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If you like Dale Chihuly's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Frank Gehry,
Philip Johnson,
Maya Lin,
James Rosenquist,
Fritz Scholder
and Wayne Thiebaud

Related Links:
Dale Chihuly
Museum of Glass Pilchuck School

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Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly
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Dale Chihuly Interview (page: 6 / 6)

Master Glass Artist

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  Dale Chihuly

We've talked about training and preparation, but do you think it's also possible for an artist to create meaningful work from pure inspiration before they've spent years learning their craft?

Dale Chihuly: It's harder in art to be thought of as successful when you're young. It's a very rare instance when a young artist succeeds. Working with glass and its qualities makes it more attractive to kids, for example. But it's very unusual to see an important show by an artist under 30.

Where do you get your inspiration? Can you create every day, or do you need to wait for inspiration?

It's important to find ways to help it happen. If you're an artist, you need to work, you need to draw. If you're a writer, you need to write. If you don't allow it to come in, it's less likely to happen. But it can happen in any way. Somebody could write a poem, I suppose, in five minutes, and somebody else might take a year, but that doesn't make one better than the other. It does tend to help to have had a few years' experience, to be creative. Although you can see it, creativity, in young students and young people. Some are more creative than others, but it helps to have understood the craft usually. Like cooking dinner, you know, you might have a shot at if you're 15 years old, but somebody who's 25 years old is gonna better know how to do it. You have to know the materials, and you have to have worked with the materials.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation

How do you judge creativity? Is it how people respond to it?

Dale Chihuly: Let's say that you wanted to judge who was the most creative chef in Sun Valley. There'd be a difference of opinion, but if a newspaper ran a survey, one chef might be the best chef in town, even though not everybody would agree with that. A book could be very popular, but not necessarily the most creative book. It's not easy to put your finger on. Almost everybody agrees that Picasso was very creative.

Dale Chihuly Interview Photo
Dale Chihuly Interview Photo

Do you ever get tired of doing what you do?

Dale Chihuly: I do it for exactly as long as I want to. And then I either stop making work or I think of something else. Hopefully I've already thought of something else when I get to the point. Let's say you're a potter, and there's ten potters in Sun Valley and they're all really good craftsmen, but that does not make them really in any way creative. Craftsmen in general enjoy making the same thing over and over, which is almost contrary to being creative. I can't imagine that a creative person would really like making the same thing day in and day out. But then you get the creative potter too.

You work in a team. Do you think human interaction and feedback are essential for creation?

Dale Chihuly: I read an article this morning -- I think it was in Time -- on Winslow Homer, and it sounded as if he was real crotchety. He left New York, lived in a little place in Maine, I think, by himself. This is the painter Winslow Homer, who some people consider the greatest American artist of the 19th century. There's a big retrospective of his that's about to open at the Met. But here was a strange guy, a great artist that worked -- for whatever reason -- by himself, in isolation. So it takes all kinds.

Do you think similar values or processes are involved in creativity in all fields? Apart from the arts, that is.

Dale Chihuly: We could think of areas that are really creative. We could try to see how many we could come up with, but in many areas, the creativity is not as evident. We all know that people want to have art around them, so we put a value on that, and it has to be creative, by definition almost. In other areas you don't see it as much. In science, you don't think about it in the same way, but it's a similar type of activity. What about something like what Gates and Allen did with Microsoft? I don't know about computers, but I know they invented this software for computers which obviously grew this phenomenal company. I don't know if that was really creative or if somebody else would have thought of it the next week. That's more like business, but how creative was that?

Dale Chihuly Interview Photo
Dale Chihuly Interview Photo

What about the future for you? What's the next intriguing project for you?

Dale Chihuly: I never know. I'm lucky, because now that I'm successful, a lot of things come to me, and I can sort of pick and choose what I want. Some of them can stimulate me and make me think of an idea or a project. But I don't know, it's going to be hard for me. I could have a major letdown after this project, because it's such a huge project for me. It even enters my mind that this is the last thing I want to do. I was asking somebody the other day, "Do artists ever retire?" And everybody would always say, "No, artists never retire. They work 'til they're gone," but I don't believe that. I'll bet you if they didn't, they probably should have, some of them.

One last question. What does the American Dream mean to you?

Dale Chihuly: I've never thought about what the American Dream was, but I guess I would say that it's being able to pursue whatever you want to do. For me it's being able to do what you want to do and survive. For somebody else I suppose it could mean having an income, but who would want to have an income from something you didn't want to do? I guess you might if you were in a place where you couldn't have that, but the American Dream to me is pursuing whatever you want to do and finding a way to be successful at doing it.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us today.

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This page last revised on Dec 06, 2013 13:38 EST
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