Scott Haycock is a Napa-based artist whose early exposure to Calder’s mobiles changed his life’s course away from his college major of mechanical engineer; today, his main product, Mod Mobiles, is sold all over the world. You can find him in his Alta Heights home studio filling custom orders and tinkering with clockworks and animatronics.
Q: Where are your clients located for your mobiles? How busy are you?
My clients for my mobiles are all over the world, though 85% are in the US. I rarely work with local clients, and am not really taking advantage of the fact that people come from all over the world to take in the culture of our valley. I really should work more locally, and when I get a chance, I really enjoy interacting directly, visiting homes, and personally installing things.
However, I stay pretty busy. I rarely find myself with a clear docket, and when I do, that's when I post more items, do a little more social media, and design new products.
Q: How are you plugged into your local artist/maker community? How could that be improved?
I’m not plugged in. Artists are often introverts – some of us are weird, solitary creatures without jobs and coworkers, and we don't collaborate with other artists very often (which is too bad). I also feel that my work is so different, other artists I meet wouldn’t have the same struggles or concerns…which is self-limiting because I also know we’re all dealing with customers who have the same kinds of needs and questions.
However, if I was asked to teach something, I happily would. If I was invited to another local artist's studio, or teaching session, I would absolutely go. A set location would be helpful, for those of us with limited space or for those of us that don't want to bring strangers into our fortresses of solitude. Though, of course, it's a lot of fun to see other artists' studios.
Establishing a stronger local artists' community may be as simple as having occasional events. I would be more likely to attend a workshop, or demonstration, or brainstorming session, rather than just a wine and cheese type thing. I have customers that sometimes request a material or structure that I don't often use in my mobiles. It would be great to know more artists in the community that could do woodwork, textiles, stonecarving, etc, that I could work with when I got requests like that.
Q: What skill or resource would you be willing share with your local maker community?
I use Arduino boards, and they use the Arduino programming language. This tool is old enough now to be considered old-school, but it's versatile enough to do most things that artists would want to do. I'm not a good programmer, but I know enough to get my projects working, and how to find code snippets online and how to make adjustments to suit my needs. Makers could use it to make their projects move, light up, make sounds, interact, or even change based on weather or other external cues. I don't know enough to teach a series of classes, but I know enough to show what I'm doing, tell the story of how I accumulated my knowledge, and share a page full of links that would give other artists enough info to get started on their own projects. Somewhere in this town there is a computer programmer that is an Arduino genius. Finding that person, and convincing them to get involved would be incredible.
Q: Is there anything you need (resources, skills) from your maker community?
Shared expertise. Or at least, experience with a willingness to share. The barrier to entry for a lot of makers are the first few hurdles. That can be not having the right tool, or not having a person to just answer a simple question that Google can't answer. I often send texts to my small circle of artists just asking, “do any of you know how to do this?” I would love to be able to broaden that to 20 or 50 local artists.
And don't underestimate the power of a PLACE. A rallying point that local artists contribute to would feel like a home that we would care about. In that type of environment, you want to foster, encourage, and teach each other and the younger generation, while continuing to develop and strengthen our own abilities. Tools and machinery that we could use would be a driving factor in making a place a rallying point, but it would build its own momentum from there.