The Muse Personality Interview: Patrik Kusek

Website and Bio:

I have been in the design and fashion industry for over 20 years. I have taught PMC classes and held workshops around the country including the first ever PMC workshop at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. My work has appeared in numerous publications including Art Jewelry, Lapidary Journal, MJSA, and various books such as CeCe Wire's New Directions in Metal Clay, the 2007 and 2009 PMC Guild Annual, and 500 Pendants and Lockets. In addition, I have appeared on HGTVs "That's Clever" television show. I am a member of SNAG, ACC and the PMC Guild. I also won 1st place in the PMC Division of the Saul Bell Awards in 2007, and am a senior instructor for Rio Grande, teaching certification classes nationally. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and teach PMC classes at Aftosa in Richmond, CA. I hold degrees from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and The Academy of Art University.

Date started working in metal clay

I’ve always been interested in jewelry and jewelry making. My first career was as a fashion stylist and fashion show coordinator for Macy’s California. One of the events that I worked on was for the fashion office. It was my job to take the current trends as dictated by the fashion office and translate those looks with the merchandise that was in the individual store. This involved pulling hundreds of pieces of jewelry from stock and pairing it with clothing to get the perfect look. It was great way to gain hands-on experience with a lot of different types of jewelry. I was intrigued by how jewelry was made, and decided to take a class. I was looking for a hobby, not necessarily a new career. When I found out exactly what was involved with fabricating jewelry, I quickly ran in the other direction. This was not as easy as the macramé bracelet that I made in the 7th grade! The idea of using fire, flame and molten metals was not practical in my tiny one bedroom apartment in San Francisco, especially for something that was only going to be a hobby. Fast forward years later, and I was perusing the San Francisco City College Extension course catalogue looking at jewelry courses. I came upon a class in something called PMC. The description sounded intriguing. It stated that PMC was moldable like clay, could be fired in your own home, and turns to REAL SILVER! Although skeptical, I decided to sign up. I was lucky enough to take the class from Hadar Jacobsen. She gave a wonderful class and I was hooked the first very day! I still have my first piece and I will never sell it.


Rio Certification 2005 with Cece Wire; Art Clay Level 1 2006 with Loreene Davis

Accomplished at what media in addition to metal clay

Whenever I feel like I’m accomplished at something, it means that it’s time to explore and learn new things, so that my artwork doesn’t become boring. I’m constantly exploring different art mediums. I have interests in polymer clay, book binding, collage and mixed media art books. But if I had to pick one medium, I would say graphic design. I spent 17 years in graphic design and 7 of those years heading my own design firm. I’ve won several local and national awards for my designs and have been published in numerous books and magazines. But for me, my true passion is design itself. I love it. Whether its jewelry design, interior design or garden design, many of the same principals are used. Color, contrast, scale, proportion, rhythm, and balance are the tools that we use to express and conceptualize our creativity. The materials are a function of having to use something physical to help us translate that expression.

What is your inspiration now?

I have an ongoing fascination with botanical or natural specimens and the forgotten art of collecting those specimens.

Do you have a muse?

If I were to identify one muse, it would be Clio, one of the 9 muses in classical Greek mythology. Clio was the goddess of history. I love found objects and constantly find inspiration in them, sometimes incorporating them directly into my jewelry. Anything with an aged quality or a sense of history gets my creative juices flowing.

What is currently on your bench/workspace?

A tree brooch with semi precious gemstone leaves, experimental techniques with Aura 22 and Keum Boo and some old Campbell soup cans whose labels were designed by Andy Warhol. I love the idea of owning a real Warhol but the soup cans are as close as I’m probably going to get. I use them to hold brushes, files and other jewelry making stuff.

What project/direction are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my first book called Sticks and Stones: Metal Clay as Nature Intended. I’ve included my favorite nature-inspired projects, and used my graphic design background to design the book as well. The book’s conception, design and production are from the hands of one artist; all elements working in synergy. It should be released the first part of next year.

How much time do you average at the bench per week?

Not nearly enough

What's the average time you spend on a piece?

25 years. No… really! Each piece is unique and is really the culmination of my years in the design industry and my personal life experience, both of which inform my designs. Actual time at the bench for each piece is hard to gauge.

Do you sell your work?  Where?

I usually do one show per year in San Francisco at the KPFA Arts and Craft Fair. But most of my time is spent teaching and doing projects like the Master Muse projects, Masters Registry and writing my book./p>

Where do you get your new ideas?

For me, ideas come from everywhere; walking through the mall, watching a TV show or movie, in the garden, anywhere. Some of the methods I use for generating new ideas are mind mapping and internet photo searches. I also have made a set of “Creativity Cards” which I use to stimulate my creative process. At the recent PMC Conference at Purdue University, I gave a lecture on brainstorming where we went over the mind mapping process, and reviewed different ways to stimulate one’s creativity using the “Creativity Cards”. It was a lot of fun. You can download the “Creativity Cards” from my website click on the “creativity” link.

Do you keep a sketchbook and how do you organize it?

I do, and it is organized by project. But I have also started doing concept boards with photos and other objects that inspire me.

Are there places or things you avoid that zap your creativity?

Negative energy from any source.

Do you have a ritual before you begin to create?

I like to start with clean studio. It’s funny because the studio is usually a big mess because when I’m working. I’m like Hansel and Gretel and leave a trail of tools and materials wherever I go. I’m trying to change that habit. So the studio is clean only when I start a new project or when I leave town.

What do you collect?

Too many things! I love ephemera, old coins, old stamps, antique parts and pieces, old books, antique medical instruments, sea urchins, shells, and anything that is in a specimen jar (like my preserved Mexican fruit bat).

How do you rejuvenate your creativity?

Museums, art galleries, good food and sharing jewelry techniques with others.

What would your perfect creative day be like?

It would start off by knowing that all of my “business chores” are done. Running a business can be very time consuming and things like bookkeeping, taxes, etc can take up a lot of time and energy. So knowing that those types of things are completed would the start of a perfect day. Since we’re talking hypothetically…breakfast in Le Marais somewhere between the 3 and 4 arrondissement in Paris with an espresso and chocolate croissant. Then a quick trip to the Louvre with my honey to take in a few of the masterpieces of my favorite artists. Next stop Isle St Louis, for a picnic of great French cheese, meats and red wine while taking in the sun and sketching out my ideas. Then off to an artist friend’s studio to share tips, tricks and techniques on art and jewelry making. In the evening we’d make a classic French dinner with the spoils of our trip to the neighborhood outdoor farmer’s market. We’d spend the rest of the time out on the balcony discussing food, wine, art and design with our glasses of red wine, pretending to smoke our Gitanes and chatting until the wee hours of the night.