In the Studio with Andy Cooperman
Drawing animals—like the sharks and whales that I saw in books—came first. I learned about tools, material, and dimension at my dad’s small workbench in the basement, pounding framing nails into 2 X 4’s. I also built primitive spiders from the soft lead wire solder that he used for electronics.
I should add that my mom was a maker of sorts. She painted in oils and used to make me clay dinosaurs and little pictures of bugs that we cut out and put in jars as if they were real ones.
When I was in, maybe, first grade my parents took me to the high school to see an art show. There was a large green papier-mache alligator on the floor, a student project. I was dazzled and in love.
As I grow older, I ask myself this question often. Short answer: It seems to be part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having something at the end of the day that wasn’t there at the beginning. (I really don’t like the word “passion”—it’s overused and cliché—but that’s really what it is.)
It occurred to me the other day that making is, in some way, an alternative or even an evolution of owning something. When I was a kid, collecting bugs and all sorts of small animals was what I lived for. I had to have them. I cared for them, I watched them grow but eventually, they’d be gone. I clearly remember asking myself: What’s the point? What’s next? What is it that compels me and how do I get closer to that?
The answer was making bugs. Making became a sort of ownership. Not of the object but of the experience of making the object and then knowing the thing.
What is your favorite season?
Spring, followed by summer.
My rolling mill: It allows me to make the material that I make things from. Or hammers, since they are the most direct extension of my body.
If you could cook one dish perfectly, what would it be?
Pizza. But the pizza that I grew up with.
I’ve answered this three different times in three different ways. The middle. It can be a slog. Not as exciting as the beginning or as satisfying as the end.
What is your most favorite part?
The middle. It has the most potential for growth and change. Things can come to life in the middle. But the middle can also lead to disappointment—as can the end. There you have it….
Who is another artist you admire and why?
There are many. One is David Clemons, a blacksmith and metalsmith. I hesitate to name him since he just said the same of me in a podcast. But I would have said so anyway. David makes for all the right reasons.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?