Frequently Asked Interview Questions and Answers of American Metal Sculptor and Artist Bruce Gray

Are there interviews you have done on video that I can watch?
Yes, here is a link to my interviews that are available on YouTube. There are also videos of my kinetic sculptures as well as my shark dive, and other miscellaneous cool stuff.

0. When and where were you born?
In a faraway land called Orange, New Jersey in 1956.

1. What artists inspire you?
David Smith, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso,
Salvador Dali, Wassily Kandinsky, Keith Haring, Jean Tinguely, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Claes Oldenburg.
2. When did you become an artist?
I have been interested in creative expression in one form or another since I was a small child. When I was young I loved to draw, paint, and build things. I never took any courses in art in high school, but did enjoy all the wood shop and drafting classes that I took, and I also loved photography. I built a completely handmade electric guitar as a senior wood shop project. I got into silkscreening at about the age of 12, and made lots of fun T shirts for many years. After high school I joined the Coast Guard, and learned scrimshaw, and got even more interested in photography. Near the end of my 4 year enlistment, I decided to try to get in to an art school back home in Massachusetts. I applied to the University of Massachusetts, but was told I would need to submit an art portfolio. I didn't have one, so I drew a few pencil drawings and sent them in. They were not very good, and were done in a few hours. My portfolio was rejected. A few months later, I got a notice that if I met with the Dean of the design school and did some drawings for him, that I might be considered for admission. I met him and did a couple of drawings. I was not feeling very confident in my abilities, and nearly walked out. However the Dean said that I had promise, and I was let in on a probationary basis, meaning that I had to keep a B average to stay. I had just spent 4 very long but beneficial years in the military to get my college paid for, and my years of being a slacker in school were over. I worked very hard in college and loved every minute of it. I often did extra examples for school projects. I majored in Design and got a BFA in Design after 4 years. I also studied drawing, photography, art history, sculpture, typography, illustration, jewelry making, etc. When I graduated in 1983, I moved to Boston and got jobs in photography and advertising. Then after about 5 years, I felt like I was not living up to my creative potential, and wanted to create my own ideas somehow. This point was amplified by the sudden death of my mother. I realized that life is short, and there are no guarantees for tomorrow. One day at work, it dawned on me that I should search further for my lifes calling, and I quit on the spot. (I found that this is how you get offered a raise) Later I decided to drive to North Carolina to do some windsurfing and think about what to do next. I didn't find my answer after a few days, and ended up driving all the way to Mexico City before I reached any conclusion. I then drove back to Massachusetts, and packed up my car and moved to Los Angeles in January 1989 to become some sort of artist. I struggled hard at first, working only in wood. Most of my ideas lent themselves to steel rather than wood however, so I bought a welder and taught myself how to use it. That is how I got started as a sculptor. (Click here for page of paintings starting at age 8)
3. What inspires you?
I find that I can be inspired by almost or art gallery shows, architecture, cool shapes, other artists, nature, pop culture, TV, animals, friends, music, things I see while scuba diving, etc. The key is to look at all things, even the most common or uninteresting, as a potential source of inspiration. (Examples of this: My Big Cheese sculpture, or metal insect sculptures.) Take the time to really appreciate interesting visual stimuli that you come across in your lifes travels. Learn to observe and think more visually.
4. What motivates you?
I am very motivated by the desire to create as many interesting art forms as possible. I LOVE making sculptures, and I love to have lots of them around me at my studio. I enjoy seeing how my art affects people in positive ways. It is rewarding to see people smile, laugh, stare in astonishment, or plead with you to demonstate kinetic sculptures again and again. It is also great to get comments from your collectors on how much they enjoy having the sculpture at their home or office. My current ambition is to get my work in as many modern art museum's permanent collections as I can. I am also very interested in doing much larger sculptures for public places.
5. What advise can you give to beginning artists?
First decide what you want to accomplish with art. Do you want to create art because you are driven to do it, and don't care about making a living from it? Do you want to make a living by selling your creations? If you want to be a famous and prosperous artist, you should be ready to work extremely hard, and be willing to make many sacrifices for many years to do so. Do you want to make your art full time, or will you have a "regular" job and do art on the side? Due to the serious level of difficulty in making a living as a sculptor, I would strongly suggest that you find another primary source of income, especially at first. If you are still in school, you should try to learn things that will help your art career, such as taking a course in marketing, advertising, photography, acccounting, website design, wood shop, metal shop, drafting, art class, etc, that will make running your own business much cheaper and easier. If you are thinking of going to college for art, you will be expected to have a decent portfolio, so try to take as many art related courses as you can. (I never took any art classes in high school, which I have always regreted.) The reality is that it is very hard to make a living as an artist, and you should know that most artists do have a regular job to pay the bills. You have to be able to deal with living hand to mouth with a huge amout of uncertainty as to where your next job or check will come from. It can be done however if you have talent, a lot of drive and a lot of self motivation. It is also one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life. You should also be willing to relocate to a city that is a major center in the art world, like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Paris, etc. Make sure to experiment in lots of artistic ways, and see what ends up being the most satisfying form of expression for you. Do what you feel passion for, and take any criticism or suggestions as only one persons opinion- possibly having merit, and also quite possibly having no merit at all. The key is PASSION! It shows in your work. BUY A CAMERA!!! No artist, sculptor, designer, or art student should be without a camera. Even if you have to buy a real cheap one to start. Photograph all your work, and also interesting places and people and things that you find inspiring. Learn how to look at things from different angles. (Living as an artist is often an unpredicible life, but in my opinion it is very well worth it.)
6. Did your upbringing influence your work?
Yes, I moved around every year or two as a child, and I found that drawing and such were great ways to pass the time when you are moving around, or are the new kid in town and don't have friends yet. My mother encouraged my creativity as a child by giving me art supplies and lots of construction related toys like lego, erector sets, blocks, and woodworking tools. When I was in 7th grade, I would walk over to the nearby golf course and caddy 2 bags every weekend until I saved up enough money to buy a bicycle. This sense of reward and accomplishment for hard work has stuck with me my whole life.
7. What is there to gain by making sculptures?
