"I treat my practice like a job - a privileged job, but a job none the less."
Dion Horstmans is a self-described “sculptor, maker and do-er” whose multi-dimensional sculptures reflect his dynamic and energetic approach both in and beyond the studio. After working in the art department in the film industry, Dion’s creative voice came into its own with the realization he could translate his ideas into three dimensions. Now, Dion creates both private and public art commissions from his studio in Marrickville, Sydney.
Tell us a little about your current work - what do you do, and what inspires you to do it?
I'm an artist, sculptor, and maker. I predominately work in steel. At the moment, I'm working on residential commissions, I have a major public commission being fabricated and a show opening in about a month - it's a series of photographs, which is a collaboration with Tim Jones.
I treat my practice like a job - a privileged job, but a job none the less. I'm pretty dedicated and disciplined and I try not to hide behind the word "inspiration". I'm either working, or I'm not. I've learned that it's alright to take a break sometimes - we don't have to be 'on' the whole time.
How does your work enrich your life or the lives of others?
I'd say my work enriches people's lives in the sense that something in it has to resonate with people for them to buy it and hang it on their walls. For me, it's where I feel the safest, it's a place of peace and calm. The process is the real joy and the finished project is always a gift that comes out of it.
I also get a lot out of working on a show and then hanging it. A show, to me, is simply an idea - an idea that I get to break down into elements, create as individual pieces and then assemble them within a specific space and that final output is a really satisfying moment.
Can you share a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
That's a tough one. The collection of images I've worked on with Tim Jones - Kaleidoscope Series 1 - is something really new, but really I love each and every piece as I make them. They're only mine for the build, then they disappear.
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
My pivot point really came in 1996, when I was working nights as a bouncer at a nightclub. During the day, I would hang out in a studio space with a mate of mine, Aaron Crothers. He gave me the confidence to start working three-dimensionally and then it all flowed from there. I was picked up by Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne and accepted into Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi’s international sculpture exhibition. In 2012, I got a call from Damien King to collaborate on a project for Melbourne's Collins Square, and that was a real game changer for me - that call became my first step into public sculpture. At the same time, I was picked as the tier one artist for a public commission in Bondi. Up until that point, I had been working out of a double garage and now I work in a 240 square metre studio, which allows me to have multiple ideas and projects running at once.
What advice would you give to others to identify and embrace those moments of action?
I didn't really have a choice, this is all I wanted to do. I never hid behind feelings of being uninspired or not having the space or time. If you want to do it, just do it. What's the worst that can happen? Luck doesn't just happen, you work for it. No one is going to hand you something, you work for it. That's what people are buying into - your passion, your drive, your desire to create.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Only one? Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Be focused, but be prepared to move with the end game. Things change as do we.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in shaping your career?
I don't think there has been one clear game changer for me. My life and career to this point have been made up of multiple moments - I'm driving it, but it's in constant flux.
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
My soul place is the ocean - floating on my back and listening to the sounds of the sea.
If you could do anything, what in the world would you want to do next?
As long as I can keep creating then I'm pretty much doing it. I'd love to be able to set up a studio and create sculptures in the US and also in Europe.
All images used with permission from Dion Horstmans.