1. How would you describe your style? Are there any artists / designers that you particularly look up to?
I would describe my style as geometric, organic, masculine and feminine, minimal at times and over the top at others. I recently went to the MoMa in SF and finally saw some of Richard Cerra’s work and I totally love it. I love how raw his work is. I think there is an incredible amount of beauty to be found in the rougher things in our world. I also love the work of Ellsworth Kelly. His forms are so clean, minimal and refined, kinda genius how his pieces interact with light. I’m also inspired by a lot of local artists who I’m friends with. Anna Sofia Amezcua, is a wonderful abstract painter. Her work is passionate, soft and explosive and her use of colors is incredible. She’s actually inspired me to try my own hand at painting, which has lead to the hand painted effects that I use on my woodworks. There’s Also Shannon Sullivan, who is a talented ceramicist. I love her process and how she uses a limited amount of shapes in forms in different ways to create so many different pieces that look so distinct from each other. Also, there’s Peggy Loudon, another ceramicist. Her work is refined and clean and very precise and is informed by traditional, beautiful practices.
2. What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own?
All of my compositions feature triangles. I try to use them in as many ways as possible. I try to find a balance between controlling my materials and allowing the natural, rough stuff to shine through.
3. What sort of things inspire you? Where do you look for inspiration?
I’ve always been really fascinated by people and the things that they create. I think that the hardest thing to do is to understand another. There’s a really special sense of knowing a person when you can see what they’ve created. It’s sort of like the old notion of, I wonder if the red I see is the same red you see. I can understand what you are saying, to an extent I can understand what you are feeling but when you create something it’s a synthesis of all of your thoughts, feelings, experiences and hard work. So that can really be anything that people make: paintings, architecture, sculpture, beautiful food presentation, etc. I just try to find any place where people are expressing themselves as purely as possible in what they are creating. That’s the thing that excites me, that’s the thing that makes me want to respond by creating myself.
4. When do you feel the most creative?
I feel the most creative when I’m in my shop. I have big piles of\ raw materials, processed materials, paints, glue, nails, etc. I sometimes feel anxiety about making things or life, but when I’m in my shop, I feel very focused and the rest of the world can be put aside. I love getting into the process of making things. There’s a lot of tedious aspects to what I do, but I love it and embrace it, it has become to me a meditation.
5. What is your creative process like?
I do a little bit of sketching, not as much as I use to. When I’m working out new ideas or color schemes, I like to try them out with making small pieces. I might make 15-20 small things until I feel confident that I know what I want to do on a larger scale. I mostly build all of the pieces in my mind before I even cut a single piece of wood. But while I’m actually making the piece, I do allow myself to take a detour whenever I get a new idea. For me, rules and order allow me to actually be more free and creative and strike out in a different direction.
6. Where can we learn more about you?
On my website jdesoto.com or on Instagram jdesoto_fineartwoodworks
7. Anything you'd like to add that I didn't ask….?
I make art in part as a political statement. We live in a time where unfettered capitalism is the largest and most permeating religion that humanity has seen. This comes at a huge cost to our environment and to each other. We are faced with systems that are tearing us apart from each other and the earth, and causing us to harm and consume everything as much as possible. Ecosystems are destroyed, entire species of animals are wiped from the planet. What we receive from this system in turn, is a bunch of useless, soulless junk that is designed to fail. We have had our psyches hacked and have bought into materialism and money as a source for meaning.
I want, as much a possible, to know that every step of the process of what I create is made with intention. Where do the materials come from? How are thepeople working with the materials I use treated, paid; what are their working conditions like? How is the environment treated?
I want how and why I make things to be central to my art. I want to make thingsthat reduce our environmental impact, I want to make things that last. Ultimately, I want to contribute to a society in which people are paid what they are worth, and through my work, create a place that is supportive of happiness.