There are few things as rewarding as being able to come up with an idea in your head, and then having the object exist in front of you in a few days (or months). It is also very gratifying to have people want to showcase your work in their home or business, and pay good money to do so. Sculptures can change peoples moods or make them think about a certain topic or emotion that you want to bring to their attention.
8. Why are you so passionate about sculpture?
I suppose it is because I am a very visual person. I love beautiful or interesting shapes, textures, and objects, and it is great to be able to make them myself. There are many of my sculptures that I have a hard time letting go of when they sell. If I didn't need the money, I would keep many of them for myself. At the age of 45, (2001) I discovered that I am dyslexic. The interesting fact is that dylexia is considered more of an asset than a handicap when it comes to sculptors and other people that work in 3 dimensions or abstract concepts. This fact is very interesting to me, and I plan on learning more about this connection. Some of my favorite artists that were dyslexic include Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Robert Rauchenberg, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and August Rodin. People with dyslexia are found to be exceptional creative and abstract thinkers, having the ability to see "the big picture." Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and the Wright brothers had dyslexia as well. I feel that I should have started being a sculptor at a much younger age than I did, and now I am trying to make up for lost time.
9. What do you love about life, and what do you hate?
My greatest loves are my circle of best friends, music, art, nature, and the fact that you can really accomplish anything if you work hard enough for it. The things I hate the most are mean people, pollution, intolerance, mistreatment of the earth and animals, war.
10. What are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future?
I am currently finishing a few recent commissions, and I want to make some more kinetic sculptures soon incorporating wind and water. I plan on experimenting in many new areas of creative expression including music, animation, and film. I have also been doing several different styles of abstract modern paintings with acrylics and oil pastels. Painting is much more relaxing than the aggressive sport of metal fabrication.
11. What are your goals for the future?
I am mostly interested in getting my sculptures into as many major art museums as possible, preferably in their permanent collection or for a solo show. I am very interested in getting my work into the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art here in Los Angeles. I also dream of the day that I can purchase several acres of land and design my own home with a huge sculpture studio attached, and a masssive outdoor sculpture garden. I am also very interested in doing much larger sculptures for outdoor public places. My other goal is to collaborate on projects with some of my favorite living architects, like Frank O. Gehry, Thom Mayne, or Bart Prince.
12. When did you make your first sculpture?
I think I was in about 7th grade. I made a small colored plexiglas sculpture that I have a photo of someplace. I started with drawing and painting at a much younger age.
13. What mediums do you work in and why?
I mostly work in metal because of its strength, durability and availability of a vast variety of ways you can get it, ie: tubes, rods, spheres etc. All these elements can be attached by a simple weld. I like other mediums as well including wood, and also painting, but metal is currently my favorite. I feel there are less limitations in what you can do with the material, for most of the styles of work that I like to create.
14. Are there other members of your family who are artists?
My brother Eric is a talented drummer, excellent chef, and is getting very into photography now. He recently shot some photos of me working. My father Robert has done a few drawings and paintings. See his painting here.
What obstacles do you face in making and exhibiting your work?
First, the obstacles in making work are having the money for the project, (especially larger and time consuming works) and the tools needed to accomplish construction. There can also be physical recovery time needed after building a large heavy sculpture.
Second, exhibiting work is difficult because the sculptures are mostly large and heavy and very hard physical work to transport and set up. Finding new venues for exhibiting is just a matter of dedicating time and effort to research. I do not spend enough time in this area because I would rather be building new sculptures. I have heard that you should be spending about 80% of your time on marketing, and 20% on creating new art. I think this is good advise, however I am probably doing the reverse.
If you are an artist just starting out, you must search for art galleries that would carry your kind of work, and make an appointment with them, or arrange to send them slides of your work. Art gallery owners usually do not like artists to show up with their portfolio without an appointment. They will most likely want you to send a sheet of 10-20 slides first, so they can see if your work fits with the theme or style of their gallery. It is not uncommon for an art gallery to be booked ahead for a year or more. You should have a fairly substantial portfolio before you approach a gallery. Try to photograph everything you make.
What are your favorite sculptures you have made?
The giant Motorcycle sculpture is one of my favorites. Click here to see my "Top Ten List."
17. What is your average day like?
I have a live in artist studio, so I have no commute to deal with. I get up at anywhere from 6-9 am, put on some tunes, drink a soda, check my email, then get right into welding or working on a current project. Some days I spend just dealing with miscellaneous business stuff like marketing, advertising, photography, taxes, preparing and sending out requested photo packages, cleaning the studio, taking care of my sculpture garden, etc. Being a sculptor is kind of like having unsupervised shop class almost every day for the rest of your life.
18. What do you like doing when you are not making sculptures?
Most favorite thing to be doing is hanging out with my best friends. Barbeques and beer, parties, windsurfing, sailing to Catalina, scuba diving, snorkeling, photography, mountain biking, driving my sportscar (944) down a curvy road with a beautiful scenic background, etc.
19. What other forms of creativity do you like, other than sculpture?
Music, Architecture, Films, Painting, Performance Art, Interior Design, Sports Cars, Photography.
20. Any other advise for artists trying to get established?
You have to get your work in front of as large of an audience as possible. Postcards are a cheap and easy way to get started. Credit cards can be the only loans available to the small businessman, so unless you can get a business loan (which basically means owning real estate) you will probably have to rely on the use of credit cards for aquiring the essentials like a computer (Artists prefer Macs) etc. Use them only when you really need to, and pay them off ASAP!
21. How did you learn to weld?
I didn't go to one of those fancy Beverly Hills welding schools or anything. I just bought a welder and learned by trial and error, and also by asking questions at the welding supply store.
22. Where do you get your metal from?
I get all my metal from my good friends over at Industrial Metal Supply, in Sunland, CA. Great people, great selection, and free delivery. Almost every artist I know gets their metal from these guys. I just got a large commission to do several sculptures for their new larger store location.
Click here to visit their website
23. What is your favorite color?
Red, then blue next.
24. Why do you make giant high heel shoe sculptures?

