What influenced you to start doing illustrated plates?
I have been drawing on plates since I was 22 and spending time in bars and restaurants. I always carry markers and paint pens with me. I don't know what possessed me to pick up a plate and draw on it. Maybe it was the wine. I was in a restaurant in Barcelona recently with Laura and friends, and I happened to have a paint marker with me. I made two plates, three bottles, and painted Hillman Curtis' cell phone. This is my preferred way to work.
Did you envision this as an entrepreneurial venture or just another way of making design/art?
The first plates were just made to give away. I'd give them to friends, waiters, and cute girls. There was no other concern, certainly not about getting paid for them. I have none of them; I gave them all away. But I saw one recently in a friend's house and was really attracted to it until I recognized it as mine.
How did you get them into Design Within Reach (DWR)?
And how have they succeeded?The DWR connection came from my first small show at Paul Weston's gallery in Brooklyn. I sent invitations to all my friends, one of who happened to be Ray Brunner, vice president of DWR, who immediately called and said, "This looks like fun. Can you do it for us?" The show went well, was extended from one month to three. Out of one hundred plates, we sold almost half.
Picasso was a big plate maker. What were some of your influences?
I first visited the Picasso museum in Paris when I was twenty-eight. I had no idea before then that he made plates. I was completely moved by his pottery. They are still some of my favorite Picasso works—they have an immediacy and feel, and look like the act of creation. I also love Fornasetti. I've known of his work since I was a kid, although it's much more stagnant than Picasso's work.
Let's talk nitty-gritty. How do you go about deciding on designs and then bringing them to fruition?
This is the crux of my problem. I am not really interested in making a rubber stamp of two bunnies having sex and then having it printed on 1,000 plates, although the money might be good. I want to make 100 different plates and have them all be unique and usable. But I am not a potter. I'm a designer. I work like a designer. We are working on a limited edition for DWR right now.
How many do you make at a time? And are all these limited edition?
I make them when I think of them, one at a time. Yes, they are all limited to one or two editions. The plate that reads, "I love NY more than Milton Glaser," is very popular among designers. I have made three or maybe four.
What has been the biggest plate challenge, artistically and technically, for you?
I am trying to figure out the multiples thing. I like the idea of more people having my work, but I still want it to be fresh and exciting. And moving from "art piece" to usable dinner plates is the goal.
Do you foresee this as being a small part of a larger entrepreneurial business?
I don't concern myself with the business end. I probably should, but I let the universe take care of that for me. It thrills me to know that folks are interested in the things I make.
Are you going to break the plate mold? What's next?
I am creating a limited edition of surfboards. I have five that I am painting and will post for sale or try to find a little show for them. Right now these are my pet project. They are very sexy; I may just use them all myself.