We had the good fortune of connecting with David Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I feel risk is something that is necessary in life but is not always ingrained in people. At least I feel often times in my life I was discouraged from taking risks and pushed towards having a conventional lifestyle such as working a 9 to 5 job like at a grocery store, ups, etc. I feel my family did not want to see me fail, although their intentions in their minds were helping me, it was selfish of them because they didn’t understand that I need to take risks in my life, I needed failure in my life, I needed to struggle to see what I needed to be right for my life. It was not until I discovered glass blowing in college I really pushed to live an artistic lifestyle. I discovered a beautiful material and process that I could not ignore and needed to dwell in. I thought at first ” I am kidding myself if I think I can become a glassblower, how can I make a living?”. While in school many people would tell me I was wasting my time creating art and practicing glass blowing, I should be thinking about how to move forward to a managerial position. I am so grateful for seeing something none of those people did and followed through with my plan to become an artist and pursue what was going to make me happy in life. The idea of having a dream job growing up was exactly that it was a “dream” but thanks to the risks I took working with professionals while in college still, being in the hot shop every weekend night after work and be their till 1 am. I would go Friday nights get home at 2 am show up again at 8 am to help make my professors work so I could learn more and then I had to go to my real job and leave that to go back to the hot shop and work some more, it was worth every moment. Instead of going out and having a social life I went to school at night to hone my craft. I also see risks as sacrifices because to take risks one at times has to sacrifice relationships, money, time, comfort and even happiness. Once the risk one takes works in their favor it makes it all worth while. I look back on all the struggles I had and unhappy moments and I am so thankful for them because they taught me how to be happy and put me in my current position in life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I feel what sets me apart from others is my work ethic and my attention to detail. Showing up on time and wanting to be there, being ready and attentive to the material, being able to preemptively read the next step that is going to be needed in the glass making process. I also feel having a diverse knowledge of different styles of glass making such as pattern making, goblet making, large vessel work and glass sculpting sets me apart from other people in the field rather just focusing on one form of glass making. I feel I am very consistent with being able to deliver what is expected in the hot shop whether it being creating a product consistently or making sure an item is made to the correct specifications for a client. I am also proud of my ability to use critical thinking to solve issues that might arise in creating artwork out of glass. I am very proud of being able to work with amazing artists like Kelly Akashi, Kaj Akira and Anthony Bianco. Being able to help create such wonderful works that challenge my abilities physically and mentally are some of my favorite aspects of my work. Meanwhile I am learning constantly through the process of glassblowing I feel the conversations with the material are always changing and being able to have a confident response is something that really excites me everyday. I also feel the teaching opportunity I had at Pilchuck glass school in the summer of 2019 was so enriching and gratifying for me, it helped really affirm for me that I am surrounding myself in the right art community for me grow as a person and an artist. Pilchuck is a glass school in Stanwood Washington, during the summers they host a series of glass intensive courses taught by the best glass artisans around the world and I was able to be a teachers aide for my mentors class. While there I was able to collaborate on artwork with Kazuki and that was very special for me because Pilchuck was able to give us the moment to be really free with what we could create which is something we cant always do here at home. The piece is an 18 in glass moon jar that I created and Kazuki sculpted an alabaster wing wrapped around the moon jar. It took the efforts of 12 people to create and was very special for me to be able to conduct 12 pairs of hands to create a work that symbolizes my relationship with my mentor. I feel I got to my current position in life thanks to my work ethic, if I did not work so hard in college and be in the hot shop as much as I was, I would not be able to manipulate the material the way that I can. If I did the minimum that was expected from me I would not be working at Kt Glassworks, I would not have my own clients right now. It was not easy to achieve my current lifestyle, nothing about glassblowing is easy. The high temperatures are beyond intimidating, the movements needed to shape the glass are very non intuitive and a lot of it does not make sense at first. Besides the physical challenges being able to find a studio to work out of is scarce in southern California. Let alone finding a job in the field because most studios have their set staff and glassblowers are very protective of their positions, so being able to find a place that would take me on was not easy. I really think my work ethic had a lot to do with getting me into working with Kazuki and other artists. If anything people can take from my story is being mediocre does not pay off. Doing the bare minimum is not enough, talking about a dream will not make the dream come true. Tenacity and the ability to take the risks that will move one forward is what I kind of feel what life is about. Creating your dreams is more important than just dreaming dreams.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
First we would definitely have to eat so we would go check out Los Anayas in mid city they have great Mexican Food. While in the area we would go check out the studio I work out of Kt Glassworks. I would give my friend a glassblowing lesson which is probably one of the most thrilling experiences a person can have! The next day we would go check out Sunken City in San Pedro, its a very unique place and not a lot of people know about it. After that we would go check out High Tide in down town LA. It is a really interesting bar ran that has a glassblowing studio inside, so we could enjoy a drink and watch someone breathe life into something. Some time during the week we would have to go check some art museums such as LACMA and the HAMMER.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For me the most influential person in my life is Kazuki Takizawa! He is my hero and I am thankful for him everyday! In college I admired his artwork and what it stood for. I was also very drawn to his aesthetic. He was the first person to hire me as a glass blowing assistant while in school and when I decided to quit my horrible job he took me on at his glassblowing studio to work full time. I continue to learn so much from him not only in the hot shop but how to conduct my business, how become a better person and not to sweat the little stuff. He opened the door to me to travel with the medium and feel like I have a place in this world. He is always so positive and when ever I have an idea or a crazy thought he always just supports it and backs me up and that is something I have always needed in life. I am so happy to have a hero, mentor, and friend like him in my life.