I get a lot of questions about this. There are several reasons.
a. They are part of my series of giant oversized objects including swiss cheese wedges, keys, insects, cats, dogs, guitars, etc. The thing all these things have in common is that they are interesting shapes. Look beyond what the items function is, and just look at the interesting shapes they are comprised of. These items become even more interesting using exaggerated size, stylization, or altered proportions.
b. They have huge following in the world of collectables and high fashion, and inspire a passion in many people that can only be described as fetishistic. My shoe sculptures have received more press than any other sculptures or paintings that I have done so far. See press clippings here.
c. I personally think they are very attractive.
d. They sell.
25. What would be the ideal sculptors studio?
I get a lot of questions about this from architecture students who are assigned to design a sculptors studio.
Here is my studio wish list.
1. ground floor- for materials delivery, and large sculpture issues etc.
2. concrete floor- for welding and fire issues
3. skylights- for free lighting during day
4. large rollup door
5. overhead powered mini crane system for moving stuff around
6. separate office- dust free and a/c
7. separate living area
8. fenced in yard with garden to display outdoor sculptures
9. large workshop with good ventilation and windows, also second bathroom in shop with sink and toilet only
10. large sculpture display room
11. enclosed dust free built in photo "cove" to be able to leave lights etc in place
12. darkroom
13. lots of power outlets and 220 for shop
14. outdoor "party" deck on roof with grill and chairs etc.
15. well insulated for temperature and also noise
16. flourescent overhead lights, and spotlights on tracks for display room
17. easy access driveway for metal delivery trucks
18. parking for lots of visitors
Thats about it, except for a nice view.
26. Can I visit your studio?
Yes, but by appointment only, PLEASE!
Do not just show up at my studio without contacting me first. I am very busy, and not always available to show you my studio, or look at your portfolio, and I am not hiring any employees at this point.
27. What is your favorite experience as an artist?
One of the things I have enjoyed the most was being asked to display a sculpture at the renowned TED (Technology Entertainment Design) Conferences. What an incredible and inspiring experience to be included at an event featuring many of the greatest minds and talents in the world. I even got to play drums with Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead. I have a web page of photos, details and links to TED here.
28. What is your inspiration for your "Raindrops" and "Spots" series of abstract paintings?
I have been getting lots of questions about these paintings lately, so here is the scoop. I actually started doing the paintings because my hands get numb when I do too much metal grinding on my sculptures, and I wanted to do something else creative that was less taxing on my body, when I needed a break.
Both those styles of paintings involve overlapping circles, and I am very focused on the relationship of the colors next to each other. In the "Spots" series I am also paying a lot of attention to the negative spaces. I also enjoy the dramatic vibrating optical illusion effect that is created by my use of opposite colors next to each other. I love the use of bright colors which can add an uplifting sort of energy to a room and to the viewer. The "Raindrops" series is loosely based on the look of a puddle of water with multiple drops of rain landing all over it creating lots of rippling concentric circles. I really like having these paintings in my studio, and never get tired of looking at them, which is also a major motivation in creating them. I tend to make things that I want to have and enjoy myself, more than making things that I just want to sell. I always paint with music in the background too. Everything from the latest from Green Day to classics from Miles Davis and Fela Kuti.
29. Why do you use circles so frequently in your work, especially in the paintings?
I have used circles many times in my work over the years. I have always been fascinated by circles, and to me they represent the most basic and interesting of geometric elements. They are the shapes of our planet, our sun, and many of the most important elements in our universe. They also are a continuous neverending line representing timelessness and continuity. I also just enjoy the way they look when they are overlapped in my paintings. As a student I was lucky to get by with C's in math, but I got all A's in geometry. This may have something to do with my being dyslexic, but geometry was alway interesting to me.
30. Who is your typical client that purchases your sculptures?
I sell a lot of work to doctors, lawyers, architects, designers, artists, and people in the film and television industry
. The corporate commissions are a more diverse group.

