Reposted from the Texas Sculpture association site Artist spotlight February 2012
Name: Roger Belveal
What type(s) of art do you like to create?
I’m a metal sculptor & tech artist. My style of rendering figures could be described as “sketches in space”. This motif is my own invention literally based on a gesture drawing style I learned many years ago from my art professor, Robert Graves. I simply took it into 3D. My recent themes depicting virtual technology themes as real world objects reflects my twenty years in software user experience (UX) design.
My primary materials are raw metal and rough concrete, which make an interesting contrast to digital media themes, especially when such media is combined into the artwork. However, my true medium is the mind of the audience. Like electricians whose true work is not routing wires and switches but in channeling electricity, the material is just another tool. Audience perception and experience is what I do. Like the electricians’ work, it’s what happens when the live current is flipped on that matters.
Where did you learn to do what you do?
Love for molten metal and creative ingenuity began as toddler in my father’s garage. He was a farmer, millwright, jack-of-all-trades who tried a short-lived welding business. I studied traditional metal casting in college and have tremendous respect for it, but I had to return to direct metal sculpture. Hot wax and clay are fine; I prefer to work directly in molten metal. It’s me.
In addition to Bob Graves, other Art Influences included instructor, Humberto “Bob” Gonzalez who taught me to see movement even in stationary objects. While studying art and design at the University of Washington in Seattle, I was fortunate to have some marvelous professors. Pr. Norm Taylor’s systematic approach to understanding anatomy for life sculpture, along with the springing energy of life, is the foundation for my figures. A fascination with the societal role of public art plus a liking for ordinary concrete are things I absorbed from Pr. John Young, who incidentally, hosts a show on PBS about public art. See his TV show “You Call that Art?”
A true human factors-centric design process and love of innovative problem-solving is something I picked up from Industrial Design professor James Hennessey. A passion for minimalism was a gift from my mentor and friend, esteemed Japanese designer, Tadeo Shimizu.
I’ve long been a fan of Michelangelo and Rodin for their volumous forms, Picasso for his clarity of intent, Duchamp for the 4D in the static image, and the drama of El Greco, Grunewald, and Rubens. Of course, we all love the French Impressionists.
While in college I worked a wide variety of jobs to get by, from manufacturing to construction, which reinforced my kinship with physical fabrication and the blue-collar world. Selling electronics and toys for a while gave me curious insights in the odd perceptions people have about technology and began my bond with creative geeks and toy lovers. Fun people!
Tell us about your most important projects.
Being invited to create an art centerpiece for the BIG(D)ESIGN 2011 conference was an amazing opportunity. I was essentially afforded a one-person show to a captive audience of six hundred geeks who are hungry for a source of inspiration to take with them into the virtual design world. The crowd went nuts over it. I was overwhelmed. Now I am invited back to do a sequel for Big D 2012. I can tell it is going to be even more amazing! And oh yeah, I have ongoing work for some large-scale outdoor pieces about similar themes.
Favorite IT works include a scanner application for technical illustrators, CAD visualization used by airplane designers, and recently a business intelligence app used by airline market analysts which provides rich visual feedback reflecting key pieces of information they care about a great deal. Connecting a work intellectually and emotionally with its intended audience is very cool to me, whether it is pure art or utilitarian in purpose.
You are all invited to come down to see the art I am making for BIG(D)ESIGN 2012. Its Memorial Day weekend 2012, at the Crown plaza in Addison, TX. Check out Big Design web site for details. Drop in and see the techy crowd enjoying art that speaks their language. It’s going to be a blast!
Describe your studio.
I have a welding booth in my garage made of shiny metal where human figures are born that I aptly named, the “Chrome Womb”. But my creative workspace includes my computers, my sketchpad, and my entire home. Thank you for your patience, Mary! Tell me there’s an elephant in the living room and I’ll say, “No, actually it’s a bunch of six foot tall smart phones!”
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
My IPOD playlist goes from Bach to Bachman and I let it run. I have a classic rock collection that could supply a startup radio station. I listen to all the usual suspects, Clapton, Beatles, Petty, U2, and lots of Joe Walsh. I’m also sentimental for Christian rock from the days when an electric guitar in church was sacrilege, which I feel is somewhat analogous for my rough metal treatment of biblical themes.
Lately, my kids have helped me discover artists like Keane, The Decembrists, DCFC. Some days are just totally Moby, who is, in my opinion, one of the two most innovative musical artists in the last twenty years. The other is harpist, Joanna Newsom- you have to check her music out!
Music is fuel to my creative process like coffee is to computer geeks. While doing art, I especially crave music that has some interesting form and structure, like Floyd, Tull, or Theloneous Monk. I have visions of someday rendering in 3D metal musical forms portraying legends such as Hendrix, Joplin, and especially Stevie Ray. That’s a dream.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think in 4D. I am a renaissance guy, following the connections of art, science, design, and spirit. Coloring inside the lines is for people lacking their own sense of vision.
I am fortunate to have defied the Robert Frost rule. Having once set aside art for another day to pursue a path of design for technology and raise a family, I have now found the leaves not so deep as to hide my trail. My two roads, once diverged, are fantastically re-converging!
Do you have any advice for other artists?
Find something that interests you. Listen and observe what moves people and try to understand why. If you find a match between these two things, explore it, see what happens, and learn.
Do you belong to any art organizations?
• TSA, of course.
• Plano Art Association
• Texas Inventors Association
• Refresh Dallas
• DFW chapter of the Usability professionals Association
Do you have a website?
My new site is at www.belveal.net which now includes a blog. My old site at www.belveal.com is being retired and the address will soon point to the new site as well.