Turning Point Studio/Gary Miller interview with Reclaimed West


We’d like to introduce our readers to one of the Rocky Mountain Region’s most talented artists, Gary Miller who masters the art of welding recycled metal components together to create captivating sculptures ranging in size from table top pieces to life sized artworks. 

Jessica Schimpf for Reclaimed West: Gary, we are very excited to connect with you in order to discuss more about your intriguing artwork. I’m very curious about how you started working with artistic materials and what it like for you to experiment with different processes. When did you first realize you were an artist? What was one of your first art pieces and what materials were used to create it? 

I really like your studio name, Turning Point Studios – what inspired you to name your company TPS? How did your modern style develop from your very first artwork to the elegant pieces you are creating now? Do you work from old methods or styles of woodworking or are you far more invested in new technologies?

Gary Miller at Turning Point Studios : When I was in the third grade I took a chunk of wood and whittled it into a bird... that bird was the first piece I remember being really proud of artistically. Academics were not my favorite part of school, as I struggled with A.D.D. but I always excelled in art or anything that had to do with creativity or working with my hands. I knew in grade school that I would be an artist someday and realized my talents were an important part of who I’d become.

Thinking back, I remember a piece that still comes to mind...it was an American flag I designed in my Industrial Arts class.  I took a piece of laminated red and white plastic, with a piece of blue to finish it off.  My teacher liked its style so much that he copied the design and sold them to other teachers!!  

In high school I took a ceramics class for art and that’s where my passion for pottery began.  I took to the potter’s wheel like I had been using it my whole life!  Throughout high school I sold my work under the name Turning Point Pottery. Now I use Turning Point Studio to mark the turning point in my career. I really like using traditional methods of woodworking to create my sculptures and have not experimented much with new technologies. 

 praying mantis on wood

This praying mantis on Persimmon tree and is crafted from old rail road hardware, $225 

Jessica:  Where did you grow up and how has that landscape helped you to create or design new work? What are your influences where you live?

Gary: I grew up in Northern California and spending time on the coast really inspired me artistically. I also spent time in the Sierra Nevada and that, I think, really inspired my love for stone.  I always had access to nice river rock for stonewalls and other landscaping projects. Working in the auto body industry for the past 37 years has really honed my skills in finishing metal and shaping plastic. I also developed a great eye for detail in this trade.

Jessica:  What are some of your biggest challenges in working with your designs? What is your favorite woodworking process and what artists/designers inspire you currently? What comes first for you, the materials or design ideas?

Gary: What really inspires me is studying and using old methods of any trade: wood, metal or ceramics. I really want to learn to blow glass and I think I could catch on to it quickly.  My inspiration can come from another artist’s work or simply from seeing a rock formation, or a piece of unique wood or even a piece of metal. Usually I get my ideas when I see the material for example, an old tool or metal object. Then I visualize a design from there and start my process.

Jessica: Working with reclaimed furniture is such an exclusive industry right now. We are seeing huge changes in sustainable design, reclaimed furniture designs and even advanced energy technologies (such as artists imbedding solar cells into furniture or glass). Are you interested in creating work that expands on any new processes?

Gary: I’ve heard and seen some of the stuff the industry is coming up with and its awesome, but I haven’t approached any of the new technologies yet.  At this point in my career I’m enjoying the old-style methods for my work.  I like my pieces to reflect the past.  

Metal ram sculpture 

 Metal Ram's Head Sculpture, $4500

Jessica: Please see more of Gary's work through our shop at http://reclaimedwest.com/index.php/products/artworkshtml. We want to thank Gary Miller for taking the time to speak more about his work and process when creating reclaimed metal sculptures.