31. How have you been so successful with marketing and selling your art on the internet?
This is a complicated answer. I did an extensive interview with Seth Roberts, New York Times bestselling author for an article titled Web Savvy Sculptor. My interview on successful web marketing can be read on Seth's blog here.
32. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Three brothers.
33. What did your parents do for a living?
My father used to work in International banking for Singer Sewing Machine Co and then International Paper. My mother used to work at Bloomingdales and then got into real estate. They met in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when my father was a banker, and my mother was the secretary to the ambassador to Ceylon. They got divorced when I was in 6th grade, and I rarely saw my father after that. Both parents are deceased.

34. Where have you lived?
I was born in Orange, New Jersey and lived in Madison, NJ until first grade. Then our family moved to Brussels, Belgium for a couple of years. After that, we moved back to NJ, until right before I started high school. We moved to Bridgewater, Massachusetts where I lived for my 4 years of high school. Right after graduation I went to boot camp for the United States Coast Guard, at Cape May, NJ. Then I went to electronics school and Loran A school at Governors Island, New York. After graduating, I was shipped off to a year of isolated duty at a Loran station at Cape Sarichef, on Unimak Island, which is in the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. Then I got stationed at another Loran station at Jupiter, Florida for 2 years. When my 4 year enlistment was up, I moved back to Massachusetts to go to college at The University of Massachusetts, in North Dartmouth. During college, I lived in Fall River, New Bedford, and North Dartmouth. As soon as I graduated college, I moved up to Boston, where I lived near Fenway Park for 5 years. I moved to Los Angeles in January 1989, where I have lived ever since. I currently live in a warehouse at The Brewery Artist Community in downtown LA.

35. What other types of jobs have you had?
In 6th grade I started caddying at the golf course up the street. In high school I worked at an apartment complex cutting lawns and shoveling snow and such. I also worked at the town library doing odd jobs and putting books away. Then 4 years of the US Coast Guard working as an electronics technician maintaining and operating Loran equipment. (Loran was the predecessor of GPS.) I also stood radio watch, transmitted messages, and gave weather broadcasts. During college I spent 2 years in the National Guard, and also worked as a cook and dishwasher at 2 restaurants. I also silkscreened T shirts and did scrimshaw for sale. After college my first job was at Filenes basement in Boston, moving boxes around and other crap work mostly. That was only a couple of months, and then I got a job at a commercial photography studio where I did darkroom work, black and white printing, retouching and commercial photography for about a year or so. Then I got a job at an advertising agency in Boston for around 3 years or so, where I did logo design, illustration, pasted up movie and recruitment ads and such. I also had a brief job selling cars at a Ferarri dealership. That was my last "job" before I moved to Los Angeles and started making my art in 1989, which I have been doing ever since.

36. What style of art would you classify your work?
Since I do a lot of different types of work, it could be classified into several catagories including: kinetic art, abstract art, deconstructivist, assembladges, modern art, musical sculpture, figurative sculpture, geometric sculpture, and more.
37. How did your art works become famous?
It is a combination of many things, and took quite a few years to happen. Having work in art galleries and museums is a major factor. The more often you show your work, the sooner you will become well known. The website has done a lot to help too. It has helped with getting in many newspapers and magazines worldwide, and well over 30 books
ranging in topics from art and design to textbooks on math and science etc. I have also had lots of my artworks in movies and on TV, and have been invited to appear many times on TV myself. Here are links to my work on TV, in Movies, and some of My TV appearances.

38. Where did you go to school?
I went to two schools in Belgium for first and second grade, one in Ostend, and then the International School of Brussels. I went to several schools in New Jersey including Kings Road School, Green Village Road School, and Madison Junior School. Our family moved to Massachusetts a few days before I started high school at Bridgewater - Raynham Regional High School. After high school I joined the Coast Guard and went to Electronics Technician and LORAN A School on Governors Island, NY. After my 4 year enlistment, I went to college at the University of Massachusetts in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

