Tell me a little about yourself and your art?
I started my working life as a draughtsman in a cabinet- maker’s office, moving through the restoration of stately homes, working for a high end property developer, running my own business designing furniture, before becoming an interior designer to the super rich. In 2016, I gave up my design career, set up my studio at the home I share with my partner and two unruly dogs in Shropshire, and taught myself to carve wood and stone, and have been making abstract sculptures ever since. My work is organic, fluid and tactile, and is intentionally informed more by the material I am using than by pre-conceived design, as a conscious rebellion against 30 years of disciplined, varied and expert design experience.
How did you first get into your chosen art?
I was born with a pencil in one hand and a Lego brick in the other - all I have ever wanted to do is magic beautiful creations into being, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to follow that dream. Sculpture seemed to me to be the next logical step to take in a lifetime of learning and creativity.
Where do you feel the inspiration to create your art comes from?
I have no idea! After more than thirty years of dealing daily in ideas, they just flow naturally - in fact the hardest part is filtering out those that are destined for failure. Sometimes, in my more ‘zen’ moments, I feel like I’m channelling an energy far greater and wiser than myself.
The last year has been especially challenging for so many of us. How have you managed, both personally and creatively?
As an artist, solitude is something that comes with the territory. Apart from my once-weekly trip to the supermarket, I rarely leave my studio, and can always be found in it with a big grin on my face. The only difference lockdown has made is to allow me not to feel guilty about refusing invitations to leave it…!
Has the pandemic or lockdown had any influence on your work, either positively or negatively?
If anything, it has increased my lack of guilt at ignoring the outside world. An artist must focus, without distraction, to produce their best work, and having social pressure removed from one’s life is actually curiously liberating.
What plans do you have for your art going forward?
Up until now, my art has largely been unseen by the outside world. Later this year I will be bringing it to a much wider audience. Whatever the outcome, there’s no doubt I will carry on creating art for the rest of my life.
What practical advice would you give someone wanting to to take up your form of art professionally?
If you want a career that yields fame and fortune, then this is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are driven to create, be prepared for a simple life, full of joy and laughter.
Where can people see your art?
All of my work can be seen, and is for sale, on my website - www.misti-leitz.co.uk
Misti will also be appearing on Channel 4's "Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker" - first episode on Thursday 21 October 2021 at 8pm
To see the other artists featured in James's Hands, Head & Heart project head over to https://jameswarman.wixsite.com/hands-head-heart