This is the Empty Kingdom interview with Derek Weisberg conducted by Ashby Rhodes
You’re aware that artists are extremely poor.
Some of them.
So why did you get into art?
Uuuuh, making art is one of those things that’s not about money. You know its just, you don’t do it for money, you do it cause you have to; if you don’t you’re in a bad mood, ya know?
When did you know you wanted to do art let alone sculpture?
Well I started, um, doing sculpture a long time ago, like young, like a kid ya know because I was fortunate enough to have really supportive parents. They enrolled me in a ceramic sculpting program through Benecia Park and Rec when I was six. So…I pretty much just knew at that point, you know what I mean? I didn’t consciously know, I was a kid, but reflecting back on it I realize that there was a real connection for me with the material of clay and what happened when I started using it.
Did you pursue going or did you parents put you in it.
Well they put me in it initially. I was already showing interest in art. You know I was sculpting with my mash potatoes or I was taking my action figures apart and re-gluing them back together to make new toys. I was already drawing so I was already there, they saw that and put me in it; when I was in the class I wanted to keep going.
Even in high school I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist… I was still under the impression that you had to have a job… I wanted to do something creative, like Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar, modeling for them or something like that. So I went to art school, CCAC and I quickly realized that I didn’t want to do what other people told me to do. I didn’t want to create some form that was drawn before and fit into some kind of scheme. At that point after the first semester of college I was like ‘fuck this man’ this is what I wanna do. So I just put myself in a position to create work ever since.
So did you learn anything? If you wanted to do your own thing and that’s kinda what you were already doing what did college bring to you?
Art is a weird thing. It’s hard to teach how to be an artist. There are lots of things that you can learn, techniques, how to apply a certain type of paint; you have to take some academic classes you learn things so in that regard I learned skills. I created a skill set. You can’t be taught everything, it’s not like math or Science or English. There’s no grammar rules in art, and usually if there are rules set in place, you know, rules and quotes they’re gonna be broken. You can’t be taught motivation or determination or dedication. You can’t be taught how to go to your studio and make something. You can’t be taught how to come up with ideas that move you and that’s the hard part. There’s a crazy statistic that like 90% of students that graduate art school don’t make art. You know, its because when you get out of school there’s no system in place for you anymore. You have to go out and find a studio and once you find a studio that’s separate from your house then you’re paying two rents. You get that studio then you have to find time to go there. You have to work a job and you have to go to your studio after your job, well maybe you don’t feel like it. Maybe you’re tired, maybe you’re drained. You know whatever, like I’m not in a creative space, whatever bullshit. There’s a million excuses. I could sit on this couch and watch TV and watch a DVD or hop on the internet, all kinds of shit, but ultimately you have to turn it off, you have to turn all those excuses off.