This month I’ve tied the two artist featured In the Studio together via location, Maine! Today we are In the Studio with Sarajo Karl Belvedere. It’s all about connections and I’ll be continuing in this manner to connect the artist via medium, location or some other thread each month in 2015. I happened across this Antique Asian Textile shop when a friend was showing us around the Portland arts district. I saw amazing textiles in the window (which my friend is also a huge fan of) and so we were pulled right into the vortex…and so glad we were! I was mesmerized by the incredible textile collection at Sarajo. After a few minutes looking around I spoke with the young man working in the gallery and learned that he was the conservator and that he did the work right in the back of the shop…so I boldly asked right there on the spot of I could take some photos and “Interview” him via email when I returned. Thankfully Glen agreed and I’m so happy to share not only his work space at Sarajo but also his home art studio.
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
GM:: I was drawing before I can remember and by age ten was determined to be a comic artist.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with and are there specific tools or materials you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
GM:: At Sarajo I work primarily on antique textiles and use basic hand sewing tools. Aside from textiles, I’ve also repaired objects made of wood, ceramics, glass, paper, barkcloth, hair, bone, metal, feathers and the list goes on. Hence, there seems to be no end to the tools and materials that I use at work. Most of my sewing supplies are attached to my work table or in the closets behind me. I keep my trusty shears in a holster on my belt.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
GM:: I repair antiques in the back of the gallery. My workspace is roughly 400 square feet and I’ve been there six years.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
GM:: It varies somewhat, depending on how many antiques my boss has purchased at the time and how time-consuming whatever I’m working on is. On average, I’d say that I repair four or five objects at a time.
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
GM:: The set up definitely evolved organically. I wasn’t completely sure what my job was going to be and my boss had never hired someone to specifically do conservation before. Each new assignment required a new procedure that had to be researched. As I read everything from textile conservation manuals to woodworking guides, I learned which tools I needed to purchase or make and hung them from hooks on my worktable, the wall or made shelf space.
HKPS:: Do you consider yourself to be an organized person? How or where have you learn your organizing habits and systems? Have you ever worked with another artist or gallery that you learned any organization from?
GM:: I would say that I’m organized even if it doesn’t always look like it. I’ve mostly learned to organize by trial and error, due to the fact that I need to work in a space for a while before I can really know where everything needs to be. That said, I’ve also learned to organize from previous jobs and art school. I was a shop tech for the printmaking department at Kansas University and my primary job was to keep the place neat and clean.
HKPS:: What tips can you offer regarding your use of schedules, systems, tools or processes that help you maintain organization in your studio? Do you purge, clean or de-clutter your supply stash and space on a regular basis?
GM:: I do purge the space of things like spare cardboard and fabric scraps every few months or so. For safety’s sake I always try to keep the the floor clean and first aid easily accessible.
HKPS:: Please describe how creative cycles of organization or dis-organization affect your creative process? Are there certain phases of projects that are more or less organized?
GM:: As I work on more than one project at a time, it’s hard to keep the space continually clean. It’s also important to have space to work, though, so I take short breaks throughout the process to clean up.
HKPS:: How much thought do you give to your artistic body of work in terms of historic value and the overall legacy you will leave behind? How do you store/archive your work or records?
GM:: I work on antiques, so I suppose the historic value is already established. My primary goal is always to assure that these things will last as long as possible. Most of the textiles are folded and stored in rolling shelves, behind glass. The more fragile ones are rolled on tubes as they cannot withstand folding.
My greatest wish is that through seeing how other artist work we can learn from one another. There is no ONE correct system or way of organizing. There are as many creative systems as their creative makers! My aim is to highlight these unique makers in each interview. A HUGE thank you to Glen for allowing me to intrude and put him on the spot in the shop! It was so inspiring to see both his conservation and his personal art studio. Thank you Glen (aka Karl) for sharing both spaces with all of us and how organizing affects his creative process in all of his creative work. I’m envious of his job and was amazed that he learned all his conservation skills while on the job! His work is truly amazing and speaks to the historic value and cultural legacy of textiles all over the world. I’m so grateful for companies like Sarajo and the talented conservators who work with them. It was such a delight to stumble across Sarajo last fall and I’ve been so excited to share this. Please check out their website (or go in person if you are in Portland) and the personal work of Karl Belvedere who is a really talented artist working in all sorts of mediums AND you can Ask Him Anything!
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!