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NASH AND BANKS INTERVIEW

NASH AND BANKS INTERVIEW

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH SPENCER HANSEN FROM BLAMO

Step through the doors and prepare to enter a wonderland where photography, street culture, music and movement combine to create something truly unique.

From the first glimpse that you catch of the beguiling and quirky personalities respectfully crafted by the team at BLAMO, it's hard not to be mesmerized.

Every item in their collection lives and breathes a distinct personality. It’s one that speaks to individuals who appreciate timeless design, detailed craftsmanship, and a sense of playfulness when interacting with the natural world.

In Blamoville, the disposable and the fast are left behind in favour of the slow, the substantial and the unexpected. 

Created by rural Idaho natives, Spencer Hansen and Shayne Maratea, BLAMO is home to an eclectic and wonderful collection of adventure wear, object art, jewellery and masks.

I recently caught with up with Spencer - the multidisciplinary artist at the heart of BLAMO's designs - to learn more about his creative process and the community that brings this world to life.

 

 


 Name: Spencer Hansen || AKA: BLAMO || Often found: My Bali workshop or travelling || Listening to: Something different every day – podcasts, music, audiobooks || Whilst sipping: Blended veggie juice || Passionately discussing: Something in my head - Not really a big talker || And working on:  Sculptures, photos, drawing, clothing designs, furniture designs, remodels, and most recently dog training.

 

What was the spark that led you to launch BLAMO?

The Toys:
I was liking the vinyl culture at the time, but didn’t like the idea of plastic and wanted to make creatures out of natural material. I had been drawing some of the first characters we made since childhood.

The Onesies:
My mom made me a bunny suit when I went to college and I used to wear it all the time and then we started making animal onesies for adults.

The Clothing:
I had been making one of a kind handmade pieces for a long time and after graduating from SFAI I took a trip to Bali and began making multiples of one style.


How's the ride been thus far? Is there anything that you didn't expect when you first kicked off?

The ride has been challenging and rewarding. We have made so many mistakes and thankfully so because we have learned from all of them. I didn’t really expect how many times we would re-create ourselves.


Can you give us some insight into your creative process? Does this process differ based on whether you're designing object art, clothing or masks... or is it the same across all?

I think I would call it creative cross-training. I go into intense work mode and spend months working 6 days a week and then I will take time off. I am fully present when I am working and try to take a full break when I am not.

My throughline, when I am working, is repetition and routine. My morning routine is really important to me - wake up; make a veggie juice; meditate (now walk the dog as we just adopted a street dog in Bali) and then start work. This sets the tone for my day, this routine is essential during work time and happens whether I am feeling creative or not. It helps with the sometimes difficult reality that I have to put in the time even when I don’t feel creative or inspired because that’s what I do. If I’m not doing it then where does it lead?

I recuperate by taking time off where I am easy on myself about routine and allow myself space to explore and be inspired by life and travel and nature. I repeat this cycle multiple times through the year… I would consider the entire cycle my
creative process.

I spend a lot of time working on processes and my business partner and I have built a workshop that supports the creative journey from idea to a physical outcome. We built the workshop out of recycled Javanese boat wood and have our creative zones, a photo studio, a garden, and housing for our employees. We work (and live) with a team (some have been with us for over 10 years), that are motivated, creative and caring, and together we make the ideas come to life.

Skullstranaut by Blamo

Where do you find inspiration?

I get asked this question a lot. Curiosity, beginner’s mind, my childhood in rural Idaho, travelling and constantly learning and adapting. But I wonder if inspiration is coming from me or through me? I mostly don’t feel a sense of ownership over what is coming through, only an appreciation for when creativity does flow.


How long does it take for you to design and craft a piece from start to finish?
Which stage in the process is your sweet spot?

I don’t even know where this question starts – does it start when you lay awake in bed dreaming, conceptualizing? 

I think most people want to know how long it physically takes to carve or sculpt but that is only a small part of the creation process. Sometimes we imagine tracking a journey from inception to production – how many ideas, drawings, samples, hands, fails, happy accidents, calculations, photos, etc it takes to make a piece… There is so much for a story of one piece.

Most of our processes are very slow. We have never let how long something will take to determine if it is pursued. Our mediums and processes are very time intensive. We don’t push our team to make a quota – we don’t track output like that. We are making handmade pieces and we value the time this takes. It all varies so much.

I like developing processes and techniques and I can work on these for months or even years. I am always working on new processes and even improving old ones when I have more knowledge and tools to work with. Once a process is developed (although rarely is there an end) it may take a few weeks or months to finish a piece. I have specific places I like to go to design. Orcas Island, Japan. 

As consumers, we place a lot of value on items by how long they took to make, but from a creation perspective I think that is not always the best way to look at art and give it value, (but) I understand it’s a way for humans to quantify.

Blamo Masks

You work with a varied selection of materials. Do you have a favourite material to work with and why?

After a long pause and consideration he says – “NO” - Whatever medium or combination of materials gets the idea across the best. I do have an affinity for natural materials and enjoy the physicality of making.


Describe the world of BLAMO in three words.

Slow, sorryless, worlds.


What is it about handmade creations that sets them apart?

The tactile sensation, the feeling, texture, quality, relatability. An undeniable sense of aliveness.


What would you say are some of the challenges of being an artisan brand?

The responsibility of being depended upon for so many peoples’ families. It’s 24/7 365. We have grown a lot and had to figure out a lot of systems and ways around and through things in the business world. There were a lot less resources for small
businesses when we started and we would often feel like we were lost in between
worlds.

Our throughline is our commitment to creation and play and to creating a business and life that allows us and the people working with us to live outside of the box. There is no map – we have gone down a lot of roads and even though there have been a lot of difficult times our commitment to creation and our team has been the foundation of support that has kept us going.

Photography by Spencer Hansen.
By Niccii Kugler for NASH AND BANKS

NASH AND BANKS is committed to featuring ethical, sustainable artisan brands