David Canavese, a welded steel and mixed-media sculptor, painter, drawer, and digital artist, is based in San Jose, California. He started his studio, OtherLife Art, in 2011. A follower of various fandoms, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and more, he is inspired to create art by science fiction, as well as by the natural world. He also teaches ballroom, latin, swing and salsa dancing.
1. What will you be doing on May 4th to celebrate Star Wars?
Unfortunately, I’m double-booked! In the morning/afternoon I’ll be participating in an event called Silicon Valley Open Studios, where hundreds of artists open their studios to the public. On May 4th and 5th I’ll be showing original artwork at a gallery in Palo Alto.
But at 6pm I’ll be rushing back to San Jose for the opening of a Star Wars-themed art exhibit at Current Tattooing. They did a fantastic May The Fourth art show last year and I’m happy to be able to contribute work this year!
2. I recently started playing Star Wars the Old Republic. Do you play?
I do, but I haven’t been able to sign on in a few months due to time constraints! If I get any free time to myself that’s the first thing I’ll be doing.
3. Which of the Star Wars movies is your favorite and why?
It’s really very hard for me to choose. Some days it’s the original film, other days it’s Empire. I feel like, even though they’re part of the same continuity, The Empire Strikes Back could almost be set in a different universe. Star Wars (A New Hope) has this great Flash Gordon, rollicking space adventure feeling, while Empire has this great, deeper, moody feel and a great sense of being set in a much larger world/galaxy/universe.
4. When did you start Otherlife Art? What has been the most rewarding aspect?
I started Otherlife Art as part of a project to rededicate myself to art. For a long time after graduating (Santa Clara University, B.A. in Studio Art, with a sculpture emphasis), I didn’t have access to a MIG welder or workspace to create art (or have anyplace to store it). I was very wrapped up in making a living.
Stepping back onto the art path means I’m significantly poorer, but much happier. Nobody goes into art for the money. There are very few people who can make that work. But there’s never been any question that it’s what I love doing. Connecting with people who enjoy my artwork is the most rewarding part, though it never hurts when someone’s willing to back that up by buying a piece! I don’t care about having lots of nice things. I just want to be able to afford materials and food and support myself.
5. What is your favorite art medium to work in?
Welded steel is incredibly fun; it’s like drawing with metal. But papercraft is my other great love; the low cost of materials, the simple tools, the ‘low-tech’ of it is great. But it’s also incredibly versatile and can be quite strong as well. I get a kick out of seeing people’s jaws drop when I tell them one of my detailed pieces is really made of paper.
6. How would you describe your artistic style?
It’s always evolving. The last few years I’ve focused on exploring semi-abstract, organic shapes that look like they could be straight out of nature, like a gnarled tree stump or an intricate coral reef formation. But I’m moving into a new phase of fitting those older works into a larger context of thinking about the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe. I’m also starting to explore “biopunk” — the melding of biology and technology, and the concept of the “ecumenopolis,” or world-spanning city.
7. The zombie apocalypse is upon us and you have to choose one classic rock album to last you through the ensuing years of complete music blackout: Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, or Moving Pictures by Rush?
Tough choice. Tempted to go with Floyd, but the zombpocalypse is kind of a downer already, and if I’ve only got one album to listen to, I’m going to go with the one I’ve heard the least of. Which means I’ll be hearing a lot of Rush as the zombies hurl themselves against the gates.
8. Do you make and sell any Star Wars laser cut wood pieces?
I do have one Star Wars-inspired piece; an original design for a gigantic spaceport. But most of my laser-cut wood prints are in my earlier style of natural-inspired forms. However, just yesterday I was just thinking about doing some more technological pieces. I’m working on some new cutaway views of spaceships and some of them would make awesome laser-cut pieces, so check back soon!
9. Do you prefer the 10th Doctor or the 11th Doctor?
Between those two, I’ll have to choose the 10th doctor, because I’m shamefully out of date on Who. I haven’t even gotten to Matt Smith yet! But I’m about to. So ask me again in a few months.
10. Was Rory a good companion for the Doctor or just a good companion for Amy?
NOSPOILERSNOSPOILERSNOSPOILERSNOSPOILERS! Just kidding. I swear I’ll watch the Matt Smith episodes soon.
11. Firefly is one of the best Science Fiction shows ever. Are you a fan? If so, what is your favorite episode and why?
Absolutely. Out of gas is a masterpiece, but it’s nearly impossible to pick just one. Jaynestown is hilarious.
12. What is your favorite organization/cause to support and why?
I’m not a blind ranty eco-head (there’s a lot of senseless buzzwording and “Green” trendiness about these days) but I do think that we’ve expanded the human race to the point where we have to take care with how we’re managing it or we’ll wipe ourselves off the Earth (or at least decimate ourselves). Science isn’t infallible, but there’s still no better tool for helping us solve those problems.
In the same vein, I think failing to pursue a space program shows a dangerous lack of foresight. “Bigger problems on Earth,” my shiny metal —. It’s ludicrous. Cut a tiny sliver off the defense budget, and use it to quadruple NASA’s operating budget.
13. How long have you been ballroom dancing?
I’ve been dancing since 1998. I taught dancing full-time for about 3 or four years, and I still teach part-time, but I’ve cut down my hours to focus more on art.
14. What is the best part of dancing?
It’s great exercise if you do it enough. You’re more likely to exercise if you really enjoy what you’re doing. The gym’s great for people who think the gym is fun.
It’s also a great skill that you can take with you wherever you go in life. It’s improved my balance and coordination, and it’s social, which has helped to keep me from turning into a total introvert. Just mostly an introvert.
15. Do you take custom order requests through either your Otherlife Art website or your Etsy store?
I do take custom requests or commissions, and the best way to get a hold of me is probably via e-mail ([email protected]), but Facebook works too. I’ll be revamping my Etsy store soon and perhaps trying to integrate it with my website to make everything a little more user-friendly.