I've been following twitter for some months now and have met some interesting metal workers and welders on there. One of them Chris from Destructo Iron Works has spared the time for an interview.
Workshopshed: Hi Chris, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Chris Edwards: Hey I'm Chris Edwards owner/ artist @ destructoironworks.com. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada known amongst friends as lost wages NV. By day I am a structural ironworker out of Los Angeles Local 433. My day job has given me the skills to do my own work but at the end of the day they are just skills. I love being creative and making my art. I've been trying for the last 6 years to get my business off the ground and its been really hard. I think I'm in a nitch market that can be good or bad, good because I have never seen anyone do the type of stuff I do. I am still trying to translate this into a full time thing that can help me support my family.
Workshopshed: What kinds of materials do you use in your projects?
Chris Edwards: It all depends on the project and what the customer wants of course. I have worked with steel, stainless steel, aluminum and copper/brass. I also like incorporating glass, granite and LED lighting into my projects.
Workshopshed: You have some quite high tech equipment such as a CNC plasma cutter, do you prefer working with the high tech or with the manual tools?
Chris Edwards: The high tech tools allow me to do things that I simply can't do by hand. But it's still fabrication, I still have a lot of manual cutting, grinding and welding etc. I come at my business as an artist. I don't have a slip roller or any big equipment, instead I bend stuff around my oxygen bottles use my vise and a lot of other creatively useful manual hand tools. If you look at the grinding details in most of my work, that is all done by hand. A lot of companies fabricate but I take my knowledge as a fabricator, professional installer and artist and try to market my self as a all in one creative solution. I feel what I really offer is concept & design and final delivery of functional pieces of art that are as unique as each client is.
Workshopshed: I like the robot logo, is there some significance to that? Have you built any robots?
Chris Edwards: No , I just love robots and when I was a kid I used to always try to figure things out. This meant taking things apart and "Trying" to put them back together. From this I was dubbed Destructo because I would destroy stuff as a kid, I guess it just stuck. When I think of the 50's robots I think of Cool metal machines that are blocky and colorful, kind of like me.
Workshopshed: Your work is very varied, where do your ideas come from and how do you develop them into something that can be made?
Chris Edwards: Inspiration I guess comes in all different forms. I'm kind of into Americana art, graffiti, classic tattoos, modern architectural design. I think the one gift that I do have as an artist is I can physically replicate what I see in my head. I like making things that I have never seen or get ideas from previous failures but there really are no failures I just incorporated them into the wrong design or project at the time. These bumps in the road are what has helped me refine my work and has helped me develop my own art processes. I just updated my website, if you notice under the services bar theres a link for case studies. I haven't had a chance to update this but I will be shortly, this is to show how I go from concept & design into fabrication and finish product. There is a lot of planning in the design for most of my stuff, a lot of dimensions to start as a base. I'll get a couple of ideas from the customer, then I will make a mock up of my idea that incorporates their ideas or design and get feed back and tweak the project as necessary. You would be amazed how many people want custom furniture, gates, vehicle accessories and they dont know what they want. I try to come up with a game plan before I build because it can get really expensive really quick if you don't have the design and material nailed down.
Workshopshed: Given that you are in Vegas are all your customers Magicians and stage shows?
Chris Edwards: Thats funny, I've pretty much have lived in Las Vegas for all of my 32 years, Professionally as a day job as a Union Ironworker I have done work for multiple Cirque shows and a lot of finish work in the hotels and casinos. I'm trying to break loose and do my own thing, so as of now I have not done work for a magician or show for my business, Yet!
Workshopshed: What can you tell me about the "Annual First Friday competition"?
Chris Edwards: They actually do not do the specific competition which was the "Radiate" art contest any more. Pretty much the basis of the show was radiator art. Artists could stop by pick up a car radiator and had to do their thing with it, for what It was I kind of went overboard and spent $400 bucks and about 35 hours into the slot machine. So the first year I got beat by sponge bob, It was voted on by the general public and lost by 1 vote. I mean he shot bubbles out of his mouth and kids loved it. I'm used to disappointments so far, so it really doesn't bother me any more, I'm going to keep going until I make it. I put so much into my work. I just know that if the right people see my work that could lead to real opportunity for me and my family and I believe in that because I am a hard worker. Anyways the next year not wanting to make something completely new I call the Curator of the gallery and asked If I could submit the same piece with changes as I had wanted to do some gold vinyl on the slot machine to kind of replicate the old school red and gold filigree slot machines back in the day. So I added another 20 hrs to it to do the vinyl and turned out pretty good. At last victory was mine, its funny because the grand prize was $500 bucks and I turned around and bought a $400 Graff painting and took all the boys out for a Mexican restaurant breakfast. Thats what its all about for any artist of any medium I love creating and collecting.
Workshopshed: Thanks Chris for taking time out to talk to us and telling us about your facinating work and projects.
Chris Edwards: I would like to say thanks to my wife who has supported me all this time. To all my friends who are sick of hearing " what do you think, do you like this, is it cool". I would also like to thank other artists in general my fire for what I do is fueled by other creative people. I would like to thank the few people who follow my work and would also like to especially thank Andy from Workshopshed for this interview.