He currently has three pieces in the High Fiber Diet fiber show at the Bellevue Art Museum--hurry! The show closes on February 5th! An "architect turned quilter," in his own words, it's been absolutely delightful to meet and chat with Luke over the years. (Even if Andie embarrassingly doesn't recognize him without a beard). See below for an awesome chat about his life, work and where he'd eat every day for a year if he could:
Your quilting style is unlike any other -- (mostly) non-gridded, includes portraiture and large scale objects, themes ranging from nostalgia to self-reflection to modern iconography. Your range is impressive, and still your artistry is consistent and cohesive. Is there one main drive or source of inspiration for you?
[Actually mostly gridded. though you cant see it as well from afar. Meaning that I work from square to square to dissect the image into workable parts.] There is one main drive for me and that is constant innovation. I worked for a few years on technique where the image was less important than learning how to make it, then I worked a few years on rendering images and making them clear as I could, THEN a few years on learning the methods of quilters and historical precedent AND THEN a few years learning about making cohesive exhibitions with common themes and notations. What is cohesive is that they all pull from my experience as filtered through my growth as a maker of objects.
Christana's World by Luke Haynes
A common dilemma for fine artists is making a living. How do you balance your desire to create with your desire to sell work?
I live simply. Also I am lucky, my creativity is also what I sell. I create objects and stories that I then sell. It tends not to be mutually exclusive for me.
What is your day like, as a working artist? Are you constantly working on a project or new idea? Does this exhaust or exhilarate you?
I break up my time. I do Marketing Monday where I don't create at all and rather spend the time at the computer and/or taking care of infrastructure things. That and I work for a few months and then take one off to travel to shows and socialize. I work hard, and if I let myself I will burn out. I am constantly working on new projects and ideas and the more that I have and use the more come. I have quite a range of projects bouncing around in my brain. I get a lot of energy from ideas and schemes up until I have piles of them half made sitting around my studio which then distract me.
The Artist with Rags to Riches
How much of an influence is being a male in the quilting world on your work? There are apparent themes of manhood, but how much of that is intentionally highlighted (versus simply being a fact)?
I would say that my gender affects my role in the quilting world in that I get to be a novelty. I made a series of quilts about that. I tend to make quilts or exhibitions to answer any reoccurring questions raised by my practice. For example I make a portrait of me for my bed every year to answer the question about if they are used. I also get LOTS of shows of people putting up shows of men in quilting.
Tell us about your work in the "High Fiber Diet" show, currently at the Bellevue Arts Museum?
That is a good show full of really really dedicated and skilled artists. The work I made was to answer the question "Why are the portraits I make Quilts?" Each portrait is made from the clothes of the individual portrait. The background is made from used clothes from the area the person is from. So it's a tactile story of the person and the environment they inhabit both daily and in general. I have three pieces at the show one each backed in red, white and black.
Where's your favorite place to work/create? To rest? To imagine yourself in 20 years?
Work: large quiet studio with natural and bright light. clean and efficiently designed.
Rest: Car or a bike. if I am in transit then I cant feel like I should be doing something else. I relax most when between places.
In 20 years?: Who in the world knows. I have trouble deciding where I am going to move to from Seattle. [Career wise I have plenty of ideas, but physical location isn't one of them that I am settled on.]
What other things do you love to do, other than quilting?
I love to cook and to have dinner parties. I love to be social, but only in small groups which is hard to do when 'out.'
If you could invite a role model or inspiration of yours to your studio (artist or otherwise) who would you like to host?
I do a lot of studio visits. I LOVE to ask questions of the artists I respect to learn their interpretations of my work and my practice. It's hard to pick a particular someone. Maybe Bill Murray just because: who wouldn't?
If you could eat at only one local restaurant for the rest of the year, where would it be?
Skillet. Oh man its tasty! and they even have kale sallads PLUS they have that cute plaid dress code. I'd go there all the time given the option. ALL the time!
Any New Year's resolutions?
My best resolution is to be more self indulgent. I should have resolved to do that years ago!
I am also getting up at 8am every day. Seattle is so grey that I have had issues with sleeping my days away. [I don't have to get OUT of bed, just up.]
Images via Luke Haynes