38. Could you tell us some interesting facts about your life?
OK sure. Starting at the beginning, my parents met in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. My father was born and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland, and my mom was the secretary to the Ambassador to Ceylon. Our family traveled around Europe a lot when I was young. I lived for a couple of years in Belgium in first and second grade. At that time we lived in an empty 6 floor hotel at 18 Avenue Maurice in Brussels, complete with elevator, wine cellar, and bomb shelter. It was fantastic for playing hide and seek. When our family moved back to the USA, we came by ship on the SS Rotterdam from Rotterdam, Netherlands to New York City. I learned to scuba dive at the YMCA in about 6th grade, and have had up close experiences with sharks, whales, barracudas, moray eels, manatees, octopus, sting rays etc. I once jumped into a salt water inlet and was immediately surrounded by many, many hundreds of eels, getting right in my face etc. That was a very short dive. I was a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer as a kid. One of my first camping trips was in deep snow, and I didn't own any decent camping gear yet. I was so cold that I put on every article of clothing I had. I slid out of the tent that night in my crappy summer sleeping bag and woke up buried in a drift of snow. My sneakers froze solid overnight, and I had to walk around the next day with T shirts wrapped around my feet in the foot deep snow. I learned my lesson, and have always been prepared ever since. Starting in high school I would take off on long several hundred mile bicycle trips around Cape Cod with a friend or two for up to a couple of weeks, surviving mostly on peanut butter sandwiches, and sleeping behind bushes. We had so little money that we wouldn't even buy a soda. I joined the Coast Guard and went to boot camp just days after graduating high school. I spent one year of isolated duty at Cape Sarichef, in the Aleutian Islands, which are part of Alaska. This place was so remote, it took several attempts for the pilot to be able to get there because of bad weather. There was no town, no women, no radio, no TV. Not to mention crazy weather. 100+ mile an hour winds, tidal waves, snow "white outs" etc. Just 18 Coast Guard men on a LORAN Station in the middle of nowhere for a year. LORAN is what we know call GPS. I maintained and operated the LORAN equipment and spent many hours on radio watch. The island had an active volcano, Mt. Shishaldin, and the beaches were black volcanic sand. There were bears everywhere, and you were not allowed to go outside without a rifle and walkie talkie. I had a couple of occasions where I was chased by a bear. One time, I was outside at night taking weather readings and a bear showed up about 10-15 feet away. I backed away slowly, but he kept up and was getting closer. Finally I had no choice but to turn around and run for the door. I threw open the door and dove inside. I could see the bears paw trying to keep the door from shutting. That was just one of my many bear encounters, and the last time I went outside without a gun. I hunted, skinned, butchered and ate a caribou while I was there. The one and only time I have been hunting. I also was on duty one night when the ocilloscopes for the LORAN gear started going all fuzzy, so I went outside to see if the volcano was spouting out smoke, which would cause that. Instead I saw an unknown red light go through the sky, then make a hard reverse angle move that planes can't do. I radioed the Air Force Base at Cold Bay about this sighting, but they told me not to report it. What it was, I guess I will never know. When I got out of the Coast Guard I applied for the design program at the University of Massachusetts. A portfolio was required, which I did not have, so I put one together in an hour or so. This was rejected, but I was let in on a probationary basis, having to maintain a B average. After 4 years of the Coast Guard, college was easy. I usually had my assignments done with extra versions before my classmates had barely started. I have survived not only being chased by bears, but I have also been stung by a scorpion on my thigh, and stung by a very large Portugese man of war which wrapped it's tentacles around my entire upper body leaving large raised red welts. I was repairing a high powered LORAN transmitter and got shocked badly enough that I was thrown back and couldn't breathe. That required an abulance ride to the hospital, but I made a full recovery. In my 7 years of motorcycle riding I rode year round and had over 20 accidents. I rode in bad weather, just missed being overtaken by 2 tornadoes in Florida, commuted to college in the snow, got hit by 3 cars, got 3rd degree burns on both legs, broke my ankle and cut off the end of my right thumb. During college I joined the National Guard for 2 years as a sergeant on the FIST forward observer team in New Bedford,MA. I learned how to drive armored personel carriers, flew around in helicopters, threw hand grenades and shot M60 machine guns. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I worked for a few months at a Ferrari dealer in Massachusetts. Since I was new, they wouldn't allow me to sell any Ferraris, except the one metallic lime green one that they could not get rid of. I sold it in about a week and made a good chunk of change. After college, I worked for a few years in photography and advertising in Boston. I decided to go on a trip to North Carolina to go windsurfing and contemplate my future. I ended up driving all the way from Boston to Mexico City and back, making pit stops in New Orleans and Corpus Christie, Texas. I did some amazing high wind windsurfing in 30-40 knot winds and even visited the pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico. I drove down some very beat up dirt roads in Mexico with no gas for nearly 100 miles, and got by without knowing any Spanish at all. It was this trip that helped me decide to move to Los Angeles and try my luck as a full time artist. I moved to LA in January 1989. My first studio was in the front window of the St. Francis hotel on Hollywood Blvd. I was invited to display one of my sculptures at the renowned TED Convention and got to play drums with Mickey Hart, the drummer from the Grateful Dead. I once gave private welding lessons and insight into an artists life to actress Rebecca DeMornay for her role as a sculptor for the movie Raise Your Voice. I have been on the set of many major movies and met many famous actors and directors. I have been making unusual mouth sounds, crickets, and bird whistles since I was a kid, and a few years ago a famous artist and musician Llyn Foulkes asked me to join him and another person playing music and doing jazz improvisations at The Church of Art. We have our first album coming out shortly. I have appeared on many TV shows including: Monster House, Eye on LA, Awesome Interiors, Gene Simmons - Family Jewels, The Carol Duvall Show, City Spy, Hollywood 26, Career Day, and Unchained Reaction. See some photographs from my time in Belgium, bike trips, bears, Coast Guard years etc. here.

