It may come as a shock to you that accomplished glass artists with intriguing and detailed designs can regularly command five-figure prices for their work. We say that because we were shocked when glass artist and professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art Brent Young tossed around that estimate when we asked him about it. Before we started this website, we thought glass artistry was more of a hobby than a potential career, but take it from Young, if you are willing to put in the time and the work to improve your skills, the works of art can be quite lucrative.
Young has become so accomplished and well-recognized that his work often appeals to collectors who don’t even have a strange fascination with glass art. He truly believes that if the work is good enough, it will appeal to anyone, regardless of their art background or expertise. Of course it helps when your work is routinely shown in galleries that have been adopted by some of the largest and most well-known art museums in the country.
We were lucky to get our hands on an interview with Young, not just because he is an art professor with plenty of experience in the field, but also because glass artistry is something of an unknown to the general public, and we wanted to change that perception or ignorance as much as we possibly could. Luckily Young was a willing and engaging interviewee who provided a lot of good information about a growing and still unknown profession. Enjoy!
How did you decide that you would be a glass artist?
Glass has been an intriguing media to work in. In the beginning it was the fascination of working with a hot molten material, common to all, and learning to control it as it transforms through its stages from solid to liquid and back to solid. More importantly it is the transformation of you, as an explorer, to move from being controlled by the fascination of learning the process to being able to work with ideas that move beyond the medium.
Did you have formal education or were you self-taught? Can you describe the difference in your artistic ability before and after school?
I have always been a maker, even when I was very young. This led me towards a career in engineering, which I pursued and worked in for some years. I found, however, that working in crafts and with your hands fulfilled me, which I sought in engineering but did not find. I have a formal education in Ceramics and Glass but it’s my sense of inquiry that has taken my work beyond that of learning process.
Could you possibly describe, generally, how it is you make this seriously cool glass art?
My current work constructed with a small torch, using rods of glass. Drawing with glass in space. Defining form with line and light.
Do you show your work in galleries and how many galleries host your work per year?
Yes, and though the work is seeing some terrific press, there are currently four galleries that represent the Matrix Series. Since the beginning of this series in 2004, there have been acquisitions by several major museums including the Smithsonian, Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Cleveland Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art,Glass Pavilion, and the Carnegie Museum of Fine Art, Pittsburgh.
What have been some of the best ways you have built and marketed your business?
Early on, I marketed directly through a circuit of art fairs that took me around the country. I had designed work that would be viable in that market and was approached by galleries at those venues. I have been careful to try to do the best that I can do, being responsible to the galleries and museums that support the work, and importantly, to make the best and most interesting work possible.
Where do most of your clientele come from?
There have been a variety of collectors that have chosen to have my work. They come from all walks of life and do not necessarily collect glass only. I think that the work is interesting enough to have visual traction and interest to almost everyone.
Could you give us a general price or a range that you have seen glass art sell for?
Glass continues to have garnered success with pieces selling from prices that compete in the home decorator market to that of fine art, and everything in between. Depending on the audience, an interesting designer/maker, making well-conceived and executed work can see retail prices from the hundreds, well into the thousands. Five figures are common.
If you had it to all over again what kind of advice would you of given yourself as an artist? Are there certain areas that you wish you would of focused on closest to further your career?
The thing about art is that we are working in a career that is constantly changing. Being responsive as well as centered is important. Knowing what you need to do to be true to yourself and your tendencies and inquiries as well as our changing environment is necessary to be sustainable.
Do you have any final words of wisdom to artists aspiring to become a Glass Artist?
Love the making, be mired and fascinated by the inquiry. Be driven by that which you don’t necessarily know. Lay enough groundwork to be able to trust intuition.