ADDRESS Interview with Shaun Bird.
Define your craft in 3 sentences or less. I build a variety of things and work in several mediums, but my passion is furniture and my dedication is metal. You will rarely find ornamental elements in my work. I strive for clean, sharp, straight lines and create simple, modern, yet bold and unique pieces.
Describe your creative process. There are two different creative processes used at Birdman the Welder.
One is the “100% organic home grown”, where original designs essentially build themselves through me. I usually start with metal, working with it and building on it, sometimes mixing mediums until it becomes a natural creation, a “Birdman original”. The passion I feel for metalworking is strong. Working in such a cold, rigid medium somehow brings me solitude and warmth. It’s weird, right? Metal is something that appears to be difficult to work or manipulate. Building furniture out of metal starts with intense, sometimes violent processes like cutting, heating, hammering, and yet it leads to a place where I find peace in sanding, blending and polishing. It is one of the most therapeutic processes for me as a builder, and when I’m building instinctively I have the freedom to let it take me where it wants.
Ninety percent of my pieces are one-of-a-kind creations for individual clients. I guess being asked to make multiples to sell is complimentary, but who wants to do the same thing every day? Not me… So, the second creative process comes into play when building a custom piece for a client. It’s more of collaboration from start to finish. I work closely with my wife, Leanne, together with our clients, during the design phase. We usually build the entire project personally, but also work with other local makers and finishers in creating exactly what our clients want. When it comes time for delivery, Leanne usually joins me (and snaps a few photos), and our pup Peanut has been known to come along for the ride as well. We pride ourselves on the ability to be a one- stop shop, but don’t shy away from reaching out to others in the community who specialize in their own crafts.
Where do you find inspiration when experiencing a creative block? Much of my inspiration comes from world travels, historic architecture and ancient designs/processes.
Whether it is the street art in London or the brutal wrought ironwork in Italy, the sharp and massive steel structures in New York or the hand carvings in Hawaii, travel inspires me, drives me and revitalizes me. I snap shots of things that inspire me along the way, and review them when the creative blocks hit.
What advice would you give to young designers / makers / artists / creatives aspiring to make it in their field?Grow. Brainstorm. Push Forward. Collaborate. Always move forward. All progress is good progress, even if it’s just tiny steps toward the goal.
What’s your dream project? A massive dining table in a top notch eatery is something I’ve always had on my mind. The best times are always had over a great meal and with the best company, and a dining table plays a key role in that.
What art / design trends are you excited about? Street art is being embraced worldwide now more than ever, and I love it. It seems to be a rapidly growing scene in Vancouver. We are surrounded by talent in this beautiful city.
I’ve always envisioned my work to be an ideal backdrop for all types of street art and hope to set up collaborations in the very near future, bringing the absolute rawness of steel together with the rawness of our city streets.