Our Marketing & Design intern, Hannah Gray, had the opportunity to talk with some of our Speaking in Species artists. In this Q&A, Hannah learns about Russell F. Gale, Jr.'s motivation to work with wood.
What led you to become an artist?
I went to school for Construction Management and realized I like the scale of furniture better. You know, things that fit on a bench. I’m more comfortable with things that I have control over the whole object. I finished up there and went to the College of Redwoods out in California.
How do you choose which woods to use for your pieces?
Sometimes I have an idea for a piece and I’ll just pick a wood that feels right. And sometimes I’ll have a piece of wood that I’ve been carrying, and because of the size or scale or type of grain, it begs to be a certain thing.
How has your work changed since you first started working with wood?
I’m always changing what I’m drawn to or what I’m excited about – shapes, colors. Now I’m working in a little more functional environment so I’m always eager to create… This is a piece (points to The Garboard Strake) where no thought or attention to time, financial profit, making a living – this was a piece that was purely about me. Other pieces like the bench (Danish Cord Bench) are more about finding something that’s approachable and affordable.
What inspires you to create: commissions, ideas that you have, or something else?
It’s a balance. Commissions are nice because I have a deposit from the get-go, so I can afford to go into the shop and work. And I know that if I build it within a reasonable amount of time, I’m good to go. But there are a lot of times when people don’t want the piece that comes into your head that you really want to see get made. So it’s a balance of doing enough work that pays to then be able to take the time on a piece that didn’t pay the bills, and you just hope that somebody sees it and loves it… but you can’t be relying on that piece to pay your next month’s rent.