Inside the Artist’s Studio with Robert Blinn, Carl Collins, Peter Knocke & Daniel Stillman
Some designers have a creative studio, some have a company work space, but for this Studio Tour I rode my bike to the apartment of Carl Collins, the gathering-space of GothamSmith. It was early on a Tuesday morning and before they went their separate ways for the day, Pete, Daniel, and Carl got together around a handmade wooden table to meet with me and get some work done. There were few idle hands at the table; as we talked about how they all met and assembled as GothamSmith Carl was busy sketching new designs, Pete stamped their logo on muslin bags, and Daniel cut chain to assemble necklaces from the pendants just delivered to them by Shapeways – a, NYC-based 3D printing service that brings their designs to life.
As they reminisced about their original meeting space – a now-closed watering hole – and flipped through a book of anecdotes and inside jokes that they published for each other a couple years back, I couldn’t figure out which came first, the business or the friendship. Although Rob wasn’t able to join, I could tell these four guys are as passionate about their friendship as they are about their brand, an idea born from a lack of manly items at a handmade craft show.
Meet the guys of GothamSmith!
What are your most essential tools?
Whiskey, a pen, a napkin, and conversation. We are a social bunch who handle most ideas, debates, and challenges while out and about in the city.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
We find inspiration in each other when we are in this space. It’s filled with so many elements of culture and history that it sparks constant debates. Just being surrounded by all of these design artifacts and books makes it easy to just grab an item and start a conversation.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
The four founders of GothamSmith all split time amongst various day jobs as well as other side projects. What is this ‘down time’ thing you speak of?
What was the toughest lesson you learned as young designers starting a business?
Organization and planning can be so boring and difficult, but it is so critical to any form of success.
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Stay Focused, Keep Moving
How do you set goals for the team?
Most of our goals are simply tied to the products that we want to make and how long we can tolerate them not being real.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
We are a tight group of friends that is somewhat always celebrating. Life is about appreciating all of the little bits of beauty around you while pushing yourself to greater and greater successes.
What quote keeps you motivated?
It is a reminder of the abundance of life.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
In the world of 3D Printing, we are all constantly figuring out the medium. Sometimes things work for random reasons and a lot of time they don’t. We are constantly sketching, prototyping, and refining everything from how we model pieces to what finishes create the aesthetic we want.
How do you recharge your creativity?
Live music, museums, beaches, long bike rides, road trips, art exhibits, Dim Sum… basically anything the city throws at us.
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
GothamSmith would not exist if it were not for the founders all having the same frustrations and passions. We collaborate on everything because GothamSmith only happens when we come together. We’re a bit like if Voltron came from Brooklyn.