Designer insights with Michael Scarborough

Michael Scarborough is a lacquer artist, writer and speaker working from his eponymous design studio, based in New York. Michael has design in his blood, as his great-grandfather was a mosaic artist. He was also heavily influenced by Japanese culture and design, as he grew up in rural Japan. This experience exposed him to the techniques of Japanese craftsmen and the beauty of this amazing country. He also initially worked as an international opera singer, before moving into the decorative arts. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Michael Scarborough.

Designer Insights - Michael Scarborough

Image Credit: 1) Secession Building Vienna 2) Shibata Zeshin 3) Lord Leighton 4) Whistler’s Peacock Room 5) Frank Lloyd Wright

- Transcript -

1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?

I am inspired by the historical Japanese aesthetic and, increasingly, by other artists similarly inspired by Old Japan. I refer to this as my Own Private Japonisme.

2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?

I sketch in my head and quickly move to pencil and paper. Models might follow, or if the piece is “whole” in my vision, I go straight to work.

3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?

MASHIKO grew up in the ruins of post-war Kyoto and inherited traditional Japanese values and a strong sense of the necessity of hard work in the creative process. In creating Betty Friedan’s headstone, she began with exhaustive research on Ms. Friedan. She then progressed from numerous sketches, to many clay models, to small stone models, to a full scale model and, only then, began work on the actual piece.

4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?

I go to the Met Museum, Neue Gallerie, or the Guggenheim and soak up the architecture of NYC on the way. “We stand on the shoulders of Giants”.

5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?

Q: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” A: “Practice, practice, practice”. I spent 25 years singing opera internationally and practiced, and worked, hours a day, every day.....and it got me to Carnegie Hall. I left music and came into decorative arts and brought those habits with me. My advice?: Don’t be afraid to work.