A dear friend of mine and fellow artist, Barbara Speck, spent some time interviewing me (Thursday, December 3, 2009) for one of her projects for her BFA degree. Here's her report in its entirety.
I had the pleasure of interviewing ceramic sculptor/artist Anthony Foo in his
home/studio in Placentia, California. Although he discovered his love of art in his youth,
only recently has he been compelled to focus exclusively on his craft. He freely shared
about his life as a working, exhibiting artist: his inspirations, triumphs, disappointments
and perseverance. His pieces embody not only his passion but his intellect as well.
Mr. Foo believes artists are not necessarily taught but born, though some take
time to realize the meaning and importance of art in their lives. Mr. Foo is a
primarily self-taught artist with a Bachelors degree in Biology/Immunology, an
Associates degree in Graphic Design and a certificate in Business. Though he has
enjoyed creating art as far back as he can remember he only started taking
ceramic classes in the mid-eighties at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. He recalls making
sculptures from mud as a child and appreciates how the path now culminates in his
Mr. Foo works with paper clay as opposed to traditional clay because he loves
its’ strength, versatility and ability to be manipulated. He appreciates that is can be
changed easily even once dry and that it can simulate different materials such as wood,
metal and gravel. He enjoys the tactile sense of the clay and the feeling of caressing it as
he sculpts it. He is most influenced by eastern philosophy and his upbringing in
Mr. Foo has a passion for abstract sculpture. Of this he said, “The most satisfying
part is to take an abstract thought, turn it into a 2 dimensional sketch and then manipulate
it into a 3-D form. I enjoy capturing the thought and seeing the end result” (Foo, PC).
The least favorite facet of being an artist is the business aspect according to Mr. Foo. He
would be happiest to just concentrate of creating and someone else worked on the selling
and marketing aspect. Though he did say “It is the greatest compliment when someone
wants to buy a piece that they connect with emotionally” (Foo, PC).
Though Mr. Foo has followed an artistic path since his youth, it wasn’t until a
few years ago that he made the decision to devote his life to art. Mr. Foo worked as a
graphic designer for several years. While he enjoyed being a graphic designer, he was
able to make the decision to retire from graphic design to concentrate on ceramics full
time in 2007.
Mr. Foo has been in several exhibitions including shows at the Irvine Fine Arts
Center, Grand Central Gallery of California State University Fullerton, City of Brea Art
Gallery and the World Gallery. Additionally, he has won several awards for his art. He
also enjoys teaches paper clay sculpture at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. Mr. Foo sees
himself as a sculptor in the long term likening his artistic self-expression to a pressure
valve that releases stress and allows ideas to go from simply ideas to full realization. He
also believes it is important for fellow artists to realize everyone goes through phases,
sometimes creating nothing and other times with multiple project in the works. One
should not worry about the slow times and use this time to think and contemplate ideas.
He believes the biggest obstacle facing the emerging artist today is how art has gone from
a necessary and vital record of our culture to a luxury. It is now more about acquisition
than communications of ideas. Art has become expendable. We need to realize arts true
importance as it holds our culture together. (Foo, PC)
Mr. Foo’s message to emerging artists is simple, straight forward and eloquent.
“Follow your dream and be brave” (Foo, PC). Following Mr. Foo’s inspiration and
advice I believe an artist can see the importance of art and the need to continue to create
not just for ourselves but for everyone around us.