Monday, July 15, 2013

Artist spotlight- Joe Diemer

Hi there Metalsmiths Unite fans and friends-Today on the MU blog I'd like to introduce you to Metalsmiths Unite member Joe Diemer........

1. MBZ-How would you describe what you do as an artist?
Joe Diemer-My training is in illustration and metalsmithing, but my business is centered around stainless steel wire-working. I make objects for the home such as birdcages, spice racks, and coat hooks, and a few things for the body such as hair ornaments and bracelets.
Conceptually, I want my art to be uplifting to the spirit, so to that end I'm working to revive the devices of pre-moderist art, such as complex ornament. Much of recent design history is about mass, and removing "superficialities". I'm turning this thinking inside out by making the ornament itself the structure and removing the mass.

2. MBZ-what inspires your designs?
Joe Diemer-Radiolarians, Islamic tile, Louis Sullivan, Alphonse Mucha - anywhere I can find graceful geometry and harmony.
I sketch shapes and patterns that resonate with me and then I rearrange them, trying to find newer and more complex designs that feel right. Then I move from paper to wire and "extrude" those designs three dimensionally (on the z axis) until they have a real force of their own. So, much of the inspiration happens during the process.

3. MBZ-how long have you been involved in this type of making?
Joe Diemer-I've always liked to draw and paint and in college I studied illustration, but I come from a family of builders - my dad's side were carpenters and my mom's side were glassworkers from Italy. So as a boy I had plenty of workshops to tinker in. I made my first cages for my older sister who was always bringing new animals home. Having familiarity with finishing carpentry is helpful for making the jigs; they are often more complex than the finished products.

4. MBZ-where are you located?
Joe Diemer-Portland, Oregon. My workshop is in the Eastside Industrial District next to a 100-year-old plating business and several custom bike builders, so there is plenty of metalwork to see here.

5. MBZ-do you have a website?
Joe Diemer-I do have a website ( but the facebook page ( is more fun because I occasionally do giveaways and I like the interaction. I'm also on Instagram as joediemer but that feed is a much less formal view of the world than my other sites (i.e. it also includes non-metalworking.)

6. MBZ-what other ways do you market your work?
Joe Diemer- I do the Chicago One of a Kind show. I may do the next Buyer's Market show. If anyone has suggestions for a show that would be a good fit for my style please let me know.
I'm in three galleries in Portland and I do a lot of commissions.

MBZ- Joe also won a Niche award this year!

7. MBZ-do you teach? if so, where-
Joe Diemer- Not really - I've still got a lot to learn! But I have done a few lectures and demos on specific subjects like brazing and electropolishing and I make sourcing handouts to help local artists. I'm completely open with my techniques and artists regularly pop in my studio to experiment - so swing by if you find yourself in Portland Oregon

8. MBZ-any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Joe Diemer- Yes, here are a few things that probably don't get said enough to newbies:
- Be nice to everyone, no matter who they are, but have thick skin if your art is in public.
- Beware of titles and pedantry (and those who overuse them). These things may open some doors in the short term but kill creativity.
- Meditate, or regularly make mental space to think quietly, deeply, and sometimes very specifically about your work. The best muses often have soft voices.
- Write handwritten cards to your galleries or collectors (preferably when you're in a good mood).
- Risk looking stupid. Curiosity is more important than honor. There's something to learn from everyone, and don't be shy about approaching very important people.
- Experience all of the arts. They inspire each other.

9. MBZ- where do you envision your work going in the next year?
Joe Diemer- I've been awarded an artists residency in southern Bohemia for October and November, so I plan to paint while there and then make the blueprints for the next body of work. I'm pretty amped to explore in person what I've only read about and I'm looking forward to seeing how it changes me. Right now I'm making informal 2D work for the upcoming Kickstarter rewards to fund this trip, and it's been a super fun departure from normal.

10. MBZ-anything else you would like to share?
Joe Diemer- Why yes there is - I leave a permanent invitation for all here to honestly comment and make recommendations on my work and my concepts. You are welcome to say exactly what you feel. I realize that MU is mostly jewelers, but please don't let that difference stop your opinions - I appreciate their keen eye. Jewelry was one of the places where decorative ornament was able to "hide out" when it wasn't welcome in architecture etc. so I highly value the opinions. Thanks for the interview!

Joe- thank you for sharing your stunning works with us, I look forward to seeing more in the future!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview everyone! Stay tuned, I post a new one every once in a blue moon, when I have a willing subject and a few open hours. :-)
ciao for now- may the flux be with you! - Maureen BZ