Ian Trask is a scientist turned artist who left his job working in a research lab in Salt Lake City to be an artist in Brooklyn, NY. He made the shift in 2007 and went from working with a colony of 400 mice to creating pieces of artwork with discarded manufactured goods. He worked at a framing store in Brooklyn while he took time to play and experiment with his artwork – developing his artistic voice and making connections within the art community.
Ian majored in biology at Bowdoin College, and he had always envisioned himself being a scientist. He took a few art classes while in college and began bending silverware while sitting in the cafeteria, but it wasn’t until he went to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival with a sculpture professor at Bowdoin that he started to wonder what it would be like to be a full-time artist. He ultimately decided to make the leap and moved to Brooklyn, NY to be around more emerging artists.
Most of Ian’s work is made with discarded manufactured goods, and his sculptures “transform materials of waste and commercial byproducts into refined aesthetic objects through a procedure of reinterpreting a material’s value and usefulness.” His biggest undertaking yet, Blister Pact, will be showing at The Invisible Dog until April 11, 2015. During our conversation, we talk about this project, as well as the process of realizing when something isn’t what you thought it was going to be and how you can the steps to change it.
Listen below to learn more about Ian’s Chapter Be story…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[03:15] Working on installations at Bonnaroo gave Ian the experience to explore the idea of being a full-time artist.
[5:30] How breaking his foot was the happy accident that allowed him to dive deeper into his artistic creations.
[12:25] Ian’s experiences working as a grounds keeper after leaving the lab, was a catalyst to the work he creates.
[14:00] “I was spending a lot more time with myself and by myself which felt selfish.”
[17:00] After moving to New York City to be an artist, Ian worked another full time job on the side for five years. The full time job allowed him the time to just play and explore his artwork.
[18:15] “In the beginning it was uncertain, and I was really facing what I didn’t know about the process.”
[19:00] The dangers of self comparison. “to really even emulate someone else’s approach is a pitfall in itself.”
[22:15] Ian’s connection to The Invisible Dog was a lucky opportunity that took his career in a new direction.
[29:40] What is Blister Pact and how did it come to be?
[44:06] Taking a chance on a project that is outside your comfort zone.
[45:05] Is NYC still a good place for emerging artists?
[48:45] Ian’s advice to others who want to change their careers to explore their creative interest.
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
One time I played a friendly game of soccer with NBA all-star Steve Nash. Before I injured my knee a few years ago, I used to play a lot of soccer with a group of guys that work for the United Nations. One night in 2008, we played a friendly game against a group of older Italian guys. Apparently Steve Nash plays with them in his off-season.
Worst work experience?
Working as a hospital groundskeeper, I had the daily responsibility of picking up hundreds of cigarettes littered around the various entrances. A sisyphean task that was both gross and upsetting.
What is your definition of success?
Success is being able to find happiness both at home and at work. There has to be a balance. I want to be able to constantly challenge myself and find fulfillment through my work, but I also want to share that experience with the people I love.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
For many years, the only time I had to spend on my art was my nights and weekends. So in a way I trained myself to be my most creative while feeling drained. Having a dedicated studio space certainly helps get me into the right mind-set. Also, listening to music can help distract me from my own fatigue.
What does “to be” mean to you?
It means living a life with an uncertain future. There is no obvious course, no predictable outcome. If I try to plan too far ahead, I have less freedom to pursue the unforeseen opportunities that arise in the present.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
Sleep might be my favorite form of procrastination. Once I’m awake, my dogs have an undeniable talent for keeping me pleasantly distracted. Other than that, I enjoy watching movies and other streaming TV content because it helps me turn my head off.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
- Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
- Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Radiolab podcast
- The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
- A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) by The Talking Heads
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Ian Trask – website
- Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
- Bowdoin College
- John Bisbee – sculpture professor
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Recession Art NYC
- The Invisible Dog Art Center
- Lucian Zayan – Founder of The Invisible Dog
- Pioneer Works
- Blister Pact
- Connie Bree – Creative Producer
Images via Ian Trask
[…] one of my interviewees, Ian Trask, had always imagined he would be a scientist. He majored in biology and even started out his […]