NOTE: I receive a LOT of emails every day from art students around the world, and I answer all of them. Please don't ask me a list of a dozen questions that will take me hours to respond to. I feel like I am doing your homework for you, not to mention, I am way too busy. I will gladly answer 1 or 2 questions, but I am not going to do your assignment for you.

Here is a recent interview I did with Klassik International Magazine that may answer some more questions for you.

Bruce Gray‘s contemporary and abstract modern metal and wood sculptures have been displayed as part of group or solo art exhibitions at many Art Galleries and Art Museums from Santa Monica to Soho and abroad. The Los Angeles sculptor is also well known for his kinetic sculptures which include mobiles and stabiles, amazing gravity defying suspended super power magnet sculptures, and rolling ball machines. Bruce's metal sculptures are part of over 1500 private and corporate art collections worldwide, and have appeared in hundreds of movies, TV shows, music videos, and commercials.

Artist Interview:

Bruce Gray

61 and a half.

14 November 1956

University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth. BFA in Design 1983.

How would you define yourself as an artist?
I am an artist who loves what he does and explores a lot of mediums, styles and techniques. This leads me in a lot of directions. My work often tends to be fun, colorful and playful, and it has an uplifting effect on people of all ages. I make everything from welded metal sculptures to abstract paintings, rolling ball machines, mobiles, robots, functional art furniture, suspended magnetic sculptures, kinetic art, carved wood sculptures, giant objects including a welded metal swiss cheese, insects, keys, high heel shoes, paper planes, and more. I am always experimenting with new materials, tools, and technologies, so my work is constantly changing. I have a CNC plasma cutter in my shop and just got a laser cutter. These machines give me so many new capabilities that the possiblities are just endless.

What experience of your life would you say that is reflected in your works of art .. 
One of the biggest influences comes from my being a scuba diver since about 6th grade. I have had a major lifelong fascination and love of the ocean and it’s creatures, and I haved been lucky enough to have close up experiences with sharks, whales, stingrays, octopuses, eels, and tons of others. I have made several of these beautiful creatures into sculptures, and even things like shapes of coral and kelp forests have been used frequently in my work.

Why are you an artist, and when did you first become one?
I am an artist because nothing else comes close to giving me the level of enjoyment and satisfaction I get from creating my art every day. I also like the way it comes out, and enjoy having it around. (most of the time)

What art do you most identify with?
Modern sculpture, abstract art and kinetic art.

What themes do you pursue?
Kinetic art, dinosaurs, robots, animals, insects, sharks, motorcycles, suspended magnet sculptures, swiss cheese wedges, high heel shoes, paper planes, mobiles, abstract modern paintings are a few that seem to keep happening.

What inspires you to work?
My love of creating new things that I want to see exist. There is very little in life as rewarding as having an idea in your head, then in a short amount of time it is right in front of you, created by your two hands in your own little studio.

For how long have been in art? How did you start?
I have been making things since I was very young. I have a photo of myself in 7th grade with an acrylic sculpture I made. I didn't really consider art as a remote career possibilty until I was finishing up my 4 years in the Coast Guard. I went to school at UMASS after I got out and specialized in design and photography. After graduating in 1983 I moved up to Boston and worked in photography and then as an art director at Allied Advertising Agency. At that point I was doing lots of logo design, recruitment ads and illustrations, and movie advertisements. I decided that it would be a lot more fun if I got to make what I wanted, so I decided to move to Los Angeles in 1989 and started making my own work full time. So I have been involved in various forms of art and creativity for a very long time, but as far as being in my current incarnation as a sculptor and painter, that is since 1989.

Would you tell us some things about yourself? Please include a few little known facts about you as well. I can make a wide variety of sounds including realistic birds and crickets. I ended up making my mouth sounds with the renowned artist Llyn Foulkes and his incredible one man band ‘machine’on stage for a couple of years. We put out an album titled ‘Sounds From Bldg 22’ a few years ago. I have had a lot of interesting animal encounters. I have been stung by a scorpion, a Portugese Man of War, pulled leeches off my neck, got chased by bears and almost caught once, and had a skunk walk on my chest while camping. I have also played with horn sharks, seals, and octopuses, and was once surrounded by thousands of large slimy green eels rubbing against me and bumping into my face mask.

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspirations come from everything I experience in life, and often from everyday things like puddles, rocks, ice, clouds, plants, cartoons, architecture, cars, women, musical instruments, or the shape of a found object. Artists look more intently at lots of things most people wouldn't even notice. Music also inspires me a lot. I always turn on the tunes first thing in the morning, and it’s on all day. The type of music I play can definately affect my work pace and style. I once did a large 8 ft wide very tedious complicated painting listening exclusively to Fela Kuti the whole time. I know that affected my mood and energy, and so I am certain it is somehow reflected in the appeearance of the painting. Most of the time I like to be very spontaneous when I work, and I seldom draw anything out in advance unless it is absolutely a dealbreaker with the client if I don’t. Usually, they let me do it my way.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Art can be fun and uncomplicated. Art has the power to bring you enjoyment and change your mood just like music does. It doesn’t have to have an important message to be great art. I try to show people a wide variety of art styles that I enjoy personally, and hope that maybe they will open their eyes and discover something new. I also like including science related sculptures like my rolling ball machines and suspended magnet Suspension sculptures. Science is fun. Who knew?

