As part of our ongoing collaboration with Squarespace we have put together a series of interviews from creatives, entitled, Squarespace Studio Series. With such an impressive design scene in Sheffield, it was hard to whittle down the list. Up next in the series is David Appleyard, an artist with a background in three-dimensional design. We caught up with him in his studio with Agnes, the border terrier.
Can you describe the journey from your home to studio?
More often than not I cycle in to work. I also have a van for taking equipment and materials to the studio. The journey is a three-mile door to door trip by bicycle. It usually takes me about 12 minutes from home to studio and around 20mins coming home. On the way home I sometimes add on a little detour which takes me on a nice little downhill section through some woodland and our local allotments.
If I go by van it takes up to 25mins and by the time I get to the studio I feel pretty stressed.
The push iron is the vehicle of choice for that journey!
What is the area like where your studio is based in terms of shops, galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, amenities, etc.? Do you have much interaction with others, creative or otherwise, in the locality?
My studio is at the Yorkshire ArtSpace Society, Persistence Works. Its on Brown Street in Sheffield which is on the same road as the Site Gallery and Showroom Cinema. Its also very close to Millennium Galleries and The Graves Gallery.
Persistence Works itself is home to 60+ artists, designer and makers so there are plenty of opportunities to see lots of other art and craft disciplines. I feel very lucky to have a space there.
Any daily routines that help you start the day?
COFFEE and either a run or walk with my dog Agnes and music or a bit of Radio 4 depending on what work I’m doing that day.
Can you describe the layout and structure of your Studio? How does the space affect your working practice and how has your practice impacted on your space?
I’m in the process of moving in to a larger studio (as I type!). It has a 5m ceiling and is much bigger than my old space, 700 sq ft or there abouts. It has a lot of potential and I’m hoping that the extra space will allow me to make more of my work ‘in-house’. At the minute its chaos but there’s a plan and its coming together nicely.
How many people share the space?
In my studio? Just me and occasionally my border terrier Agnes. However… I like to collaborate as much as possible so its pretty common for other artists, designers, engineers etc to be working with me in the studio or in other spaces depending on the work.
Can you talk us through your essential workshop/studio toolkit?
Essentials – Pen and paper and a flexible space. I once read a book by Brian Eno (A Year With Swollen Appendices), he wrote about the furniture in his studio been on wheels so that he could change things according to his work or mood. I’ve stuck to that principle – Everything on wheels! Every project is different so I tend to collect the tools I need along the way. I’ve just ordered a desktop CNC machine which will allow me to prototype and create more precise scale models and components. It’s all about detail so having a bit of kit like the CNC machine will allow me to add the extra touches.
Do you surround yourself with objects that inspire or comfort you? If so can share some of your favourite “things” in your studio and why you love them?
I used to but to be honest I started getting rid of them due to a lack of space. I hate to much clutter and although I make things for a living I also believe people own way too many things. The things I save tend to be material samples, test samples, models etc. I reckon one of my favourite finds is a nice piece of drift wood from a sea defence groin. It’s an unusual thing with machine marks and its been on a watery journey, it also brings back nice memories of the time I found it. It always makes me daydream. I cant imagine ever chopping it up for fire wood! I’ve also got a beautiful cast iron table from an old table saw which I would never want to be without. It has the date 1922 and a patent number cast into it and the name ‘The Arun’.
Now I have more wall space I’m hoping to get some framed prints up on the wall from graphic designers I admire. Jon Cannon is a particular favourite of mine and I’m glad to say a friend too. I’m hoping the new studio will be less cluttered than my last. Moving studio is giving me a brilliant opportunity to thin things down and get a bit of clarity back.
Is there music playing in the studio?
Always, and very varied.
Sometimes I can go a whole day listening to the back catalogue of a single band. Other days is a shuffle.
Radio 4 is a relaxer and I love asking people to suggest tunes when they visit.
Friday afternoon the volume goes up and the dancing shoes go on.
Are you still working in a discipline that you studied at college?
In a way I am but I like to think I’ve cut my own path. I studied Industrial Design which really catered for people wanting to pursue a product design career. I tried it after graduation but it didn’t suit me. I loved my Foundation Course and the process of working on one of pieces or small batches appeals to me. I also felt very uneasy about contributing to land fill. Things aren’t made to last anymore and my two years experience of working for a design consultancy made me very depressed. Not just the length of time spent sat at a screen but the general ethos of the projects. Adding designed improvements/gimmicks to get one over a competitor all felt wrong.
Do clients visit your studio?
Do you work until it’s done or have a strict going home time?
You never switch off if you’ve got interesting projects on the go but I have two young kids so I try my best to get home for bath and bedtime. I’m not a clock watcher, though!
Evenings – still checking work emails or switched off and wound down?
Still, check emails but only because I can’t bring myself to turning my phone off. Again it’s something I try not to do and I’m seriously thinking of trying to swap to a really basic mobile.
Favourite piece of creative work in 2016
Yours: A public art concept proposal for Merthyr Tydfil. (Secret at the moment). The people down there have really made this project what it is. Amazing people living in a fascinating and important Welsh Valleys Town. Everything about the project has been enjoyable. Challenging but a privilege to be involved with.
Someone else’s: My eldest daughters work folder from her first year at school. The creative mind of a child is something very special to witness.
Are there any trends you have noticed this year?
I’m not one for trends. My projects tell stories about real places and people and hopefully raise questions.
Tell us about your find of the year?
Something I thought I’d lost.
Tell us a bit about your favourite:
Exhibition: I really enjoyed Jeame Plensa at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park a couple of years ago and I’m looking forward to seeing Tony Cragg there next year. Antony Gormley’s Another Place is also up there as a favourite installation (it brought me to tears when I saw it the first time).
Event: Everytime I go trail/fell running in the Peak District is an event in itself. You see the seasons changing and the sun rising and setting. These are probably the most spectacular events we can witness.
Gig: Probably one of the many times I’ve seen the Charlatans or maybe Massive Attack or maybe Heaton Park for the Stone Roses – I’ve been to too many to have a favourite.
Festival: Glastonbury – it’s a few years since I’ve been and it’s always pissed it down whenever I’ve been there but it’s bloody brilliant.
Meal: A standout meal was a fusion something or other I had in Costa Rica, we’d struggled to find somewhere to eat and just found this place by chance. I can’t even remember its name but it was a bit of everything you could possibly want. I think some people would call it Tapas.
Something more local? – Tampa, just over the road make a nice brew and their breakfast is the bee’s knees.
I like making Indian food.
I’m not a fan of over the top fancy service but I do like good food.
Song: Tellin Stories – The Charlatans or New Order Temptation
Album: Stone Roses Stone Roses or Bob Marley Catch a Fire
Book: I don’t have a favourite but I do enjoy biographies. I recently read American Interior by Gruff Rhys. I liked the way the project came out on multiple platforms. Book, Album, Film, Phone App and live gigs. I enjoyed them all. He’s an innovator and seems like a good soul. His book made me want to write more.
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Photos by Marcus Sarko.