There’s a common debate in some art circles: What’s more important, aesthetics or function? Do you have to give in to one, or can both have equal importance? I’m not going to answer that here, but I think the same can be applied to choosing your way in life: Should you choose a career that’s practical (function) or one that you’re passionate about, but doesn’t always make sense to other people (aesthetics)?
If you’re lucky, your career meets both criteria. Such is the case for Jamison Glisczinski, an artist from the Fox Valley who has recently found representation in Door County. He works in numerous media: ceramic sculpture, steel sculpture, acrylic painting as well as charcoal and pencil drawings. After 15 years of having a day job and pursuing art on the side, he’s made the switch to full-time artist. Now his passion is also his full-time job.
Alissa Ehmke (AE): You have a wide range of work. What do you consider to be your main focus, or where do you put most of your energy?
Jamison Glisczinski (JG): I split my energy between the work that I know will find a home quickly and commission work. That leaves me about a quarter of my time to work on pieces that have been turning around in [my] mind. I’m continually trying to perfect my work – either until I get it right or can’t bear to work on it any longer.
AE: If you could work in only one medium for the rest of your career, what would it be and why?
JG: Clay, hands down. It’s malleable and can be so many things. It’s also finicky and has its own personality. I’m constantly learning what the boundaries are and sometimes stepping past them.
AE: Who are some of your favorite artists?
JG: Degas is one of my favorites. I’m enamored with the impressionists and the immediacy of their work. It’s not fussy and doesn’t hide the artist’s hand.
AE: Growing up, did you have a teacher or family member who gave you encouragement in the pursuit of art?
JG: After my first semester of college, I found myself not happy with a traditional degree, career path. I told my dilemma to my neighbor, a retired high school teacher and historian. He said, “You’ve always liked art. Why don’t you try that?” Famous last words.
AE: If one of your children came to you saying she or he wanted to pursue a career in art, what advice would you give?
JG: Chase it. Work harder than anyone else you know. Hustle. Don’t be afraid of “no.” And just know that it’s not easy. If you want easy, find something else.
AE: On your website it says that you “realized that the phrase ‘starving artist’ was a very real phenomenon.” How has being a “starving artist” shaped you and your work?
JG: It shapes how I work. I make a lot of production work that is not expensive and can sometimes be repetitive to create. I don’t use molds or anything like that, so all my pieces are individually hand built. These pay the bills. But it is part of being a working artist. When I started, I thought every work had to be an individual masterpiece, and I sold nothing and had to get a regular job. Now I know my job is to make art: art that will appeal to a broad audience and individual showcase work.
AE: You became a full-time artist in 2017. How was the transition from part-time to full-time artist? Were there moments of regret or anxiety?
JG: That transition was about two years of basics: website, logo design and coming up with excuses to not actually make the leap, followed by being fed up with where I was and not doing what I wanted to do. There was a ton of anxiety. But what was the worst thing that could happen? I’d have to go back to a regular job?
AE: How would you describe your current work? Has your work changed over the last several years, especially now after your transition to full-time artist?
JG: My work tends to reflect nature and figurative subject matter. I don’t try to hide my materials. Instead, I let them speak for themselves. If anything, the work has become more refined, more complete. I still let my materials show. But now it’s more to showcase the beauty of earth, clay and metal.
AE: Where and for how long have you been represented in Door County?
JG: This is my first season of having gallery representation in Door County. I’ve shown work here for three years at various festivals, but I’m super excited to have work at the Cappaert Contemporary Gallery on a permanent basis.
Jamison Glisczinski (jamisonstudio.com) is represented in Egg Harbor at Cappaert Contemporary Gallery, where you’ll find his sculptures inside and in the sculpture garden. He’s also participating in the Sturgeon Bay Fine Art Fair on May 25, 10 am – 5 pm; and May 26, 10 am – 4 pm, at Sunset Park.