Sunday, May 26, 2013

David Canavese

Name: David Canavese

What do you do?
A bit of everything, including painting and drawing, but I’m primarily a sculptor of welded steel, paper, and mixed media. My steel sculptures could be seen as abstract, but are definitely inspired by coral, other undersea creatures, and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. My hyper-detailed paper sculptures depict gigantic technology (architecture and spacecraft) in a tiny scale.

Where can we find your work?
My website (, my Etsy store (, and my DeviantArt (

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
The desire to be a creator just wells up from inside of me.  I’m not truly happy unless I’m making something. Most of all I enjoy building worlds, and imagery allows me to share my imaginings with other people far better than words alone could.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
It’s difficult  to pick just one, but my works in particular are very process-driven. Often I create straight out of my head without sketching or planning, so it often feels like “the process” is another artist I’m collaborating with. Welded steel and paper behave in certain ways, but I also enjoy trying to stretch the limits of that I can do with them.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
I really enjoy the work of concept artists like H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. For conceptual architecture I’d pick Dan Slavinsky. Escher was clearly a bit of an obsessive artist and I can really identify with that. When it comes to sculpture, I like Greg Brotherton. Lee Bontecou is also amazing and might be my favorite artist.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?
It’s hard not to want to be Han Solo, sightseeing the width and breadth of the galaxy while trying to make a quick buck!

When do you get your best ideas?
Usually while I’m working on a project. My metal and paper sculptures are very time-intensive, so I have a lot of time to think as I work.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
A MIG welder for my steel pieces, and paper products (copy paper, index card, mat board) and white glue for my miniature papercraft works. I don’t use a tweezers or any magnification (at least, not yet!).

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
Both. I trained myself in papercraft (starting at age 8) and have experimented and refined my craft continuously since then. I studied studio art (fine art) at Santa Clara University (with an sculpture emphasis). My instructors taught me that art is problem-solving. Long before I ever heard Tim Gunn say, “make it work!” I was hearing the same thing from my teachers.

What would your creative work taste like?
One artwork would be metallic and a bit rusty, but another would be quite pulpy.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
My other career is teaching ballroom, latin, swing and salsa dancing, so I enjoy getting out and cutting a rug.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
Creativity has always been a part of my life, but as an introverted person, maintaining a public presence and promoting my artwork has been a real challenge. I still struggle with trying to sell my artwork. But I do enjoy getting direct feedback from people. That’s the rewarding part.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures? 
I know my art won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m absolutely fine with that, because there’s lots of artwork that I appreciate, but there are only a handful of artists whose work grabs a hold of me and won’t let go! At the end of the day, I’m trying to make art that fills a void in my head when I’m looking around at the world. If there was a lot of stuff out there like mine I’d feel redundant and probably wouldn’t feel the same drive to create. Find what’s missing from the world (from your perspective) and find a way to bring it here!

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