We continue our series of posts interviewing “recycled art” crafters & artists. This week, we interviewed Gabriel Dishaw, a sculptor we follow since a long time as we love his works mainly made from recycled computer & typewriter parts. If you think you deserve to be featured in the next interview, please, drop us an email.
Tell us a little more about you? Who you are? Where are you from?
My passion for working with metal and mechanical objects has been essential in the evolution of my art. It provides me an avenue to express myself in a way that brings new life to materials such as typewriters, adding machines and old computers – technology that would normally end up in a landfill. My mission is to create dialogue and help find creative, environmentally sound ways of re-purposing e-waste. I was born and raised in Michigan, but now live in Indianapolis, Indiana.
How did you become an Upcycled Artist?
I’ve always been an artistic individual and was enrolled in advanced art classes in school, but I truly found my passion for this particular art form in 9th Grade. My teacher posted 30 art project ideas on the chalk board for us to choose from and make it our own. One of the items listed was “Junk Art.” To be honest, I had no idea what that was so I did a bit of research then went into my dad’s garage and began to tinker. That’s one of those moments you look back on and think had the art teacher not offered that particular project, I don’t know I would have emerged an artist in this genre.
Since when are you working with junk materials and in upcycling in general?
It started in 9th grade so that would be 19 years I have been refining my process. Wow how time fly’s.
Your works are mainly done with recycled electronics & typewriter parts. Could you tell us from where come this choice of materials?
I find adding machines and typewriters to be the most useful when sourcing parts for projects. They have similar elements such as striker keys and gears in duplicate quantities, which makes it easier to create symmetrical designs. Beyond that, I often go to antique shops looking for unique items – something no one in their right mind would buy. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Where did you find your raw materials for your sculptures, are you searching for them or are there coming to you as you are now well known in the recycled art world?
I get them from all over but, mostly from Family/Friends and my local antique/flee markets. I have even had instances where people have dropped stuff off at my door step knowing that I will put good use to some they don't want to see end up in a landfill.
Your pieces of art are very complexes, how long does it take to create one?
Much of that depends on the scale and complexity of the sculpture – and a bit of luck finding the right pieces to the puzzle. Some of my smaller projects can take approximately 40 hours to complete, however, I might have spent several hours simply digging through my bins to locate the hundreds of parts needed to construct it. I pride myself in adding hidden details to each art piece which takes time and is not easily translated through pictures.
On your website, you sell your pieces of art, are you able to live with your recycling art?
I do have a day job, but the plan is to gain financial independence and create fulltime. To me my craft is not work it’s my true passion.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
These are in no particular order: Instagram, foredom drill, my I-phone, star wars, audible.com (I really enjoy listening to audio books when I sculpt.), Netflix.
How is your workspace, how do you make it inspiring?
My work space is my converted 2 car garage. Which I have created into a very nice work space with heaters TV, speakers all the amenities I need to stay comfortable and creative. When I get my hands on my supplies (junk) I work to disassemble the piece down to its smallest components I then sort those items with in plastic bins. Just image hundreds of plastic shoe bins filled with electronic parts that my work space.
What sorts of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you look for inspiration?
I get a ton of my inspiration from Instagram there are so many talented people that I follow. Generally I begin a project without any defined plan. Instead, I look for how well pieces work together or how they move and then let those materials drive the color scheme or overall endpoint of where an idea will land, what it will turn into. For instance, the inspiration for one of my horse sculptures, “Rearing Horse,” came to me while taking apart an old adding machine. Some of the pieces reminded me of a horse’s head. The rest just fell into place. For a commissioned pieces, it’s a bit of a different story. The theme is very much inspired by the client, their history and the story to be told through my art.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Craft Beer! I really enjoy an Indiana beer call Gumball Head by Three Floyds Brewery.
What is your favorite thing to do (other than art)?
Playing my Xbox1… I’m really into Fallout4 right now.
What are your tips for people who'd like to start recycling art?
The materials aren’t very hard to find, they are all around us… I would start with just taking things apart and trying to reimagine the parts and pieces as something different. This is a skill you must practice but I get a lot of enjoyment out of the taking things apart. I think it helps to satisfy my curious nature.
To finish, your art clearly show that you’re a big fan of Star Wars, did you liked the last opus?
I loved the new movie it was great! In fact I saw it twice. They definitely made this movie for the fans.
Thanks a lot Gabriel for this interview! :)
To find more about Gabriel: