Meet November Artist of the Month: Dean Allison

We’re pleased to introduce glass artist Dean Allison as our Featured Artist of the Month for November. Creating incredibly life-like glass sculptures, Dean takes his inspiration from figurative painters, memories, and everyday objects.

You can learn more about Dean, his process and inspiration, and the role he thinks artists have in society in the interview below.

What is your artistic background?

My early art education is in life drawing and oil painting. I found glass as an elective in undergraduate school and was drawn to its industrial trade/craft nature. I have a masters degree in visual art and glass sculpture from The Australian National University. I have worked for many studio artists and have attended many craft schools across the country as a student and teacher.

What are your favorite materials to work with/types of items to make?

I mainly work with glass and oil paint to make portraiture and figurative sculptures.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw my inspiration from people, memories and everyday objects. My inspirations in art are from figurative painters and traditional sculpture.

What is your creative process like?

I have many processes that I utilize from drawing and painting to casting glass. Usually, if it is a figurative sculpture I am working towards, I start with a sketch or idea that then leads to a life casting. From a life cast, I pour a wax and make an investment mold off the wax. This becomes a lost wax after it is melted out of the investment. Then glass is either poured or kiln casted into the investment. The glass is then annealed in a kiln. When the glass is at room temperature it is divested from the mold, cleaned, cold-worked and surface finished. Finally it is painted. If I am making a production item it is blown into a mold. The glass is annealed and cold-worked.

What is the most rewarding thing about your practice?

Getting to work with people and the human form while exploring traditional and contemporary aesthetics.

And what challenges do you face as an artist?

There are many challenges and new ones daily in maintaining a sustainable art business. Some of them are maintaining my equipment and facilities, finding new ways to explore the figure, being honest with myself and making what interests me, realizing new ideas and direction, and keeping up to date with advancements and technologies in my field.

Outside of your practice, do you do any other creative activities/what are your interests?

I like to play guitar, dabble in creative writing and make figurative paintings. I also like to go hiking or go on long walks. I love the ocean and listening to Jazz and blues.  

I think artists are forerunners into developing better lifestyle choices, creating more interesting and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, transforming and elevating communication and education, and helping other to see differing points of view.

What role does the artist have in society?

There are many. The artist has an obligation to find a visual language that communicates an honest experience or perspective. An artist is hopefully finding ways to make life more enjoyable, engaging or interesting by finding innovative, alternative ways to process and perceive our surroundings. I think artists are forerunners into developing better lifestyle choices, creating more interesting and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, transforming and elevating communication and education, and helping others to see differing points of view. 

What is art/craft to you?

Art and craft are intertwined. They both have to hold dear quality and excellence. They both should understand history and traditions. Having good concepts needs the understanding of skill or craftsmanship to execute vision and good craftsmanship needs the knowledge of art and aesthetics to push the capabilities of a medium.

Tell us about your favorite artist or artists that inspires you.

My favorite artists are mostly painters. Some of them are Lucien Freud for his tonal quality and color palette, Egon Schiele for his contour line and use of composition and negative space, and Francis Bacon for his macabre style. I also love Ah Xian in Porcelain for the serenity he portrays, Mark Pieser and Erin Eisch in Glass, and Bruno Walpoth in wood.  There are many others.

You can find Dean online at www.deanallison.net and follow him on Instagram @deanallisonstudios. You can also find a selection of Dean’s blown glass bag vases in our Store at 5645 Butler Street or at https://contemporarycraftstore.com/collections/dean-allison.