Fusion Art is pleased to feature award-winning artist, Douglas Aja, in its “A Day in the Life” series. In this series of Artist Showcases, the gallery reveals the “typical” day of many of its award-winning artists.
Doug is an award-winning artist based in Vermont, USA who specializes in African wildlife bronze sculptures. He has won numerous awards in Fusion Art’s online art competitions as well as been featured in the gallery’s Artist Spotlight solo art series.
Below please find, in Doug’s own words, the answers to 12 questions about him, his art and his “typical” day as he gives us a glimpse into his artistic life.
How do you start your day?
Every day is different.
How many days a week do your work on your art?
I don't have a set number of days that I work. I usually do some work every day.
Do you have a home studio or do you go to an outside studio to work? Which do you prefer and why?
I have a studio in my home. I prefer having it in the home. There are definitely pros and cons to both. There are less distractions at an outside studio. At home I have more flexibility. If I only have a short amount of time, I can do a little work, where I wouldn't be able to if I had to drive to the studio.
What kind of art do you create?
Bronze sculptures. I sculpt mostly African wildlife subjects, specializing in elephants. I've also done some basketball figures. Both subjects I am passionate about.
Walk us through your “typical” day?
As I said earlier, I don't have a typical day. Some days I may only work a couple hours, while others I may work ten or 12 hours. Most often I'm working on clay models. At other times I'm doing wax or bronze chasing.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
There's satisfaction being able to create something from a lump of clay. Most importantly it's a way for me contribute to conservation. Which is why I started sculpting in the first place. This year Cynthia Moss, founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE), promoted a bronze of a popular Amboseli elephant named Tim on social media and her newsletter. Fifty percent of the selling price going to ATE. So far over $11,000 has been raised for ATE from sales of 'Tim".
Another thing I've enjoyed is meeting other wildlife artists with shared interests. It's also opened many doors for me. Being a sculptor has given me the opportunity to meet and become friends with people I wouldn't likely have met otherwise. They include elephant researchers Joyce Poole and previously mentioned Cynthia Moss as well as basketball great Sam Jones.
What do you enjoy the least?
Basically anything that's not part of the production process. This would include writing artist's statements and any paperwork involved with entering shows. Also packing waxes to ship to the foundry. Waxes are very delicate and can break easily if not packaged properly. Over the years I've learned ways to pack them so they arrive with no to minimal damage. But, it is time consuming.
Do you have any mentors?
No. Though there are many artists who I admire and get inspiration from.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Since you ask the second part of the question, you must think it is lonely. No, not at all lonely. I am alone while I work, other than the times I'm at the foundry, but that's only a dozen or so days a year. I'm concentrating on what I'm doing and don't want any disturbances. I do have a normal life outside of work.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I'm not sure what advice I'd consider the best, but there are several things I've either been told or heard somewhere. I'll only mention one of them. I think it's important to decide what you want from creating art. Is it a hobby and you do it solely for your own enjoyment and not concerned with selling it? Or, do want to do art as a career. If you want to make a career out of being an artists you must treat it as any full time job. You can't just work when you feel like it. You need to put in the same hours you would if it were any other job. You will most likely have to accept work you'd rather not do. At the same time, you need to put the same effort into it as you would a project that inspires you. On the other hand, if you don't need to make a living from it, paint or sculpt what you have a passion for. That way you'll get your best quality.
What inspires you?
Nature and wild places, especially Africa and African wildlife.
Thank you, Doug, for sharing a peek into your life as an artist!
Below are 8 of Doug’s award winning pieces. To learn more about Doug and see more of his work please visit his website.
Fusion Art, LLC
Santa Fe, NM