And what is your personal aim as an artist?
To create as many of the ideas I have waiting in the wings as possible while I am still alive. I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year, and I may have only a year or so left. Chemotherapy is shrinking the cancer, so I may be able to beat this, but my future is currently very uncertain. I am comfortable with this, as I have been extremely fortunate to have had all the amazing experiences that I have, along with being able to make art every day. Most of all, I have an amazing group of best friends that are family to me. I am now a lot more picky when choosing my next projects and accepting new commissions. I also like helping out newer artists and inspiring the next generation. Many art classes around the world send me photos of the works they do in class using one of my styles. This makes me happy.

Why do you do … what you do?
I do it because it makes me happy, and I can still keep my bills paid. There is nothing that compares to being able to be your own boss, and actually enjoy what you do working every day. It’s almost like getting away with something when you get paid for having fun.

What does “being creative” mean to you?
It means looking at a situation and coming up with new, unique, unusual, or interesting ways to communicate that idea in some new form.

Any shows, galleries, or publications where our readers can find your work?
My work is part of the permanent collection of the Haas Moto Museum in Dallas, TX, The Rolling Ball Museum in Seoul, Korea, and The Kentucky Museum in Bowling Green, KY. I also have commissioned sculptures at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, Los Angeles Angels baseball stadium in Anaheim, CA, Edwards Air Force Base, Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, CA, Loudoun Station in Virginia, Lululemon in Beavercreek, OH, and Boston Children's Hospital, to name a few. Publications can be found on my website, and include LA Times, London Times, Vogue, Art Business News, Metropolis Magazine, Wall Street Journal, and books including Product Design 5, Chairs Chairs Chairs, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and many school textbooks by the Smithsonian Institution and Houghton Mifflin. You can also see my work in many TV shows and movies.

How do you cultivate a collector base?
In today’s world, this can be done mostly by emails updating clients with openings and occasional new work photos. I find that my collectors like to hear from me, but not too often. Nobody likes spam or people that clog your mailbox. One of the best ways to meet collectors is to go to lots of art openings and schmooze your tail off. Become well known in the art scene just by going to everything and you will get invited to be in shows, to parties, and introduced to major collectors and such. I never do this myself, but it is super effective. I would rather work than go out to lots of openings, but without a doubt, whenever I do, I get offers to be in shows etc.

Which is your most cherished piece? 
My Motorcycle sculpture at Haas Moto Museum in Dallas, Texas.

If you had an exclusive collective exhibition with other artists work, who would you choose? 
Alexander Calder

What other interests do you have outside of art?
Scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing, fishing, photography, cooking, gardening, camping, beer, motorcycling, sportscars, cycling, music, movies, and hanging out with good friends.

You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art perfomances today?
We are at a time where there are no excuses for artists. Because of technology and computers, I can take, retouch and print photographs, make a music album, or even a movie, all at home. I know, because I’ve done it, and I'm just self taught in that world. Digital art and all the new creative apps also add to the experience. This has given more people an opportunity to make art, but it has also flooded the market with cheap cheesy art done in a minute on a phone. Overall, it’s just an awesome time to be an artist. It has never been easier to put up a website and market yourself. The film biz these days has gotten a bit lazy with their rehashing the same tired stories and such. The acting, effects, and cinematography are flawless, but they seem to have a hard time finding new original stories, which is a shame. Much of the best work I see today is on TV rather than on the big screen.

What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually?
I think that my work has a very good balance and placement of shapes and colors, and is clearly from an artist with training in graphic design. I feel that I am able to combine fine art with a graphic design flair and a sense of humor, making it enjoyable for a wide audience. People tell me all the time how much they enjoy seeing my work in their homes every day.

What aspect of your work do you pay particular attention to?
I am a big fan of negative spaces.

What role does the artist have in society?
To get people to pay attention and be more observant. To get others involved in being creative.

What is your most treasured memory?
That is a tough question, but I think moving to Los Angeles and opening my first sculpture studio on Hollwood Blvd back in 1989 is way up there.

What for you is the most enjoyable part of your art?
When I’ve finished making all the metal parts before assembly, and I am in the zone, just flowing smoothly with the construction, composition and balance.

Some short questions now:

more colours: 
Favorite color is red. The color of Ferrari's, strawberries, and women’s lips. I also pay a lot of attention to my use of black which I often use to add depth and drama. I also really love blue and purple.

Just started reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Shawshank Redemption, Being There, Clockwork Orange.

BBQ, Italian, Mexican, Sushi, Chinese, Seafood, Pizza, Gyros.

I do sculptures that are often high gloss powder coated finishes as well as some mixed metal pieces that have a variety of patinas and weathered or rusty textures. I like to use several finishes in some sculptures. I also frequently use the swirly patterns created with a disk grinder on stainless steel surfaces, and am able to achieve a holographic look as you move around the piece.

Define your art: 
Abstract modern sculpture

Describe your style: Define yourself: 
Modern, fun, colorful and with a heavy graphic design influence.

My stop motion film. My World 1.1 won a Telly Award in 2011.

