there – waiting for a home. If one ever comes. Add in expenses and well… sometimes creating certain pieces is hard. Why I tend to not make fine or refined art. My pieces tend to be rough or whatever. Use what I got… recycle.

What inspires you?

Good question. Going out on a limb here, as I am not all that certain, but materials, shapes, patterns… playfulness? I tend to make “stuff” using materials that are treated or manipulated in some way. Meaning I like to play with stuff. Maybe it is not knowing how things will turn out? Exploration?

What advice would you give your younger self?

To have continued on as opposed to stopping when I became a teacher. Took 29 years off as an artist. Always wonder where I would be today if I had not done that, though I certainly don’t regret being a teacher.

Who would you most like to collaborate with? Why?

Anyone and everyone who works differently than me. Someone who respects my art and wants to mix theirs within mine. Love seeing what others can do with my art – their art. Did the 18 x 18 Table show a number of years ago. Gave 17 tables to various LB artists to do what they do. Was fun and challenging for them. Many were painters and were used to working on a flat 2D surface as opposed to a 3D object.

The show allowed me to get back into my art after retiring and to meet many wonderful local artists – many whom are good close friends today.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

That art is made not to be sold, but simply to be made. Creating art with the expectation of sales is the wrong road to travel.

If you could change anything about the art world, what would it be?

Would love to see galleries to be proactive in finding artist as opposed to us finding them.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

Trying new materials or techniques. Going small or larger. Repetition in the sense of “structure.” Like exercising the muscles… exercising the creativity. Repeat till it runs dry and then move on to something else that works the creativity. Then take time off to re-energize. Perhaps why there is diversity in my body of work?

I do my best to remove the desire for shows and sales which allows me to just make things. But yeah, sales are great and being in a show is nice too – but they don’t motivate me.

If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose? and why?

Probably the birth of abstract art.

Photo by Tony Pinto

How has personal experience influenced your creativity?

Gee… uh, well. I wanted to be an architect and used to draw a lot in that area. Even entered college with that in mind. Love building and building things. Let’s go with that. Of course, there is always the subconsciousness that lives deep down that influences us…

What do you wish to accomplish with your art?

With my art? I mean I make things. Not trying to make a statement in any sort that I consciously can think of… political, social, etc. Perhaps that more people will find something I made something they want. Something that speaks to them and they want to have it in their place to look at and love? Or to be famous on some level as an artist? For people to say that this is a “Dave Clark?” Sure… just don’t involve me. I hate being put on the spot or placed in some position/situation where I am expected to explain myself. Let me work in obscurity. If a gallery wants to do a retrospective, let me now how it turns out. Just too insecure.

What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?

Do what you do and fuck everyone else. Just make whatever you want. It is okay to be insecure and doubt yourself and it is okay to be confident too. But don’t be an ass.

And that no one is all that unique. I mean, yeah, what you are doing might be original and unique to you, your circle, and perhaps the art community. But you can be rest assured that someone somewhere is doing what you are doing – you just have not heard of them, nor them of you.

How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the action you produce?

My ideas are of a general image that take on shape as I work on it. Just get the materials and start laying things out. As the process moves on, the piece evolves. Often times it is knowing when to stop – damn it, went too far. But then again going too far might be what it was all about.

To see more of Dave’s work check out his website: or follow him on Instagram @daverclarkdesigns

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