We recently caught up with artist, furniture maker and FITS fan Greg Klassen for a quick Q&A about his work, inspirations and life in the Pacific Northwest. Check out the interview below:
How did you get into woodworking?
- I started doing woodworking while I was finishing up my college degree in theology. I realized I was so happy when I was working with wood that I decided to pursue it as a career.
What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
- In 2014, after 6 years of being a starving artist, my work went internet viral in a huge way and I became a famous furniture designer and artist overnight. I’ve been on the covers of magazines on several continents, I’ve had a year and a half waiting list and recently did a large 15-pc. art commission for a Prince!
You live in the Northwest now. Where are you originally from and how has it shaped you?
- I grew up on a peach farm in the Central Valley of California. Long hours working on the family farm and playing in the fields developed a strong work ethic and a love for the freedom that self-employment affords you.
What is your favorite part about living in the Northwest?
- It’s always green. AL-WAYS. Every day of the year is lovely in some way and you can always expect to see a lot of green and a lot of blue (as in blue rain!). I also love how connected the Northwest is to nature. My family and I live on a couple acres in the country with views of snow-covered mountains, forest and raspberry fields. But even if you venture into the city, you often have a view of water or mountains from wherever you are.
You often speak about your process and it's importance to your success, from inspiration to finish. If you had to choose, which part of your process is your favorite?
- My favorite part of the creative process is the original spark, or idea. That moment when a special piece of wood grabs my attention and a new idea is born!
What is the most challenging part of your process?
- Getting through the many tedious hours of flattening, sanding and sanding some more.
You've created your own style which people respect. Where do you draw your inspiration? How do you keep your work growing / changing / evolving?
- The River Table is my original design. I’ve been creating it for several years and it still excites me every day because no two of my pieces are exactly the same. The natural wood slabs I use are what inspire me. And they dictate the form and are always leading me into new designs that feel fresh and original.
How important to your process is the quality of the tools that you work with?
- I never regret spending way too much on a fine, high quality tool. Mostly because they are reliable and allow me to work faster. And when I am able to work fast, I can get through the tedious parts and back into the fun parts quicker!
Do you have any tools that you work with on a daily basis that are sentimental?
- I have a set of chisels that I made that I use regularly. They’re sentimental to me because I made the handles from a peach tree that was cut down on my family farm. It’s very likely that my dad and I would have planted that tree many years ago, or at the very least irrigated and tended it as it grew.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have created? If so, what makes it so special?
- My favorite piece is my Mendo Bench. It’s a really cool design with a sculpted seat, which I made while my wife and I were living on the rugged north coast of California back before we had kids. The curving seat design was inspired by the constant waves on the California shores.
I am sure your creative process (and raising three kids) takes a toll on your body, and specifically your feet. How important is it for your to have the right support in your job (like FITS socks)?
- I’m a fancy socks kind of guy. The right shoes and right socks are important to me because they keep me comfortable. I love a good sock that hugs my foot and breathes well!
What do you like about FITS socks? (Made in America, technology, materials, etc)
- I love how these socks feel when you put them on. They’re different than other socks in how they conform to the shape of your foot. It’s like your foot is getting a warm hug!
Follow Greg's work on his website or social media below!