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 Brian Fireman's thoughts on design and creativity.
How did you come into this career?
I got a job working for a company building traditional timber frame structures. I enjoyed the entire process, from layout to cutting the joints, assembling the frame, and finally watching it take shape on site. Building furniture is a similar process, on a different scale.
There are certain requirements that are expected from functional furniture (four legs, arm rests, etc)… do you think these requirements limit or enhance your creativity? How so?
Design would be impossible without some limits. Limits imposed by the structural requirements of any given piece only enhance one's creative freedom. For example, in the Swallowtail chair shown in the exhibition, I desired a continuous back and arms. The freedom was in designing around the idea of "back". Decisions were made regarding the joinery between back and arm, the split in the back, the shape of the back, the shape of the arms, hard sculptural lines in contrast with rounded edges, and the connections between arm/front leg and back/rear leg.
Where do you get your wood from, and why do you use this type/species?
I use mostly local hardwoods, but typically large slabs come from specialty yards.
How do you know when a piece is finished? Do you ever go back and change pieces you have done in the past?
It's never finished, but at some point you've just got to rub some oil on it!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Different places different times, sometimes the material itself, sometimes a structural or formal idea I desire to express, sometimes from a walk in the woods.
What has surprised you most about being an artist?
Well, it's kind of how I thought it would be... a lot of fun!