When Rudolf Stingel wants to nickel-plate Celotex panels, or Evan Gruzis wants to recreate a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses in marble, or Richard Hughes wants to make a bronze cast of an old mattress, there’s one person they call. Jan Eugster’s been working in the art-foundry world for nearly 20 years, working with artists when they need help creating cast work, sculpture design, and more. Eugster, calling in from his studios in Switzerland, gave The Creators Project insight into his history as a foundry technician, helping artists on projects, and what it’s like to work with Urs Fischer creating a giant gray hole.
Eugster says he got straight into the foundry business beginning with a four-year apprenticeship, “as a foundry technician in an art foundry where we did sculpture casting. So that’s how I got into it, I didn’t have another background, i didn’t go to art school, I came from the technical side.” Since he first started in 1996, the demands from artists have changed drastically, incorporating more than traditional casting methods, “I’m producing sculptures for artists in various techniques, and with all kinds of demands.”
Eugster says there’s an entire spectrum to how he collaborates with artists to make sculptures for them. “There’s the very classic way,” Eugster explains, “you have a model and you need to make a copy in a different material. That’s a molding and reforming or recasting process. And then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where they have a sketch, or a Photoshop image.” But working with an artist can start from an even foggier place than a digital doodle: “Sometimes they just call me. Once, Urs Fischer called me and told me that he’d like to cast a gray hole, and so I created this Untitled (Hole) in 2007. But that requires a closer collaboration. I’d worked so much with Urs Fischer that I pretty much knew what he wanted to have at the end, as a result. Like what fits in his work and how the finish has to be and everything.”
Does all this work for other artists make Eugster wish he were doing his own art pieces? Not really, as he explains, “It’s not my main goal, I’m more interested in creating pieces for artists, that’s more my passion.” Eugster speaks of his work like a proud, professional technician, and he explains the process as though it’s a puzzle to solve, and he’s always looking “to find the best possible solution” for an artist.
The hardest part of his job is the whole “being a boss” aspect of it. “Running a company and having a team is a lot of paperwork, which is not what I really want to do but it’s what needs to be done. It needs to be guided, and there needs to be a plan, so I do a lot of interaction with the artist or the gallery. But the days I like most is when I actually change my clothes to working clothes, and then those are the best days because actual, physical problems need to be solved. I’m really passionate about actually fabricating the artwork itself.”
Visit Jan Eugster LLC for more of Jan Eugster’s work.