Friday, January 8, 2010

David Huang- chasing forms

Today's Interview is with David Huang. I met David very briefly at the SNAG Savannah conference, and was struck by how gorgeous his work is, and by his unassuming nature. David's work is beautiful to look at and has a very warm and comforting feel to touch. I'm excited to see the progress on his big project this year (which he explains in this interview) and I hope to have the opportunity to chat again soon!

Name- David Huang

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
My short verbal description is that I make decorative holloware, or decorative vessels. However, I always keep several business cards with different images of my work on me to illustrate the verbal description. For other metalsmiths I can say that I work almost exclusively with raised vessels, often with chased surfaces.

what inspires your designs?
There is no one source for inspiration. Much of it develops from the interaction, or dialog, between the tools, materials, and myself. I watch what happens as a piece develops and each piece usually suggest other variations to explore on later work. I've also found inspiration in such varied things as crop circles, artwork of others, nature, intellectual studies, and viewer responses.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
I've been doing raised vessels since about 1996. I began working with metal in high school around 1986 which is when I first found the chasing and repousse technique.

Picture of David's Studio

where are you located?( email if you want to share, or city/town that you live in)
I live just outside of the tiny village of Sand Lake, Michigan (this is not too far from the bigger city of Grand Rapids). My email address is

do you have a website ? My website is
what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, stores)
I sell the bulk of my work through galleries around the US. On rare occasion I sell a piece to someone contacting me through my website. Oddly, I also must admit I sell a fair amount of work directly to other metalsmiths at conferences or workshops. I was completely surprised by this when it started happening, and still feel deeply honored that others in my field value what I do that much.

do you teach? if so, where- I've started teaching workshops in the last few years for various groups around the US. While I enjoy this I think I am going to have to cut back as it's taking too much time away from the studio work I enjoy most.

any advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
For artistic growth I recommend drawing, and I don't mean drawing your metalwork designs. Personally I like figure drawing, but still life or landscape drawing should work fine too. This sharpens your ability to see, perceive the emotional expression of forms, and fine tune composition skills. In short, you can learn the very subtle details needed to make a work sing much quicker through drawing and then transfer this understanding to the laborious creation of metal objects.

For financial stability needed to make a career as a metalsmith happen I suggest looking into the simple living movement to reduce living expenses while learning what brings fulfillment to YOUR life. (Maureen's note: I Love this comment! it's not about having what you want, it's wanting what you have)

where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic or business direction)
Plans for 2010 include an effort to solve the issues that still plague me with my raised and chased figurative vessels. Broadly I plan to push my chased designs into newer, and hopefully better territory. I'm working with another metalsmith, David Barnhill, to develop some raised and chased mokume gane vessels with the idealistic hope of doing something new in this area. However, I am scheduling the bulk of my time for 2010 to what will hopefully be one large masterwork, a vessel raised and heavily chased from a 48 inch disk of copper.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
I suspect times will be quite tough for us financially as metalsmiths in the coming years as societies deal with economic problems, compounded with (or perhaps a result of) the peaking of energy resources, and the "high grading" of raw materials. Personally I foresee a contraction back to more local economies and small scale manufacturing, at which time those of us with skills in "craft" based industries may very well find our abilities in demand. I think it would be wise to really study what may happen and be ready to creatively adapt. Where others may see only strife and collapse we may be able to see opportunities to sculpt a new and wonderful future for all.

Great interview- thanks David!


  1. Great interview David, articulate and succinct and delightfully well spoken, just like your metalwork ;-)

  2. Well said, David! :)
    Great interview!