Museums I have shown sculptures at include:
Haas Moto Museum and Sculpture Gallery: My Motorcycle sculpture was aquired as part of their permanent collection. (Dallas, TX)
Automobile Driving Museum- After Hours at the ADM: A Vehicle to Art. Exhibit featuring my robot sculptures. (El Segundo, CA)
Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art – Sharks! Exhibit featuring my shark wall sculpture. (Scranton, PA)
Palm Springs Art Museum: High Tea and Visonnage – (LUEY) Let Us Entertain You. (Palm Springs, CA)
Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art: SHARKS. Show featuring my shark sculpture table. (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Instruments of American Excellence Collection: The Kentucky Museum – Tool in permanent collection. (Bowling Green, KY)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Special Projects. (Los Angeles, CA)
Rolling Ball Museum: Two sculptures in permanent collection. (Seoul, Korea)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Art + Architecture Tour. (Los Angeles, CA)
Zimmer Children’s Museum: Show & Tell: The Art of Harmony. (Los Angeles, CA)
The Berkshire Museum: Group show on insect art. (Pittsfield, MA)
Berkshire Museum: "The Enchanted Museum – Exploring the Science of Art." Traveling 5 Year Exhibition.(Pittsfield, MA)
San Jose Museum of Art and Design Response: Cool Stuff: Art + Design. (San Jose, CA)
Palm Springs Desert Museum: Artists Council 1998 National Juried Exhibition.(Palm Springs, CA)
Craft and Folk Art Museum: GO- Group Show.(Los Angeles, CA)
Laguna Art Museum: The Shape of Things to Come, Group Show. (Laguna Beach, CA)

My three favorite cities are Los Angeles, Boston and New York. City I would most like to visit is Rome.

Places I have visited or lived include California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Alaska, and most US states at one time or another. Foreign travel would inlude Belgium, Scotland, England, Holland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Mexico. I lived in Brussels for a couple of years as a kid, and also had many adventures as I grew up, including driving from Boston to Mexico City and back by myself to explore and go windsurfing.

Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Jean Michel Basquiat, Wassily Kandinsky, Keith Haring, and Claes Oldenburg are all artists. I love and who inspire me.

The Stones, The Beatles, REM, Dire Straights, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Cracker, Stevie Wonder, The Cure, New Order, The Cars, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Moby, William Orbit, Beck, Coldplay, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Elvis Costello, Green Day, J Geils, Kraftwerk.

Mobile App:

Cars: I currently own a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and Honda Rebel 300 motorcycle. Dream car would be a red 1987 Ferrari 288 GTO.

How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I would make music or movies.

What do you think about the art community and market?
It’s a rough way to make a buck, which is why so many artists have day jobs. Lots of people are out there looking to take advantage of the artist in a many ways. Every artist gets asked to donate work for free to all kinds of events, to get exposure. Half the time you don’t even get invited to the event, or even told who bought your work. Not much to be gained from most of these, unless it’s a cause you feel strongly about. There are also galleries notorious for not paying their artists, and yet there is a line of artists trying to get work in with them. I have had to chase down some galleries for years to get paid, and there are a few that never paid me, lost, damaged, or stole my work. Luckily now, artists have the ability to do quite a bit of self marketing and direct sales without any middleman. This gives the artist a much better payday, but it also gives the artist the opportunuty to talk directly with the client and get a much better feel of what they are looking for and the ability to ask lots of questions, should you have them. Usually when I get contacted
by a gallery now, it's because they have a client who already wants one of my works.

Should art be funded? Why?
Yes, because art inspires people in many positive ways. Art makes the world a better place, and we can always use a bit of that.

Which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?
My lifesize found objects Motorcycle sculpture which was recently acquired by the Haas Moto Museum. Many of the parts for this sculpture are actual train parts like a coupling link for the seat and giant gears from a train stacking crane for the wheels. These were given to me by some people from the giant train yard behind my studio. They offered me the parts after seeing an 8 foot dragon sculpture in my yard that I made from old rainroad spikes I scavanged along the tracks.

Who are the writer’s you admire the most?
Mark Twain, Ernest Hemmingway, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, and Dr. Seuss.

What about architects and designers?
Architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank O. Gehry, Antoni Gaudi and designers Dieter Rams, Zaha Hadid, and Philippe Starck.

What else are you working on at the moment? Next projects?
I recently had my lifesize Motorcycle sculpture purchased by the Haas Moto Museum in Dallas, TX for their permanent collection. I am also currently working on five giant stainless steel paper planes up to 6 feet long for the outside of a Shred415 gym in Illinois. I currently have about a dozen commissions on order for various sculptures going to both commercial and private collections all around the country.

Share something you would like the world to know about you?
My sculptures have been in hundreds of movies and TV shows like Austin Powers, Starship Troopers, Rush Hour, Meet the Fockers, Sleeping with the Enemy, Seinfeld, Friends, Roseanne, Star Trek, Murphy Brown, Frasier, MacGyver, LA Law, Mad About You, Shameless, Six Feet Under, Entourage, CSI, Face Off, How I Met Your Mother, Ellen, Home Improvement, Will and Grace, and Murder She Wrote.

Define Media News ‘Klassik International’ for the audience? International, Contemporary, visionary and conceptual. 

See the entire Klassik International Bruce Gray Interview with photographs on their website here.

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