Artist Spotlight: Brian Jacobson
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Brian Jacobson is a man who wants to spread peace, love, knowledge, tolerance, and acceptance in the world through his art and his glassmaking.
His father got him into welding and creation at 12 years old, and Brian has taken that knowledge and expanded on it, creating his entire career around the arts and self-expression. He says that learning welding was the beginning of his career of creation and working with his hands.
Brian is a lifelong seeker of knowledge. He went to school to be an engineer, but quickly realized it wasn’t right for him. He decided he couldn’t be just a cog in the machine.
He uses his glassblowing and art to express himself, and his creations each carry part of his energy. When people use his pieces, he hopes that it takes them to a new level of perception and gives each a personal moment of expansion
Now seven years into his glassmaking career, Brian says he really finds his happiness and expression through his art. He considers himself a “spiritual dude,” and hopes that his artistry, travels, and experiences are helping bring home awareness, tolerance, and love to his hometown of Tucson.
STOKED SAT DOWN WITH BRIAN
Stoked: Tell us a little about your motivations in the art.
Brian Jacobson: I really love and appreciate sacred geometry, and glass making has limitless opportunities. I can be here for my family and friends and spread love. I love helping people and to be a part of building this community. It makes me happy, earns me money, and gives me motivation.
I was actually just on the road for a whole month, and last year it was three months out of the year…just traveling and blowing glass and meeting people across the country. There are artist hubs in every city, and I can go and just hang out, and everyone really takes care of each other. It’s beautiful. I love that I can travel and do my art.
Stoked: How and why did you get into glass blowing?
Brian Jacobson: I’ve always been into art, and my dad taught me how to weld when I was only 12. I have always been good with my hands. At one point, in high school, my sister got me a job driving an ice cream truck, and I did it. I was depressed and needed to get out of the house and she forced me to take responsibility. I would go to the little league games and parks and sell snow cones.
One day, a dude came up to me and said he would give me a hand pipe for a snowcone, and I figured “why not?” So, we traded. I walked into the glass shop, and there were guys everywhere on every station…lathing, blowing glass, anything you can think of. Since I had that welding experience, I immediately started working for them and doing any manual labor they needed. I apprenticed there, making acrylic and glass bongs for four months, and then they put me on the payroll. I worked there for another two and a half years. I had 16 people there teaching me everything. I trained with Know Ego, who is an amazing glassmaker. See his work on his official Facebook page.
Then I wanted to go out on my own. I did trade shows in Vegas, worked with and learned from Sonoran Glass School – it opened up my world. I built a shed in my dad’s back yard and had it completely set up with ventilation, tanks, air conditioning, different stations and all my tools. Did that for over two and a half years, and just kept making art. Eventually I moved into another shop. Today I have a 1000 square foot studio with all my stations. I have a blowing station, electro-forming, a welding area, mechanic area, silversmithing, tools, everything. I made an outdoor heater with a bunsen burner going through it.
Stoked: Do you ever mix media? Other than glass, what do you enjoy working with?
Brian Jacobson: I have really started to get into silver and working with gemstones.
I have always liked messing around with fire and went to school for welding, which carried well into glassmaking and heating. I’ve taken metallurgy classes, too. I love to learn and mix media and create new things.
I make southwest-style kachina dolls and I really want to make a seven-foot one out of metal and glass.
It’s tough because I have so many ideas, but need the time!
[Editor’s Note: Kachina dolls are carved figures from the Hopi people to instruct youth about katsinas or katsinam, the immortal beings that bring rain, control other aspects of the natural world and society, and act as messengers between humans and the spirit world.]
Stoked: What’s your favorite color to work with in glass?
Brian Jacobson: My favorite color is green, because it correlates to the heart. And orange is the most bright and stands out, looking amazing in glass,but I am drawn to fire and ice and tend to play with that a lot.
I also like a desert palate, with forest greens, mountain purples and blues, sunset reds. Everything is a desert scene in terms of colors. There are also new colors that change in different lights, called neodymium glass, which are amazing to see and work with. It’s hard to say that just one color is my “favorite” to work with.
Stoked: What non-functional pieces do you enjoy making? Which do you prefer creating and why?
Brian Jacobson: I really like making hand-drawn pendants. They are more functional than regular pendants, they are art. I like this more than I really have time for. Next I plan to do sIlversmithing and use gemstones and then lapping them down in silver. I’d like to make jewelry in addition to what I’m doing now. I think I can really capitalize on this and go to jewelry shows and stuff to sell them.
WIth pipe art, people take it into their house and no one ever sees it except when it is brought out for temporary use. Maybe now that it’s legal, people might carry them around a little bit.
But jewelry is art that is proudly worn out, making people happy and meant to be shared. I really like that. I love working with borosilicate and I use it to harness energy. I put a lot of time and energy into it, and it’s an amulet to carry energy for the wearer and for their protection.
Stoked: What is the largest piece you have ever made?
Brian Jacobson: Five years ago, I made these huge pieces, but now people are all looking for more compact stuff. Lately, people want more compact and technical pieces.
I was just at a summer camp at DreamLab, called Camp Wannamakeaheady, put on by glass artist Joe Peters and with classes taught by artist Banjo. We were working 12-16 hours every day, and we did this huge collaborative piece. My friend Kaya and I made a giant ‘cactus in a pot’ piece together, it was gigantic.
Stoked: What happens when things turn out totally not as planned? How do you fix it?
Brian Jacobson: You can draw the piece out forever, but it will definitely change as you go. I like starting with a general idea instead of a specific plan, and then I get ideas and adapt and clarify ideas and plans as I’m making it (Unless it’s a specific order/commission).
Stoked: What’s the best part about being a glassblower?
Brian Jacobson: The freedom to do what you love. People come into it through different avenues, and some people are more hustlers, and I am just a modern hippy making it work.
Check out Brian’s work on his Instagram @brianjacobson313