Sunday, January 27, 2008

Interview: Pete of The Builder's Studio

I recently stumbled across The Builder's Studio Etsy store. It's full of ray guns, robots, and other neat creations like Robot Santa. Pete was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Q: What kind of art/crafting education do you have?

While in college (where I got my degree in English and creative writing) I also took a few art courses when I could, one photography and a couple for painting (you know, canvas work). Besides that nothing formal (couple in high school, nothing outlandish).

I've been artistic since my earliest days, drawing mostly, but always loved the scifi, always also loved the "bits and pieces" that went along with it, did collecting, including pieces of things that I thought looked neat and maybe I could make something with... as I got older I got into model kit building, starting with the tech stuff like space ships. The first days of the FIRST (read real) Star Wars trilogy were great! Then some figure kits, all that.

In recent years real life got in the way of doing much for fun OR profit in this regard. I wanted to spend more time doing something creative. But I had to try to make it at least pay SOME bills. One day I sat down and started playing around with some wood and other things, had robots on the mind. I had been making some unusual walking stick canes and something snapped, in a good way!

No I was never MUCH of a traditional woodworker, but my father in his day had done some carpentry professionally and was always making something for the house, a stool, a spice rack, a toy for us when we were younger when he could. I didn't latch on to it in any formal way ... but I believe some of that mentally and creatively soaked in naturally!

All that boiled down to technically not much formal or informal training or education. Self taught a lot and a lot of being around it...

Q: How do you design your creations?

The best answer might be: I don't. Despite my early days of drawing (and desire to do more if I ever make the time) I'm not a big planner. In many things I'm a stickler for details but in this (and most) of my creative endeavors I like to work naturally and not take all the piss and vinegar out of an idea by talking about it or "planning."

I often work from a single shape or curve... and it's "hey, that reminds me of a radar dish on a robot head" or something, and I start building. Add a piece here and there.

Or maybe a general idea of "wouldn't this be cool" ... like recently I did a miniature, steampunk inspired bipedal war vehicle to fight off the invading Martian tripods ... been looking at a lot of steampunk stuff on flickr lately. More and more people have been telling me my stuff fits that arena ... more so than I originally thought. So I found some starting point, in this case a few tiny miniature people figures I had around and imagined one standing in ... something.

Listen, one of the best things is the "funnest:" like when you were a kid with a favorite toy or action figure, imagine playing with your items in a setting... you know the ones. That giant alien cliff (your living room couch), the horrible monsters are chasing you... what would your ray gun look like? What kind of vehicle would help you escape?

Q: I know very little about woodworking. What sorts of tools do you use, and what resources/references would you recommend someone use to learn?

That's tough as in some ways my workshop in under equipped so I make do. I'd tell anyone making things in any format THAT ... you can always find another way!

I mainly use hand tools, especially since I work in a small (and lately often tiny) format of a couple of inches for jewelry and mini dioramas so no need for power tools, occasional a Dremel tool.

I personally own no reference materials for working in this area ... well, from many years ago model kit building but I read that stuff long ago and I guess it's all internalized now. Yes, model kit building books and magazines and videos (if they still make them) especially in the fantasy and scifi areas although I am sure ANY (like auto) will help with certain techniques. But for woodworking I don't know. I do use the internet from time to time.

Q: What techniques do you use to promote your store?

Even though I read a lot online about how tough it was... and believed it... I still had no real idea how tough. I'm still looking for a wider audience. Things really have started to pop surprisingly this last holiday season but I think the economy and gas prices are crunching everyone ... great timing right! I post pictures everywhere (like flickr), join groups, look for new venues in my fields ... answer questions for blogs like yours!

And I try to answer everyone who contacts me; be nice, it never hurts. Why be any other way in any case? TO me this is a LOT of fun and I love getting reactions from people on my work... and I want to keep doing this for a long time! I still haven't scratched the surface of ideas I want to do ... my notebook gets more entries added than I can check off!

That's the last tip, a big one I'll leave you with... when you get an idea, a vision of even a PART of an object, a technigue you HOPE MIGHT POSSIBLE work, an experiment you want to try ... write it down. NOW! No matter how great your memory you WILL forget a lot of these over time. You can't help it. So write them down!

(OK, insert commercial here ... check out my store: -- 'nough said). Thanks to everyone for their support. Hope you got an idea or two.

Thanks, Pete!

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