I MET MARK when he helped out in one of the restaurants working with some metal and I found him to be a pretty interesting guy. He is really calm and focused on his trade. When I went into his studio I was blown away by the forms that this man has molded with metal; an art form in which I haven’t had much exposure. He pulled out a chair he made from the seat of an old tractor and I sat comfortably.
Can you describe briefly what exactly you do?
I manipulate metal to create a piece — whether it’s a railing or a table or a sculpture. I shape and mold and twist and bend back and twist again, and I can cut and meld pieces together to make shapes.
How did you get into what you do?
We (my wife and I) commissioned a friend of ours to do a piece for us — he’s a blacksmith in Toronto — and my wife suggested that maybe that’s the route that I should go, and said I should think about trying it. So I spent an afternoon with him at his shop and I started looking at blacksmiths. I’m now in my fifth year of business. I love it.
Do you do commission work, or do you do art for art’s sake?
I do art pieces as commissions, but if I do a show I create something original and just show my work.
What’s your favourite type of project to work on?
Furniture. You’re creating an art piece but it’s also functional. That’s my forte.
If you couldn’t do this, what would your backup career be?
I would still work with my hands. If you work with your hands, you’re considered a labourer. If you work with your hands and your head you’re a considered a craftsman. If you work with your hands, head and heart you’re an artist. That’s Francis of Assisi, not me. But I believe it.
Why are you based in Hamilton?
It’s my home. I was born and raised here. Also, it’s the steel city! The arts scene is big here now, and I consider what I do an art form. It’s a great place to be.
What’s your favourite outdoor place to hang out in Hamilton?
The Dundas valley, because I mountain bike. It’s a great space.
What’s your favourite indoor place to hang out in Hamilton?
Wherever there’s live entertainment. I like the city’s music scene a lot — I’ve seen a lot of bands.
Which band is your favourite?
Warsawpack is my favourite band that I’ve seen here. I miss them.
There’s a zombie apocalypse in Hamilton. Where do you go for safety?
I’d go to my shop, where I have my weapons. (writer’s note: I looked around after he said this and became a little creeped out. There were many “weapons”. He could definitely do some damage to the zombies… or humans… Just saying.)
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Music. It’s just a part of my life — I have to have it.
You’re going to die tomorrow — what’s your last meal? (Appetizer, entree, dessert)
I want to say something Vietnamese…but I can’t remember the names of the ones I like so…the appetizer would be hot spinach salad. Perogies would be my main. For dessert, lemon pie. (writer’s note: mmmm perogies.).
You are going to an island. You get to take three animals with you of any variety. Which three do you take and why?
A horse, to get around and to help make things and pull things. A dog, to protect — it’s man’s best friend. And a hawk, for hunting.
What is your favourite piece of artwork you’ve done to date?
The next one.
Do you ever find you get bored?
Never. The beauty of what I do is it actually takes me on a journey. I could be bending it, and then all of a sudden it’s bending a certain way, and ‘oh, I like that’. I like the journey it takes me on.
Is there any local artist you haven’t worked with before that you’d like to?
Dave Hind — I really like his stuff. And, there’s an incredible blacksmith in Port Perry called Mark Puigmarti.