For this week’s Worldwide Wednesday we are heading back to America, this time to Washington, D.C to meet a man that has worked around the world in a variety of creative genres.
As before I should start by formally introducing you. Readers, this is Michael Janis.
As mentioned in last week’s post, the questions are the same for each Worldwide Wednesday participant, so I was quite excited when Michael’s email came through and I couldn’t wait to start reading, so without any further delay here is what Michael had to say…
Please can you provide a brief introduction to yourself, where in the world you are and let everyone know what you currently do in the arts/crafts industry.
I am a glass artist from Washington, D.C., and am one of the Co-Directors of the Washington Glass School. I work with all manners of kiln-fomed glass. I like to use crushed glass frit powder to create detailed imagery fused into glass.
When did you begin working in the creative industry and what was the seminal or defining moment that put you on that path?
Originally, I was an architect for 20 years, in the USA and in Australia. As an architect in Australia, I was fascinated by the way the artists were working with glass, and began to use cast glass in architectural fit-outs. An early glass project for me was the design for the British Consulate in Brisbane, Australia. For the formal entry, I envisioned a dimensionally cast UK coat of arms in back painted glass, surrounded by native Australian wood panels.
As an architect, I wanted the glass to do many things at once, and the glass studio invited me to come and see the process, so I could better understand what I was specifying. After that, I was hooked – glass increasingly became the featured element in my designs. Years later, when returning to the US, I made the big switch and began a new phase in my life as a glass artist.
Is what you do now what you imagined you would be doing when you first started out?
Not at all what I imagined, but then I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no idea that any of what was coming. One opportunity always seemed to lead to the next. I was lucky to have relocated to a city that is, on the surface, a bureaucratic jungle – which Washington, DC indeed, is – but upon closer examination, has a thriving arts and craft scene. Washington also is Sister City to Sunderland, England, and we began establishing a connection to the UK’s National Glass Centre and the glass artists from the North East.
Thinking back through the years, what memorable responses have you had to your work?
In the US, there is a satirical newspaper called ‘The Onion’. The local sections review the arts in the area, and they once did a story on the Washington, DC glass scene, using my artwork on the cover thumbnail – with the story tag: “Creepiest F****** Windows Ever”. A proud moment.
What has been most important to you as an artist or crafter – a mentor, support, knowledge, advice, information, funding, family, friends … etc?
As an artist – mentor, support, knowledge, funding, etc are ALL important. In my case, I’ve mixed funding and family to be the most important element. My wife (and her job) gave me the necessary support (emotional and financial) to get knowledge and join the glass world.
How have you changed during your career and do you see room for more changes in the coming years?
My work has become more personal in its content, and I see my work constantly evolving.
Who/What inspires you?
Day to day life inspires me – I attempt to view all aspects of life as inspiration, and I think it can come from anywhere. I don’t let external influences tell me what’s good inspiration and what’s not. Anything could be good inspiration, the boring, the adventurous, the monotonous, the good, the bad, all of it,.
How would you describe a creative life? Fun, challenging, rewarding … etc?
A creative life involves risk. One learns from the mistakes (hopefully) and keep going forward.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have many things going on in various states of completion. I am preparing to teach out at Penland School of Craft in August, finishing up two separate collaborative architectural glass public art projects, one by commissioned by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities for a new healthcare facility and one commissioned by a nearby suburban city council for a courthouse plaza. I also am in the midst of developing artworks for an exhibition– Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (S.O.F.A.) at Chicago’s Navy Pier later in the year.
What future project(s) are you most looking forward to?
I’ve been asked to teach a master class in Swansea in early 2015 – which would be a hoot!
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What hobbies (creative or non-creative) do you have?
All my energy goes into the studio. I see everything in my life as one -I don’t like to make separations. Everything gets the same level of care and intensity; my life is one project.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a bit OCD, and I really like to just get things done. Oh wait… everyone knows that.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
Surround yourself with creative people –not only people labelled as creatives but also those who innately have a creative/artistic soul – some of the most artistic and creative people I have met have been accountants/engineers/IT people.
Where else can we find you? (Blog, website, twitter, facebook etc)
- One can look online at the my personal artwork website: http://www.michaeljanis.com
- Or the Washington Glass School site: http://www.washglass.com
- Or look up on Facebook
Ok, having seen Michael’s work, I couldn’t resist sharing a few more of the images that he sent me as they are so incredible!
Well, I don’t know about you but I am truly inspired by Michael and his work. What did you think?
Ok, well dear readers, I could have stayed longer but sadly that’s it for this week’s trip. It’s time to out the towels back and whip out those passports for the trip home.
Please feel free to leave comments/feedback etc in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you next week – where will we be heading next time?!