Art is an exploration of ideas. The operative word here is exploration. This means following paths that are not necessarily well worn, just to see where they lead.
Focus and Development
My collection of sculptural work is a product of developed craftsmanship and process. While many of these have included light sources, my recent works in process do not. Lighted or unlighted, I welcome any opportunity for commissioned work where I can apply the craftsmanship developed over decades toward realizing the desires of customers. This includes art as well as commercial model making.
I ran across a folder containing images of our Lighting Design Consulting offices from Las Vegas. This was when we were deep into the Mirage hotel, as well as a ton of custom homes, and some retail work.
So, I thought, why not recreate what would have been our cook’s tour at the time – had you come by for a visit back then.
For younger readers, there is equipment in these images that you won’t recognize. For those old enough, you will recognize the collection of things and perhaps have a nostalgic moment of your own. So, without any further ado, shall we?
There is a lot of noise today about folks changing career paths and how it is changing the landscape of employment. I question whether what is happening is actually new. An interesting article on careers from Apollo Technical 17 REMARKABLE CAREER CHANGE STATISTICS TO KNOW indicates that job and career changes are pretty common, and have been going on for some time.
Key takeaway: Change is the norm, it is only the attention of media that cycles in and out of making it a “story.”
The article states that the average number of jobs an individual might have is 12, and infers that most have perhaps just one career change. So, I decided to do a bit of a retro review on my own path. What I came up with was 5 significant career paths (often overlapping), and 11 jobs over a period of 44 years. The following is a run down, counting only adult age jobs.
For me, art was going to be a part of what I do. At a very early age, living in campus housing where my dad was studying Electronics Engineering, my daily path to school included the halls of the art department at the UofI Moscow, ID to escape the cold winters. There, I saw paintings, sculptures, and graphics. The imagery and smell of linseed oil were compelling. While others played with their sticks and balls, I chose sketching and doodling in notebooks, and painting murals on walls.
Career One – Graphics and Job 1
Most careers are a mish-mash of financial need, emotion, opportunity, and focus. My early interests in art led to a graphic design path, which led to joining the USAF as a graphics specialist.
The story told here is real. However, I have added a bit of humor to it for entertainment purposes. The actions taken, timeline, and responses to it are real, the description of it is a dramatization of actual events to make it more fun to read. No names have been changed.
As a kid, I glued and painted everything. Making stuff from wood and found objects was the greatest form of entertainment around, next to stinking up the house with unsupervised chemistry set experiments. The reasons are pretty obvious:
No computers or video games
3 channels on antenna TV
The only thing streaming in 1969 was water, down actual streams
No smart phones and all the trappings that go with them
So, I made things. Gokarts from wood and lawn mower take-off wheels, to walking stilts made from scrap 2 x 4’s. Wenatchee was the center of the Wenatchee Youth circus, so you walked on stilts and rode unicycles – including delivering newspapers on them. The place was a bit bizarre, but wonderful to grow up in.
The glue of choice in those days was Elmer’s Glue-All. The problem was, at the time, the stuff came with one of two caps designs. The separate little press on cap, and the twist cap design.
Where we work tells the story of who we are. I enjoy space planning and getting the most out of small environments. I don’t enjoy excessive space filled with… well, space. Also not a fan of architectural spaces that offer volumes of open space. I find the echoes of cloppity-clopping of feet on marble surfaces and reverently hushed voices annoying. This seems an American thing, where scale of space and purpose are out of synch. Visiting Europe, or older sections of large cities anywhere, I find the ratio of space to purpose in better proportion. Less pretence, more utilization and intimacy – and less hallowed shrine to the gods of capitalism, perhaps?
I once expanded operations from a shared purpose three car garage to a facility of over 4,500s.f. – thinking more was better. But, what I found was a sense of inefficiency. A friend once commented that space had a tendency to fill itself. He was right. It’s like a lifeform with an insatiable appetite for “stuff”, leading to a need for more space. It was amazing how much junk became “necessary”.
In 2019, I down-sized everything by eliminating redundant accumulated equipment (donated to a Maker Center), and clearing/recycling “stuff.” The process was liberating.
The objects created and offered through Lumenique are not production products. Lumenique is the name of my design studio, not a product manufacturing organization.
The following is extracted from my Terms page, describing how I characterize and keep records of completed works.
Provenance Record Keeping
Every product made is identified by a unique serial number code label placed on its base. This serial number is logged into the Lumenque database with a reference image and description, and data indicating the item completion date, and type of work coded (see definitions below.) The unique serial number can also be used to replace a work that has been destroyed – with proof and return of the remains of the destroyed item, on which a quote for replacement will be issued for approval prior to remaking the lost work. For this reason, we recommend keeping a record of the serial number for future reference.
After the effort of creating 16 new objects simultaneously, a process I was familiar with from the 52 in 52 exercise, it feels great to have these first pieces done, photographed and finally live. I took this opportunity to explore a wide range of approaches, forms, and general approaches. The intent was to see what felt the most right, and what felt the least right as I actually completed each work piece. I also discovered many areas of improvement I will be making in construction, forms, finishing processes, and ultimately scale and design vocabulary. This infinite and never ending “Work in Process” state of being is what makes this so compelling. I won’t always get it right, but even when I’m wrong, I gain something from it.
Unicycle Two was inspired by the first 3D print object I ever made in 2010 – Unicycle One, which was part of the 52 in 52 project. This first full object project and over 1000 subsequent projects since has been a massive learning experience. The following summarizes the progression that has taken place over these 11 years.
Not knowing the characteristics of the ABS plastic in 2010, I printed the first fixture solid, which consumed 115 cubic inches of material, at a cost of over $600. Ouch! Over the last 11 years, I have learned a lot about how to create objects with 3D printers, which is reflected in the latest iteration of the Unicycle design.
Every designer has instances where they want to see a special idea or concept realized to fill a small, but essential need or want, but cannot find a path to see it realized. I know this, as I was a designer that started making things for my own projects to fill this need – which led to the formation of Lumenique.
The need for something special may be as simple as a small iconic accent applied to a wall or door, a corporate image piece, a center piece at a corporate entry desk or conference table, a side table or dining table light that functions as accent source of illumination while making an artistic design statement. These are the inspired details that add nuance and depth, that makes a design pop – but are too frequently set aside for want of a source to make them real.
Emerging from a humble start in Boise, Idaho as a drafter/designer, then forged in the heat of Las Vegas, the burning excitement for lighting led to the creation of Kevin L. Willmorth, Lighting Design Consultant, the birthplace of Lumenique. The setting was a second floor industrial office space leased from John Renton Young, a lighting entrepreneur. Sharing our building: An Interior Designer; a Boutique Lighting Rep Agency, and a fledgling specialty color filter coating company.
The firm provided lighting design for the Mirage Hotel, casinos, retail stores, golf courses, resorts, and roughly 40 large custom homes every year. To keep up, my partner (and wife, Angie), and one drafter, worked long hours, seven days of the week, frequently through the night, to meet deadlines. All of our customers were demanding, and we met their challenges through every means at our disposal – which included finding luminaires for special spaces that were exemplary and unique.
We sourced products from Italy and Spain, antiques from San Francisco, and customs made from a variety of sources, including Winona Lighting. However, contractors and distributors were ill prepared to support the frequently strange sources of products we came up with. The time we were spending fixing problems consumed precious time we just did not have, and produced less that desirable results. There had to be a better way.