Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Huckaby.
Jeff, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Like a lot of folks that make their living doing something visually creative, I’ve always sketched and painted since I was a young teen. I started attending life-drawing classes at a community college in Tampa, Florida but was lured away by a job in entertainment at Walt Disney World and never went back to finish a degree. Yet still, in between parades and shows, there I’d be with a sketchbook in hand. While working for Disney, I was able to land a six-month paid internship with the creative arm of the company, Walt Disney Imagineering. Years later, a fellow cast-member and friend from Magic Kingdom Entertainment who holds an interior design degree started working for a great design firm once he left Disney. He knew I always had some kind of art project going on and called me up to see if I was interested in doing some creative painting work for one of his firm’s projects. Eventually I began working so much at painting for them that I left the “Mouse” and started my own art-studio business in 1996. I cherish my time working for Disney; there are some very fond memories there.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Concept and chosen materials dictate where my work goes. I get much inspiration simply from putting myself in motion and getting my hands dirty. Many ideas come through experimenting with materials in this unstructured way. Lately, I’m completely devoted to mold-making and casting. Making dimensional, multi-unit concepts for wall installations (as in many parts that make a whole) is a really refreshing new discipline to master. I get mentally intoxicated with the possibilities of this new direction. Regarding creative process, sometimes concept comes before dedication to a specific material, so it’s important to remain open to working with new mediums.
Working with the interior design community for so long has stretched my abilities and knowledge of materials in this way. It has also made my mind work in such a manner as to see through the lens of concept more often than not. What’s really exciting is when knowledge of materials and a fresh idea converge at the same time. Suddenly that prior material experiment that seemingly went awry becomes priceless when coupled with a lightning bolt concept you never saw coming. It’s quite addicting, this creative profession I seemingly stumbled into so many years ago. I’m never “not working”, even when I’m not working. What I hope people experience when they enco
unter any type of work I’ve done is a “whoa! That’s so cool and it just makes me feel good to be around it” moment (and then want to take it home with them of course!). Quality-wise, the things I choose to create have a very high-bar to reach. I’m unsure if that comes from rising to meet higher-end standards for interior designers or because at heart I’m a perfectionist; I suppose those two complement one another and have helped me become a stronger artist. I believe when something is made well, it advocates beyond the maker and his creative vision and dedication to his craft. Quality reverberates beyond style and genre; it can make something timeless. Creatively, I don’t believe art must absolutely have a message to be valid. For me, viewing art is experiential. Are words really needed to have a beautiful experience of something? I don’t think so.
The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Yes, it is true. There are periods on this career path when suddenly the phone stops ringing for a while. When that happens, it’s time to hit the pavement and remind your client base that you are still around and looking for a project. Networking and cold-calling in person are necessary all the time, but especially during slow periods. Dry-spells happen and they can be rough, not only on one’s finances but on one’s morale. During tough times, if artists can remain afloat until creative work starts to happen again, it can be a period of great artistic growth. Maybe the pause is a chance to reconsider the genre of art one wants to produce, or perhaps the unwanted down-time is a chance to hone a skill or technique that need polishing.
In 2008 when the economy crashed, work dried up for years. It… was…brutal. I decided then to commit myself to mastering painting in the historically ornate, Italian manner called “Grotesque” (or grottesca). I gambled and dipped into savings to learn the process from one of the best (Carolina D’Ayala Valva) and it was money well invested. I found myself able to stretch abilities and nudge my way into a niche artistic market that was still active at the time back east. I never would have gone in that direction and learned all I did were it not for that financial crisis. The decision to invest in gaining a new skill provided a bridge to a recovering market, not to mention all of the fantastic fellow painters I met along the way. Tough times can absolutely be fruitful in one way or another for a creative individual. It’s important to have faith in one’s self and to go beyond that of which you believe yourself capable.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Right now, my work can only be seen on-line; I’m not actively selling anywhere local or on any on-line marketplace. That isn’t to say I don’t welcome contact or interest about purchasing via the contact page on my website or through Instagram messages. But I currently work privately with clients for commissions and also with designers and their clients. I’ve not dipped my toe into the art gallery world but for a small gallery in Florida, where I still have a few pieces.
I’m not saying I never would pursue that at some point, but for now my interest is to continue down the road I’m on currently. I am beginning to dialogue with some art consulting agencies about producing pieces for some of their corporate clients. That’s new and very exciting. I do think quite a bit these days about creating an on-line shop to offer some of the things I’m making of late. Now, If I could only pry myself away from my studio long enough to focus on that.
- Website: jeff-huckaby.com
- Phone: 480-848-7500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeffhuckabystudio/
- Other: http://jetohu.tumblr.com
Pillows and bench are work of Valerie Borden of Chimera Interior Design Image Credit: