A quick word with ... artist Phil Cuttance

A quick word with ... artist Phil Cuttance
Faceture artist Phil Cuttance on his unique and cheap crafting process, inspiration, and the myth of spare time.

Faceture artist Phil Cuttance on his unique and cheap crafting process, inspiration, and the myth of spare time.

phil cuttance faceture artistHow is your work different from others’?

I like the idea of making things myself, in relatively small batches, and trying to add value to the objects I make by making each object unique. I’m interested in methods of making that endow products with visual clues about how they were made, and celebrating those visual markers, even sometimes when they would traditionally be seen as imperfections. I like the traditional craft approach, which relies on a bit of skill and labour. I like the idea of people knowing where products come from and what goes into making them.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

All over the place – friends and family, my sister is super-creative and skilled and she has always made things for the pure joy of it. It took me a while to realise this has to be the primary motivator – once you stop enjoying the process and only care about the end product or ‘being a creative’, the long hours and chopped-off fingertips just aren’t worth it. In fact, I find the process more interesting than the end product now. I’m also inspired by the work I’ve been exposed to here in London – I’ve been lucky enough to work for some great designers.

What’s the Faceture process?

It’s similar to the traditional rotational moulding process, which uses moulds that are typically expensive, time-consuming to make, and make the exact same shape repeatedly. I have created by hand – using common plastic sheets costing less than £1 – many moulds that each produce truly unique objects, but through a repetitive process and with the same mould that’s altered each time. Falling between an expensive, repetitive casting process that makes identical pieces (often perceived as cheap/throwaway) and one-off handmade art pieces, the Faceture objects fall on the middle of this scale: unique, handmade objects that come out of the same mould.

What do you do if you have half an hour of spare time to fill in?

I can’t remember when that last happened, but even though I’ve been here for a few years I am still spending a lot of time exploring London.

What would you come back to New Zealand for?

Maitai Bay, way up north, at the DOC campsite. I had great times up there as a kid and it feels like it hasn’t changed much since then. That place is magic.

What’s your next project in the works?

I’m working on a new manufacturing process, a new way to crush metal into useful objects.

The Faceture project has been nominated in the inaugural Dulux Let's Colour Awards and shortlisted in the Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2013 product category. See more at

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