Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Joseph Cavalieri, one of Torpedo Factory’s Visiting Artists. Joseph, a full-time stained glass artist from New York City, is not only a creator, teacher and media pro, but he’s a seasoned world traveler and a genuinely nice guy. Joseph will be giving a talk about marketing your art and getting better press at 7pm on Thursday, September 25th at the Torpedo Factory. Mark your calendars, people.
AH: Can you tell me a little about how you got to where you are today? You have a really interesting story.
JC: I went to art school for college in New York City. It’s called The School of Visual Arts and it’s in Manhattan. It’s a great school. The teachers are professionals and they are working at the same time that they’re teaching.
After college I worked in advertising, book publishing and magazines. There are loads of magazines in New York, so I started to bounce around doing freelance for them. Then I worked full time at GQ , People and Good Housekeeping. I worked for about 5 years at each of those three magazines. It was a good variety.
AH: Was it stressful?
JC: You know, not that bad. We had deadlines and some late hours. Advertising was very stressful. I’d be working on the computer with an account executive behind me waiting for the ad and (back when there were messengers) the messenger would be behind the account executive waiting to take it out. So that got me ready for anything! At the magazines, I thought, “There’s no stress here!” It was actually calm!
The magazines were a lot of fun. At GQ we were able to go to movie premiers, parties and fashion week in New York. At People, we got to meet famous actors. Good Housekeeping was a well-rounded magazine. That was my last full-time job. During this time I took one class at Urban Glass in Brooklyn and I fell in love with glass.
AH: Really? Just one class? Did you have an interest in glass before that?
JC: I took a class very early on when I was in high school in basic stained glass. I made a jewelry box and two or three other projects and just dropped it to the side until I took the class at Urban Glass in Brooklyn. Then I decided to do glass art full time. I made a 5-year plan to eventually leave the magazines and I started getting my art into exhibitions. I didn’t really know I was going to be teaching, but at one point one teacher at Urban Glass couldn’t teach and they called me in. At this point I discovered I liked teaching a lot. It’s fun. Now I do six classes per year in the U.S. and all over the world. I’m going to Zurich and the UK soon. The one thing I wanted when I left the magazine world was not be a starving artist, and not to just travel, but be paid to travel.
AH: That’s amazing. It sounds like you’ve got it all figured out!
JC: It’s paradise teaching internationally. And it’s so much better than a vacation because you’re meeting other artists. I do a lot of residencies as well. That’s what brought me here. I saw a listing [for the Torpedo Factory Visiting Artist Program] and found the timing was perfect. I’ve never been in a studio with so many other artists. This setup is totally new for me, and will change the way I work when I return to New York.
AH: How has your experience been here so far?
JC: It’s been really good. You know, I’m waiting until the end of my stay to make any final decisions because anything could happen! But, you know, the first day I set up my work, I just felt like this was home. I feel like having eight pieces on display is a good variety to represent my work. And I’m very happy to have sold a piece.
AH: That’s good to hear! It’s wonderful to see your work here. There’s nothing else like it in the Factory. And I love that you’re displaying all of the works in progress.
JC: That’s the really cool thing about being here. I have work to make. I don’t want to just be sitting around. That’s one thing I learned about residencies. Some places you go, you can’t necessarily make the work because you don’t have all of the equipment. Having a kiln is at the top of my list when I look for a residency, and that made the Torpedo Factory stand out.
AH: How do you balance everything? You teach and create and you’re really good at promoting your work. You understand that world. How do manage all of that?
JC: You just work until 10 o’clock every night! [laughter] It’s nice to take a break from the creative part to do the media and promote your work. It feels like I’m two different people when that happens.
AH: So you’re maximizing your time rather than sitting and stewing.
JC: My high school art teacher used to say waiting for inspiration is not good. You should always be sketching and planning your next work. I hang my sketches on the walls of my studio, and update them as I pass by, so I live with them for a while way before I cut any glass.
AH: Tell me a little about the talk you’re doing at the Torpedo Factory on Thursday, September 25th. What is the title?
JC: It’s had a few titles. Marketing for Artists, or Getting Better Press. They are both sort of the same thing. In this talk I’ll be giving a tips to help artists reach the proper audience of people who buy their work, and steps to get articles on their work in magazines, newspapers and blogs .
AH: I’m looking forward it, Joseph! Thanks so much for your time.