Guest Post: Interview With Collette

by Collette on June 14, 2011

I had the opportunity to sit down with Collette Collins and ask her about her work.  As a luthier’s apprentice, and currently a graduate student in Linguistics, I’ve always been interested in the craftsmanship behind Collette’s work.  I first met her when she was playing music in Seattle, and though I’ve gotten to know her more it was great to sit down with her and ask some questions.

Mari: So, you’re an architectural artist?  What does that mean?
CC: “Basically I start with the floor and bare walls and design spaces for living, working, playing…playing music.  An architect builds the house– and I take it from there.  Like an interior designer who can fabricate every one of her suggestions.”
Mari: So, do you ever work with interior designers?
CC: “yeah, especially those with good taste (laughs).  It all depends on what’s best for the client and what they want, that comes first.”
Mari: How did you come to be a woodworker? It’s a little unusual for a woman to make furniture don’t you think?
CC: “Not in my family!  I was lucky enough to take for granted the creativity and dexterity that surrounded me.  My mom could make a scientific model from a bit of Styrofoam, glue, and a sharpie; my aunt Dorothy was an oil painter who lived on her houseboat.  She was the first to invite me to express my vision through a [tangible] object.  I was probably 12 years old when Aunt Dorothy handed me a piece of driftwood and asked me: “what do you see?”
From then on I saw that creating wasn’t inventing from zero, but more like transforming material to expose an idea that already existed.”
Mari: Did you always know you wanted to be a sculptor?
CC: “Well, I was always making things with my hands.  Whatever we needed, I made it– skateboards, forts, tepees; I would just grab whatever was on hand and go for it.”
Mari: Sounds like fun.  How did you get connected with your current craft?
CC: “I studied music, and then Fine Art at Cabrillo College and San Francisco State University.  Studying Art cracked opened the world for me, — materials, possibilities, ideas.  Like my aunt’s question: “what do you see?;” Observing myriad materials transformed in the hands of teachers and artists was an invitation to use my imagination. If I could imagine it, I could build it.  And I soon realized I could build out of anything.”
Mari: How did you learn how to use so many mediums?
CC: “After school I got a job in the movie business and worked long hours building sets.  I learned a lot, and it gave me the opportunity to hone my skills with many different kinds of materials.”
Mari: Does that translate into the current work you do?
CC: “Oh, yes.  Definitely.  I am so inspired by all kinds of sources and materials. My latest love – encaustic painting [link to pictures] – combines leather, rubber, acrylic, veneer, exotic and salvaged wood- has really ignited more ideas.
Mari: How would you label yourself?
CC: “Just one label? Okay.  I’m an artist.  An Artist-architect.  Craftsperson.  Maker. Designer.  You could say I have the hands of a maker and the vision of an artist.”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: