I'm a designer and woodworker.
I was born and raised in suburban Florida. After high school I got as far away from malls and subdivisions as possible, studying the arts - visual art, design, architecture, literature, aesthetic theory - in Western New York, New York City, and Europe. I almost became an architect, almost became a professional academic, and almost became a non-profit civil rights worker. I earned degrees in Art History and English (BA, Hobart), English (MA, Carnegie Mellon), and Media Studies (PhD, Pitt). Somewhere along the way, the desire to make things with my hands took over and I shifted away from academic issues towards the production of physical objects.
Since 1997 I've worked consistently as a design and build carpenter/woodworker. In 2008 I started building handmade audio equipment, which I make under the name Audiowood.
I think of most of my works as small acts of architecture: things that stand on their own, and that suggest an entire way of living. I picture each of my products standing alone in a big, all-white loft in New York City; woody, but not necessarily woodsy.
Since 2008, I've had the privilege of working with clients like Anthropologie, Bushmills, Paramount Pictures, and various A-List celebrities. Audiowood products have been featured in dozens of major international publications like The New York Times, Wired (Germany), California Home and Design, and Velvet (Italy), and online from Gizmodo to DesignBoom to Metal and dozens of other blogs. I was named a "Person to Watch" by New Orleans Magazine, and was even lucky enough to be awarded the "Most Unique Work" award in Contemporary Crafts at 2015 Jazz Fest.
Joel Scilley is a New Orleans artist living and working in the 7th Ward.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Organic, Technical, Bold
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
I love the way that music and art structures so much of the daily life in New Orleans, from buskers and brass bands to sidewalk artists and galleries. I also love that so much of the city centers around hand making things, from food to our wooden and brick architecture.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I often start with unusual raw materials, and their limitations often determine the shape of final products. Genuinely new projects are usually preceded by a couple of days of procrastination, while I get up the courage to plunge in. Once I get started, everything is generally fine.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I'm inspired by unusual natural forms, from unique wood grain to one-of-a-kind natural contours. I also get excited by the contrast between organic forms and high-tech components.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
Dieter Rams, Frank Lloyd Wright, and David Bowie
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
Amii Stewart "Knock on Wood"!
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Probably on a bicycle.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I like the late afternoon, when I often go for a walk in my neighborhood, Holy Cross.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
The first record I owned was by The Bay City Rollers!
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y'Art Satellite Gallery at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery by appointment.
The People's Health New Orleans Jazz Market - 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Ariodante Gallery, 535 Julia St., New Orleans
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans